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Art is a Long Tail Product and World Class Pricing

by Clint Watson on 11/18/2005

I recently attended a speech by the editor of Wired magazine, Chris Anderson. He is touting his new marketing theory called "The Long Tail." In short, "The Long Tail" comprises all of the products in a given market by producers who are not as well-known, and therefore generally ignored by the "mainstream." For example, Hollywood produces and markets around 200 films per year (the "mainstream"), but there are thousands and thousands of independent films made each year and these are "the long tail" in the movie industry. (Visit Chris' blog at for more details.)

As I listened, I realized that for the most part, art is a long-tail industry. Historically, this was bad news, as only the "mainstream" get the attention and therefore the sales. However, the Internet has DRASTICALLY changed the playing field. Marketing in the long tail is now not only viable, but often more profitable.

This has also affecting pricing in the art world. Prices are now transparent and artists and dealers who play games will be quickly discovered and punished by the marketplace. For a complete essay on this subject, visit and read "World Class Pricing" by Robert Genn.

Any stories from "out there" about how the Internet has changed YOUR marketing strategy?


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Topics: Miscellaneous

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Rick Rotante
via web
The Internet has had a huge impact on how I now manage my art career.
Iím from the baby boomer period so I saw the Internet evolve. By nature I resisted this new innovation as some new idea that would not directly affect my live in any significant way. Obviously, I was proven wrong. The enormous influence the Internet has is still being measured and has changed life for all of us in so many ways.
Luckily I put my bullheadedness aside and embraced this new invention.
Before the Internet, I did the same as most to promote my work. When I started to paint professionally, I participated in as many shows as I could locally. Tried when I could afford to incorporate print ads. I searched out galleries to handle my work. It was this hit and miss approach while hoping; and producing work; that as time went by and my clientele increased; I would eventually come to the attention of enough people and make my fortune.
Needless to say, thousands of other equally talented artists were doing the same. Some with greater success than others. Some, due to a quirk of fate, achieved notoriety without much initial effort.
Come the Internet and all of a sudden I had instant access to art and artists and resources never available before.
I began to see that this could be utilized to further my career. The problem was I was computer illiterate and didnít know DOS initially. Remember DOS anyone?
It was how you commanded the computer to do what you needed it to do. Thatís right, you had to tell the computer what to do. It might as well have been Greek. The industry also realized that people, though willing, couldnít use this technology because of the DOS language, which we could not comprehend easily.
Eventually the Internet evolved into what it is today and anyone willing to take the initiative can have access to this tool.
I got a day job where I had to use the computer and the company was willing to train me.
Whenever I had an opportunity, I was on the Internet.
My first site was lacking in so many ways. I didnít know anyone to set one up and didnít have monetary resources to have one built for me. So I did the next best thing and attached myself to a group site. I stayed there without ever getting one sale I can attribute to the Internet. What I found though is I could use my site as a calling card. I no longer had to carry a portfolio all the time. I could direct everyone to my site to see my work. Plus people had access to my site at all hours of the day and night. People around the world could surf and hit my site. All without being directly involved. The problem as the Internet develops is there are hundreds, thousands of art sites. How do I get people to come to mine? Marketing was not my first thought. I floundered for a long time
After several years I found FASO ( this isnít a plug for Clint and FASO)
With the tools he made available, I was also able to upload work that looked fairly close to my original, I learned about Photoshop. Digital photography. Bought a camera, As a result, I can now paint a picture in the morning, photograph it when done, and upload it to my site all in the same day.
AND I donít have to worry if my gallery will accept my work. Which has opened up new categories of art. Iím not restricted to landscapes because that is what my gallery wants.
I have found more freedom of subject due to the Internet. I know that as long as I produce quality, there is no limit to subject I can now paint. There is a buyer out there of every piece I produce. I believe that. Iíve sold works produced five, six years ago. My Gallery wanted only ďnewĒ work. My theory is ďif it hasnít been exhibited or seen, itís new work no matter when you produced itĒ Just be careful it meets the higher standard of your current work. I can charge a price for my work that I think it should be without inflating it for the gallery percentage. I can play with pricing for my own benefit. I can give it away without being penalized by the gallery. I can donate my work . In essence, the Internet has given me control over my art and my career.
Has the Internet changed my life? The fact that Iím ďbloggingĒ should speak for itself.


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