– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

I was born in the Eighties; so audio cassettes, VHS tapes, and floppy disks were a big part of my life at some point. And now, these receptacles kill time in dusty boxes with their songs, movies, and data, well-aware that the world has moved on. Luckily, these sort of technical changes/ innovations offer empirical industrial organization researchers, like Julie Mortimer, excellent opportunities to learn about firm behavior, pricing strategies, and so on.

Julie Mortimer is a tenured Associate Professor in the Economics department at Boston College. She received a Ph.D. degree from UCLA and B.A. from Carleton College. Before joining Boston College in 2011, she worked at the Harvard Economics Department for several years. Julie is also a Research Associate of the NBER. Julie has served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Industrial Organization and is currently a member of the Journal of Economic Literature’s editorial board.

Julie’s research interests lie in the field of empirical industrial organization. Among other things, she has examined the introduction of DVDs, the video rental industry, copyright infringement and enforcement in the market for digital images, and vertical rebates in the chocolate industry in her papers. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

Her paper, “Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances,”(co-authored with Chris Nosko and Alan Sorensen) examines “the negative impact of file-sharing on recorded music sales and offsetting implications for live concert performances.” While their “study focuses on the music industry, the economic phenomena [they] analyze are clearly relevant in many other markets. For example, digital copies of movies may cut into home video sales, but may also lead to higher demand for movie-related merchandise. An author’s royalties from book sales may be reduced if the book is digitally shared, but the increased readership may lead to profits on the lecture circuit. Mass sharing of a pirated software program may displace paid licenses for that program, but may also generate increased sales of complementary physical products or technical support services.” They “find that file-sharing reduces album sales but increases live performance revenues for small artists, perhaps through increased awareness. The impact on live performance revenues for large, well-known artists is negligible.”

For more information about Julie and her research, check out her website.


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