Cost Disease at Seattle Pacific University


I’m back on the road again. Next week I’ll be giving the next iteration of my talk applying the lessons of Baumol’s Cost Disease to the situation of individual artists. Brian Chin is my host for this instance, and the media team at the university will be filming, so that should be up shortly afterwards. We’re finally giving into temptation and calling this talk “The Inflation Curve and You”, after the one graph I draw. Here are the Details:

The Inflation Curve and You
March 31, 2016 – 11 AM
Nickerson Studios at Seattle Pacific University
Free and open to the public

It’s always interesting talking to musicians about this work. This is a business talk for an audience of musicians, but it’s not a talk on “the business of music.” It’s not about developing your audience or financial planning or any specific skill. It’s about a fairly simple, if quite subtle, piece of economics that can help artists to analyze the challenges we face, and to make better decisions.

In this generation more than any previous one, each artist has a unique set of economic challenges to handle. There’s no single business model, and it can be hard to learn from each other’s experiences when we’re all doing such different things. But the relative productivity changes described by Baumol’s cost disease are common across not just artists, but also the businesses we deal with and the entire economy. Understanding that one economic force can help artists learn from each other, make good decisions, and even make long term career plans.

The talks I’m giving are helping me to refine my thinking, and to make it practical for actual artists. I’m looking forward to making a more formal version of this research soon – and I hope you find it useful when I do.

If you’d like to brush up on the economics beforehand, the book Baumol wrote during the recent healthcare reform debate is both very readable, and helps correct some misinterpretations of the original analysis since the 1960s. It’s worth a read. It doesn’t talk about individual artists, though.

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