Long tail, small earnings?

Struggling producer? In a post from “The long tail” a small movie director has written an interesting e-mail to Chris Anderson.

But the reality at this time for me and my company is that I need to find multiple large national distributors if I hope to even come close to making a living at this game. And I need to produce fresh content on a reasonably frequent basis. In short, I am a much smaller and more struggling version of the giants that have preceded me.
Your Long Tail theory is a basic and profound truth that I happily embrace AS A CONSUMER. But as a producer and creator of Long Tail content it is basically spelling out my doom. Other than your book examples which are still basically about VERY LARGE entities and aggregators, I am finding very few self supporting examples of independent Long Tail producers.

The general idea of the e-mail is that the long tail with niche content is nice for the consumer but that it is hard for the producer. Fundamentally there are only a few customers in the long tail so it is hard to make money for producers. Since when you produce it takes almost the same amount of time and money to make a blockbuster than to make a niche product. It is a great niche product when you have three really dedicated fans but how much money will you make.
Most of the success stories in the long tail are from distributors for whom it does not matter what item they sell since their business model is based on the total amounts of all products sold together (in the end they are all bits on a platter). And fact is that due to small world effects it is the big “hub-distributors” that are getting bigger and bigger. This might mean that in the end we end up with only a few and powerful distributors since they are the only one with a large enough audience to make your niche product profitable. Somehow that has a familiar smell to it…

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