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January 15, 2009

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Nick Carr

Chris, The eMusic service (which is great) excludes almost all popular hits (because it can't afford to sell them) and, as its managing director notes in the release, is a business that's all tail and no head. Do you think that that makes its example less useful in gauging general patterns of online purchases? Nick

carlos salas

Hi Chris, my name is Carlos Salas. I would like to interview you for the largest spanish scientific/divulgative magazine with more than 2,5 millions readers in Spain and Latin America. The magazine's name is Muy Interesante (Very Interesting, in english). My aim is to get some opinions from you about your next book, "Free". May I have your e mail os a phone number?
Thank you, Carlos Salas
(You can see my e mail)

Chris Anderson

Nick,

Yes, I wouldn't attempt to characterize all online purchases, or even all music purchases, on the basis of this data. But at least we know where this data set is from, so we can make that discrimination and think about what it does and doesn't mean. That's the point: data+source is meaningful; data-source is not meaningful. My problem with the UK data is that we don't know where it's from and thus can't ask these questions.

James Stevens

Nick, it is possible that the patterns would be different, but the fact that eMusic DOES NOT sell major label music is even more of a testament to the 75% feat. Naturally, it's much harder to sell indie music... it is the Long Tail, the head is the major labels. It can't sell major label music because the reocord labels charge too much. It's short-sightedness by them, they should be making money by any avenue possible. However, the fact that eMusic is mostly indie helps keep their community strong and passionate, since most true music fans frown upon top 40 hits and pop culture sell-outs like Fall Out Boy.

Jason

Great post

Nick Carr

My problem with the UK data is that we don't know where it's from and thus can't ask these questions.

I couldn't agree more.

Jon

Might this also have something to do with the fact that eMusic works on a tracks per month subscription model?
As an eMusic user I often have credits left over after downloading stuff I really want, and regard these as effectively free downloads that I can use to "explore".

Cynthia Penfold

Good to see that eMusic's sales support the model proposed in 'The Long Tail" I wonder how many other industries would benefit from understanding this concept?

A.B.

Based on my experience as an information architect, I have no doubt that the researches that find results contradicting the "Long Tail" theory have nothing to do with the lack of foundation for the theory, but rather are a consequence of inadequate tools to help users find relevant items from the long tail that might want to consume.

"Web 2.0 features, insightful editorial content, a passionate subscriber community and an easy-to-use and effective recommendation engine" are examples of capabilities that would allow other businesses to take advantage of the Long Tail the same way as eMusic did.

James

Chris,
I don’t know if you can qualify eMusic’s subscription model as a long tail business. It is misleading to say that they 75% of it’s tracks “sold”, since the store "sells" music in a subscription model. In many of the long tail examples, the product was priced uniformly across the tail. This seems to be a case against the long tail, but I am skeptical of the results from the UK data. I think it is important to note that eMusic’s web 2.0 features create “filters” (a main component of long tail businesses) with editorial content and some sort of community.

I think that Amiestreet.com is an interesting case because it varies their pricing dynamically with demand to maintain the low opportunity cost for consumers to experience new and/or obscure music. I'm curious to see any news on their successes or lack thereof.

I've done quite a bit of analysis on the phenomenon of free and music. Music makes for an interesting case because it is a product that consumers develop a passion for in different degrees which then translates into a large range of perceived value and willingness to pay. Check out my analyses of Radiohead's In Rainbows. Part 1 is quantitative, part 2 is qualitative.

Part 1:
http://enoughcowbell.com/2008/12/17/solving-the-mystery-of-in-rainbows-average-download-price-part-1-of-2/

Part 2:
http://enoughcowbell.com/2008/12/18/radiohead-says-in-rainbows-experiment-is-a-success-will-it-work-for-all-part-2-of-2/


tomslee

Three points.

Yes it is a problem that we don't know the source of the UK study data. But it is no better to have hidden data from a known source self-interpreted by the owner of that source and produced as a press release (which I can find nowhere but here - not even on the e-Music site). Am I missing something? Sometimes I just wish there was some actual data we could look at.

"The Long Tail" p 149 explicitly states that successful long-tail businesses will be ones that provide both the head and the tail. And that the failure of MP3.com was because "it was only the Long Tail". eMusic is built to sell indie music. If it is successful, then that would appear to be in conflict with your book, so I don't see how it can be a vindication of the LT.

And finally, the only substantive statements I can see are that "approximately 75% of eMusic tracks sold at least once during
2008" and that "The company also announced that its catalogue has surpassed five million
tracks." These are very sketchy and are open to all sorts of interpretation, especially given the conflict of interest that eMusic has. How many titles sold just once for example? I don't see how you can get any kind of support for the LT from this unless there was more in the email than is posted here. The comment from James above makes sense to me also - a subscription model will promote diversity because if you have a few items to use up at the end of the month it costs you nothing to try a few oddities.

Robin Goad

I've done some analysis of this using Hitwise internet usage data here:

http://weblogs.hitwise.com/robin-goad/2009/01/emusic_and_the_long_tail.html

Like some of the other commentators above, I also came to the conclusion that eMusic is not a typical music retailer. This is due to its subscription model - customers cannot rollover credits at the end of the month, so are encouraged to download tail tracks - and the fact that it focusses on independent music (or perhaps more importantly, doesn't include much mainstream music).

twojeanonse

Nice to see so good informations. Very good blog.

M. Laporte

Good news!
One of the best blog!

Arun D

Interesting to see a number of people questioning the worth of this data on the basis of this data being from a subscription based service.

Chris's original article and book featured data from Rhapsody's subscription service prominently. Perhaps the observations made above (using 'free' subscription credits encourages playing in the tail) is a cause to revisit some original conclusions but it does not mean this model doesn't 'qualify'.

Reference

Hopefully this type of trend will continue

tomslee

Arun D: The decision to compare Rhapsody to that most limited of bricks-and-mortar store Wal-Mart was one of the reasons I felt the hypothesis was never proven in the book (see here: http://whimsley.typepad.com/whimsley/2007/03/the_long_tail_l.html).

The eMusic datum (not actually data: one number is all we have) does not disprove the hypothesis, but neither does it confirm it, or even contradict the Will Page study (which also unfortunately relies on proprietary data, of course). Similarly, the repeated references to iTunes as a long tail music vendor has never been backed up by data. In the book there is no data about iTunes at all, for example.

The onus of proof is surely on the proposer of a hypothesis. The Long Tail has not been demonstrated to be a valuable business model *except* in that the biggest Internet players can reach further down into small-scale production than in the bricks-and-mortar world. Most importantly in my mind, it has not been demonstrated that the digital world promotes a more diverse ("niche driven") culture than the bricks-and-mortar world.

AABIA Outsourcing

i've been suspecting this for a long time. confirmed at last.

regards,
www.araamatupidamine.ee

AABIA Outsourcing

i've been suspecting this for a long time. confirmed at last.

regards,
www.araamatupidamine.ee

MightyMedia Man

It is natural to fight for a theory you believe in... especially one which pays the bills. Not surprisingly, Mr. Anderson objects to any data that tends to disprove his theory and champions any data that supports "The Long Tail".
I worked for DMGI, one of the first major music aggregators built on the a long tail concept... it failed. The reason was simple... sales were low and costs were high. Every tail needs a head... without it you just end up wagging yourself to death.

Chris Anderson

"Every tail needs a head" is one of the themes of my book, in exactly those words. I wish people would actually respond to what I've written, rather than some misremembering of it.

Chris Anderson

PS: the cautionary tale I told in the book about the need for head *and* tail was that of MP3.com, which failed for the same reason.

MightyMediaMan

It's all about quality... real or perceived. The lack of a head was not the reason MP3.com failed. It was doomed because the mass of their content was... well... crap. No one likes to wade through it.

MightyMediaMan

P.S: In a world where the perceived value of all media continues to decline, as does the retail price, a company needs a very substantial head and body to thrive... and quality is paramount. I'm not saying that a tail isn't a nice thing to have, it is... but like every animal I can think of, a business must be able to thrive when the tail is removed... any company which chases its tail, will run in circles and go nowhere.

Stampczarus

As far as the eMusic data is concerned: When all you have is a tail... it becomes your head. If I own the Scotch Tape store in the new mall and I sell 75% of all the types of tape I carry, does that prove "The Long Tail" theory. No. Anyone coming to my store is looking for Scotch tape, so while that product might be the tail for a gift shop across the promenade, for me it's the entire body. (Please excuse my ancient SNL Scotch Tape store reference)

Corey Frisbee

great blog I agree it is all about quality

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... especially one which pays the bills. Not surprisingly, Mr. Anderson objects to any data that tends to disprove his theory and champions any data that supports "The Long Tail".
I worked for DMGI, one of the first major music aggregators built on the a long tail concept... it failed. The reason was simple... sales were low and costs were high. Every tail needs a head... without
subscription based service.

Chris's original article and book featured data from Rhapsody's subscription service prominently. Perhaps the observations made above (using 'free' subscription credits encourages playing in the tail) is a cause to revisit some original conclusions but it does not mean this model doesn't 'qualify'.


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conclusion that eMusic is not a typical music retailer. This is due to its subscription model - customers cannot rollover credits at the end of the month, so are encouraged to download tail tracks - and the fact that it focusses on independent music (or perhaps more importantly, doesn't include much mainstream music). independently using data from O’Reilly and Random House (the largest tech publisher and general publisher in the world, respectively). The new slides, from the recent Book Expo America, expand the work with a larger data-set, and confirm the earlier findings that free downloads are broadly
منتديات

Hi Chris, my name is Carlos Salas. I would like to interview you for the largest

دردشه


... sales were low and costs were high. Every tail needs a head... without it you just end up wagging yourself

منتديات

actually respond to what I've written, rather than some
Most importantly in my mind, it has not been demonstrated that the digital world promotes

منتدي


شات



David

These are very sketchy and are open to all sorts of interpretation, especially given the conflict of interest that eMusic has. How many titles sold just once for example?

David From the Deeper Voice Blog

iron

eMusic's data seems to contradict this and back Anderson's theory. "eMusic is the Long Tail," Madeleine Milne, eMusic's managing director for Europe, said in a statement. Using both automated features and editorial content, eMusic highlights even the neglected corners of their catalogue, Milne said. "Our customers buy music beyond the mainstream Top 40 because we provide them with more context .. experimentation.

Account Deleted

Well, nice article buddy… Someone will love to read this infor if I tell her about this. For those of you thinking that if they implement this it will eliminate some of the waiting and lines…
meme estetiği
yüz estetiği
burun estetiği

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Tidbits

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.

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