The Data

Nate Silver wrote the definitive story on Donald Trump and nobody knows it.

That’s right, America’s favorite statistician, the diviner of data, the man who makes sense out of chaos, analyzed the polls and found out that while Trump had the highest rating, his unfavorables were through the roof. In other words, only a small percentage of GOP voters favored him, uneducated on the issues to boot, and when the field consolidated, Trump would be history.

But unlike during the last election cycle, Nate Silver is no longer on the front page of the “New York Times,” and therefore his insights have no traction. In other words, the bloviating press that loves a horse race is going on about the success of Donald Trump when the truth is contrary to the hubbub.

It’s kind of like making a hit record that only plays on your local college radio station.

The old days of the internet are through. The ones wherein greatness surfaced and we were all the better for it. Today, you’ve got to attach your track to the coattails of an entity with a large audience, otherwise you’re just pissing in the wind.

How did we get here, how did it come to this?

The cacophony, the sheer plethora of information.

Furthermore, the Silver situation proves that the stuff with ink, that gets most attention, may not be the best. Which is why, in the music business, we’ve got story after story about the flavor of the moment that does not resonate with you when you check it out.

So what do we know…

He with the greatest audience wins, irrelevant of veracity or quality.

The “New York Times” survives, Nate Silver is marginalized. If you’re going it alone, be prepared to enter the wilderness, and possibly stay there. Because concomitant with the footprint of the powerhouses is the inability to compete with them. Bing proved this, Google was good enough. If you’re not reinventing the wheel, stay out of the fracas.

Meanwhile, our nation is going to look different in the years to come. Truth will out. Because a younger generation has grown up on facts, and they refuse to live in denial. It’s baby boomers who are blowhards, who believe if they just yell loud enough what they say will come true. But when numbers can be marshaled that contradict common wisdom, watch out.

This is the same battle over transparency that the Berklee report stirred up. If you think the labels are gonna get away with voodoo royalty reports in the future, you’re probably still using a flip-phone. As the oldsters retire, the young ‘uns bring in new models.

So what we’ve learned is you’re better off playing with the big boys than going it alone. Forget all the hogwash about independence, being able to make your record and release it yourself. To crickets in most instances. Macklemore may have been on an indie LABEL, but it was promoted by the major’s MACHINE! If you’re playing for all the marbles, don’t play by yourself.

And just because a record is number one, that doesn’t mean much. The latest statistics tell us that streaming services are a hotbed of catalog. The truth is that at least half the audience would rather listen to the certified oldies than forage for new stuff. Which is why the legends do such incredible live business. The industry doesn’t like this emphasis on catalog, it gets excited about the new, labels invest heavily in the new. Did you read the dearly departed Dave Goldberg’s report to the Sony brass? He said to cut costs on new and focus on old. But his story got buried, pardon the pun.

And know that the reason so much of the Top Forty, what is in the news, doesn’t spread, is because it’s just not good enough. It appeals to a very small hard core. And the truth is the most money in music is made when something appeals to everybody. So, our industry would be healthier if we got consensus and put a push behind that which got the most favorable response. And that will happen, when the millennials take over.

So what we’ve learned is it’s not you. You’re right, the media industrial complex is frequently hyping crap, and that which doesn’t fit its paradigm, however great, is lost in the tsunami of information.

Nate Silver turned chaos into comprehension. Read his report and you’ll see that Trump is a marginal player who can’t win. But few know this.

We’re waiting for the music business to turn chaos into comprehension. The problem is it’s run by old farts inured to the old ways. Obfuscating so they can line their own pockets. Imagine if we researched more records and then pushed those with the most favorable ratings. Would the chart look the same?

Of course not.

Nate Silver – “Donald Trump Is The Nickelback Of GOP Candidates”: 53eig.ht/1gmbhHC

Dave Goldberg – “Re: Music strategy-confidential”: wikileaks.org/sony/emails/emailid/130395

 

 

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What's been said:

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  1. RW commented on Aug 5

    The problem with newsletters is they’re so yesterday.

    Trump has gone from 56% unfavorable in April to 35% unfavorable in August; from 20% favorable in June to 52% favorable in August.

    Here’s a prediction you can rely on: Like the markets, polls will fluctuate, and Trump’s will probably fluctuate more than most.

    • VennData commented on Aug 5

      “…A new poll conducted by Fox News, the host of Thursday’s debate, shows that 56 percent of Republicans said they either “would” or “might” vote for Trump, putting him well ahead of the next candidate, Jeb Bush, at 49 percent….”

      Republican voters are a third of the electorate. So a half of a third find Trump “Favorable”

      One-sixth of America “would or might” is an ideal position to launch a third party candidacy to lead the Tea Party into oblivion, but Trump will be able to sell those suckers anything.

      Hello Speaker Pelosi.

    • Low Budget Dave commented on Aug 5

      The unfortunate counterpoint to your argument is that the mass media still defines the playing field. If Fox and CNN treat Trump as a serious candidate, then he becomes a serious candidate. (I read the same report that RW was talking about.) The huge unfavorable rating that Trump carried around a few months ago is being chipped away, largely because so many media outlets are talking about his personality and his polls rather than his ideas.

  2. A commented on Aug 5

    The voting process is an emotional process, not a rational one. And since the media is first and foremost a business, you need to cater to the whims of the advertisers and do whatever possible to keep the masses engaged. History is simply rhyming again. Nothing new.

  3. Moopheus commented on Aug 5

    I would have thought that a column titled “The Data” might have included some. The assumption is that many more people were seeing 538 at the Times than at its current location, but no actual data is presented to back that up. Admittedly, that data is hard to get, so it’s probably just easier to pull it out of your rear. This article claims that at its peak on the Times, 538 was getting 13% of 26 million visitors.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/109714/nate-silvers-fivethirtyeight-blog-drawing-massive-traffic-new-york-times

    While this recent article on 538 examines its own traffic stats:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-we-still-cant-agree-on-web-metrics/

    It looks to me like some people are still paying attention to Nate Silver–in fact it looks like his readership has not really declined all that much.

  4. Low Budget Dave commented on Aug 5

    The unfortunate counterpoint to your argument is that the mass media still defines the playing field. If Fox and CNN treat Trump as a serious candidate, then he becomes a serious candidate. (I read the same report that RW was talking about.) The huge unfavorable rating that Trump carried around a few months ago is being chipped away, largely because so many media outlets are talking about his personality and his polls rather than his ideas.

    The ideas that Trump is spouting off at every event are old (tried-and-failed) ideas from the 1980s and earlier. But instead of talking about his execrable ideas, the media is selling the narrative that the only thing that matters is his status as an outsider, and a bully.

    People respond on a gut level to his philosophy that there are simple solutions (that America somehow just never tried). The media rarely bothers to remind anyone that there are few easy answers in politics.

    It has been my experience that anyone who comes along offering that many easy solutions is either a liar or a halfwit.

    The music industry is a different animal. Musical taste is not a matter of “wrong” or “right”, and the big players make money by not lying to me. If I stream Muddy Waters, and they also try to sell me B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King, then they have a successful business model.

    But if I turn to CNN for “news”, and the (actual) headline is “Trump: Mexico will pay for wall because I say so”, then I have the feeling that I am being manipulated rather than informed. Nowhere in the article does it explain that this is not a fully-formed idea. The article just quotes Trump, and does not offer any analysis, dispute, or even context.

    Does he understand that Mexico can just say no? Does he understand that ranchers can just say no? Does he understand there are mountains, rivers, and deserts? Does he understand how tunnels work? Does he understand basic math? The article does not answer any of these questions, and so it leaves the reader (or viewer) with the impression that the idea is not comically stupid.

  5. theexpertisin commented on Aug 5

    If the election is between Hillary and The Donald, I suspect the Founding Fathers will roll over in their graves.

    Let’s have a contest between Elizabeth Warren and John Kasic and go forward as either a statist or minarchist government with someone of integrity at the helm.

  6. whatdoiknow commented on Aug 5

    >> Truth will out. Because a younger generation has grown up on facts, and they refuse to live in denial. It’s baby boomers who are blowhards, who believe if they just yell loud enough what they say will come true. <<

    What? Replace "baby boomers" with virtually any other perceived minority in our perpetual war of a society and the author won't pass the PC test.

    What a crock… We all know Trump is an exploitative idiot… Bid deal.. To tell us what we already know, the author is classifying an entire generation of Americans as being "denialists". The ultimate heresy of the new, ever-changing, PC-Religion.

    I think I'll trundle my walker over to my favorite easy chair, clean my guns, and remember the good old days, when the boomers invented the internet.

  7. hue commented on Aug 6

    Great post BR yeah butt

    “The old days of the internet are through. The ones wherein greatness surfaced and we were all the better for it. ” when did this ever happen? the internet balkanzied us, we find info to further our belief, data and evidence to the contrary. i mean in all the years of this comment section, did anyone changed their minds about anything?

    • hue commented on Aug 6

      ok i’m an eejit, it’s Lefsetz

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