I stopped by a garage sale today. The guy had thousands of CDs, most of them in their wrappers. $3 each. I was excited.
Two boxes in, I felt like I was in a different universe. Every single artist was someone I had never heard of. After 25 years of buying CDs (a lot of CDs) I had come face to face with a huge Dip. It’s almost impossible to buy music with no frame of reference. There were no hits, no recommendations, no "if you like x, you’ll like y". I realized that the time it would take to decide if I liked an album was probably worth more than the $3 it would cost to buy one–in other words, not even worth it for ‘free.’
Musicians, bloggers, writers–if you’re toiling in the long tail, getting stuck at zero is now a real possibility. Being just like the other guys but trying harder is less of an effective strategy than ever before.