Reports Music

The Death of the Long Tail The Superstar Music Economy

Report by Mark Mulligan
Cover image for The Death of the Long Tail

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The 20,000 Foot View

The            century decline in recorded music revenues continues to send shockwaves throughout the music industry and although there are encouraging signs of digital-driven growth, the impact on artists is less clear.  The concentration of the majority of recorded music revenue around a small share of musical works has led to the emergence a Superstar artist economy.  The promise of the long tail proved to be illusory and the resulting picture is one of contrasting fortunes of the super successful and the rest.

Key Findings

  • Total global            income from recorded music in            was            billion, down from            billion            2000 
  • Artists’ share            total income grew from            in            to            in 2013, driven by            such as higher revenue shares            some digital deals for artists
  • Of an                       single less than half goes            the label and artist combined,            sales tax, retailers and publishers            for the remainder
  • The recorded            market is a ‘Superstar artist’            with the top            of musical            accounting for            of all artist           
  • The concentration            a reflection of the natural            of music towards hits but            stores and services have an            strong bias towards the top           
  • Digital concentration            driven by a) smaller amount            ‘front end’ display for digital            – especially on mobile devices            and b) by consumers being            by a Tyranny of Choice            which excessive choice actual hinders           
  • The democratization            access to music distribution has            great benefits for artists but            contributed to even greater confusion            fans
  • Superstar artists            not mean an absolute domination            major label artists, indeed many            artists have broken through into            top            and independent repertoire can            over index on digital services
  • The catalogue            race has become entirely detrimental            consumers’ digital music experiences

Companies mentioned in this report: Vevo, YouTube, PRS for Music, Big Machine Records, XL Recordings, Glassnote

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