10M of the 13M digital songs found no online buyers last year

December 22nd, 2008 - 2:28 pm ICT by ANI  

London, December 22 (ANI): Over 10 million of the 13 million songs available on the Internet failed to find a single buyer last year, according to a study of digital music sales.
The study by Will Page, chief economist of the not-for-profit royalty collection society MCPS-PRS Alliance, contrasts Chris Andersons prediction in his 2006 book The Long Tail that the internet economy would shift from a relatively small number of hits - mainstream products - at the head of the demand curve toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
Its findings suggest that the niche market is not an untapped goldmine, and that online sales success still relies on big hits.
The study showed that 80 per cent of all revenue for the online singles market came from around 52,000 tracks.
The figures were even more stark for albums because only 173,000 of the 1.23 million available on the web were ever bought, meaning that 85 per cent did not sell a single copy all year.
Anderson conceded that Page and his research colleague Andrew Bud, the head of mobile software company mBlox, had found a dataset in which the long tail principle did not apply.
He, however, insisted that it would be too early to draw further conclusions before the data and its sources were published.
There is a reason why the long tail has become a fixture in the technology world over the past five years - it fits countless phenomena we see every day, Times Online quoted him as saying.
I respect what Wills done and have no doubt that he has indeed found a dataset where it doesnt work, but Im not sure you can conclude much, if anything, beyond that. If hes trying to undermine the entire Long Tail Theory, hell have to provide a lot more evidence. I welcome the debate, but until Wills prepared to publish data and sources we dont have much to talk about, him added.
Page and Bud, on the other hand, believe that their findings seriously undermined Andersons thesis, which came with subtitles such as: How endless choice is creating unlimited demand and Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.
I think people believed in a fat, fertile long tail because they wanted it to be true. The statistical theories used to justify that theory were intelligent and plausible. But they turned out to be wrong. The data tells a quite different story. For the first time, we know what the true demand for digital music looks like, Bud said.
Page carried out the economic modelling for Radioheads In Rainbows album, which was released free on the Internet.
He said: The relative size of the dormant zero sellers tail was truly jaw-dropping. Rather than continue to believe the selective claims of heres another great example of the long tail at work, we wanted to find out how longtail markets should be analysed, plotted and interpreted.
Page and Bud are writing a book about their findings, hoping to stage a debate with Anderson in Brighton next May. (ANI)

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