Welcome Back My Friends

Remember yesterday when I said your broadcast doesn't have to be live?

Well, sooner or later, it does.

At some point, you are going to have to walk out on a stage or do some kind of once-only broadcast where if your audience doesn't actually alter their schedule to show up they just plain do not get to consume the content in it.

Now, don't get me wrong: you can, by all means, go around doing substantially the same once-only broadcast. Comedians do this all the time. They develop a one-hour set, then walk out on stage in each of a hundred cities and do that same set over and over for a year.

And they do, in general, record one or more of those sets and make them available as concert CDs and DVDs.

Next year, they'll be back with a different set. Because the real money is in the live concerts. It's not in the recordings or the broadcasts. It's in the people who actually want to be in the same room with you.

Because no matter how you slice it, this moment in time only happens once, and there are only so many seats in the theatre, and only one person can sit in each of them, so being in one of those seats is an inherently limited commodity.

If you make a recording and say "only five hundred people can have this recording," that's bullshit and everybody knows it. Whether you are going to change your mind later and give it to more people, or the people you sell it to make copies and distribute them illegally, or whatever... there is no reason why that recording can't be given to every single person on the planet.

We call this artificial scarcity. (Not to be confused with false scarcity, which is when the artificial scarcity is not only bullshit but an outright lie.) You have arbitrarily decided to only sell a certain number, and almost certainly done so because it reduces supply without lowering demand, which means you can sell it for more money at the cost of more people who want it not getting to have it.

This is the microeconomic scale of Mankiw's ninth and tenth economic principles, "prices rise when the government prints too much money" and "society faces a short-run tradeoff between inflation and unemployment." Printing more money means more people get to have it, but the value of that money goes down. This reflects the eighth principle, "a country's standard of living depends on its ability to produce goods and services" - and using that, we can turn you into the "government" of a "country" and examine what happens when you produce "money."

You don't actually print money, you produce content. If you produce too much content, prices rise - your content receives less attention from fewer people. ("Attention is the currency of the future." - David Shapiro) And society faces a short-run tradeoff between your content not being valuable (inflation) and people not having your content (unemployment). Meanwhile, your audience's standard of living (insofar as you are responsible for it) depends on their ability to produce goods and services... as a result of your content.

Wait, what?

Remember I told you understanding economics was a minor superpower?

Five nines of your fellow marketers and experts and would-be badasses - that's 99.999% - don't understand this.

Mostly because they fail to understand that when the price of a chicken is five dollars, this also means the price of five dollars is a chicken.


And therein lies the key: Nobody really cares about your content. They only care what your content will do for them. Just like nobody really wants money. They want what money will do for them. They want what the money will buy.

So you have to produce content with a purpose. Content that will do something for the people who consume it. Something distinct and different. Something reliable and consistent. Something which surprises, but only within well-defined boundaries that do not ruin the utility of the content as a whole, and preferably in ways that improve that utility.

And what you're doing with the live event is producing something which has its own utility and its own value, over and above the actual content. It is scarce by nature and makes the audience which actually attends "special." It is content you produce once, then sell over and over, but the ability to be there and see it produced has additional value.

Tomorrow I'll tell you the key element of a live event to give it maximum power and value.