Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Homemade superstars

Kate Walsh, bedroom musician.

An interesting bit of news from the UK here about a homemade album hitting Number 3 album on the UK iTunes Store charts. Good-quality recording technology is making it into bedrooms and garages, and Apple itself has made it easier for committed amateurs to produce and distribute a good product, with software like GarageBand. There's a corollary here to the personal fabrication movement, and the similar democratization of physical production technologies.

So on that note, I'm tempted to proclaim this as another example of personally-tailored consumer products gaining influence, and as an example of the democratization of the means of production. Tempted...but I'm suspicious. With more and more producers of content, the odds of any one of those producers gaining great widespread appeal get worse and worse.

After all, any student of Chris Anderson knows that as you increase the number of producers, and add to the Long Tail of consumer offerings, the popularity of individual titles drops off significantly, further fragmenting public tastes, increasing demand for the tail to go longer and further causing the 'head' to shrink. In other words, hits don't happen anymore when the tail gets lengthened.

Of course, rumors are afoot that this is a PR stunt, and this could indeed be another Lonelygirl15 phenomenon, where a corporate presence is creating something appearing to be amateur-produced, but if it's legit, it's an exciting precedent. I haven't had a chance to listen to this myself, but I have a gift certificate for the UK iTunes Store at home that's about to go to good use...


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