The Longtail: reports of its demise are greatly exagerated – a clarification

As an update to my excitable post below announcing the demise of the Longtail, it’s worth directing people to Chris Anderson’s post which responds robustly to MCPR-PRS’s claims.

Rather than being "thoroughly debunked" it seems that a real interpretation of the The Longtail’s validity depends on the type and scope of data used, and presumably the methodological approach taken by the researchers.

Now I should have checked my enthusiasm at debunking, especially as I am only too aware of the different results thrown up by different approaches to research. In fact I suggested as much in response to Jed Hallam’s comment below!

Sorry to Chris Anderson for being to hasty to snack on an internet scandal :)

Technorati tags: Longtail, Research, debunking

The Longtail is thoroughly debunked by empirical research

I posted back in July reminding those of us who take current Internet theories such as The Wisdom of Crowds at face value that many of these ideas are primarily marketing tools, rather than tested, research-based approaches.

As a fascinating follow-up to this, Alan Patrick from Broadsight has posted a fascinating analysis of Internet uber-theory, The Longtail, titled: The end of The Longtail?

Alan posts about a recent presentation given by an MCPS-PRS Alliance economist, Will Page, which argued that The Longtail is "fairly completely incorrect".

Page apparently helped Chris Anderson write The Longtail thesis, but has since carried out empirical research on a huge volume of global online music sales. The research found:

"while there was a long tail, it was extremely poverty stricken and much of it is moribund [...] even Free doesn’t work – when Radiohead gave away their music for free, there were still 400,000 illegal downloads in the UK. Not only that, they have found that illegal services focus on the “hit head” even more than the average."

Hypothesising further, Alan reckons that most demand curves are Log Normal rather than Pareto Power Law Curves, an opinion strongly supported by one of the researchers.

A full and thorough debunking of The Longtail based on the research can also be found by Andrew Orlowski over at The Register.

As a footnote to this, it is maybe worth adding that the researchers work for an organization that enforces commercial copyright on behalf of composers, songwriters and music publishers.

Technorati tags: The Longtail, Internet Theories, Power Law, Log Normal