Monday, December 15, 2008

No Long Tail from iTunes

There have been quite a few posts in recent months about analytics involving the Long Tail.
For an overview see;

Personally, I definitely fall into a Long Tail demographic regarding my music habits. I buy many relatively uncommon (and some very obscure) funk and jazz albums or compilations. A significant number of these were introduced to me by Amazon's recommendation engine or similar.

I thought I might be missing out on some good music by not being part of the 'iTunes generation'. It came as a huge shock to me when I joined iTunes this weekend and found that *none* of my dozen most recent purchases are even listed in iTunes (all my recent purchases have been from Granted some of the artists have died and their albums are a few decades old, but other titles were released last year.

Not much chance of the Long Tail when 'stock' is limited. In terms of Amazon I have actually ordered and received something physical; a compact disc that was sitting on a shelf somewhere in the US and travelled transatlantic to me in Sydney.

What excuse do iTunes have? Downloading .mp3's hardly has the same requirements for stock management, inventory and distribution. A long tail in the iTunes business model should be easier to support and yield greater benefits (than Amazon for example) because the lesser requirement for physical stock management (I'm guessing it would be a simple case of more disk space). A long tail is not likely to exist where there is less choice for consumers!

In my view the whole idea of the 'Long Tail' applies to circumstances where the constraints of physical stock management are removed (as with iTunes). The fact that Amazon excel at this with physical stock is a credit to them. iTunes is simply a mass-market disgrace :)

Guess I'll continue to buy CD's and burn them into my own mp3's and stream music from my home network...

- Tim

btw. See my wish list for examples :)


Matthew said...

Amazon sells physical goods, iTMS licenses IP. They would offer a wider range if copyright-holders would allow them to. It's these people who need to be dragged into the current millennium.

Tim Manns said...

Ahhh - too true, I hadn't thought that would be a problem though. Surely considering it is iTunes for god's sake you'd think every record company or small-bit publisher would want to sign up and have their music distributed. Maybe its the music distributors that are the resistent force in the equation.

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