Were the Beatles Just Lucky? 2/6

Cass Sunstein asks whether the Beatles were the beneficiaries of an information cascade or whether their success was inevitable. To be sure, it seems implausible to suggest that the Beatles needed early downloads to succeed, or that Davies or Nash, or someone of whom we have never heard, could have been Lennon or McCartney. Of course cascade effects played a large role, and so did network effects, and so did group polarization. But these claims are consistent with what I have described as a weak or trivial account of the role of social influences. In my view, and with fear and trembling, the most plausible conclusion is that the Beatles should be seen as analytically equivalent to the very best songs in the Salganik et al. experiment, in the sense that in the end, they would almost certainly have found a way.

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