As a class we have discussed the attitude towards being a folk musician and making a significant profit. Although there are a variety of opinions, I feel that there is a common stigma towards folk artists who lose their uniqueness while perusing wealth and fame. Fortunately it is increasingly easier to maintain one’s identity while making a profit through a shift in media entertainment.
In Chris Anderson’s article “The Long Tail” we learn how media entertainment not only focusing on the “hits” but also the “misses”. Furthermore, the problem with supplying only the “hits” is that most people deviate from the mainstream and crave alternatives to the redundant norms. Today’s online distribution and retail offer options to the hungry population. For example, Robbie Vann-Adib, the CEO of Ecast, supplies digital jukebox barroom players that offer more than 150,000 tracks. Every month thousand of people pay money to hear songs that no traditional jukebox has ever produced. By offering an enormous selection consumers support not only the music hits but also the obscure songs that quickly add up to an enormous new market. In other words, if there is a song available there is an audience that will purchase it.
Another example is Rhapsody a subscription-based streaming music service offers more than 535,000 tracks. Rhapsody’s demand cure has a huge appeal for top hits and tappers off with the less popular tracks. Surprisingly, once one looks below the top 40,000 tracks one will find that no matter how many tracks Rhapsody adds to its library, those songs will find listeners and create a demand of their own. In other words, Rhapsody has a long tail of everything one could ever hope for. There are old albums, live tracks, remixes, foreign band, obscure bands, unique labels, etc. Economically, “the long tail” is an opportunity to make a large profit from the variety. I particularly liked how Kevin Laws, venture capitalist and former music industry consultant phrased it, "The biggest money is in the smallest sales."
The most successful entertainment businesses are taking advantage of “the long tail”. Companies such as Netflix, Rhapsody, Google, eBay, Amazon are all continually discovering new markets and expanding on old ones. “The long tail” is the way of the future because it offers diversity, reversing the boring distribution limitations and focusing not only on the “hits” but also the “misses”. I think that folk artists can take advantage the long tail because individuals searching for folk music will not only discover popular folk artists but the obscure ones too.
*To read the full article: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html