Remember the Long Tail? Here’s What It Looks Like In 2013…

“If the twentieth century entertainment industry was about hits, the twenty-first will be equally about niches,” Long Tail theorist Chris Anderson proclaimed back in 2006.  Which brings us to 2013, where the hits are still dramatically huge, and the rest are fighting for scraps — even among the best-sellers.

15 Responses

  1. Visitor

    This post isn’t very constructive as an argument against the long tail.

    You’d need to add up every album sold from #2 through at least 200 showing how many more Justin Timberlake sold than all of them combined. The reality is the long tail is about way past 200 you’d need to dig into every album that sold even 1 copy this week.

    • Visitor

      They already did that. In 2008 two economists found out that 80% of iTunes tracks never sold ONE copy (around 8MM never sold). It’s a made up theory that sold a bunch of books.

  2. David

    I don’t think much of the long-tail theory, but I don’t see that this one week’s evidence shows much either for or against it. What it does prove is that Justin Timberlake had a very good week, with over 20 times the sales of the next biggest seller. From #2 down to #200 it looks like a fairly smooth tapering off. In fact, I’m rather impressed that #200 is still selling over 2000 album units in a week. The ‘long tail’, if there is one, must be further down the rankings.

    • Jeff Robinson

      Considering these numbers are usually fudged at retail for major label, I highly doubt Justin Timberlake came anywhere near that number. Those charts are for sale my friend.

      • Cathy

        Agreed, however, being in the top of the charts is way better for sales even if you have to buy your way there. There’s research for that too. The trend works on the mobile app side as well, which is why there is an escalating cost to buying your way to the top of the charts in that market. Essentially, you’re buying extra visibility and there’s way more of it at the top of the charts than just beyond. If your conversion rate is better than the cost, you make money.

  3. Richard

    The Long Tail is a very valid concept. It just doesn’t benefit musicians and artists, it works for Apple and Amazon.

    • Faza (TCM)

      If by “valid” you mean the rather basic observation that by having an obscure item in stock you stand to make more money in the rare event that someone comes looking to buy it than if you didn’t , then sure! It reminds me of a hypothesis I formulated once: I call it “Duh!”
      However, it would be foolish to expect that you can make a business out of trading in the tail without having items from the head on stock at the same time. In fact, you could ditch the tail entirely and still make decent money on trading in the top 10 or 20% – which is more than you can say for the opposite.
      In short, what Anderson should’ve said is that the future is selling more of more. Thank you, Captain Obvious!

  4. Bandit

    Do you know what the end of the long tail tastes like?

  5. Bobby Owsinski

    This chart has nothing to do with the Long Tail at all. You’d have to look at Timberlake’s catalog to see it in action, not other releases on the charts. Then don’t forget that it only applies at that point if the price of the catalog items are low enough, and they’re easy to find.
    People always rag on the LT without knowing the entirety of Anderson’s premise.

    • @KidShreddi

      Bobby- You’ve had your hands on every Shinobi Ninja record that was ever made thanks to your books. Much respect. Would love to meet you one day.

  6. @lassial

    This is pretty misleading graph!
    One week, one outlier – without it there is no tailing what so ever.

  7. Say What

    Here’s a predication. You are not going to sell any music on the internet.