Leveraging the long tail

Have you ever searched on the web for resources which release a long time ago like movie or music and end up empty handed? I certainly have! But now with Web 2.0 pattern leveraging the long tail, more and more old resources or unpopular resources are rising to the surface. The theory of long tail is that the society’s focus of the mainstream products and market are continuously being shifted away towards the not as popular products and market. The reason for this movement is because a large amount of resources are going online and the boundaries of the physical store shelves have been replaced with a limitless user interface. Web 2.0 technology has taken this theory and expands it to advance the technology features from the previous Web 1.0.

In terms of the long tail, the difference between Web 1.0 era and Web 2.0 era is that Web 1.0 only focuses on producing the mainstream products which is the most popular. However, Web 2.0 also tries to provide information of the micro markets with fewer audiences.  In other words, the use of the design for Web 2.0 can provide a wide range of resources without the boundaries of limited shelf spaces.

A strong example is Rhapsody which is an online music file-sharing subscription service with a database of more than 14 million songs. It also was one of the first music streaming subscription services to launch on the Web. The database of Rhapsody is immense with everything from the latest hits to unknown album cuts. It offers users on-demand choices from millions of songs by using various devices, for example, mobile phones, PCs, Internet-connected TVs and etc. Rhapsody develops the service it provides based on the aggregated information by users including users’ choices, minds, and needs.

Rhapsody is a great example for leverage the long tails because it provides its users with a large database of songs with different genre, age, style and artist. With the large database, Rhapsody has the ability to provide more products, gain more customers and create new market for the music industry. Furthermore, Rhapsody succeeds in leveraging the long tails by providing music sharing function for users. This function allows the users to share music with others and in other words helps customers to gain music information from other customers with similar interests.  Rhapsody also provides different kind of ranking for music to reduce the travel time of information and by different ranking types; different users can choose to only select the ones which interest them. Users of Rhapsody can also produce their own playlists with different heading to identify the specification of each playlist. Lastly, since music files can be kept easily in database warehouse with less storage space consumption, the maintenance and storage cost of Rhapsody is much lower than traditional music industry stores.


Anderson, C. (2009). The long tail.

Gonzalez, B. (2012). What is Rhapsody?

Miller, R. (2010). Rhapsody opens new data center in seattle.

Rhapsody. (2012).


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jaroodi
    May 06, 2012 @ 14:56:53

    Great comparison between web 1.0 and web 2.0. Actually leveraging the long tail is a good way for business to utilise to traget more customer and provide seeming-less services and products for their customers. As most companies are online these days, they have limitless storage for their product as they dont store it physically.

    the example you provided is a fit for this pattern and how they use this web 2.0 technology to target more customers. good read
    thanks great post


    • Wei-Hsuan Chien
      May 07, 2012 @ 16:19:13

      Hi jaroodi,
      Thanks for the comment. I reckon that Rhapsody is a very good example to show and explain the Long Tail theory, since the application itself started by taking on this theory.


  2. akklam2011
    May 07, 2012 @ 11:26:18

    This is an ideal example of leverage of the long tail as this online service called rhapsody offers so much music streamed to literally any device you want the music to be listened to. It sounds a lot better than compared to the iTunes layout where you pay for each track, then download it, but not many sharing functions are available. I would only hope that it’s cheaper as well to use compared to iTunes. I’ve also Made a Blog talking about the leverage for the long tail as well, check it out at http://akklam2011.wordpress.com/


    • Wei-Hsuan Chien
      May 07, 2012 @ 16:28:57

      Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for leaving the comment. I think in terms of customers, there are some main aspects that are the most important for them like appropriate pricing, convenience and multiple selections. XD


  3. Mark (@MarkyDTT)
    May 09, 2012 @ 09:27:11

    Hi Wei-Hsuan,

    Nice post. I’ve never actually used Rhapsody before but now I understand a great deal about it. It’s clearly a good example of leveraging the long tail, too. I guess retailers just can’t afford to stock every CD released in every year and every genre, it would simply create a huge financial deficit because only the more popular titles would sell in big numbers. Thanks to Rhapsody, there is a feasible solution to that which allows them to reach the niche markets that are untouched by the big retail giants of the world. The sharing features create an architecture of participation that can also help drive more users towards Rhapsody and increase its success even more.



    • Wei-Hsuan Chien
      May 12, 2012 @ 21:06:15

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for leaving the comment. Just like you said, Rhapsody provides some great pricing plans for customers which allow users to obtain more music they desire. That’s why it is so successful.


  4. Bo Peng
    May 11, 2012 @ 16:51:06

    Thanks for your post , it is real a new example rather than B2C website. thanks.


    May 18, 2012 @ 18:16:35

    Hi there,
    I have read a lot of posts talking about this pattern and all of them are good. But in your post here you have done a comparison between Web 1.0 era and Web 2.0 era and that is amazing. well done!!
    To be honest, I have never heard about this application before, but it looks well organised and easy to follow by different level of users.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: