This week I researched about the Long Tail phenomenon and found some interesting dilemmas between Streaming algorithms and the long tail categories.
The Long Tail was a concept that came into fruition in 2004 (I know, its ancient!), written by Chris Anderson who was Editor-in-Chief for Wired magazine at the time of publish. It basically said, there is more entertainment out there in terms of niche and non-mainstream content than there is mainstream, or “popular hits”. Chris asserts that businesses like Amazon and iTunes (in 2004) were making just as much money off ‘Black-Eyed Peas’ albums as 100 non-mainstream bands because there was an audience for everything.
A hit and a miss are on equal economic footing…Suddenly, popularity no longer has a monopoly on profitability. – Chris Anderson, Wired, 2004
Connecting marketing to the digital
Well, all amazon or iTunes had to do was track a consumer’s latest search or purchase which can help any business suggest products that are similar – creating more traffic within their business, and helping their consumers stay longer. In the eyes of the customer, Amazon looks pretty helpful in suggesting ‘No Doubt’ if you liked ‘Black-Eyed Peas’.
The Age of Streaming
However, 2004 was a millennium ago, and I doubt Chris could see the rise of streaming services such as Spotify, SoundCloud, and recently Jay-Z’s curated TIDAL. This has affected the way musicians market themselves now, especially those who are in the niche music categories. Music has seen the decline of physical CDs, records and digital downloads, as more and more consumers are switching to streaming services which derive their profit from subscriptions. This has seen the likes of Ed Sheeran making $400,000 from Spotify streams and Beyoncé making her partner millions as her full album Lemonade can only be exclusively streamed on TIDAL.
But what happens to the little guys?
Bands like The Orwells and other alternatives of the music industry are now relying heavily on licensing their music to companies, movie productions and Netflix shows just to make enough money to keep going. Streaming has made it impossibly hard for small musicians to get streaming time, since the algorithm loops through all the popular songs before getting to the depths of the long tail. As small artists struggle to make a living, big artists gain LOTS of money from the algorithm of Spotify and Apple Music.
How can we help the little guys get a piece of the pie too?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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