41 – THE LONG TAIL

 

Little Miss Kitty Kaboodle, mysterious black eyed femme fatale, looked at Lance, and asked, “You’ve taken the long tail into consideration?”

“Yes,” confirmed the future King Lear. “But I didn’t see it until a year or more after I first came up with Commonwealth. You’ve done it in less than a day.”

“Likely only because I am aware of the long tail theory, and you were not, when you came up with Commonwealth. I assume that when you heard about the long tail, you instantly realized how it is applicable.

“Not immediately immediately, but, yeah, pretty quickly.”

“Wait,” Madonna interrupted, “what’s the long tail theory?”

Lance pointed to Kitty, who answered, “In business, the long-tail is content and products in low demand, or with low sales, or view volume. Collectively, they make up a market share exceeding that of current top performers combined.

“The current business paradigm in the digital arts is preventing the long tail from growing and wagging. There are all sorts of brilliant artists out here, dying to be discovered. When online sellers have proper profit motive to sell the works of those artists, they will, and the long tail will grow, and grow, and grow.”

“More artists making more money,” said King.

Kitty nodded, “Yes. Instead of being ignored, and giving up. The industry will grow when we exterminate the giants.”

Stephen spotted a flaw, “But the consumers will hate this, because they will have to start paying for a lot of what they’re getting for free, or close to free, rigt now.”

Madonna grinned, “They’ve developed a sense of entitlement.”

“Yes, they have,” Kitty agreed. “But if they’ll pay five bucks for a coffee, they’ll pay five bucks for a book, or album, or film. They won’t have a choice. They can’t force us to give them what we create.”

Lance jumped in, “But this can also work in the public’s favour, too. Let’s say I want to make a quarter million bucks from Die Laughing. As soon as I do, I can put it into public domain. That will grow my fan base, who will buy my next book. But there’s still more. Let’s say I sell a hundred thousand copies of Die Laughing. And I blow all the money. Shovel it all up my nose.”

“That would make you a rock star,” Madonna laughed.

“Sure. But you could write a book about that, and make all the money back,” said Stephen.

“Even better than that,” Lance volleyed back, “I could get a bunch of money in advance. Based on the sales of Die Laughing, I could say that I want a hundred grand advances to write my next book. I could offer Commonwealth sellers exclusive rigts to sell the new book to raise the advance. A thousand of them pony up a hundred bucks a piece. Pretty small risk for them. In exchange, I give them the exclusive rigts to sell the book, for a set period of time, stipulating in the contract that the first hundred dollars in sales revenue go directly to them, before a split kicks in. If they market the book in advance, they make their investment back on the first day the book is for sale. And my book is a juggernaut by the time I let tens of thousands of Commonwealth sellers sell it.”

“And,” said Stephen, “like your Liverpool and Lionel Messi example, filmmakers could raise the capital they need to make their films the same way.”

“Exactly,” Kitty agreed.

“But why hasn’t anyone thought of this before,” asked the writer who’d not thought of it before.

Madonna beat the others to the answer, “People are small. Small minds, small dreams.”

“I have been asked that question by almost everyone I have explained the idea to,” said Lance.

His father intervened, “I thought you’ve only pitched this to the Radiohead and Live nation guys.”

“They’re the only players I have given the full pitch to. I’ve bounced it around with other people, but none of them have been able to keep their minds on it long enough to reason it out. No attention spans. No imagination. Like Madge said, small minds, small dreams.”

“That’s true, and it isn’t. I came across a story, a little while back, about a research project that NASA was involved in. Don’t recall if they funded it, or commissioned it, but never mind that.” Kitty’s dropping ion the name NASA gave what she was about to say gravitas. “The upshot was that we are all born with wild imaginations, even the dullards among us. The epsilons, and even the omegas. But school beats it out of people, little by little, so that by the time they graduate high school, they are almost automatons.”

Madonna rushed to concur, “That is absolutely true. If I had a nickel for every time a teacher yelled ‘Stop daydreaming’ at me, I’d have been rich before I got through high school. Schools were created, during the industrial revolution, to produce factory workers, and the basic idea behind basic education hasn’t changed since then. Grind out automatons to feed the industries that fuel the economic system that destroys the planet.”

King nodded his head in agreement, “It also serves to beat the initiative out of people. When you quit dreaming, you quit trying.”

“Hell,” said Lance, “is a place where you have to watch the person you could have been, live the life you could have lived, if you’d only tried harder.”

Kitty attempted to throw some positivity into the discussion, which was trending towards nihilism. “All true, but Commonwealth can be a dream factory. Tao the power of the long tail, and people’s imaginations will not die. They will create something. Millions upon millions of small innovations will be created. All along, the long tail grows. And with every sale made, Commonwealth’s coffers fill.”

“Yes. Commonwealth gets very fat and very happy, very quickly, in every corner of the world. It will be a known and trusted global brand within 3o days of launching,” Lance added.

Madonna looked doubtful, and she was, “Thirty days? We can conquer the entire world in 30 days?”

“We not only can, we will. With a little help from our friends,” Lance said. Then, turning to his father, he qualified, “But not from your friends in weird places.”

42 -ENTER ZAPHOD BEEBLEBRANSON

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