The Long Tail to Success – [DIGC202]


The emergence of digital retail networks has seen a structural change in the distribution markets for cultural goods (Benghozi, pg.43). As the music industry comes to terms with this movement, many bands/artists are revelling in the social/entertainment aspect of their craft. As mentioned in previous posts the goals and motivations of real musician’s aren’t stardom or notoriety. They are simply learning, practicing and sharing their passion for the art.
Whilst many of the major record labels ‘scratch their head’ at the distribution methods of independent artists, it seems as though the independent labels are beginning to understand the value between abundance and scarcity economics.

As music as digital product enjoys an almost zero cost of production and distribution, many artists are profiting through live performance. Various artists and bands are seeing the value of creating scarcity in their products. By giving away their music and content, many fans are repaying the generosity through record numbers at live shows and festivals globally.

By realizing the scarcity of live performances versus the abundant nature of digital downloads, many artists and bands are not only fulfilling their dreams and aspirations on a weekly basis, they are profiting from the new structured business model.
As a music lover, my biggest monthly outlay for music content is the purchasing of concert or festival tickets. As a consumer I am always grateful for the kindness of artists who wish to share their tracks at little to no cost. Anderson states “ In an era when digital products are commodities, there’s a premium on experience”. It is through this experience that scarcity is born.

A survey conducted by Tourfilter (an application for iPhone and Android that notifies you of artists/bands touring in your area) highlights the true extent of the ‘long tail’ of the music industry. For those unacquainted with Chris Anderson’s theory here is basic info-graphic to explain his philosophy.

The study concluded that only 22 of the 13,000+ bands were tracked by 1% of the user database. The acts included the likes of The Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros and Radiohead. The survey concluded by stating Most of the people out seeing music on any given night in America were seeing long tail bands.

As content continues to be delivered online the need for aggregation has become vital for the success of both amateur and professional artists alike.
Bandcamp is a company that offers artists the ability to manage social media profiles and structure the pricing of their content based on their own values rather than the highly priced iTunes-scaling model. At present, most of the content is valued at ‘nominate your own price’. It is this new model which allows artists the ability to organise their own recordings, promote them on Twitter, Facebook and SoundCloud, sell them via Bandcamp, and generally take care of the promotional aspects, once reserved for band managers and music labels. It is this disintermediation that allows artists full control of their own works.


Benghozi, PJ, Françoise, B. (2010). The long tail: myth or reality?.International Journal of Arts Management. 12 (3), 43-53.


Here is a plug to one of my favourite artists using Bandcamp at the moment.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing