According to IFPI’s Digital Music Report 2010, digital downloads accounted for $4.3 billion in revenue this past year. Sounds like a lot of money…but in reality, it could be a lot more.
These days, iTunes and Amazon seem to place the majority of their emphasis on the songs that are selling, and put the ones that aren’t so “radio-friendly” on the backburner.
Yet, as Chris Anderson described in The Long Tail, there’s probably as much money to be made in the tail as there is in the head.
In my opinion, iTunes & Amazon are taking the lazy approach. They’re basing their listings off of sales data, but for all of the songs that never receive mainstream exposure, they repeatedly get lost in shuffle.
Think about the big picture: Who knows each artist’s catalog better than their own fans? Nobody!
The easiest artist example for conveying this ongoing epidemic is Radiohead, a band that had a huge hit in the mid-90s with ‘Creep,’ but as 99% of Radiohead fans would probably tell you, it’s far from their best song. Hell, even the band refused to play the song for five years.
If you go to iTunes or Amazon, you’ll find the same story: Creep is at the very top of the list. If you go to the Radiohead page on Rank ‘em, it’s an entirely different story: ‘Creep’ barely cracks the Top 15!
Despite the problem with ‘Creep’ at the top of the list, it’s not even the biggest discrepancy in their catalog listing! That distinction would go to songs like ‘Airbag.’
If you were to visit Amazon’s Radiohead listings (as of 6.25.10), you would have go four pages in and locate listing #151 to find the song. Let’s get real: Who would ever dig that deep?
On the other hand, if you go to Rank ‘em’s Radiohead listings, the song is sitting pretty at #5 ahead of often more recognizable titles like ‘High and Dry’ and ‘Nude.’
Why so high? Because Rank ‘em gives the Radiohead fans a voice, and all of the Radiohead fanatics probably know the album ‘OK Computer’ like the back of their hand, and know about the greatness of that song (unlike some other services…). Wouldn’t you rather hear from them than a computerized system?
I could go on for days, but I don’t want to write a thesis. There will surely be plenty more to come on this subject, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear any questions or comments anybody may have!