The Long Tail book launch in NYC was a fun event. I scored front-seat viewing in the tiny Theater 2, in front of all the seats reserved for the Wired Magazine folks. Flaverpill sponsored the event, and introduced Chris. There was a funny story about how their opening conversation when they met turned into the basis of the event: who do you listen to on your iPod? The Brazilian Girls, James Murphy, etc. And there they were as the music at the party. The crowded, crazy party!
It was a delight to hear Chris speak. He was very non-pretentious and approachable. His talk very much gives the impression of being the champion of the little guy, right as his book is zooming to best seller status–an irony he is very much aware of. He talked about his background as a garage band electric guitar rocker. He made a few quick remarks about his high school and college experience that I don’t want to quote for fear that I misheard, and then his jaunts into physics and economics. His background was eclectic to say the least, and ironic in that promoting the long tail book was in a way getting back to his roots as hardline rocker in Chicago.
After an hour of Longtailtini’s and Longtail Sunrises, we listened to Chris’ talk, where he summed up the book for those who hadn’t read it yet, and showed a humorous video made by Peter Hirshberg of Technorati. It was narrated from the perspective of “The Man”, and done in a campy 50’s horror movie style: “While we were producing hits, they were studying us…” The punch-line was that the audience is up to something. Day of the Long Taillllllllllll.
There is defiantly a balance being struck between the message that the “hit” is on the decline, which helps promote the book, and the acknowledgement that hits are still very much with us. But Chris showed some dramatic points about “water levels”, stating that the first day of spring in 2000 the high water mark was reached with InSync’s second album, and how he believes, but wouldn’t put money on it, that that level of success will never again be achieved in the music industry. That was the most successful CD release that will ever happen. Similar charts showed percentages of housholds that tuned into “I Love Lucy” (70%) vs. the modern equivalents, like CSI (~10%).
Chris made himself very available after the talk, both for chatting and book signing. My boss, Connie, had met Chris at the WSJ D conference a few weeks ago. And Chris immediately knew who I was. The HitTail demo resulted in a few emails being sent to him. I think of the HitTail endeavor in relation to Chris like Solution Selling courses in relation to Michael Bosworth. Michael Bosworth framed the discussion, and made the concept much more accessible to the masses, and Chris has done much the same with business whose model follows the long tail shape.