“The long tail” – like so many of these abstract concepts, it helps to have examples to ground it when you think about it. For the long tail in content a great one can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXO-jKksQkM&feature=youtu.be .
Utterly fascinating dancing, extremely well executed, and completely non-mainstream. The dance moves are poppin’ & lockin’ from “classical” breakdance, which has been out of the mainstream conscience ever since the early eighties, the music is some post-dupstep hybrid – catchy in parts, but not radio fare. It’s not a promotional video, and there seems to be no direct commercial interest.
In pre-internet times, something like this might have been shown to friends and family, maybe run once in a late-night music show on some local TV channel, been ignored by a large part of the audience during this pinnacle of its media life, and then forgotten. It’s 100% long-tail content.
Now access no longer depends on distribution means and power. The infrastructure for that is there, accessible to all with an internet connection. It’s up on YouTube, so those interested can broadcast and send the link to others that they know are interested. It can have time to spread, be accessed again and again. There’s no guarantee it’ll get more views than its old world counterpart would have gotten – but the possibility is there. The 1.6 2.3 million views the clip has? I picked this up from a post on BoingBoing, and a lot of others did as well. I posted it to one interested friend, and he knows a lot more people into breakdancing. With propagation from there, me finding it may have opened it up to dozens of people by now, and I’m really not much of a multiplicator. Content has the chance to propagate from a few seeds, through the networks, and find its audience. I’ll probably show it at the office, and during whatever quick YouTube sessions there are with people in the near term. I want to see that completely sick part when the guy starts rewinding for the second time – at least a couple more times. That I and others can do so – that’s the long tail to me.