Thursday, July 3, 2008

Another look at The Long Tail... and what it means for indie horror

I just read an article called "Revisiting The Long Tail and Broadband Video" and it reminded me of how pertinent the whole concept of The Long Tail is. Not just to the industry, but to indie horror filmmakers, specifically. First off, if you haven't read or know of "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More", get to know it. Click on that and buy it off Amazon. If you're lazy and/or cheap, the above article gives a pretty good short review of it and I'll cut and paste here...

Once physical limitations (e.g. manufacturing, distribution, inventory, etc.) are removed - thereby allowing all products with niche appeal to be readily available to consumers - it turns out that the aggregate sales of these niche products are greater than the few "mass" products which were always available in traditional distribution channels. When this effect is plotted on an XY graph, the line depicting the tiny sales per niche unit extends indefinitely, forming a "long tail."

Let's put this into terms that indie horror fans can understand... if we can forget about all the issues around distribution and just turn our films into a product that's available to every fan who would watch it, if you added up all the sales from our little films together, it would be more than the sales of, say, the horror films that Paramount came out with last year.

That concept is insane, think about it! With all the money, marketing and power the studios have, we can outsell them as a whole. That's why this concept is so important, why I always talk about it and why I'm always researching it. You see, right now, that issue with distribution exists, but maybe not for much longer. Right now, we have these gatekeepers called distributors and they tell us which of our movies get into the hands of the public and how it gets there. Dissolve that power and you'll have a dynamic shift on your hands...

Online distribution is getting easier and easier and things like VOD are changing things up a bit, but we're not able to band together like we could. Also, some distributors are starting to switch things up, but most aren't. However, don't worry, if things don't change fast enough, we'll figure out a way to side step them, I firmly believe that. I've talked to enough people to know where things are heading and once we figure it all out, trust me, as a Dead Harvey reader, you'll be one of the first to know.

So, that's why The Long Tail is worth reading and worth knowing about and that's why you should keep an eye on what's going on in the world of distribution... because combined, we're worth more than Hollywood or the studios will give us credit for.... but I think they're going to find that out soon enough.

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