Music Study "Disproves" Long Tail Theory

Challenging the much touted "long tail" theory, more than 10 million of the over 13 million music tracks available online, were unable to find a single buyer last year, according to a new study.

The study is dubbed as the first challenge to Chris Anderson’s "long tail" theory, which tells that the internet would bring vast range of choices to customers, by offering access to forgotten products, and prove to be lucrative for sellers who focus on niche markets.

The myth over niche markets as new economic models seems to be broken by a new study on digital music by Will Page, a chief economist from MCPS-PRS Alliance.

The notion that niche markets would serve as a key for future internet vendors was depicted as one of the crucial economic models for the 21st century when it was put forward by Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail back in 2006.

The study further stated that the online music market relied heavily on big hits, with around 80 percent of total revenues generated from the sale of 52,000 tracks only.

Figures from albums market are even harsher, as only 173,000 of the available 1.23 million albums were purchased over the web.

Chris Anderson responded to the study by saying, “I respect what Will’s done and have no doubt that he has indeed found a dataset where it doesn’t work, but I’m not sure you can conclude much, if anything, beyond that”.

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Our Comments

It would be interesting to see the median year of these music tracks. Chris Anderson's Longtail theory is not flawed; like economic laws, it only applies to a theoretical world. Not all online music retailers have the 13 million music tracks in stock. Even mighty iTunes only has around eight million songs and most others have only a catalog of a few millions.

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