Time to Get on the Long Tail!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Imagine you are an aspiring singer struggling to get a record deal with a music label. You've sent copies of your demo CD to different record labels for months with no luck. 

So what do you do now?

Many people have taken their work to the Internet, where the database is unlimited and where people from all over the world are connected. If marketed effectively, people have been able to make money off of digitalizing their work.

Selling products online is what the "Long Tail" is all about. Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, is the mastermind behind this business concept. The Long Tail concept can be best described as a technique to sell more products while reducing the cost per sale. It's all about working around the physical limit barrier that we face daily outside of the Internet. There are only so many shelves to stock in retail stores. There's only so many radio stations and TV channels. Consumers are stuck with specific genres to view with no say in what they want on the big screen. The Long Tail is also "Plan B" for those who can't sell enough products in stores or even for entrepreneurs who struggle to get noticed by a well endowed company.

Music labels, movie production studios and top industries in the nation reside at the "head" of the tail. They have the most money and are responsible for the release of mass media. These types of media are limited by genre and style because they are mainly looking for what will make the biggest profits. As certain products and types of media become less popular, they fall gradually down the head of the tail, progressively towards the long part of the tail. Anderson believes that the "most successful businesses on the Internet are about aggregating the Long Tail in one way or another." 
Regarding products online, Anderson says in his book that they, "have a wide dynamic range of quality: awful to great." There's high priced products sold in stores, but what's the level of consumer satisfaction compared to that of a long tail shopper? Online shoppers don't have their buying choices filtered by those companies looking for high profits.  With so many examples of the long tail being successful on the Internet, one can predict that this concept will definitely influence Television, Journalism and other forms of mass media.

With the Internet, everything is more flexible. If you can't watch your favorite TV show, you can watch it online. You can also read newspaper articles and stream radio stations online. Media that takes time, money and space to produce is now available for free online. This hurts profits for traditional companies that reigned in the top of the industry and thus, the future of traditional mass media seems uncertain. According to The New York Times, newspaper circulation "is looking more like an avalanche, with figures released Monday showing weekday sales down more than 10 percent since last year, depressed by rising Internet readership..." What kind of mass media will be able to compete with the Internet in years to come?

With all these new changes and shifts to cyberspace, there have been lawsuits and demands from companies to keep their products under their own copyright. How the future of the long tail will affect Democracy is something we will all see in years to come. The infinite shelf space provides consumers with a benefit in paying less for products while finding items and media genres they might never see in a store. Traditional producers will of course be harmed by this new change unless they hire some smart marketers to help them take advantage of this long tail business phenomena.

So as an aspiring singer unable to score a record deal, you can now take to the Internet and promote your music for free online and through social networking sites. Gabriel Antonio, a singer and rapper, has done this himself with his MySpace as a primary tool for marketing. He is coming out with his second album in February and will go out on a national U.S. tour soon. He has made music with signed rappers and even a country singer. He did this all on his computer while working with a producer, gaining exposure and profits online.

As Anderson wrote in his Wired article on the long tail, "Such is the power of the Long Tail. Its time has come."




Works Cited:

Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail. New York: Hyperion, 2008. Print. 

Anderson, Chris. "Wired." The Long Tail. 2004. Web. 15 Jan 2010.

Perez-Pena, Richard. "The New York Times." U.S. Newspaper Circulation Falls 10%. 2009. Web. 22 Jan 2010.

Chart Image: http://www.wired.com/wired/images.html?issue=12.10&topic=tail&img=5


greenovationTV said...

Great title. You chose excellent images. The writing flows easily and demonstrates your understanding of the topic. Nice use of examples to illustrate the concept of the Long Tail. Nice profile. Site looks professional and readable. Excellent use of images and feeds on Blog List.

greenovationTV said...

Constructive advice: See what you can do to engage other readers (classmates) to comment and engage on your blog.

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