February 09, 2007

Digital Music Downloading and the Long Tail

Downloading is Promoting the Long Tail

The concept of the Long Tail has been discussed elswhere on this blog ( link to the original article in Wired ). 'Click' Presenter Kelly Spencer has noted that:

With music downloads outselling CD singles by four to one in the UK and the music charts revamped to include download sales, the digital revolution is having a big impact on the music industry.

But with music download sites now the UK's favourite place to buy singles, each with massive back catalogues of songs, it was decided that just listing the singles currently on release may not reflect the way people were actually buying songs.

So from 1 January 2007, every song that is available to download is now allowed to chart. (Kelly Spence article).

The Music industry is being turned upside-down

The onset of the 'long tail' menas that many analysts are now predicting that the new industry model of distribution and sales is likely to moving to small numbers of a large number of titles. This notion fits in well with William Mitchell's arguments about mass customisation which the presence of the
Nike executive on the Davos forum effectively confirmed. (Check out his contribution about on-line customised Nike trainers here).

Koopa the first successful unsigned online band

In January 2007 in the second week after downloads were officially recorded in the make up of the charts, Koopa became the first successful band who did not even wait to be signed up by a record company or have a record in the shops to make the charts:

We built our own website. Then we started advertising that on Google, places like that. From there it was just getting on MySpace and our website, and making sure you're keeping people up to date with regular newsletters, messages and blogs on MySpace.

Dinosaurs or adaptors: Where will the music industry go?

It remains to be seen exactly how the music industry will react. Many of the suits are saying that a band will always need the power of a big company to do the marketing. Possibly this will be true to create a number of supergroups doing spectacular world tours. On the other hand maybe the market will fragment further with young people increasingly sceptacle about paying ludicrous prices to go and see an overhyped  band when there is plenty of variety. With a bit of luck the download era may help spawn a much larger number of live acts and remove the overpaid parasites at the top of the pile. The sooner aspects of 'celebrity' (i.e. industry sponsored hype) are excluded by customers the better for music, musicians and audiences. Watch this space for more news on this.


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