We had a really great discussion today about The Long Tail at Wattpad’s monthly product book club.

The Long Tail argues that more value exists by aggregating all the small niches together than in the small group of hit products or content. By this theory Youtube ultimately has more lasting value than Netflix.

This sparked another discussion on the different ways technology companies can play a role in aggregating the long tail.

The first is driven by customer demand - in the case of content, this is driven by what audiences want. This approach focuses on audience desires for free access, amazing discovery experiences and opportunities to connect with each other. There’s a network effect which improves recommendations that’s created when other audience members join. In this approach, the supply side - creators - often do whatever it takes to conform to what audiences want.

The second is supply focused - to help every creator become as successful as they can be. This is where the customer is the creator and the product is a set of utilities to help them build audiences and make money from their craft. In this world, creators are empowered to find the channels that work for them vs. being beholden to any one single channel.

Both can yield massive amounts of enterprise value and can both help the Long Tail become successful, but are polar opposite in the type of businesses.