When preparing for Lift11, I interviewed David Galbraith (co-founder of Yelp) who came up with a point that was going against what I was thinking about the internet. He told me the following:
Laurent Haug: Another big change ahead?
David Galbraith: The death of the long tail. The idea behind the long tail is that all the little guys are worth more than the big guys. But mediums do one thing: they amplify celebrity. Since Rudolph Valentino, the world’s stars have always been bigger than all the little guys. The phenomena has been amplified by the internet. An artist like Lady Gaga is generating petabytes of data download for Google, Justin Biber is accounting for 3% of Twitter’s servers infrastructure. The point is that the internet is a place where the rich get richer. It is a story nobody wants to here but it is true. The left part of the long tail – the one with the big guys – is bigger than the right part – the smaller guys. This is not getting better, also because of global competition that forced a merger of niches.
The internet was supposed to be making the amateur and the professional equal, to allow each of us access to our fifteen minutes of fame. That is how I was thinking until I looked at Youtube’s year in review, and the ranking of the top ten music videos of the year: five artists share the top ten spots, with Justin Biber taking the first, sixth, seventh and ninth spot. Eminem and Rihanna place three videos in the top 10, and lady gaga two. That’s four artists taking nine out of ten spots…
- Indeed, the internet makes the rich richer, at least in a domain like music that is still controlled by the majors. No indie band or amateur made it to the top of the rankings, and this should really make us rethink the notion of user generated content. Sites like Youtube don’t live off the home made videos, but from content generated by professionals – or hacked from TV networks.
- The most viewed indicator does not make sense unless you are in the dominant demographic of a specific site. Obviously, Youtube is populated with teenagers who will put Justin Biber on top of the rankings. If you are not in that demographic, this indicator is useless for you as it is for me. There is a need to separate audiences by demographics, and to come up with new ways to spot trending videos. Most viewed when measured on the full audience does not make sense anymore.