Wired on ‘The Long Tail’ and the future of the entertainment industry

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
October 16th, 2004 • 12:20 pm

No one can really predict the future, but Wired‘s Chris Anderson has given it a good try with his long article on the newest trends in entertainment retail and in particular on the future of the in-crisis music industry.

The article goes off on a bit of a tangent towards the end, when it talks about “ubiquitous broadband” and its unpredictable effects on consumer behaviour. But really unlimited, ubiquitous broadband is still a long way off, and lots of other things will be changing and impacting the recording industry first.

Still, on the whole, the emphasis on the “long tail” of non-hits, misses, and otherwise unavailable or little known music is clearly appropriate. That’s the one thing that could completely differentiate on-line music stores from the traditional retail industry: access to all the music ever recorded.

That could and should happen sooner than ubiquitous broadband. We’ll see.

2 Responses to “Wired on ‘The Long Tail’ and the future of the entertainment industry”

  1. Radardan says:


    I would frame an issue larger than the ubiquitous broadband one and that is, for lack of something better, I call the “language” issue.

    With multimedia devices everywhere becoming our means of communication, why is someone allowed to “own” the words in the dictionary and thereby try to control our use of these “words”. These “words” are the musical phrases and cinematic images which we are needing to communicate via these multimedia devices.

    It’s sort of like the Kleenex trademark issue. When does music and images fall into the public domain and thus are useable in ordinary communication, like on a web log. Right now no one in the music industry could even think of such an allowance, could they?

    It seems to me this is some sort of crux of the entire problem because I as a consumer will not submit to the tyranny of intellectual property owners limiting me to the ordinary 24 letter alphabet. A picture is worth a thousand words and if that picture is from a movie (and thus culturally well-known as to meaning and inference) I’m not going to write a thousand words to try to convey the same meaning, especially to an audience I know is unlikely to take the time to read and comprehend a thousand words.

    Aren’t you tired already of reading this? :{)

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    So-called “fair uses” of multimedia files have definitely taken a beating lately. It is indeed ridiculous that I am not legally allowed to make copies of my own DVDs for my own purposes, or that some “copy protected” CDs that I buy won’t play on my own CD player in my car. On the other hand, I too get irked when someone on a web site that I have never visited uses a direct link to some of my picture files on my web site, thereby consuming my bandwidth for their purpose.

    But of course, whenever the industry claims that it is protecting intellectual property, it is actually protecting its own interests. It couldn’t care less whether artists themselves are properly compensated for their work. All it cares about is its own profit.

    I solved my own little “intellectual property” problem (these people stealing my pictures and my bandwidth) through customized Apache rules, not with the help of the industry!

    If “intellectual property” was indeed what it claims to be (i.e. something that guarantees appropriate compensation for the content creators), then the industry as we know it wouldn’t exist. Instead, we have an industry that protects the status quo by gouging both the artists and the consumers. That’s what you get when capitalism becomes the only rule.

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