There are two models of how originality could be used up. For both let’s say there is a song that is popular to remix, and it has already been remixed 100 times.
In the first model, there is diminishing returns to remixes in the utility function. Consumers values originality and so they experience diminishing returns to listening to additional remixes. Here originality being “used up” means that you’ve already consumed all 100 remixes, and therefore the 101st provides zero utility. Thus consumers have to experience the first 100 songs in order to be affected by the zero marginal utility of originality, and they will only be affected if they are fully sated. In contrast, if copper is entirely used up, consumers will be affected by consuming none of it. Thus the non-rival nature of music is key here. In general, it seems people worry about the sustainability of rivalrous goods, not non-rivalrous ones.
When economists argue about music.
The above is part of a convincing rebuttal to this blog post, which addresses the sustainability of music, and the possibility that we are ‘using it up.’ (“Each new song sits somewhere in a range of originality, from very original to very derivative. The more new original songs are developed and marketed, the harder it gets to develop and market new songs that will be seen as relatively original.”)
Thanks to David Boy for pointing me to the posts!