2024-04-18 13:32:34
THE LONG TALE? market data/music


The great hope for digital music was that it would make the recording industry more egalitarian—that up-and-coming bands with pluck and a knack for promotion would be able to get their work to the masses without the backing of record labels. According to “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More”—a 2006 book by Wired magazine editor in chief Chris Anderson—hits dominated the market mostly because shelf space in stores was limited. Digital retail and online media would exponentially increase the choices available to consumers, who would then use online tools to discover products that appealed to them more than the biggest hits.Anderson’s “Long Tail” idea comes from a sales graph that looks like the letter “L” with a curve instead of a corner. On the left are the hits, the 5,000 best-selling titles that would typically be carried by a national chain; on the right, further down the curve, are less popular titles that sell fewer copies. In the physical world, few stores have space for these niche titles, which don’t sell well. But in the digital world, where space hardly matters, Anderson suggested, these titles would collectively account for a far greater percentage of music sales—and of movies, books and other consumer products. The ways we think about popular taste, he writes, “are actually artifacts of poor supply-and-demand matching—a market response to inefficient distribution.”

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