The Long Tail

02004-10-19 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Many have already linked The Long Tail in Wired by Chris Anderson, but I have to call attention to it as well. This is a brilliant article, IMHO, which pounds a nail squarely through the wood. The biggest, most successful businesses on the ‘net are the ones which have exploited this, including eBay and Amazon, and Napster and its brethren, iTunes and Rhapsody and the like… There are doubtless other businesses waiting to be made out of the long tails in other markets.

Final comment – pricing. The article opines that pricing for the long tail should be kept low. But I think this is a perfect opportunity to let the market decide. Since the incremental cost of providing goods is essentially zero, the price is related to the demand. A niche product may be very valuable to the small number of consumers which want it. Many models may emerge, including subscriptions, “channels” of varying content, usage-based pricing, etc. There is a lot of business model evolution left!
(Via Critical Section.)

The price relates to cost of creating product and demand.

And that could very well mean the death of acoustic music performed by trained musicians on expensive instruments and recorded by expensive engineers in expensive studios.

Good-bye Satriani, good-bye classical music (already less and less music is recorded for classical labels because the cost of recording an orchestra, around 1 million plus, guarantees a loss….), good-bye the next Beatles… and hello Midi, laptop recording, turn-table jamming, and lots of rapping!

… UNTIL everyone gets sooooo sick of hearing the same samples taken from Earth, Wind & Fire and James Brown records, and repeated ad nauseam…

At that point, who knows, maybe there will still be some musicians around…

Wired doesn’t get it. The whole internet intelligentsia doesn’t get it. And most musicians are putting their heads in the sand. There has been plenty of dialog between the BoingBoings, Itos, Lessigs, and DJs, but I have yet to hear one intelligent discussion involving “real” musicians.

One solution might be something you wrote in an email to me, After all we do not have one price for all books – indeed, maybe we should not try to stick to one price for all music CDs. Maybe we need to differentiate between different types of music. After all a bronze statue has a higher base-price than a pencil drawing, yes?

1 Comment

  1. Victor

    Well, I’m not a “real” musician so I don’t know if this will be an “intelligent conversation” but… The one thing we’re not going to see is all music distributors getting together and agreeing on pricing that garuntees the quality musicians will survive. What we might see is cheap manufactured music along with the newbies who are willing to work at a loss on one side selling songs for say 25 cents a pop and the quality musicians on the other side selling for say a dollar. It’s sort of like the $25 wine vs. the $5 wine, with maybe a few $50 bottles thrown in. But the point is that it will only work if the public is willing to pay for quality. I don’t see any way around it if the marketing mechanism changes as it appears to be. I mean, we could talk about the goverment subsidising the arts or charities for the arts but who wants to go there? I mean, the heart of the matter is nurturing a culture that values art over a cheap “consumables”.


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