We explore how the long-run success of cultural products is affected by the identities of the product's originators and early adopters. Using U.S. jazz recordings from 1920–1929, we found that songs were more likely to be later covered from 1944 to 2004 if they followed a pattern of having black originators and white early adopters. Moreover, we provide evidence that this pattern is independent of a song's commercial success, resources available to a song's originators, and group level indicators such as size and experience. We conclude that late movers (musicians after WW II) were attracted to songs that followed a narrative of both "lowbrow" origins and early adoption by those considered "highbrow" with respect to jazz. The findings also support a new means for considering the role of identities as the building blocks of genres, in particular, and categories more generally.
Kahl, Steven, Young-Kyu Kim, and Damon Phillips. "Identity sequences and the early adoption pattern of a jazz canon, 1920–1929." Research in the Sociology of Organizations 31 (2010): 81–113.
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