Thursday, May 05, 2005

numbers runner

(numbers in black, white, brown...)

Wall Street Journal ‘Numbers Guy’ Carl Bialik sheds some light on the mostly unchallenged phrase “Most folks that buy rap are white!” He runs down statistical history (“…the company was using statistics from Vibe Magazine. Vibe, in turn, was using stats from Mediamark…”) and often into dead ends…

SoundScan… says the company has never tracked the race of music buyers… a related company, SoundData, may have reported the stat in 1999, but SoundData no longer exists and (a spokesman) couldn't locate anyone who recalled the details.

Bialik’s research leads him to a conclusion that “the statistic could date from a time when hip-hop was half its current age.” He goes on to describe the Mediamark Research Inc. method for compiling the demographics of the buying public.

Each year, MRI researchers go into about 25,000 homes nationwide and talk to residents for an hour about their media habits. Then they leave a thick booklet -- last year's is 104 pages -- full of questions about 6,000 brands in 500 categories.

And then it gets very intriguing…
MRI researchers no longer decide for themselves the race of their respondents, and the group has expanded the number of races and allowed respondents to check more than one. In fall 2004, using the new method, MRI found that just 60% of rap buyers are white, though 78% of Americans self-identify as white. Apparently, a significant number of people whom researchers thought were white wouldn't identify themselves as such.

It seems that, yes, white folks still buy a majority of rap recordings but the power of the ‘non-white’ dollar was predictably underestimated.

Maybe Ryan Suda over at Blacklava will sell a few more of these this year. And let me tell you, MY aura's so mean in my red tee!