Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, July 01, 2021

Rock ‘n roll has finally pervaded America’s highest halls of justice, in the form of Chief Justice John Roberts invoking Bob Dylan in a Supreme Court ruling:

“The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack Article III standing,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “ ‘When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.’ Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965).”

Alex B. Long, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and perhaps the nation’s leading authority on the citation of popular music in judicial opinions, said this was almost certainly the first use of a rock lyric to buttress a legal proposition in a Supreme Court decision. “It’s a landmark opinion,” Professor Long said.

But note, it’s not a precise lyrical quote:

What Mr. Dylan actually sings, of course, is, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

It’s true that many Web sites, including Mr. Dylan’s official one, reproduce the lyric as Chief Justice Roberts does. But a more careful Dylanist might have consulted his iPod. “It was almost certainly the clerks who provided the citation,” Professor Long said. “I suppose their use of the Internet to check the lyrics violates one of the first rules they learned when they were all on law review: when quoting, always check the quote with the original source, not someone else’s characterization of what the source said.”

But it’s the thought that counts.

So there’s a forty-something year lag on when popular music becomes acceptable game for Supreme Court-level legal discourse. I guess that means we’ll see a future jurist drop references to 50 Cent, circa 2038. Or even cite the core concept behind the late Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems”, perhaps with empirical line-chart evidence.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/01/2021 09:45:19 PM
Category: Political, Pop Culture
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With the merger of XM and Sirius expected shortly, the analysts expect the resultant economies of scale to manifest in deep cuts in programming costs.

Including for the most notable radio personality on the satellite waves:

One obvious target: Howard Stern’s $500 million package, which doesn’t include the roughly $200 million in Sirius stock he’s received for meeting subscriber targets. Depending on the health of the combined company, Stern and his agents may be in for a tough negotiation [after his contract expires in 2010].

“The question is, is there anyone out there who would pay him $701 million,” asks Scott Cleland, a Washington-based analysts with Precursor. “Good luck.”

Stern could go back to AM-FM radio, but even then it’s unlikely he’d pocket anywhere near his Sirius pay. Stern and his team took in an estimated $30 million a year when he was at Infinity Broadcasting, now known as CBS Radio.

So does Stern accept less compensation just to stay on a combined XM-Sirius roster, which (presumably) will be the only satellite radio game in town?

In a word, no. Because he’s already expressed severe frustration with settling for a much smaller audience, versus what he used to get on terrestrial radio. He simply doesn’t generate the same buzz that he did when he was on the truly mass medium of FM radio. The trade-off is the greater creative freedom (read: no FCC censorship) and the dollars; but take away the payday, and I doubt Stern will tolerate the inherently limited universe that is satellite radio. He’s not obliged to go along with the industry’s new economics.

So if XM-Sirius lowball Stern in two years time, look for him to bolt back to his old stomping grounds (not necessarily CBS, but somewhere on the over-the-air dial). He’ll garner plenty of marketing cache via hype of his “triumphant return”, which will more than make up for any reduction in pay.

And satellite? Such a high-profile defection would sting, and combined with overall declining growth, paint a less-than-rosy picture for the industry. However, so much more of radio programming is essentially independent of personality (really, Stern is the only true difference-maker there), that it wouldn’t severely derail the offerings.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/01/2021 09:25:23 PM
Category: Radio
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