Chris Anderson‘s 2006 Long Tail theory states that because the web provides unlimited availability of vast amounts of niche and specialist music/films/books/whatever that there will be perpetual sales for the relevant artists, authors and creators of this content. But in an update to their recent findings, the PRS-MCPS Alliance (the UK’s music royalty collection organisation) has announced that only 173,000 of the 1.23 million albums available online actually made a single sale last year. In other words 85 percent didn’t sell even one copy. This is in addition to their recent announcement that 10 million of the 13 million individual tracks available online didn’t find a single buyer. Anderson is stoutly defending his economic model of the new web-based landscape, but who knows what further data is out there to strengthen or weaken is argument?

Is the Long Tail a dead theory already? Is one year’s data in just one sector enough to kill it off? Or should we see the theory as along term economic model that will take time to develop? Or do we just accept that the web makes those producing niche content a little easier to find – a slightly healthier short tail…?

pic credit: