09 February 2015

Life Is Tough In The Long Tail

Between 2008 and September 2012, there were 66 No. 1 songs, almost half of which were performed by only six artists (Katy Perry, Rihanna, Flo Rida, The Black Eyed Peas, Adele, and Lady Gaga); in 2011, Adele’s debut album sold more than 70 percent of all classical albums combined, and more than 60 percent of all jazz albums. 
Between 1982 and 2002, the number of Americans reading fiction withered by nearly 30 percent. 
In a 1966 UCLA study, 86 percent of students across the country declared that they intended to have a “meaningful philosophy of life”; by 2013, that percentage was amputated by half, “meaningful” no doubt replaced by “moneyful.” Over the past two decades, the number of English majors graduating from Yale University has plummeted by 60 percent; at Stanford University in 2013, only 15 percent of students majored in the humanities. In American universities, more than 50 percent of faculty is adjuncts, pittance-paid laborers with no medical insurance and barely a prayer to bolster them. 
In the publishing and journalism trades, 260,000 jobs were nixed between 2007 and 2009. Since the turn of the century, around 80 percent of cultural critics writing for newspapers have lost their jobs. There are only two remaining full-time dance critics in the entire United States of America. A not untypical yearly salary in 2008 for a professional dancer was $15,000.
From The New Republic via Marginal Revolution.

Just to provide some perspective on entertainment economics, a major Pixar movie costs about $2,000,000 a minute.  The originally webcast show RWBY cost about $4,500 to $9,000 per episode for 28 episodes which combined ran for about 280 minutes.  Add some shared overhead for the Rooster Teeth studio (which generates about $7,000 of revenue per episode from webcasting leaving it losing money on some episodes and making a bit of money on others, while keeping a couple dozen creative professionals in Austin employed (the company as a whole employs about 300 people, but in perhaps a dozen projects at a time of which RWBY was a flagship venture) even if it merely breaks even as a company) and you're talking about $1,000 per minute, using $500 software.  Rooster Teeth's products may not be as polished as the current Hollywood standard (which even Japanese anime studies and Indian Bollywood productions don't match), but at 0.05% of the budget, they are getting 85% of the product quality, perhaps, as a major motion picture, which isn't shabby at all.  Of course, for every RWBY, there are lots of efforts that go nowhere and produce crap or are abandoned midway through when money or interest die out.

Let me put this another way.  Four and a half hours of RWBY, more or less, cost about the same amount as 14 seconds of a leading PIXAR movie.  But, the value they create per dollar is far greater.

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