YouTube has approximately 1 billion visitors each month with over 100 hours of footage being uploaded a minute. With so much content, it is hard to believe videos can gain as much attention as they do. With the ability to post whatever, whenever, people are becoming celebrities at the click of a button.
This situation can be explained by the long tail effect. Established by Chris Anderson, it is a niche marketing technique that shows if a distribution channel is large enough, products in low demand can exceed and/or rival the few bestsellers and blockbusters (2004)
Creating and producing a successful and professional video is very difficult, but YouTube gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to share their work, with no limitations on the content or quality. YouTube can therefore be seen as the distribution channel, with the variety of videos establishing countless niche markets. As the Internet offers unlimited space, more and more content can be added to each niche market, representing the ‘long tail’ that is continuously growing. The more specific the niche market is, the further is goes down the tail.
Take for example Rebecca Black and her infamous ‘Friday’ music video. Her parents had paid for the song and video to be created, which was then shared on YouTube with no anticipation of the reaction it would receive. While the majority of the reception was negative the video hit 100 million views after 63 days. When asked his opinion Simon Cowell said, “Whatever she’s done has worked. Whether you like her or not, she’s the most talked-about artist in America right now.”
Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are both signed to one of the largest music labels in the industry, Def Jam Recordings, and both artists had fewer views for their official music videos than Friday (Kaufman, 2011). It wasn’t a large music labels that made Rebecca Black famous, it was the viewers that clicked, shared, liked and disliked the video that made it viral.
The long tail has expanded opportunity. While quality is still valued it can certainly be overlooked by quantity. As in the case with Friday, no matter how untalented you are, if you can get your material out there you have a chance at success.
Anderson, C 2004, The Long Tail, Wired, viewed 31 August 2014, <http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html >.
Kaufman, G 2011, Rebecca Black’s Friday Beats Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber on YouTube, MTV News, viewed 31 August 2014, <http://www.mtv.com/news/1661773/rebecca-black-friday-youtube-views/>.