The Long Tail theory in the Music Industry

Chris Anderson’s Long Tail Theory about how technology and the internet enables niche markets.  In the past, traditional walk-in stores had limited, specialised products. Take the music industry for example. Ten or so years ago, for access to music, most people would either go into a store like Sanity or JB HiFi in order to purchase the music of their choice, and discover new music on the radio. To share music, people would lend their tapes or CD’s to each other or provide each other with a copy.

As time went on and technology progressed, people began to have access to their own personal libraries of music through devices such as iPods, where music could be bought off iTunes or like most people, downloaded off the internet. People could create playlists of their own taste and more and more genres and types of music emerged and became popular due to the internet. The internet also enabled for people to share their music with their peers with sources such as YouTube, where the song could be downloaded using a converter.

Nowadays, music streaming services have emerged, and with a small subscription fee, users have a vast range of music at the touch of their fingers. Songs no longer have to be downloaded, allowing for ease of access and the exploration of new music.  Music is now shared still through the use of the internet, YouTube and other websites still exist for listening to music, but now playlists and songs can be shared through apps like Spotify.

Going back to 10 or so years ago, the genres of music that were available seemed to revolve around a few popular genres, such as pop, RnB, rock, country, etc. Now that music is so easily accessible, there are more and more sub-genres emerging, causing people to steer away from the main genres and listen specifically to what they want to listen to.

Business Implications:

  • As anyone can post music online, both existing and new music artists are using online streaming websites or applications like SoundCloud or Spotify to expose themselves online. The streaming services are being used as a platform for these artists to further progress their music careers. Regardless of the genre produced, these services are available to anyone with an internet connection, and therefore there is bound to be someone in the world who will listen to your music.
  • Rather than playing generic radio music, businesses are taking advantage of music being so easily accessible, and creating playlists to suit their brand and brand image and identity. As different genres of music generally have a particular demographic or segment that listens to it, businesses can target these segments by playing their preferred music in store. For example, within a clothing store like Glue, having a younger target market, they play music such as deep house or pop music playlists.

In my opinion, there are definitely a much larger number of genres of music nowadays, and I believe that it is due to ease of access caused by the internet and technology. Do you agree? Do you think that your favourite genre of music would have existed 10 years ago?





2 thoughts on “The Long Tail theory in the Music Industry”

  1. Back in the old days we used to purchase DVDs for music, now everything is digitalised. I still remember purchasing my favourite band’s expensive album in DVD form, and have to save up for months to get it! Now its just so easy to obtain them, with Spotify, Apple music and all that. But I think since they’re so easy to get now, it’s also easy to find a way to avoid paying the subscription fees and download all the musics online. I think this is a concern for businesses as well 😦


    1. Yes that’s true. It was exciting, finally saving enough to purchase a new album and listening to that album for weeks on end. I feel that nowadays since music is so accessible, I follow the music of so many artists, yet I still seem to enjoy the music of those artists for which I purchased their albums back in the day for nostalgic reasons.
      For music businesses such as Sanity, I believe it is definitely a concern – I haven’t seen a Sanity shop in years. However with the music artists themselves, I believe it’s great for them because they get much more exposure for their music. Thanks for your comment 🙂


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