The Harvard Business Review has published an article titled 'Should You Invest in the Long Tail?' that appears to go against Chris Anderson's interpretation of it in his 2006 book.
Link - http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/hbsp/hbr/articles/article.jsp?OPERATION_TYPE=CHECK_COOKIE&referer=/hbsp/hbr/articles/article.jsp&productId=R0807H&TRUE=TRUE&reason=freeContent&FALSE=FALSE&ml_subscriber=true&_requestid=252556&ml_action=get-article&ml_issueid=BR0807&articleID=R0807H&pageNumber=1 -
They pulled data from Rhapsody (which Anderson used in 06) and interestingly AU DVD rental by mail company Quickflix which suggested that is was "highly disputable that much money can be made in the tail" and "In sales of both videos and recorded music—in many ways the perfect products to test the long-tail theory—we see that hits are and probably will remain dominant."
Interestingly Anderson has weighed into the debate as well, claiming that the differences truly lie in a differing interpretation of 'head' and 'tail'. Anderson: "My point is not to suggest that Elberse is wrong and that I'm right, it's only to point out that different definitions of what the Long Tail is, from "head" to "tail", will generate wildly different results."
It's a good debate to keep your eye on. It would also be interesting to see a 'Long Tail' type modelling of media consumption - ie media publishers, how this is evolving and how marketers need to evolve their comms strategies to do so. I, for one, think there is WAY TOO MUCH talk about the evolution of social media by those in advertising/marketing agencies - but minimal to no demonstration by them of how it can be used to solve business problems.