« Friday Fanboy: the Zen Micro + Rhapsody To Go | Main | A Long Tail strategy for Arrested Development »

November 13, 2005



Taking the DJ out of the picture is probably a good thing when the DJ is obnoxious (as so many personality jocks are), but it's no substitute for having people whose taste you trust acting as filters. There's a good college station here in LA (KCRW) that I listen to regularly. I'm always discovering new music there, and in addition there are frequent in-studio performances and interviews. Having an intelligent individual human managing the programming is a big advantage (for me, as a listener) over playlists generated by marketing groups or corporate strategists.

Fred Hapgood

I can't imagine how a long tail enthusiast could overlook internet radio. There might be ten thousand stations -- basically anybody with a serious record collection -- out there and all you need to do is find a broadcast by someone who matches your taste at better than 99 parts in a hundred and you're in heaven. There is a station out there (whalesongs.org) that plays nothing but songs from humpback whales vacationing in Maui. (When the whales actually arrive the station uses acoustic buoys to broadcast live!) (There is an attempt being made on the East Coast to do exactly this for Right Whales. Soon there will be a long tail -- and a long tale --for realtime whale music.) There are many stations (one being sacredsoundsradio.com) playing the sacred music of the East, which is a genre that not everyone is familiar with. There is a station playing music for dogs. When I listen to these I feel like I did in the late 60's -- at the threshhold of a moment when radio is redefining the culture.


It is the curse of broadcast...

If somebody could do TiVo for radio right so that you could easily skip past songs you don't like, wouldn't that solve this as well? That's how I watch music videos.


This topic is pretty interesting! Write more as you learn more about the success of these stations!

Vil Vodka

As far as radio, I often considered LIVE365 as my personal long tail experience, even if there are not any retail ties to the experience
At home I use the special Live365 player, but at work I just play it through the pop-up window. The one advantage of the pop up window is that you can use your mouse wheel to play roulette through your presets.
if I hear a song that I don’t like, a spin of the wheel takes me to another station. Although at work I don’t have the time to scope every station until I find the write one ( I currently have 60 presets), I can take a few seconds for the station to cue up and see which band or song is currently playing, usually a few seconds before the stream hits my computer.
If it's something that I know and like, or if its a artist who I have been hearing alot about but have yet to hear, I will keep it at the station and presume my regular work. That right there is the filter. I say that no matter which station I am tuned to, atleast one unfamiliar song or artist per 20 minutes of listening will play. By sticking with that station through the programmers selected songs on their playlist through both familiar and unfamiliar music, I am hitting the long tail.

I realize that this is similar to being in a car with an fm stereo and dealing with that unit's preset function. However in that experience you are dealing with the audible experience as oppose to the visual text experience. You may click a station and like a song without knowing the title or who the artist is. Likewise, you may hate a 15 second sample song without realizing its a new song from one of your favorite artists and click to hear something else.
Therefore, the Live365 example is bit more discriminating, like a good filter should be.

In either experience, you have to be hooked by the head, in order to get to the tail.

Vil Vodka, Vodka Tonic Media

Craig Nicol

I would think that a radio station like www.last.fm or Yahoo! Launchcast would be a better example of long-tail radio, not because of the size of the playlist, but because the station streams music based on filtering from your ratings and similar listeners. Isn't the size of the playlist just the first part of the long-tail idea, because there's no point having everything available if you cannot find what you are looking for.

Canadian Headhunter

Starbucks seems to be having success with its music mixes so it's hard to say that people never like music packages pre-selected for them. But with iPods and stolen mp3's it's easy to see the threat to music radio.

Donna's Daughter

Saw your note in your left-hand sidebar regarding Forbes Publisher Rich Karlgaard. Bloggers and entrepreneurs do have a lot in common. If you want to hear Rich Karlgaard this weekend, he's a guest on StartupNation radio on Saturday, December 3. For a complete list of stations nationwide, visit www.startupnation.com. He'll take questions live too. If you miss it, StartupNation will have it available via podcast too.


Great piece. I think the age thing is crucial on why the format strugles. 70's music hits outside the demo. You are in music there that was created when the key demo was under 10 years old??? If you are a 34 year old person today, in 1970 you wouldn't even have been born? 44 today, in 1970 you were 6?

The comments to this entry are closed.


The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!