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The Long Tail

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the something-for-everyone dept.

Media 290

Chris Anderson writes "I'm the editor of Wired Magazine and if you'll forgive the autohornblowing, I think you'll be interested in my piece in our latest issue. It argues, with a lot of new data, that the entertainment industry is shifting from an era of hit-driven economics to one of niche-driven economics. Content that was once relegated to the fringe, beneath the threshold of commercial viability, is now increasingly able to find a market in distributed audiences, marking a shift towards the previously-neglected Long Tail of the demand curve."

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290 comments

More Democratic Market (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444006)

Often I'm irritated anyone, including friends, try to interest me in something 'like' what I'm reading, like Amazon Recommendations do. Politely I'll say, thanks, I'll look into it or such and carry on my way. Sometimes I'll actually buy a book on recommendation and toss it on a shelf somewhere for a rainy day or the next in line of the very long line of books I've read. This is effectively Word-Of-Mouth advertising and the most effective of all forms of advertising -- small wonder Amazon uses it, it works and I've grudgingly picked up a few other books due to this and often it is true, I will enjoy the book, after all hundreds or thousands aren't necessarily wrong.

A notable exception was Red Dwarf, which many people recommended as the next Hitchhikers, as good as Hitchhikers, etc. I found the two books to be like they said, but perhaps not as they intended, I found Red Dwarf to be very derivative and fairly juvenile, as if someone really loved a book so much that they wrote in a similar setting (sci-fi in this case.) I didn't pursue it past the two books I was given, it was a bit of a downer, too as the authors had a small group of characters to play with after killing off the entire human race and finding bugger all in space.

I've had satellite radio for two years now and can tell honestly say I don't listen to current pop anymore, as I've found swing and standards to be awesome music, it's a bit puzzling how music evolved from that to Britney Spears, et al, but as The Long Tail indicates, we're leaving a top-down dictation of our musical tastes and finding our own way, whether in the past or in the present but other genres than commercial radio wants us to hear (and buy.)

Years ago I moved to Santa Cruz, which has the Nickelodeon and Del Mar [thenick.com] theaters. I've found about 3/4 of the films I watch are there rather than the big hollywood multiplex (Santa Cruz 9) down the street. I'm more surprised and intrigued by what I see on those screens (which included Touching The Void) than the shiney, candy-like offerings from down south. I can't say I'd have had the same choice in the city I moved from, where no such independent cinemas existed, shy of driving 125 miles to the Maple Theater in Troy, MI.

Re:More Democratic Market (1)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444046)

t's a bit puzzling how music evolved from that to Britney Spears

You are confusing Britney Spears (BS?!) with a musician. She is an entertainer. Nothing more, nothing less.

Re:More Democratic Market (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444079)

You are confusing Britney Spears (BS?!) with a musician. She is an entertainer. Nothing more, nothing less.

You could say the same of Frank Sinatra or Bobby Derren. Why does their music have impact and BS doesn't?

Re:More Democratic Market (2, Insightful)

El (94934) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444124)

Perhaps because Frank Sinatra and Bobby Derren didn't remove their clothing in the middle of a performance? BS isn't a singer; she is just an exceptionally highly compensated stripper.

Re:More Democratic Market (4, Insightful)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444203)

They again, were entertainers...no one really goes and studies the "music" of Sinatra like one would go and study up on Miles Davis or Bob Dylan or Jimmy Page....as in the art of music itself.

But there's certainly nothing wrong with Britney Spears if you're into her. It's what someone likes...and the "music" is really secondary to BS or others of her ilk. It's the entertainment that's the draw.

Re:More Democratic Market (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444397)

They again, were entertainers...no one really goes and studies the "music" of Sinatra like one would go and study up on Miles Davis or Bob Dylan or Jimmy Page....as in the art of music itself.

But there's certainly nothing wrong with Britney Spears if you're into her. It's what someone likes...and the "music" is really secondary to BS or others of her ilk. It's the entertainment that's the draw.

Right, but on radio, there's little of Britney to see (clothed or otherwise) whereas I'd say Sinatra, Derren, Holiday, Jordan(*), et al have, for lack of a better word, presence that transcends decades and a purely audio medium. Britney sounds too much like her contemporaries, so it's her prancing around on stage and the audience fascination with whatever she says in magazines or does in her personal life (as observed by tabloids) that carries her.

* I'd never heard of Louis Jordan until I had satellite, now I've got many of his albums, an amazing, talented writer, composer and singer I would have probably gone my life without ever hearing of.

Re:More Democratic Market (4, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444456)

While that is true, Sinatra may not have been a great musician to be studied by posterity, but at least he was a singer. He entertained with his voice, by singing good tunes in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The reason Britney Spears and the like get derided is that the talent of singing has taken a backseat to glittery semi-nude outfits and titellation of adult men with teenage booty. Don't get me wrong, I am all for some teenage booty now and then (I think I'm getting too old to say that, so don't arrest me please), but I don't want to turn on my radio and hear these chick singer voices that have to be processed to hell and back again to make them sound aesthetically pleasing.


My metric for this is "would this person be entertaining if you gave them a microphone and a couple of acoustic instruments to back them and sat them down on a stage?" And in the case of nonvocal music, it's a question of whether the music itself is sufficiently enjoyable to stand on its own merit. If neither of these metrics are met, then it may be entertainment but it's not really music. And some pop songs are decently catchy and enjoyable, in *spite of* the singer behind them - you can have a great songwriter or producer behind an otherwise mediocre talent and still come up with something that sounds pretty good. And I can appreciate those songs for what they are, but still dismiss the singer as worthless.

Re:More Democratic Market (3, Insightful)

Enry (630) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444121)

I didn't pursue it past the two books I was given, it was a bit of a downer, too as the authors had a small group of characters to play with after killing off the entire human race and finding bugger all in space.

Uhm. You know there were 8 TV series (seasons) of Red Dwarf done by the BBC, along with a movie that's in production, right? The two books only cover a part of the first season. The first 4 series are on DVD now, so go hit your local library or DVD rental store and check it out.

Re:More Democratic Market (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444174)

Uhm. You know there were 8 TV series (seasons) of Red Dwarf done by the BBC, along with a movie that's in production, right? The two books only cover a part of the first season. The first 4 series are on DVD now, so go hit your local library or DVD rental store and check it out.

I remember watching a PBS fundraiser, years ago, where they were introducing the actors who would be playing the new series the station would carry (if the station could just get enough donations) but it didn't strike me as interesting enough to watch more than a part of an episode. But like I said, the first two books didn't inspire me to read any further so I didn't.

Re:More Democratic Market (1)

Colazar (707548) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444430)

Which is fine, but just to re-iterate the earlier poster's point, it was a TV show *first*, and the books you read were derivative of that, and likely of standard movie-novelization caliber. (Which is to say, not very good, no matter who wrote them.)

IMO, the first two seasons of Red Dwarf were excellent. After that, they got a following, a budget, had to make some cast changes, abandoned any shred of continuity, and became boring. (But stayed popular enough to have 6 more seasons. So what do I know.) But the first two are well worth watching.

Feel free to not watch them, though. That's entirely your right.

You know how films rarely live up to a book? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444396)

It's pretty much the same the other way round for books based on a film or TV series. My take on it is that the arts don't often translate well across media.

Actually, More Fragmented Market (1, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444449)

20 years ago, the TV audience was partitioned among 3 major networks: NBC, ABC, and CBS. Today, the TV audience is fragmented among 20+ stations, of which the majority are on cable TV.

Hence, Hollywood, which produces most of the films, must target a fragmented audience. Each film must be profitable on a tiny percentage of the viewing audience. By definition, such films are niche films

Consider "Star Trek". When it first aired, its ratings were considered terrible, but those same ratings would be considered a success today.

The negative side of niche films is that they divide the culture of the nation. In the golden age of TV, with only 3 TV networks, a huge percentage of the population shared the same TV experience by virtue of watching the same TV programs. Now, with so many TV networks and so many films, where is the binding glue for a common culture?

What is remarkable is that FOX news regularly beats the competition in this fragmented market, besting ABC, CBS, and NBC. Perhaps, there is something to this "No Spin" thing.

autohornblowing (5, Funny)

imr (106517) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444008)

you'll forgive the autohornblowing
On the contrary, i'm quite impressed by your agility, even jealous.

Re:autohornblowing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444093)

as long as he doesn't publicly toot his own lower horn, I suppose it's acceptable. Woooooooooooo!!!

Re:autohornblowing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444135)

if the Slashdot invoice for this publicity is 0$, then I'm even more impressed by the autohornblowing.

The long tail is already here (5, Interesting)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444018)

The long tail resonates with me in a way that makes me think this is the future of entertainment. And it should be. If you want to see the salvation of the music industry, it is not DRM or 'the next big thing'. It's Wilco. It's Radiohead. It's the Roots. It's thousands of artists you've never heard of and likely never will.

Back in college I was a record collector. I would spend hours upon hours trolling every used record store in the Bay Area looking for obscure items on my 'must have' list. Whenever I visited a new city, I would always try to hit some used stores, regardless of the weather or the character of the neighborhoods they may be located in. I also spent nearly as much time in used book stores looking for anything that struck me as interesting at the time. Over the course of the years and several cross country moves I've shed most of the books and all of the vinyl. My cd collection has plummeted from several thousand down to a few hundred. And yet I now have access to more literature and music than ever.

I've been using iTunes for over a year now, and I've bought more music in the past 6 months through iTunes than in the entire 3 years prior to the release of iTunes. I don't spend much time listening to whatever is on the top 40 charts. Most of the artists I like live in the long tail. They are often even names you might know, but they are not chart toppers. They won't go platinum, but they'll still make money. I worked at a used CD store in Colorado for a while, and the owner there understood the long tail even though he didn't understand it as such. When people were selling us CDs he would just look at the titles and be able to tell you what it was worth without even looking it up on the computer. Here's a tip for you: you can always get top dollar for a Frank Zappa CD.

Already posted on my blog, but what the hell.

Re:The long tail is already here (4, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444077)

I would spend hours upon hours trolling every used record store in the Bay Area

How? Were you slipping goatse printouts in the liners?

Re:The long tail is already here (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444185)

It's Wilco. It's Radiohead. It's the Roots. It's thousands of artists you've never heard of and likely never will.

way to be indie.

:giantest rolleyes emoticon evar:

Re:The long tail is already here (1)

sonofagunn (659927) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444293)

It's Radiohead. It's the Roots. It's thousands of artists you've never heard of and likely never will.

Who's never heard of Radiohead?

Re:The long tail is already here (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444361)

I've been using iTunes for over a year now, and I've bought more music in the past 6 months through iTunes than in the entire 3 years prior to the release of iTunes.

When the iTMS came out, I bought a whole lot of back-catalog stuff that I'd always wanted, and only ever saw on late-night TV ads like "Time-Life Records brings you three songs you want, and 96 others that you don't, for six easy payments" yadda yadda yadds.

First tune I bought: "Stagger Lee", by Lloyd Price. Second one: "Whiter Shade of Pale", by Procul Harem. I'd never seen either of them in a record store.

Here's a tip for you: you can always get top dollar for a Frank Zappa CD.

Too bad he's not on the iTMS yet.. Oh, well.

-jcr

Re:The long tail is already here (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444388)

Huh, your long tail is bands I've seen on TV like Wilco and Radiohead, and bands you can find on iTMS?

Not meaning to be all indie or anything, but if I were to start listing long tail bands I'd start with Trans Am, Hem, and Negativland and start working my way out towards stuff like Ritchie Hawtin (Plastikman), Shellac, and Rondellus.

I've not been particularly lucky finding any of that on iTMS, which is why I don't use it.

Re:The long tail is already here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444447)

It's Wilco. It's Radiohead. It's the Roots. It's thousands of artists you've never heard of and likely never will. Nay, it's metal! *throws horns*

Why? (0, Flamebait)

jmays (450770) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444034)

Why does /. succumb to these blatant types of advertising. If the article was submitted by a non-Wired affiliated person ... I might have read it. At least some other Slash-Advertisers post anonymously. pfft.

Re:Why? (1)

ravind (701403) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444125)

Alteast he was honest enough to state his interest in publicizing the article. If you feel so wronged, then save your precious time and don't RTFA...wait, who reads those anyway? :)

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444146)

LOL, agreed. And I do (slightly) appreciate his (public) humility.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Eccles (932) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444138)

Why does /. succumb to these blatant types of advertising.

'Cause none of us read the articles anyway...

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

halfelven (207781) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444377)

That's what i thougth.
But then i read the article and, lo and behold! it was actually interesting.

Not all advertising is evil.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444440)

"If the article was submitted by a non-Wired affiliated person ... I might have read it."

Sure...and the tooth fairy is real too.

I'm the editor of weerd magazine and (3, Funny)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444050)

I'd like to use s;ashdot to promote / advertise my magazine for free too....

this weeks feature story is "Broadband is faster than modem dial up"

Re:I'm the editor of weerd magazine and (0, Troll)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444094)

No one reads weerd magazine.

Or did you mean to say,"I suck as an editoor."

God spoke with me:
www.geocities.com/James_Sager_PA

Re:I'm the editor of weerd magazine and (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444197)

Homer: Heh-heh-heh. I love their hilarious send-ups of hit movies.
Lisa: Dad, it's not--
Homer: "Gigabyte"! [laughs] They've done it again. Gigabyte. Wait, this isn't "Weird"! [looks at cover] Why, there's no magazine *called* "Weird", is there?
Lisa: [takes magazine] This is *"Wired"*. It's about computers and technology.
[Homer stares]
Hey! Look, there's a cyber-café opening here in Springfield. Will you take me, Dad, please? I'll show you how to order pizza over the internet.
Homer: The internet? Is that thing still around?
Bart: [walks in] I know a web site that shows monkeys doing it.
Lisa: Bart, the internet is more than a global pornography network it's--
[Homer, in the car with Bart, honks the horn]
Homer: Come on, Lisa -- monkeys!

Re:I'm the editor of weerd magazine and (2, Insightful)

quantaman (517394) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444198)

I don't mind the editor of wired submitting a story. He was certainly very upfront about it and as far as I know hasn't submitted a story like this before.

Of course his objective in doing so is to generate page hits but if he does provide us with an intesting article and doesn't make a habit of it unlike some other submitters I don't really mind.

It could be worse. (1)

devphil (51341) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444393)


He could have copy'n'pasted other news sites' content to his own blog, added some banner ads to make money, and then sucked michael and CmdrTaco off so they would post anything he submits as "news" [slashdot.org].

Really, Roland needs to become an editor, or at least be given his own category. He can astroturf for cash all he wants then, and we'll be able to ignore his stories.

If you're going to post articles here .... (4, Funny)

Tranzor Z (661878) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444056)

Can you switch my Wired Magazine subscription to a slashdot subscription, so I can at least read the online articles before everyone else?

Primer (1, Interesting)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444067)

Haven't read the article yet (gotta get that karma, baby!) but I think the movie Primer [primermovie.com] is a great example of a niche movie. (And the niche is us geeks.) It's a hard movie to follow and is definately geared towards smart folks, so the audience is bound to be small, but it will definately generate a profit. Dig a bit and you'll see why...

Oh yeah, it's being released in Dallas and New York on Friday. More cities to follow. :)

Re:Primer (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444254)

Haven't read the article yet (gotta get that karma, baby!) but I think the movie Primer is a great example of a niche movie.

If it's a niche movie, it'll probably be on the local indie screen soon.

I hope it's better than some of the stuff I've heard about being good, which wasn't, i.e. Young Einstein and Blair Witch.

Films I did love watching were:

Triplets of Bellville

Run Lola Run

Monsoon Wedding

Shaolin Soccer

Touching the Void

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

All of which were at the local indie theaters. I'm hard pressed to think of anything I've seen at the main theaters in the past 5 years that could hold a candle to any of these.

Re:Primer (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444296)

Errr ... in my market (San Francisco), they were running "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" at the local Loews tyrannoplex -- on the IMAX screen, even.

Re:Primer (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444312)

I hope it's better than some of the stuff I've heard about being good, which wasn't, i.e. Young Einstein and Blair Witch.


Who told you Young Einstein was good?

Re:Primer (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444448)

As far as that goes, any anime movie or series that now gets airtime on G4 is a good example of fringe TV getting facetime in our CABLE (Channels Abound But Little Entertainment) world. I like anime, or at least some of it (see my blog), but it's definitely not mainstream yet.

The modern internet addresses this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444098)

Lots of pics of long tails and demand for curves.

waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444108)

I wouldn't bother buying Wired magazine, it has way too many advertisements in it. The ratio of advertisements to articles looks to be about 100 to 1 at the moment.

Don't get me wrong, I can understand they need to make money but last months Wired only had about 5 articles, only one of which I would call full length, but before the contents page there are at least 5 pages of advertisements.

interesting article (5, Insightful)

ZenBased (593709) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444111)

but it would have been a lot more interesting if the author had provided us with some background information. He now makes a lot of statements, but where did he get all this information from?? the idea of the paper is nice though, now it is time to write something a bit more scientific about the subject?

And I was thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444112)

That Wired had an article on tail recursion. Woa!

The Wired Rule of Content (2, Insightful)

heldlikesound (132717) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444118)

For every page of insightful content thou shall have 7-8 pages of advertising thinly disguised as "tech updates" or "cutting edge information"!

Dear Mr. Anderson (0, Troll)

realmolo (574068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444126)

Thank you for advertising Wired on Slashdot.

By the way, your magazine fucking SUCKS. Always has.

In fact, my friends and I use "Wired" as a kind of measure of quality. As in-

"Man, that chick is really ugly. I wouldn't fuck her with a stolen dick"

"Yeah, but she's still better than an issue of 'Wired'"

"I concur"

Re:Dear Mr. Anderson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444277)

Dear Mr. Anderson

Dude, be careful, he might be related to Neo.

Re:Dear Mr. Anderson (1)

Blue-Footed Boobie (799209) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444315)

Since when? WIRED was one of the few magazines of it's kind when it first came out. WIRED still manages to be a (i) succesful and (ii) interesteing magazine to read. Why, pray tell, does WIRED "Suck"??

Re:Dear Mr. Anderson (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444420)

It's a whiz-bang mag for people with little or no technical background, which is okay, but it inevitably means people with technical knowledge will despise it for being sensationalist. Which it is.

In short, Wired is technology as fashion.

Re:Dear Mr. Anderson (1)

Blue-Footed Boobie (799209) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444482)

Well, Tech without fashion or style doesn't sell. Some of the most innovative (and well selling) products have also demonstrated that the mfg knows that style sells...iPod anyone??

I'm not convinced... (4, Insightful)

Fluidic Binary (554336) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444132)

It sounds great and I hope it is all true, but how can 'the tail' possibly pay for projects that cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars? Many movie, music, game etc depend on the hits to bring in cash to pay for the misses.

I guess we will see how things turn out. I'm not saying the article is wrong, I'm just saying 'the business' will have to change.

only two stories (2, Interesting)

plog (816386) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444161)

niche, eddy, mainstream,

there are only two stories:

hero goes on a journey

a stranger comes to town

all the rest is hornblowing

and markets

With due respect... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444169)

...I think this is confusing somewhat random picking up of the novel and different being in vogue, with there being a widening of the focus.

There's only 20 spots on the best seller list. There are generally more than 20 good books that have come out recently. Quite a lot of really ambitious, deserving stuff is out there, that gets ignored in favor of "what everyone else is reading." You see similar trends in music, movies, etc.

Sure, there are a few critics who went down the road less traveled, found something new, and held it up and said "hey! this is pretty good." And people listened. But has that really created a wider market?

Sure Into Thin Air did well. And now that author's other book is doing well. Great. So, name me one author (or one book you've read) on Skydiving. Mountain biking. White water rafting. You say "well, there aren't any." My point is "how would you know?"

The net here, is that we've still got popularity that's driven by what's getting recommended as "the new hot thing." And, like lemmings, people flock to it. The mainstream has fairly limited bandwidth.

If nothing else, this is proof that there are a lot of reasonably well-written books out there, that a lot of people might enjoy, and picking one at random and giving it the star treatment can make it a success.

My favorite experiment on this--Stephen King (in his preface to "the Bachman Books," a collection of works he pubslihed under the alias "Richard Bachman." These were published without fanfare, under a name no one knew. About as well written as any of his other books, just less well known. They didn't do poorly per se--they did all right, but nothing like his "Stephen King" books. And, once he was unmasked and people knew he had written them, all of a sudden they turned into MUCH bigger sellers....

It's still a question of marketing hype.

Interesting article (5, Interesting)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444171)

I subscribe to Wired and I read the article a few days ago when I got the magazine.

I want the article to be right, but it seems more like a hope than any evidence. Amazon, Netflix, etc are selling/renting a lot of material that traditional stores don't stock, but it doesn't seem like it's indicating any great shift.

Amazon was most dramatic as far as how far much of their sales are of items not stocked at normal book stores. But that just makes sense; if I can buy the book at a brick and morter store I will because then I get a chance to see it, read a bit of it and be sure I like it. Once I've done all that, I don't want to wait a few days to get it from amazon just to save a few percent, I want it right away, so I'll buy it at the store. If I can't find the book in normal stores, then I'll look at amazon.

Re:Interesting article (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444260)

I want the article to be right, but it seems more like a hope than any evidence. Amazon, Netflix, etc are selling/renting a lot of material that traditional stores don't stock, but it doesn't seem like it's indicating any great shift.

We are seeing this happen with Netflix for one simple reason. Longterm Netflix users don't get the more popular titles after a while. They are then given a title that is further and further down the list which ends up being something that is out of the "top 3,000". It's great for people that enjoy documentaries and foreign films but it sucks for people that have no interest in that sort of thing.

Amazon has enabled me to find books that are somewhat similar to what I normally read cheap. Real cheap. I always buy from Amazon used. They usually ship quickly and I only buy ones that are under $2.00. I have amassed quite a ecclectic book collection by doing this. Yeah some of the books aren't in the best of shape but I knew that there was that possibility going in.

It saves ME a ton of time searching brick and mortar stores and it saves me a ton of money too.

Re:Interesting article (1)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444325)

Re Netflix: I've never had trouble getting new releases. It's been covered and slashdot before. Your problem happens to some people, but not all people.

That's odd. (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444268)

I want the article to be right, but it seems more like a hope than any evidence.
That's odd ... are you sure you were reading the right Wired magazine?

Wired Subscribers Anonymous (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444270)

I subscribe to Wired

It's ok, Jason- we all make mistakes, but at least you've come out and admitted you have a problem, and that's the first step.

Who's next?

Doesn't make sense, Miss Moneypenny ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444353)

.:

That doesn't make sense, Miss Moneypenny. Amazon is cheaper than your LB, and shipping is probably free, too. So it takes a week, can't you wait to read some off-the-wall book ? Or do you make a habit of dropping $10 on the ground and walking away ?

:.

Hi (-1, Troll)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444172)

Hi Chris Anderson, I'm josh crawley. I remember when your magazine was relevant, for like a week back in 1996. Why do you think I care now?

Wrong Wired. (2, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444437)

Actually, that wasn't Chris Anderson's Wired back in 1996. A few years after Conde-Nast (publishers of Cosmopolitan, among other things) bought Wired in 1998, they brought in Chris as the new editor-in-chief, with the provision that he could hire his own staff and redesign the magazine. [sfgate.com] So the Wired you know and loathe today is Chris's baby -- not the one you might still have some nostalgic memories for, back during the bubble.

Good time for Canadian Movie Makers (2, Interesting)

JPyObjC Dude (772176) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444182)

If this is true, the Canadian movie business would finally find it's own. Up to now, the movies that are produced in canada simply have not received the exposure that they deserve. Many of the worlds best directors, writers and editors are canadian but unfortunately most of them now work in CA doing what they don't want to.

Hmmm Maybe it's time to get the Panasonic 24 fps DV cam :]

More Wired pseudo-science (2, Interesting)

mekkab (133181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444190)

Seeing as how the web is sicophantic and I already read this when linked from BoingBoing [boingboing.net], I actually have RTFA.

And I don't like the style- it comes off as scientific (Ohhh! It even has GRAPHS! That must be science!) but really is just a bunch of gross generalizations. This kind of crap is what keeps me away from wired.

Though I do appreciate the mention of MP3.com as a long-tail only failure, there are significant issues with respect to business plan specifics that are completely glossed over yet are central to the success Anderson talks about. If Touching the Void weren't reprinted with a vengence, then the resurge wouldn't even exist.

Also, lets talk about the major underpining of Netflix that allows it to "over throw the tyrrany of space"- the US postal system. If Netflix couldn't send the disks cheap enough, fast enough, or had more broken DVDs than they do, they would be out of business.

In short, this whole article reminds me of a DotCom pitch- full of colorful and modern-styled graphics, long on exposition, but with holes.

demographics and buying habits (5, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444202)

This trend is also a generational phenomenon. In researching the buying habits of current teenagers for a client, I was shocked to find that the majority would be LESS likely to buy a product that was used by their favorite star ( see national youth survey on brand loyalty [buzzmg.com]). Nor were the surveyed youth very prone to peer pressure. The results pointed to a high degree of individualism amongst this group.

If people stop buying what the stars are wearing/using and don't respond to peer pressure, then buyers will fragment and the long tail will rise in importance.

could this not just be a /. reader who happens to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444204)

be the editor of a industry (?) mag? if I were to post what I though was an article that readers here could be interested in, but was created by the company I work for, is this wrong?

I just finished the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444207)

...and to go off on a tangent and combine it with election-year politics, the "long tail" would be a perfect place to test out rank aggregation methods (a fancy term for voting). You could have people vote for the songs and artists by plurality, IRV/STV, Borda, Condorcet, Approval, or however they want, and they produce the rankings based on whatever criteria you want. You could even see suggestion by people whose rankings were similar to yours.

A completely digital product has great agility. (2, Interesting)

ARRRLovin (807926) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444237)

Unlike "hard goods", digital products have greater agility when it comes to gauging demand. You don't have to wait for sales figures to come back from stores after end-of-day. You don't have to worry about replenishment after you sell out of a product. There's really no overhead incurred with carrying a digital product, other than securing licensing and providing a delivery mechanism. This makes for a great depth of product and, depending on the ease of use for the customer, will keep a customer coming back if they know they can find exactly what their looking for.

Very interesting article (4, Interesting)

scovetta (632629) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444241)

I must say, everyone who's been telling me to RTFA has been giving good advise. If you're reading this, but you haven't RTFA, you should RTFA now. I agree with the assessment that the traditional 80/20 rule is no longer in effect for some entertainment markets (or at least, not as much as the Powers That Be would make it seem). I've purchased CDs from Norway and Germany that weren't available in the US. I'm always disappointed by Blockbuster's "Top 40"-esque approach to stocking movies. I'm glad to see that it's not just me. Mike

Porn is the cultural touchstone (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444249)

The article basically says that the internet and the information provided in it will allows services and products that are only of interest to a few people to be profitable, by marketing them globally. Well duh. As always, the porn industry is the leader in technology and market trends. Ten years ago sites popped up that provided pictures of one-armed women in golf cleats doing obscene things with cottage cheese. There were forty people who would pay to see that, just enough to make it profitable if you roped them all in from around the world. The mainstream media is just catching on. Provide that obscure service and weirdos around the world will google for it.

Huh? This is not ECO5101 !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444253)

.:

Huh? This is not ECO5101? Maybe Lynda de la Vina knows what nonsense you speak, but we mere mortals are way too stupid to catch your meaning . . . dude !!

:.

Here's self-promotion back at you (4, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444258)

I'm old enough to remember when Wired was relevant. Then it decided to dedicate all of its covers to managers rather than technologies, and focus on their human side (short story: they are all dweebs), rather than on the technical aspect of their contributions, which is why they became famous/wealthy in the first place.

Thus Wired became the "Cosmopolitan" of the internet revolution, with the sole difference that the faces on the cover are ugly.

I quickly droped my subscription and none of my tech friends read it either. In fact I can't recall when was the last time I saw an issue of the magazine.

Re:Here's self-promotion back at you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444433)

no need to drop your subscription... Wired often gives out free subscriptions, if you look in the right places. Never been a paying a subscriber, but I've been a free subscriber for a few months now :-)

I thought (5, Funny)

smileyy (11535) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444261)

I thought Wired was just a write-off vehicle for some company that had millions of gallons of fluorescent and metallic ink on their hands. You mean there's words in that magazine?

I Am Not Being Shifted, I Am Being Forced (4, Interesting)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444262)

The entertainment is a unique beast in that it permiates almost every part of our lives. From the morning news to the cereal we eat to the drive to and from work, people will find they are being bombarded by the entertainment industry. It didn't used to be that way, but has come on really strong in recent years. Group that with the number of movies that Hollywood produces each year, and you will find entertainment sensory overload?

"So what?" you might ask. Well, the problem here is that there appears to be only so many formulas that main stream Hollywood can produce. So, all that sensory overload is starting to become the same thing over and over again. How many firefighter movies do we need? Obviously one more since Ladder 49 found its way in theatres. And, if you have seen it, you will find (besides the way it ends) that it lacks originality in almost every facet of its existence. Same thing with Shark Tale. Get down to it, its just a gangster movie with a kids front put on it. I am not the only one who has noticed this, either. Most in my group feel that most every movie formula has been done to death by the movie industries. Look at the movie Taxi coming out soon. Go and rent the likes of National Security or Lethal Weapon and you will see basically the same formula.

This is where the indie industry is coming to the rescue with their niche titles. Its why your Napolean Dynamites are doing so well while main stream stuff is struggling to stay in theatres for any length of time. Its why Donnie Darko has such an underground following where as Armegeddon is considered loud crap by many.

This, of course, extends down to the rental businees. People are hungry for entertainment and these niche titles fit that bill to a tee. I, for one, am glad we have a Netflix that is able to provide the alternatives to the Grade A blockbuster crap from mainstream studios. Otherwise, I think I would have given up on the movie industry a long time ago.

I have put all my eggs in this 'niche' basket (1)

tippergore (32520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444295)

I completely agree that the future of commerce is a niche-driven market. That is why when I created my company -- WeaselBalls.com [weaselballs.com], we decided to cater to a specific kind of consumer, and only that kind of consumer.

In the long run, I think it's going to pay off.

Self-referential (2, Informative)

russsell (185151) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444300)

It's a fringe-content article on Slahdot about pushing fringe content to distributed audiences through alternative channels! I was surprised that it didn't use itself as an example!

For a far better analysis of the issues, see "The Perils of the Imitation Age" by Eric Bonabeau in the Harvard Business Review June 2004.

Didn't Rob make this same argument? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444317)

say...2+ years ago?

If you are going to Auto-horn-blow... (1, Insightful)

mmmmmhotpants (800341) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444333)

...post your Curriculum Vitae.

You are basically using your position at Wired to override the whole moderation process to publicize an article you wrote and your views. If you are going to do that, I would like to see if you are more qualified, at least on paper, than the average slashdot user. I don't think being a writer/editor for Wired automatically makes your voice about economics more important than another Slashdot user. If you were editor of the Wall St. Journal or a professor of economics, then maybe.

I will give you respect, however, for being honest about publicizing your own article and not using some pseudoname. Perhaps Slashdot should create a special category like shamelessplug.slashdot.org.

Ok article, but not great (4, Insightful)

Retrospecter (807978) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444334)

I'm happy to see this topic addressed, and the author clearly makes a good point. I hope the suits in the leather chairs are starting to understand this. Most of us were already aware of this apparent shift in purchasing patterns.

However, the article did not need to be as long as it was. The same point was repeated over and over, and although there's nothing wrong with presenting evidence, I thought, "Ok, I get it." The article also had that high-school-position-paper feel to it. I would have preferred to see more facts and a little less dissertation.

Not so for everyone (2, Insightful)

KidHash (766864) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444335)

Whilst the concept is interesting (more choice, more sales), what the article doesn't take into account, is that for many people, they'll only spend a limited amount per month/week/year/whatever on films or music. I live in a small city, with a smallish HMV. I know that if I lived in a much larger city, with a record store with more choice, I wouldn't spend more money on records - I'd spend the same - that's all I can afford. I might choose different records, but the total spent wouldn't change. It may well be that documentaries are selling more on netflix, but one can't assume that these documentaries are 'as well as' another film - they might just replace a 'top 100' film, and so the company doesn't gain any more...

Unless (1)

Jaguar777 (189036) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444337)

Content that was once relegated to the fringe, beneath the threshold of commercial viability, is now increasingly able to find a market in distributed audiences, marking a shift towards the previously-neglected Long Tail of the demand curve.

Unless you are the part of the fringe that wants the original unedited Star Wars trilogy released on DVD. In which case you are SOL.

Under Distributed Movies List (2, Informative)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444391)

I've been using my own under distributed movies list [laboratory...states.com] to decide what movies to see.

Basically I just look at the weekly box office for each movie divided by the number of screens squared and that tells me how much acceleration the market is placing on the distribution channels for the movies.

It works pretty well. Playing the Hollywood Stock Exchange [looksmart.com] with this metric does a pretty good job of detecting bargains.

The "long tail" as it applies to products. (4, Interesting)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444432)

I started a company that serves a relatively niche market. We make devices for computer musicians. Ten years ago, it would have been impossible -- the startup costs for creating relatively short run hardware at affordable prices were astronomical.

With today's technology, it is possible to profitably release a product that looks like it came from a "big player" in the industry, but is manufactured in batches of a few hundred, as orders permit. This gives us tremendous flexibility to create and customize new products based upon a central core.

My point? Its not just music and publishing that are being morphed by technology. Its also software -- think of all the shareware and open source projects that have dramatically changed the landscape of the software industry.

Makes sense. (3, Interesting)

rkischuk (463111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444435)

Look at the television market. You went from 3 major networks (Fox) to 4 major networks and several minor networks (UPN, WB, PAX) on broadcast, and shows like The Simpsons, Married With Children, 7th Heaven, and Buffy found a place because there wasn't as much pressure to be the huge hit that's needed to maintain ratings at a blockbuster network.

Cable comes along and adds a few more channels, at a lower distribution cost. Some local unaffiliated stations become "superstations" (TBS, USA I think, WGN), and a few niche players develop (most notably MTV, VH1, CMT, and eventually TLC, Discovery, etc). But remember the old cable boxes? They had a cap of about 36 channels, so there was no room for diversification, only replacement of one interest with another.

Cable began to broaden as TV sets came cable-ready, adding broader interests again, but the floodgates have really opened with the advent of digital cable and satellite. Now, the incremental distribution cost of a channel is marginal. Channels number in the hundreds, and more unusual interests can now be explored - think Discovery Health, VH1 Classic, TechTV, Game Show Network, etc. The distributers are still limited, but those limitations continue to fall as cable providers find ways to squeeze more bandwidth out of their lines and satellite adds capacity in the sky through new satellites and better (or just more) compression. The new limits are becoming simply the ability of the channel to remain profitable, and provide their channel at a price the dish and cable services find profitable as well. Content is getting cheaper as media has become near omnipresent. We have channels on local Atlanta cable - Falconsvision and Comcast Sports South. Both capitalize almost entirely on previously recorded and produced content, repackaged. By aggregating existing content, they're able to provide something that distinguishes them from the satellite providers, and is easily a profitable endeavor.

I see this trend stalling for a while as increased capacity is used for distribution of the same content in higher resolution (HD). This pause may be quite drawn out, depending on when the consumer decides that the image is "good enough". (There is little demand, for example, for higher resolution digital audio. I don't think 1080i is the end of the upgrade cycle for video.) Alternately, a new distribution channel (easy to use internet-based channel surfing) may accelerate this growth, but this seems unlikely for quite some time - with ~15 Megabit/s plus bandwidth requirements for compressed HDTV, it will be a while before the average home is able to receive content at a resolution that can compare to current TV technology. More hindering is the lack of a broadcast mechanism for the internet (one source, unlimited listeners within a certain range). A PC with gigabit ethernet would only allow 66 HD concurrent viewers, provided the hardware could keep up. This tech needs to cheaply scale to hundreds of thousands to become practical.

Wired, a division of The Sharper Image (0, Offtopic)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#10444438)

Wired has become like those "magazines" airlines give away. It's mostly gadget ads, with fluff articles on gadgets.

In fact, Wired could probably cut deals to put their magazine in seats in business class.

application to venture capital? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10444480)

I found this article pretty interesting, and I wonder if his thesis would apply to venture capitalists. I've raised venture capital for startups for two decades, and one theme common to most of the VCs I've dealt with is their search for the "hit" company. The usual hit/zombie/crash ratio VCs quote is 1/3/6, that is out of 10 investments, 1 will come in big, 3 will keep going but bring minimal ROI, and 6 will go under. This seems close to the 80/20 Pareto ratio in the article.

Would any professional VCs mind commenting on their investment model? Might there be a place for VCs who invest on the basis of multiple successful niche companies, rather than looking for the blockbuster hit?
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