Demand and Supply

What are demand and supply, and what factors influence them?

5.1 Introduction

In late 2005, a new album release made a big splash in the music world — and sent a small ripple through the economy. The release was Some Hearts, country singer Carrie Underwood’s first album, Some Hearts, was reported to be the fastest-selling debut country album in history. It started out at number 2 on Billboard’s chart of the top-selling 200 albums. Within three weeks of its appearance in stores, fan s had bought nearly 315,000 copies. For the next three years, Some Hearts would be the best-selling country music album by a female singer. By 2013, Underwood had sold more than 6 million Some Hearts albums in the United States alone. To this day, Some Hearts remains the best-selling debut album by a solo female country artist in history.

For Underwood, the rise to stardom came suddenly. During high school, she had dreamed of becoming a singer but set that dream aside to go to college. She continued to sing for family and friends, and performed during summers in a country music show. But demand for her talents was limited to a small, local market.

In her senior year, Underwood read a news story about upcoming auditions for American Idol, a television show in which singers compete to become the next big music star. She was chosen to be a contestant in the summer of 2004 and, in 2005, won the competition.

In a matter of months, Underwood went from being an unknown to being a star. After completing her college degree and releasing her first album, she began a concert tour Since then, Underwood has released three more albums and went on five more concert tours.

How much would you have been willing to pay to see Carrie Underwood perform when she was still an unknown? Not a lot, certainly. Perhaps $5 if a friend had given her show a rave review.

Now assume that after her appearances on American Idol, you became a fan. How much would you have been willing to pay then? In 2013, tickets to Carrie Underwood concerts cost around $45 and up. Thousands of people paid this much and more to see her perform. The demand for Underwood ’s singing had clearly increased since her American Idol victory.

Carrie Underwood ’s rise to stardom is more than just a country music success story. From an economist’s point of view, it is also an illustration of demand and of how demand can change. In this chapter, you will read more about demand and its partner, supply. You will explore how price and other factors influence what consumers demand and what producers are willing to supply.

Next Reading: 5.2 (How Do Demand and Price Interact?)