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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 7, Number 1 (2007)

Current Sales Data and What the “Long Tail” Might Be Doing

Stephen Marcone
William Paterson University


One of the more interesting discussions going on today is the effect Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail” theory will have on the music business.  Essentially the theory states that in a market of virtual shelf space (hence the digital world) slower moving product such as deep catalog titles, less popular genres, and indie releases can collectively equal or outsell the best-selling titles. Robbie Vann-Adibe, the CEO of Ecast, a digital jukebox company, whose restaurant players offer 150,000 tracks poses the question, “What percentage of the top ten thousand titles in any online media store (Netflix, iTunes) will rent or sell at least once a month?” The answer is ninety-nine percent. In fact, Vann-Adibe sees it in his own jukebox statistics as thousands of people put in their dollars to play songs that aren’t listed on a traditional jukebox. Anderson theorizes that, because of the long tail’s sheer size, if you “combine enough non-hits on the long tail then you’ve got a market bigger than the hits.” The paper examines current sales data with Anderson’s theory.

Keywords: long tail, Chris Anderson, music business, digital music, music sales, recorded music, Robbie Vann-Adibe

Marcone, Stephen. “Current Sales Data and What the “Long Tail” Might Be Doing.Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 7, no. 1 (2007): 91-97. https://doi.org/10.25101/7.6

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