Tracking the long tail

Matt writes about big media’s constant focus on “big opening weeks.” Books, films, and especially albums get judged and/or dismissed based on a big splash. Bands get dropped from labels if they can’t muster a gold record in their first weekend on sale at Best Buy.

Of course, you know about this. It’s a constant frustration for independent musicians, who can maybe hope to score some external validation from a CMJ chart or some obscure, regional tip-sheet. What a powerful thing it would be if we could track long-term trends of albums.

Then, we could see who recovered from a poor start, or who built their audiences slowly and steadily into a strong economic force.

We already have something like this, to a degree, on the CDBaby “all-time” charts. But how can we then sp0tlight artists that haven’t been doing this for five or ten years? Wouldn’t it be great to measure the growth in sales as a week-to-week percentage over the course of a year, the way that Hits does with radio spins?

(415pm: updated to give proper credit to Matt @ 37signals.)