(Oh, say can you see…) the long tail and creativity

On July 4th, Amazon (U.S.) ran a promotion where you could download any mp3 version of the United States national anthem for free. There were 692 items to choose from including a number of times the same song appeared on different anthems (it came as no surprise that the Jimi Hendrix version was included on multiple albums). So, if we discard the repeats, the ringtones and the karaoke versions, we are still left with 500 versions of the same song that today (not July 4th) would cost $0.99 each. 

So this got me thinking, first as a great example of the long tail at work, where because creation and distribution costs are so low there are many versions of the same song. And even when distribution costs are higher,  there are 175 CDs, within Amazon’s CD store, that include the “Star Spangled Banner”.  But perhaps more importantly, I think this demonstrates the value of encouraging creativity by having something in the public domain that could be interpreted by so many different artists without worrying about song licensing fees.

One thought on “(Oh, say can you see…) the long tail and creativity

  1. Ah, the American dream. You too can take the national anthem, play it on your kazoo from your ear while burning the flag and professing your hatred of {insert random race here, except Native Americans. Rooskies will do nicely.} totin’ a semi automatic weapon and crying “I really do love you, Sarah Palin”. And someone, somewhere will buy the DVD.

    In all seriousness – the long tail is based on digital goods, whose marginal cost trends towards zero. The trouble with the long tail is that the market will see through this, and the value will chase the marginal trend, and hence the retail price will similarly trend to zero.

    In essence, intellectual property has no value in the future. Brand association and marketing maybe, but not IP. You think Brittany is selling IP? Or an image? Is the IP value equivalent to IP of Jimi’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner? May the value is closer aligned with the ID. Or the Ego. Never sure which is which.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>