I was at a concert this past Saturday. My favorite band was playing, ‘Los Campesinos!’. This was the third show of theirs I have seen in Seattle in the past four years.  I have always been a huge indie rock fan. Like all economists, I am deeply interested in searching for the hidden economics of all events. The way incentives affect people and how commonly held beliefs (sometimes called culture) are actually predictable through an economic framework—just like the work those folks at Freakonomics conduct.

Now, one thing I have always found silly, is the idea of an encore. For those of you who are terribly boring, at shows in the rock genre whenever a band finishes their set they get off the stage. The crowd will then cheer for up to ten minutes and the band will almost always come back on stage and play a few more songs. Now, while watching the show I decided to apply an economic framework to this phenomenon. What causes an encore? What is the reason behind it? Can it be explained properly in economic theory?

No. It’s just a fun cultural phenomenon. My friend David once pointed out that Economists are awfully full of themselves. Can’t blame them really. They are probably the only social science that is taught that the entire world works in only one, simple, and rational way.

To all my loyal followers (are there any?) the reason my update is taking so long is that instead of working on one post at a time, I took on two at once. As a result I’m about 1,000 words into two separate posts.




One thought on “Weakonomics

  1. I have always hated the encore. I guess it is just a tacitly accepted ritual at this point, but it would increase my respect for any given band by a couple orders of magnitude if they were to say towards the end of their set, “normally we’d just stop here, but we’re making you a deal. We’re going to play a few more songs now, and in return, you don’t have to stand there in the dark clapping your hands pretending to not know what is going to happen for five minutes.”

    Though if I were to take a stab at explaining the phenomenon quasi-economically, I’d say that the band is attempting to maximize the total number of “Distinct Instances of Intense Adulation” while also minimizing the amount of time it takes them to start the alcohol/marijuana consumption process. The crowd just wants more musics, so they have no reason to choose any option other than “clap”. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

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