Rhea Myers

Reggae Versions, The Long Tail, And Retaining Cultural Value For Artists


_Not surprisingly, a small number of riddims get versioned a lot and most get versioned only once or twice. This kind of picture is typical of cultural industries (e.g., a few composers do most of the scores in Hollywood, a few actors do most of the movies, etc.) and is related to the idea of _long tails

A riddim is a reggae track, a version is a remix or cover version. The basic idea behind the long tail is that products that sell only one or two items online add up to sell more in total than blockbuster items do.

So here, more versions are made in total from riddims that are only versioned once or twice than from the ones that are most popular.

Is this right? What if this was the case in culture generally?

And are there more works downstream of the long tail than there are downstream from blockbusters? That is, are there more derivatives of derivatives of the long tail?

How would this affect debates around copylefting / public-domaining work? To my mind, the risk of losing any downstream work to proprietary work through public-domaining is unacceptable. But the risk of losing the long tail to the public domain and thence to proprietary works would be completely unacceptable. This means that the blockbuster potential, or the likelihood of proprietary displacement, cannot be the basis for deciding between copylefting or public-domaining work.

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