Long Tail Economics and Digital Music

Long Tail Economics and Niche Music

If you haven't already read Wired Magazine's The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, you really should. The 5-page noodle-cruncher's title has become a favorite buzz word for anyone dealing in ultra-niche, unsigned/independent, digital content.

To summarize:

Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

Get fired up, Indies...

For too long we've been suffering the tyranny of lowest-common-denominator fare, subjected to brain-dead summer blockbusters and manufactured pop. Why? Economics. Many of our assumptions about popular taste are actually artifacts of poor supply-and-demand matching - a market response to inefficient distribution.

You get the idea. It's a great read, check it out when you get the chance.

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the "long tail" has been an off-discussed topic in the internet realm- it's commonly cited as the driver behind the economics of Amazon, for example.

The key, though, is that we still need a way to organize content of the long tail- in fact, probably more important as the variety and depth of content expands, since it becomes harder for us to process the abundance of information. Amazon does it through ther "people also bought" feature, for example...

For independent artists, the idea of the long tail gives hope to having their music out there, being listened to (and maybe even bought!) by an audience. But it might make getting heard evern harder...

Getting heard won't be "harder". But it won't magically become "easy." There is now, and still will be, a small percentage of unsigned artists that are able to develop a fan base through sheer word of mouth. The "Long Tail" will simply grow thicker and longer as the niche content becomes more accessible, through better content organization methods, enhanced recommendation engines, and increasingly viral communications.

There will be more opportunities to be heard; but there will still be a HUGE number of artists competing for ears, even more so now that home recording is so easy accessible to anyone with a home computer.

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