More on Chunky Marketing

Hard to tell which of us is Darwin and which Wallace, but my argument outlined over the last couple of days on "chunky marketing" has found unexpected support from Natasha Walter of the Guardian. 

Here’s what she had to say after interviewing Chris Anderson on his "long tail" idea.

But what you are left with, if you’re convinced by this picture of a culture that is all top curve or long tail, is a nagging question about what is happening to what has been called the middle torso. A culture divided between the massive hit and the tiny niche may feel comfortable for retailers and producers of a certain sort, but not so good for others. Many writers do not just want to reach a tiny online community and yet will never follow the formulas that please a massive audience; many film-makers don’t want to go it alone with a digital camera and sell to the teenagers on MySpace, but also don’t want millions of dollars of computer-generated imagery and a first week opening on thousands of screens.

At the moment, there is space to work in this middle ground. There are, say, the distributors who support independent film-makers with a small theatrical release, and independent publishers who take on new writers and help bring them out of the niche without expecting them to be bestsellers. But just as the small independent bookshop is being squeezed both by supermarkets and online retailers, so we may find that if our culture becomes so dominated by the blockbuster on one hand and the long tail on the other, something precious is going to get squeezed out of the middle.

Hear hear.  Or is that, here here. 


Walter, Natasha.  2006.  Something is being squeezed out of the middle.  The Guardian. 


Thanks to Paul Melton for spotting the Walter essay. 

2 thoughts on “More on Chunky Marketing

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  2. Mark Nelson

    Not sure I get the idea of the middle being “squeezed out”. This suggests the middle needs to be/remain a starting point rather than a desired destination. I believe there will always be capital to fund artistic ventures as long as backers believe there is a reasonable chance of a return. If anything, the risks entailed in producing “massive hits” are far greater now. An artist with a track record or established audience, even if of moderate size, seems to be a pretty good risk hedge. This may certainly require artists or content developers to spend more time in the farther reaches of the tail building their audience, but isn’t this largely as it has always been, save the few who are annointed by the industry as the next thing?

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