Numlock News: June 16, 2023 • Ticketmaster, All One, Beyoncé
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
The Dr. Bronner’s brand is an enigma not only in the soap business but in the consumer packaged goods space in general, a massive company that continues to print an emphatic, quasi-religious hippie message on the side of the bottles, and one which has avoided the Scylla of industrial consolidation and Charybdis of cost-cutting to become the top-selling natural soap in America. The company had $170 million in revenue in 2022, and has continued to grow beyond the minty soap first produced in the early days of the natural products boom. The company’s main production building now features a 7,000-gallon soap reactor, and after a years-long effort the grandchildren of the eponymous Bronner have corrected some supply chain oversights of that patriarch and fully certified their soaps as organic.
A new study argues that Ticketmaster owner Live Nation exercises enormous control over the live music industry, which is responsible for 95 percent of artist income as of 2022. When grilled by Congress, Live Nation didn’t give any information on arena ticketing in its written response, but the study found that of the top 100 arenas worldwide, 68 are in the U.S., and of those 68 arenas Live Nation and Ticketmaster serviced 78 percent of them. Those 68 arenas generated $2,911,651,970 in revenue, and Ticketmaster’s arenas were responsible for an even more disproportionate 83 percent of that revenue. Similar data is seen among amphitheaters: Ticketmaster was the sole ticketing provider for 77 percent of the top amphitheaters worldwide, and 82 percent of the top domestic amphitheaters in the U.S. The report dropped on the same day that Ticketmaster made limp promises about being more transparent about the manner in which they intend to screw you out of money, as if that’ll fix it.
The ownership of the Oakland A’s is trying to tank the team and run it out of town to Vegas on Nevada’s dime, but local fans staged a fascinating protest by organizing a reverse boycott. The biggest crowd of the season showed up 27,759 strong to call for A’s owner John Fisher to sell the team he has systematically starved of resources. The Nevada Senate voted for a $380 million public financing package for the stadium on Tuesday in a robust attempt to reverse the thrifty and sober reputation of Las Vegas. The reverse boycott group raised $27,000 from Oakland fans selling green T-shirts that say “SELL” and stocked the stadium with them.
The Ashes is a series of Test cricket matches played between Australia and England since 1882, with the 73rd edition beginning today. The future of the exhibition may be in peril as the Test format falls out of popularity in favor of a speedier, more reliable version of play. There are five Tests, each of which can last for up to five days, and the winner of the most Tests wins the tournament. While many previous Ashes have involved a number of exhibition games, Australia is only playing the five Ashes Tests, all in a six-week period. The reason is that the best players on both sides all play Twenty20 cricket, which is an increasingly popular three-hour version of the game favored by the Indian Premier League, which is the center of the cricket world right now. Teams in the I.P.L. also own all six teams in South Africa’s SA20 as well as four of six Major League Cricket teams in America.
Nearly a quarter of the 451 top-ranked podcasts in the United States are about true crime, making it by far the most popular genre in the field. The 24 percent of podcasts that were about lurid crimes and the investigations into them were followed by 10 percent that related to politics and government, 9 percent about entertainment and pop culture, and 8 percent about relationships and self-help. There is a rich vein of innovation in the space, with 12 percent of podcasts falling outside of traditional genre formats, things like actual-play Dungeons & Dragons games and fictional radio stories. The indie strain is still strong, too: 18 percent of the top podcasts were affiliated with news organizations, 51 percent with some other kind of company, while 31 percent are independent.
Price On Top
Sweden’s inflation rate in May dropped to 9.7 percent, down below double digits for the first time in six months. That came in a little higher than expected, and analysts are attributing some of the responsibility to two significant events in Stockholm on May 10 and May 11. Hotels and restaurant prices were responsible for 0.3 percentage points added to inflations over the course of May, according to the chief economist for Sweden at Danske Bank, and 0.2 percentage points of those were from the two days where Beyoncé performed in Stockholm, in his estimation. A similar bump is possible when Bruce Springsteen plays three nights in Gothenburg in June.
The fiber optic cable that supplies internet to almost all of western Alaska broke this past weekend, and it could take months to fix it. The CEO of Quintillion estimated it will take six to eight weeks to mobilize a ship and for ice to clear out of the region. The break is 34 miles offshore at a depth of 90 feet, and two repair ships are being deployed to go to the break. Heavy ice is considered responsible, but then I imagine that heavy ice gets the blame for a lot of stuff in western Alaska so I have to say it all feels a little convenient. At least this time they’ve got a better plan than “send a team of dogs to fix it.”
This week in the (unlocked!) Sunday interview I spoke to Mattie Lubchansky, the author of Boys Weekend, an acclaimed new graphic novel out this week, and a longtime contributor to iconic comics publication The Nib. I am a huge fan of their work and have been really excited to see their debut full-length graphic novel. Boys Weekend is an exciting, darkly humorous story set at a bachelor party in the near-ish future. It can be found wherever books are sold. They can be found on Patreon, Twitter and Instagram, and you should check out their newsletter atLubchansky Home News.
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