🧢 010 Fish Stories and negotiations
Jim and MTV
⛱ We spent Memorial Day weekend at the beach. One of the perks of Florida is that the things to do within 2 hours of our house mostly overlap with the things we want to do. So we were at the beach.
While watching my kids swim Jim came up to me. Jim was a pilot for Delta, rather, he had his pilot's license, and one day while boarding a Delta flight and saying hello to the crew he knew, they asked if Jim wanted to sit in the cockpit. He sure did.
Well, Jim told me, they got up to 19,000 when the captain told the co-pilot to switch back to the engineer's seat for Jim to co-pilot the plane. Then, Jim went on, the pilot told Jim he was going to land the plane.
Once Jim got into the cockpit I knew I was hearing a fish story. Whatever. Everyone was vibing. Let it rip.
Jim finishes the story. I wish him well and walk down to the beach with my kids. That's when Jim's daughter catches up and apologizes. Jim has dementia.
Jim tracked me down twice more that weekend. Another plane story, this time landing it solo. Another was the time Journey pulled him out of the crowd to play guitar at their Albany show. Oh, sing too.
Jim is forgetful, but we're forgetful. Jim tells fish stories, but we all embellish. Jim wants to help others, and we all do.
What's most striking is that Jim 'has dementia'. Or, he has enough of a certain set of qualities that we label is as having the thing. Body-Mass-Index might be the most generic version, but we're all on every spectrum.
Naming things is good. Gordian Knot is a great name for the thing. That idea is one of our mental tools. We have that. With a name, it’s a thing.
📺 How did MTV succeed?
An ongoing series that began with Batna or Batman is to ask *what's the business model?* There's always a reason something works. It may not be understandable. It may not be logical. But there is a reason.
MTV's reason can be boiled down to a single word: costs. During the rise of MTV the company paid nothing for the videos and sold advertising against them. At first, the advertising wasn't worth much, but when the cost is zero….
Then MTV pivoted away from videos and towards shows. The gall! Rather than 'devalue and dismiss'let's ask why. Here's a clue from TV Guide. The grid! MTV needed to put up a block that said more than 'music video'. Why? The business model!
MTV iterates. They come up with shows. The shows work. 'What about a soap opera?' Too expensive. What about just filming people and editing the footage together? 'Perfect'.
MTV’s Real World occurred because advertisers wanted viewers, viewers wanted to know what was on, and it was cheap.
💸 How do you get something for free?
There’s a common theme to the books: Getting to Yes and Never Split the Difference: find something cheap to you but valuable to them.
The bands and the music labels paid for the videos. The Real World contestants (stars? gluttons?) earned $1,400-TOTAL. From a financial perspective, MTV used them.
But videos sold albums and concert tickets. But exposure begot more exposure. MTV battered money for attention. From that perspective, there was an exchange.
👨✈️ I can’t stop thinking about Jim. Was his desire to be the hero something we all share? Did he repress it for years and now it’s coming out?
Jim’s wife told me he owned a tree-trimming business. His son and son-in-law run it now. The business afforded them the ability to visit Florida from New York. They seemed happy. Jim seemed happy.
This is a Tyler Cowen expression. More on his ideas at a future time.