Mike Rooney

programming and philosophy

When It's Good to Be Bad

Jonah wrote a post about how awful the band Brokencyde is, and I mostly agree with the points mentioned. However I would also like to propose that if you aren’t particularly talented, it is more profitable to be epically bad than it is to be just moderately bad or even mediocre. I also think it is more entertaining and useful to society as a whole, thus being the utilitarian venture to embark upon if you aren’t traditionally talented. So let’s begin my defense.

I suspect the magnitude of profitability can perhaps be simplified as the multiplication of two factors: the number of people exposed to your product and the probability that a random person would purchase your product if exposed to it. In this model, a very ubiquitous band that people love is the biggest winner; lots of people are exposed to the product and a good percentage buy it. Mediocre bands do alright but not nearly as well. The percentage of people willing to purchase is on the same order, perhaps half as much or so, but the exposure is WAY less. The market is saturated with mediocre to decent bands and no one has time to find or listen to them all. As a result, these bands aren’t nearly as ubiquitous, leading to sales and thus profits which are orders of magnitude less. As you get worse and worse, your market is more and more saturated, you are less and less interesting, and profits continue to drop, in a roughly linear to inversely square fashion. But it doesn’t approach zero; once you cross a certain threshold of awfulness something magical happens:

You become interesting again! The market actually becomes LESS saturated as it becomes challenging to be worse than that threshold. You have become so awful that you are fascinating and captivating, entertaining and hilarious! Sure, the chance that a random person buys your product has now dropped by an order of magnitude or two, but your exposure increased by many more. You aren’t quite playing with the big dogs, but you can sell leaps and bounds more than the average guy. All for being notably worse than most other bands.

So clearly it can make sense selfishly and financially to be a Brokencyde or a Williang Hung, but are you harming society in the process? I don’t think so. Surely a few people will legitimately be offended and wish such bands didn’t exist, but I think the majority of us are at least entertained by their existence which makes us laugh or smile, have an interesting discussion with friends, or at least have a great gag gift (another unique sales niche these bands get in on). As a result, individual Brokencyde’s of the world increase the overall happiness of society more than an individual “average” band. Sure they’re bad, but would we (or they) want it any other way?


Where do we fall?

Our first album is at least 10 times as bad as anything on there.