Inspiration In The Long Tail

About five years ago Chris Anderson wrote a Wired magazine article entitled "The Long Tail." Basically it concluded that the Internet's ability to provide a nearly infinite supply of digital media would shift consumer interest and spending toward less popular content merely because it makes such content more accessible.

Correspondingly, the nearly infinite supply of videos at Web sites like YouTube is enabling consumers to discover, and repeatedly enjoy, content that might only rarely be available on television. Some of it might never be found on TV. One inspiring example was first revealed at the 2007 TED (Technology-Entertainment-Design) Conference.

Specifically, Venezuela has more children playing musical instruments than playing soccer. One British expert stated without qualification "there is no more important work being done in music now than in Venezuela." It is a remarkable assessment for a country with a per-capita income about one-third of the United States. Yet even the casual observer can see from this video of the nation's high school orchestra that something remarkable is happening there.

Readers who watch will not be surprised to learn that the oldest orchestra member was 19 and the youngest were only 14. Their youthfulness is obvious from various camera close-up shots. However, what is surprising -- even stunning -- is the quality and feeling in the performance. This writer has never seen anything like it -- including all other performances viewed on YouTube from the World's top symphonic orchestras.

But don't take my word for it. Just watch how the often-reserved British reacted to a performance at Royal Albert Hall.  The ovation and encore had to be cut short in our links simply because YouTube does not permit video clips to extend beyond ten minutes. In short, the reaction was much like one that might have been expected if today's most popular rock artist had just completed a concert.

When Venezuela's high school students can provide such wonderful music, it is only natural for those outside the country to be curious about what happens to such talented and disciplined youths afterward. Upon investigation it will be learned that the next step is the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, where the top age is 26. This YouTube video shows that group performing at a festival in Salzburg, Austria which is the city of Mozart's birth.

Perhaps some readers might conclude that an article about the accomplishments of youthful Venezuelan musicians is too obscure to be relevant in the United State and other major countries. However, the significance of the story may be underscored by the fact that 28-year-old Gustavo Dudamel was made Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic starting with the 2009 - 2010 season. Not only is young Dudamel leading an undeniably important orchestra, he is a product of the Venezuelan music system and the conductor in all the videos linked in this article.

If the popularity of these musicians grows in YouTube's long tail, perhaps we'll see them on TV. If not, it's reassuring to know that the long tail will henceforth always be available. No doubt, there are more inspiring stories in the long tail inducing viewers to spend more time there. Consequently, it's only sensible that all video should migrate to the Net where the audience is growing, content is searchable, advertising is accountable, and online transactions are feasible. 

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4 comments about "Inspiration In The Long Tail".
  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc. , April 6, 2010 at 2:33 p.m.

    Bravo!

  2. Phil Leigh from Inside Digital Media, Inc. , April 6, 2010 at 4:09 p.m.

    I am glad you liked it.

    Here are two more amazing examples

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kK1JK6xF_c&playnext_from=TL&videos=A0omyACIIxM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbzAwQD_4h8&playnext_from=TL&videos=9cgAUXIhkM8

  3. Richard Monihan , April 9, 2010 at 3:27 p.m.

    This is interesting, but hardly what I'd call validation. The long tail is full of teenage antics, terrible karaoke and dancing, and innumberable other things not worth watching.

    The long tail provides a CHANCE for unknown or unrecognized talent to break out - but at what cost? In order to find the needle in the haystack, there is alot of waste.

    The alternative - limited resources with gatekeepers deciding what can be let through (the old network model) was constraining and tired. But in a world where there is unlimited choice, sometimes no choice is not that different.

    I'm not trying to say the long tail lacks value. It's just overhyped.

  4. Phil Leigh from Inside Digital Media, Inc. , April 10, 2010 at 4:09 p.m.

    Richard:

    I discovered the Venezuelan youth orchestra by merely doing a YouTube search for performances of Shostakovich's 12th symphony. There were only a few to choose from, and this one was by far the best. Since it was a video recording I noticed that the players appeared youthful.

    The comments by ordinary viewers led me to conclude something remarkable was going on in Venezuela. I decided to inspect the "home" page of the guy who posted the performance. That led to the more discoveries.

    Later conventional Google and YouTube searches enabled me to get an even deeper understanding.

    In short, the Internet enabled *all* of this. Its much like finding a reviewer on Amazon.com who has similar tastes in books. There was little reliance upon experts except to the extent that they chose to post comments or were quoted in an a selected video online.