Mobile content's 'long tail' disappears


Research shows up to 92 per cent of songs in mobile stores have not been downloaded.
Research revealed to ME shows that consumers download just a small fraction of the songs available on full-track mobile services.

This is the reverse of the argument made by tech thinker Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail, which decreed that the success of digital retail depends on depth of catalogue.

That thinking has been adopted almost wholesale in the mobile content space too.

But according to 24-7 Entertainment, which runs music services for online and mobile partners including operator TDC and Omnifone, vast swathes of songs languish unloved.

It says that of 4.3 million songs available to mobile users on all-you-can-eat services it powers, 3.68 million (85 per cent) have never been downloaded at all.

The numbers are even more dramatic in the á la carte space. Here, 4.13 million (92 per cent) out of 4.5 million tracks have never been purchased.

The stats suggest long tail hoopla is over-hyped and that mobile music services could get by with 900,000 tracks and few would complain, at least with current discovery tools.

Frank Taubert, CEO of 24-7 Entertaiment, believes better recommendation engines can drive consumption.

“It will be interesting to see what happens with the referral services we’re launching, and also with super-distribution and encrypted sideloads,” he said.

But why bother? Surely the number of subs matters more than activity. This is true to an extent, but the labels see all-you-can-eat as a means to upselling premium products such as live tickets, merchandise or mobile personalisation.

Such ideas have become more compelling to the record biz in a remarkable few weeks for digital music, which has seen huge announcements from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, MySpace, Sandisk and Amazon.

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