After looking at the unintended consequences of New Jersey’s plastic bag ban, we can add to our list of surprises.
This time, Alexa has the story.
When Song Titles Matter
Our story starts with a mom admitting that poop is a funny word. As a result, she and her five-year old smile when anyone says the word. So, like many other parents, she displayed partial approval when her little one said, “Alexa…Play Poopy Diaper.” Because Alexa said she would play “Poopy Diaper” from Spotify, they all started laughing at the lyrics, “I’ve got a poopy diaper, a poopy diaper, that’s me.” The artist also was surely smiling as the dollars accumulated.
You might enjoy listening to the Poopy Diaper Song (and then maybe not):
Before Covid, “Poopy Stupid Butt” had generated close to $100 a dollars month. But then, during the pandemic, with everyone at home, the revenue skyrocketed to a $10,000 total after a whopping 10 million Amazon Music downloads.
Furthermore, Alexa will also find songs with stinky, butt, fart, and diapers.
Our Bottom Line: Unintended Consequences
We can expect that Alexa’s Echo Dot will create externalities. Those externalities–defined as the impact of a decision on an unrelated third party–can be positive or negative. Vaccines are the best example of decisions that create positive externalities because fewer people, even those that are not vaccinated, become ill. Meanwhile the ripple of illness from pollution multiplies our negative externalities.
As for the Echo Dot, the externalities of song titles could be positive or negative. For the poop song download, it depends on whether you value the benefit of your fun with your five-year-old more than the cost of the money you spend. However, for Amazon, Spotify, and song writers and singers, I suspect the unintended consequence is entirely on the plus side.
My sources and more: Thanks to my Hustle newsletter for alerting me to the BuzzFeed poop article. (Our featured image is the Echo Dot. Please note also that a section of today’s Bottom Line was in a previous econlife post.)