The secret to creating a thriving Long Tail business can be summarized in two imperatives:
- Make everything available.
- Help me find it.
The first is easier said than done.
Fewer than a dozen of the 6.000 films submitted to the Sundance Film Festival each year are picked up for distribution, but most of the rest of them cannot be legally shown outside of a festival because their music rights have not been cleared.
Likewise most of the TV programming in the network’s archives: it is too expensive to clear the DVD or streaming distribution rights to the music. Similar rights issues also keep classic music and video games under lock and key.
Until we have some way to clear the rights to all the titles in all the back catalogs–thoughtlessly, automatically, and at industrial scale–legal restrictions will continue to block the growth of the Long Tail.
The second necessary element is moving more quickly.
From collaborative filtering to user ratings, smart aggregators are using recommendations to drive drive demand down the Long Tail. This is the difference between push and pull, between broadcast and personalized taste.
Long Tail businesses treat consumers as individuals, offering mass customization as an alternative to mass-market fare.
For the Entertainment industry, recommendations are a remarkably efficient form of marketing, allowing smaller films and less mainstream music to find an audience.
For consumers, the simplified choice that comes following a good recommendation encourages exploration and can reawaken passions for music and film, potentially creating a far larger market overall.
The collateral cultural benefit is much more diversity, reversing the blanding effects of a century of distribution scarcity and ending the tyranny of the hit centric culture.
Now that you’ve got the big picture, here are nine rules of successful Log Tail aggregators:
1. Move inventory way in … or way out
2. Let the customer do the work
3. One distribution method doesn’t fit all
4. One product doesn’t fit all
5. One price doesn’t fit all
6. Share information (lose control)
7. Think “AND”, not “OR” (think inclusive, not alternative)
8. Trust the market to do your job
9. Understand the power of free
From The Long Tail, Chris Anderson