Long Tails and Fat Heads of Pop Music

More

A new British study finds that the most pirated pop songs on the internet are those that already top the charts. Instead of giving rise to a "long tail" where small indie acts broaden their appeal online, the study found that digital technology - and music pirating - simply work to reinforce the fat head of mass appeal. From the BBC's summary:

There was little evidence that file-sharing sites helped unsigned and new bands find an audience ... It suggests file-sharing sites are becoming an alternative broadcast network comparable to radio stations as a way of hearing music.

Music critic, Carl Wilson, provides perspective:

This shouldn't be a surprise ever since the 2006 Columbia University study that showed pretty convincingly that popularity tends to breed popularity whether on the Internet or not: When facing a big list of music, even if you have sampled each song, most people are apt to decide that the best ones are the ones other people also like ...

It's also notable that the Big Champagne study found that most people followed this pattern because otherwise they were overwhelmed by choice (you've probably run across Barry Schwartz on that paradox).

What's more the ensuing exchange of information and opinion is the primary way that these choices become meaningful. A s one of the researchers, Andrew Bud, told The Register: "... it's through people chatting to each other and seeing the music talked about in the media. That's what culture is."

Jump to comments
Presented by

Richard Florida is Senior Editor at The Atlantic and Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. See his most recent writing at The Atlantic Cities. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Who's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He is founder of the Creative Class Group.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Saving Central: One High School's Struggle After Resegregation

Meet the students and staff at Tuscaloosa’s all-black Central High School in a short documentary film by Maisie Crow. 


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In