How hard you have to work not to fail

Over at, David Bruce Murray is digging into gospel music, labor, and economies of scale in southern gospel. Nothing too shocking if you pay attention to gospel music regularly, but the numbers do put what we already suspected into an interesting perspective. Read both posts (here and here, in that order). Of the several questions his numbers give rise to, I’m particularly curious about the historical angle: what would a similar analysis of a comparable cross-section of talent 15, 30 and 45 years ago look like?

Many of DBM’s conclusions pivot on his definition of a “big date,” a decently useful measuring stick of how hard a group has to work for its success. It’d be fascinating and informative to know how “hard” groups worked in the past, as measured by a DBMesque analysis of big dates, multi-day events, and dates-per-month. To the SN archives, Robin!

This kind of analysis, of course, has its limitations. At some point, number crunching like this only confirms, rather than diagnoses, the problem. A group like the Kingsmen, for instance, is a good example: comparing their dates-worked and percentage of “big dates” in 2006 to 1976 would yield a fascinating result, I’m sure. But what accounts for the result - changes in taste and style of both performers and fans, socio-cultural shifts within evangelicalism, technology and its effect on music markets - and in what proportion each factor ought to be weighted, remains unilluminated.

That said, more analysis along these lines seems worth pursuing.

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Trackbacks & Pings

  1. » Group Schedules and Big Dates on 15 Jan 2007 at 11:22 am

    […] Late last week, David Bruce Murray made a fascinating post at the Musicscribe blog about group schedules and the ratio of big venue concerts to smaller venue concerts. I had a post percolating in my mind that I was going to post today, but I notice that Doug at the Averyfineline blog posted almost my exact thoughts. […]


  1. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    Avery, this is almost scary. I was planning on writing a post tomorrow morning making this exact point.

    Maybe I’ll do it anyhow, but I’ll just have to give you credit for saying it first!

  2. Dean Conklin wrote:

    Your “Read both posts (here and here, in that order)” produce the same Jan. 13 page, at least for me.

  3. Jim wrote:

    I read both of the posts, and it is definitely interesting. I work on the retail side of the industry and one of the questions about SG music has always been about what percentage of album sales happens at retail and how much is sold at concerts. A good example would be the Hoppers new CD, The Ride - as far as I know not available in stores unless they deal directly with the Hoppers. I’m sure internet sales are booming - now you don’t have to wait for the artist to have a concert in a town near you, you can just click ‘n buy.

  4. RF wrote:

    Coming from an area where I don’t see many groups, the internet has been a godsend along with i-Tunes. Instead of having to shop the Christian bookstores (which is usually futile), I can, as Jim said, click and buy. A good example is table projects. I could never get them before, but now I can thanks to Al Gore…er the internet.

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