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April 10, 2005


Rex Hammock

The magazine vs. web advertising statistics are misleading as I blogged at the time and later wrote in a piece for Folio: Magazine. Frankly, however, the original research was not a comparative one and a Wall Street Journal reporter who interpreted the research compared "all web ad spending" to consumer magazine ad spending (business-to-business magazine advertising was not included, while b2b web advertising apparently was). No doubt web-based advertising will continue to grow, but there is no way it will overtake magazine advertising in a little more than 18 months from now.

Steve Rubel

Chris, what about blogs?

Jim Kerr

Actually, movie theater admissions have been down for the past two years in a row. Increased ticket prices have covered up this erosion by showing increases in revenue.

Chris Anderson


I've switched in a better stat.


I've included blogs in "web" for no particularily good reason other than this post focused on revenues and monitizeable audiences.


Excellent point. But I'll leave the post as it is because the DVD rise is dramatic enough to keep the overall Hollywood picture a bright one.

David Palmer

Chris, regarding music sales, I notice that the RIAA statistics are for units shipped to retail. Do you know if this includes online digital sales, or is it just CDs and other physical media? There's definitely a shift going on in how people buy music, and I wonder if the RIAA numbers are reflecting this or if they're missing the bigger picture.


I wonder how TV series on DVD would factor into this. How would they be categorized?

Chris Anderson


The RIAA (Soundscan) stats don't include downloaded music, but that's still just a few percent of the total music industry. It wouldn't change the overall picture, which is one significantly down from its peak.


TV on DVD should be categorized as "TV" but, again, the numbers are still too small to change the overall picture. Also note that the most popular TV series on DVD are HBO's (Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex in the City, etc), so tht wouldn't inprove the network share picture.

Rex Hammock


Thanks for the clarification on the magazine vs. web advertising stat. Like your new stat indicates, web advertising is growing rapdily and will continue to take a larger slice of the "all advertising" pie. However, in many instances, (Google Ads by small businesses), I believe the advertising dollars are incremental to that being spent today, rather than competitive. Likewise, the classified advertising dollars being lost by newspapers to Craigs list are evaporating rather than shifting. Bottom line as you indicate: things are changing!


It seems you've been mostly focusing on looking for/analyzing the LT phenomenon happening "within" an industry, like how TV viewing style has gone from 80/20 to 50/50, or DVD distribution channels from Blockbuster to Netflix.

Looking at the trend you describe in this post, maybe we could take a deeper look into what happens with increased varieties coming from choices "across" different industries or markets. For example, music sales might be down not because we are listening more to niche songs that don't count for the music sales, but rather because of P2P. We might not be watching TV as much any more because it's more fun to read blogs or play video games, and might not be buying newspapers/magazines because we can read them on line for free.

I just felt like if you throw in the factor of inter-industry interactions, the amount of "choices" we get will increase exponentially and maybe can observe LT in a bigger context. What can replace the mass is not necessarily the niche items in the same market, but rather something totally different from outside. Ah. I'm not wording it right, but hope you get the jist.

Dan Kaminsky


I've had a thought. What was the average length of time a show was on the air in the 70's and 80's, versus now?

I've noticed a fair amount of television takes a couple seasons to come into its own. What if shows aren't being allowed to mature, and thus nobody pays attention to what's going to get cancelled anyway?


"Even in the last year of this generation of consoles, sales hit a new record." That comment on the game industry doesn't make much sense. The further into the console lifespan we get, the larger the installed base becomes, so it's only reasonable that sales continue to increase. Blockbusters like Halo2 and GTA: San Andreas didn't hurt either.


Those RIAA figures should be taken with a grain of salt. Best analysis I've seen of the RIAA's spin on sales figures is archived here

Si Wells

It appears that book sales are still increasing, just at a slower rate. The growth rate for book sales between 1997 and 2004 was 4.7%.
Book sales therefore are neither flat nor down but increasing at a slower rate which is to be expected as other mediums for certain types of documentation are exploited.
Maybe I just hate the idea that people read less books nowadays, which might well be true, but the figures you linked don't appear to support your conclusion.

Joe Ruiz

Count RevGTV among the major new media players stepping up to the plate! I love the energy of this site. Here's a small excerpt from their news. Join their site and show them your support too. They're good players. -- Joe

"...the virtual TV station sent a video-phone crew to cover the largest spectacle known to man, Carnival in Rio... The impressive results can be seen on a virtual television at the homepage http://revgtv.com/.

...Recognizing that personal publishing has marginalized leisure TV, hit movies and big magazines, the station syndicates clips sent in by a self publishing audience using the most personal of objects, the cell phone. Reducing the TV process to record, send, display and multiplying it by millions of handsets is proving far more entertaining than mainstream TV's extravagant parading."

spindler 11

does revgtv let you upload from the pc? it's very cool but i don;t have a video phone till next month :(


Nice compilation of stats! I also think that the future or the traditional media is changing. Compared to the new digital media, they're just not efficient, and with increasing reach of the new media, they also loose ground in terms of effectiveness for reaching relevant target groups....

Nice statements by Rupert Murdoch on the future of the printing press you can find at yahoo news (link too long to copy in here - but you can find it on my website).

noel oddy

having first discovered www.alexa.com just over two years ago we installed their toolbar and have been astonished to find our gallery ranked as the third most visited Gallery website ever since!
We believe that a fast,well designed and daily updated website is the key to survival in todays rarified art market

noel oddy

Sorry that should have been "third most visited Gallery website in Europe"
Apologies. Noel Oddy

Paul Baines

Myth of the Mainstream?

'Mainstream' - a principal current of a river, 1667, from main (adj.) + stream, hence, "prevailing direction in opinion, popular taste, etc.," a fig. use first attested in Carlyle (1831).

I propose that the concept of 'the mainstream', be it music, art, ideas, politics, entertainment and all other social constructs, is and has always been a social myth.

The key to this argument lies in the cyclical nature of the market economy, political thought, and technological advancement. For sake of simplicity, I shall concentrate solely on the development and eventual disintegration of the concept of the 'mainstream'.

What came before the MP3? The CD.

And before that? Vinyl.

And before that? Shellac and wax drums for musical boxes.

And before that? Sheet Music. Musical Scores.

As funny as it sounds now, at the very dawn of 'Popular Music' or pop, a 'Hit' technically accounted for the total sales of a sheet of music, a musical score. The expectation and reality of the market was solely reliant on availability of current technologies at the time (namely music boxes and pianos) and the musical ability of the consumer.

For the main part it was more economic to purchase an upright piano rather than a the musical box, purchasing songs for a music box was a privilege of the rich. Imagine paying $500 for an mp3 track? No one in their right mind would, yet the physical nature of such devices meant that supplying a range of music for any device would be beyond the reach of the masses. The 'Player Piano' moved things along somewhat, creating rolls of punch paper reduced the costs considerably. For many this was new technology was still out of reach of the average, or even middle income family.

For most, instead of an Ipod, there would stand, pride of place in the Sitting Room or Parlour, a basic upright piano, of which at least one member would be able to read and play music, and the others would at the very least need to hold a whole gamut of decent notes to make the performance painlessly entertaining. The more savvy music publishers (yes they were printers and nothing more), realized early on that if they wanted to increase their sales they'd need to expand their market.

A few seemingly harmless pointers to publishing a popular 'hit' led to a series of hard and fast rules that held back the creative growth of the music industry for over a century.

Family friendly. Their market was the Middle-Class Family, they had money, Sunday Evenings with little to do, a strong moral and religious upbringing and a very definite idea of what music should do.

It shouldn't offend, anyone, anywhere, anyhow. It cannot include any mention of any controversy. The melody must be light, instantly engaging and simple to follow. The whole family must be able to join in and not feel awkward or embarrassed in anyway. Basically hymns.

The market began to fracture eventually, songs for the kids, religious, risque ditties for young lovers and dirty old men, then came style... jazz, blues, big band. Finally wax rolls for musical boxes gave way to shellac and eventually Vinyl discs and as the sound quality improved, and the availability increased and prices reduced, finally those that played the piano instead of a Gramophone, were the rare exception.

The World has changed a lot since then, but as with all things fashion has a funny habit of repeating itself. More and more iPod fans and mp3 addicts are beginning to manipulate their own collections, with the development of a whole series of cheap and cheerful music mixing software releases on the way, it doesn't seem so far-fetched to imagine a time in the not so distant future where rather than the 'Mainstream' we will be talking in terms of Single Streams, or even the 'Onestream'.

In the past the more forward thinking printers and publishers of the day decided to buy music from songwriters for a pittance, sometimes even steal them outright and make all the profit for themselves. Now things are changing beyond belief.

Anyone can make music to a point with the aid of software and electronic instruments that a child could learn and play within minutes. With the increased interactivity involved in many of the new technologies, the PC being the original focal point, most consumers are no longer purely consuming, they are now producing. Be it their own Tivo TV schedule, the play list on their iPod, the answer phone message they recorded themselves. Consumption was never a creative act, but finally it seems technology is enabling individuals to come to that conclusion by themselves.

Eventually few people will purchase entertainment in any form, simply the means to produce it. As part of my Fine Arts Degree many years ago, I specialized in Photo Montage, appropriating and aggregating a variety of disparate images, and manipulating and combining them to form a new and original work. Nowadays few would ever consider going through the rigmarole of cutting and pasting printed matter when a graphics program and the Internet can provide vast more choice in subject matter and imagery.

Technology has led our actions, or rather inaction for most of the 20th Century, in the 21st we are witnessing the slow decay of Consumerism itself, and at the beginning the first change we are all both witnessing and providing, is technological manipulation of consumer goods.

As the manufacturers of multimedia devices finally catch up with demand we will witness more and more graphic and sound interactivity to the point that most products will simply enable us to create our own entertainment, as we have in histories past. The only difference is that your Bedroom DJ Mix is now heard by the world rather than an unwilling friend or family member. Local heroes and heroines will be born, down the road from my place are the band Keane, a very successful UK pop band from Battle, Sussex. Without the proliferation of social networking technologies I doubt that their meteoric rise to fame would have been as startling.

Other more stark examples are Gnarls Berkley and the Arctic Monkeys, who via the Myspace.com service have become major players in the world music scene. This isn't simply a technological change. The 'Futurism' Arts Movement at the turn of the last century was obsessed with painting fast cars and trains and planes, as much as a young boy might do these days. No one wants to draw an MP3 player, no one wants to write a poem about their Xbox. People want to 'use' them, and they do, all of them.

The idea that materialism can enable anything other than a show of wealth has changed, we no longer have toys, we have tools. Consumption is now lured by the idea of Production, the snake is eating itself.

Within your lifetime, your or someone you know will produce something remarkable, the miraculous is about to become commonplace and the 'Mainstream, obsolete.

The mainstream is diverging into a billion tributaries, the concept of popularity, and eventually mass advertising will dry up, along with monolithic centralized institutions and corporations. We as individuals are finally learning to disagree with each other, we are taking informed and personal choices in our consumption, and eventually the production of our own 'streams'. We fish for ideas, we take those ideas and create our own unique range of arts, entertainment and individual understanding of the world. And when we're bored with our own minds, we trade our goods with others, some like-minded, some not so.

Music, Art, Entertainment, conceived, designed and produced by the individual for the individual. Very much the way we began. Travelling Minstrels, visiting one village and the next, trading music, trading styles, ideas, even new technologies, but for the main part from home.

There never was a mainstream, the concept of the mainstream was conceived for the convenience of unwieldy organizations with little ability or even impetus to change. Like a vast dam, blocking and filtering the river, it is now beginning to crumble, and creative sources and flowing in from all directions, a veritable waterfall of new ideas, sounds and images are about to be born.


Jaffe’s blog posting about Cingular’s Long Tail caught my attention and got me thinking about the truth or myth of The Long Tail, particularly in SEM. I know you most of you might not think about the long tail in actual execution terms, because as a concept is very appealing to a marketer. And a concept should remain.

My experience is that the “long tail” is highly overrated and on top of that poorly executed. I am specifically talking about the long tail in SEM. It is true that through a long tail you can reach a wider audience by targeting smaller niche markets and potentially get more traffic at a lower cost. I have not seen this strategy add considerable value to a broad marketing strategy strategy or a highly niche strategy for that matter.

Today, I am inviting you to share your “Long Tail” Experiences with us to help us solve this mystery.

If folks out there can share the success stories using the long tail concept I would very much appreciate your feedback. If there are few or no responses that serves to strengthen my theory about the long tail being highly overrated.

You can share it in my blog – to respect Jaffe’s bandwidth if you don’t mind.

The low cost that you might see is only a small variable when you factor in the cycles spend developing the long tail. Is it worth putting a team of highly qualified professionals to develop a long tail set in order to achieve a low CPC ? …knowing that those terms will produce a minimal amount of traffic? — Or is it a better strategy to create more channels where you can advertise?

disney store merchandise

i think videogames will be up no matter what the economy is. Its just a booming business.


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Nice blog, its great article informative post, thanks for sharing it. Thanks for the information!

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The global meltdown can't be blamed alone for this drastic shift -- it has merely accentuated some long-running trends. The internet is a key factor, attracting growing audiences and making it possible for anybody to become a publisher. In many ways the media have gone back to an earlier age, before the cost of starting a media enterprise ran into the millions.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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