although the tail is very interesting and we enable it, the vast majority of the revenue remains in the head. And this a lesson that businesses have to learn. While you can have a long tail strategy, you better have a head, because that’s where all the revenue is.
and this prompts Long Tail author Chris Anderson to make several admissions:
But there were clearly exceptions to [Long Tail behaviour]. One of the main ones was the irony that there was a very short Head of Long Tail aggregators: Amazon, iTunes, Google and their kin dominate their markets to a blockbuster-like degree.
I blamed this on a still-young market and assumed that even aggregators would fall victim to the flight from one-size-fits-all someday. But new research from McKinsey (free registration req'd) suggests that this sort of radical inequality is increasingly the norm as markets get more networked.
"Powerlaws do imply wildly unequal distributions of money, power, celebrity and everything else." – so much for 'democratization'.
And it's not just companies. The Long Tail–the powerlaw created by network effects–may be creating super-celebrity, too.
As I've said many times, both in the book and elsewhere, most of the rewards in the Tail are non-monetary: a larger audience for producers, and more choice for consumers.
I'll end by conceding a point: It's hard to make money in the Tail.
There's more, and he holds on to some of his assertions, but basically, it's all over for the long tail.