Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

October 30, 2006

Hits and Misses vs Hits and Niches

I've written about Chris Anderson and his Long Tail blog before. I finally got around to reading his new book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. It's a real eye-opener. Do yourself a favor and go to Amazon or wherever and get a copy, because in it he writes at length about the changing face of the entertainment industries.
How to Use Video to Promote Your Music Online

Here's the Long Tail concept in a nutshell:

For decades, we lived in a scarcity economy. We got introduced to new music, books and films via retail outlets, radio, TV and print publications. But all of these avenues of exposure had physical limitations. There was only so much shelf space, air time and editorial pages to fill. So, in order to appeal to the widest audience and turn a profit, only those things that were determined to be most popular were stocked or covered.

This lead to a cultural mentality that a band, book or movie was either a big hit or a giant dud. There was little ground in between the two extremes of popularity. You were either part of the system ... or an outsider.

Then came online retailers such as Amazon and Netflix, which were not constrained by the physical space limitations of traditional sellers. For example, the average Borders bookstore carries about 100,000 titles, while Amazon offers nearly 4 million book titles. The average Blockbuster carries about 3,000 DVDs, while Netflix offers close to 60,000.

And guess what? About 25% of the total revenues on Amazon and Netflix come from products not available in retail stores. Yes, from titles outside the "hit list." Anderson's overwhelming research concludes that, when given unlimited choice (along with the ability to filter through the choices), people will stray from the hits and spend a considerable amount of money on non-mainstream products.

Unfortunately, the old scarcity business model is so ingrained in our culture, it has lead to many unfounded beliefs, such as:
  • If it isn't a hit, it's a miss

  • The only success is mass success

  • "Independent" = "They couldn't get a deal"

  • "Self-published" = bad

  • Low-selling = low-quality

  • If it were good, it would be popular
Luckily, a growing number of creative entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to make the most of this new "abundance economy" -- where practically everything is available to the public, where the cream rises to the top based on what consumers actually want, and where you can make an impact (and a living) without ever ranking on the Billboard Hot 100.

So, what kind of world do you want to live in? One of scarcity, hits and misses? Or one of abundance, hits and niches?

The choice is ultimately up to you.


P.S. To make the most of the abundance economy, you simply must squeeze everything you can out of Internet promotions. I just completely revised and updated my popular special report 50 Ways to Promote & Sell Your Music on the Internet. Take a look at this guide and the free bonuses that come with it.

posted by Bob Baker @ 10:17 AM   2 comments


At Nov 3, 2006 12:59:00 PM, Blogger Doug Alcock said...

Are there any figures available for those riding the long end of the long tail. There are lots of indie/self-promoting artists out there --- dreaming of the day they can quit the day job. I was recently quoted the figure that (in Canada) only 1% of CD's released ever sell more than 1000 copies. I'd be interested in a comparable figure in the US if anyone knows it. As I work towards the release of my own first CD I find this figure a bit daunting --- I understand finding your fans and your niche and working to grow it, but is the niche big enough and are there enought to go around?
Doug Alcock

At Nov 3, 2006 1:12:00 PM, Blogger Doug Alcock said...

I should know a \ from a / by now...

Doug Alcock


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