What makes a hit a hit ? From Brahms's 'Lullaby' to Game of Thrones, Derek Thompson explores the science of the phenomena that seemingly come out of nowhere, revealing the hidden rules that make things popular - and what this says about the desires that make us human.
What makes a hit a hit? In Hit Makers, Atlantic Senior Editor Derek Thompson puts pop culture under the lens of science to answer the question that every business, every producer, every person looking to promote themselves and their work has asked. Drawing on ancient history and modern headlines - from vampire lore and Brahms's Lullaby to Instagram - Thompson explores the economics and psychology of why certain things become extraordinarily popular. With incisive analysis and captivating storytelling, he reveals that, though blockbuster films, Internet memes and number-one songs seem to have come out of nowhere, hits actually have a story and operate by certain rules. People gravitate towards familiar surprises: products that are bold and innovative, yet instantly comprehensible. Whether he is uncovering the secrets of JFK and Barack Obama's speechwriters or analysing the unexpected reasons for the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, Thompson goes beyond the cultural phenomena that make the news by revealing the desires that make us all human. While technology might change, he shows, our innate preferences do not, and throughout history hits have held up a mirror to ourselves. From the dawn of Impressionist art to the future of Snapchat, from small-scale Etsy entrepreneurs to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson tells the fascinating story of how culture happens - and where genius lives.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER A Book of the Year Selection for Inc. and Library Journal “This book picks up where The Tipping Point left off." -- Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of ORIGINALS and GIVE AND TAKE Nothing “goes viral.” If you think a popular movie, song, or app came out of nowhere to become a word-of-mouth success in today’s crowded media environment, you’re missing the real story. Each blockbuster has a secret history—of power, influence, dark broadcasters, and passionate cults that turn some new products into cultural phenomena. Even the most brilliant ideas wither in obscurity if they fail to connect with the right network, and the consumers that matter most aren't the early adopters, but rather their friends, followers, and imitators -- the audience of your audience. In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like and reveals the economics of cultural markets that invisibly shape our lives. Shattering the sentimental myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, Thompson shows quality is insufficient for success, nobody has "good taste," and some of the most popular products in history were one bad break away from utter failure. It may be a new world, but there are some enduring truths to what audiences and consumers want. People love a familiar surprise: a product that is bold, yet sneakily recognizable. Every business, every artist, every person looking to promote themselves and their work wants to know what makes some works so successful while others disappear. Hit Makers is a magical mystery tour through the last century of pop culture blockbusters and the most valuable currency of the twenty-first century—people’s attention. From the dawn of impressionist art to the future of Facebook, from small Etsy designers to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson leaves no pet rock unturned to tell the fascinating story of how culture happens and why things become popular. In Hit Makers, Derek Thompson investigates: · The secret link between ESPN's sticky programming and the The Weeknd's catchy choruses · Why Facebook is today’s most important newspaper · How advertising critics predicted Donald Trump · The 5th grader who accidentally launched "Rock Around the Clock," the biggest hit in rock and roll history · How Barack Obama and his speechwriters think of themselves as songwriters · How Disney conquered the world—but the future of hits belongs to savvy amateurs and individuals · The French collector who accidentally created the Impressionist canon · Quantitative evidence that the biggest music hits aren’t always the best · Why almost all Hollywood blockbusters are sequels, reboots, and adaptations · Why one year--1991--is responsible for the way pop music sounds today · Why another year --1932--created the business model of film · How data scientists proved that “going viral” is a myth · How 19th century immigration patterns explain the most heard song in the Western Hemisphere
Presents an investigation into the lucrative quality of popularity in the twenty-first century to share economic insights into what makes ideas, productions, and products successful.
"A brilliant and groundbreaking argument that innovation and progress are often achieved by revisiting and retooling ideas from the past rather than starting from scratch--from The Guardian columnist and contributor to The Atlantic, "--Baker & Taylor.
A contributing editor at Wired examines the way entertainment has shifted in the face of new media and discusses the way that people such as Will Wright, James Cameron and Damon Lindelof are changing how we play, relax and think. Reprint.
"Ari is at the front of the front. He gets it. I've read a hundred how-to-make-it-in-the-music-biz books, and this one is today's definitive, comprehensive manual." Jack Conte, 150+ million YouTube views, Pomplamoose, CEO of Patreon"
A totalitarian regime has ordered all books to be destroyed, but one of the book burners, Guy Montag, suddenly realizes their merit.
“A masterful and thought-provoking book that has reshaped my understanding of content in the digital landscape.”—Ariel Emanuel, co-CEO, WME | IMG Harvard Business School Professor of Strategy Bharat Anand presents an incisive new approach to digital transformation that favors fostering connectivity over focusing exclusively on content. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BLOOMBERG Companies everywhere face two major challenges today: getting noticed and getting paid. To confront these obstacles, Bharat Anand examines a range of businesses around the world, from The New York Times to The Economist, from Chinese Internet giant Tencent to Scandinavian digital trailblazer Schibsted, and from talent management to the future of education. Drawing on these stories and on the latest research in economics, strategy, and marketing, this refreshingly engaging book reveals important lessons, smashes celebrated myths, and reorients strategy. Success for flourishing companies comes not from making the best content but from recognizing how content enables customers’ connectivity; it comes not from protecting the value of content at all costs but from unearthing related opportunities close by; and it comes not from mimicking competitors’ best practices but from seeing choices as part of a connected whole. Digital change means that everyone today can reach and interact with others directly: We are all in the content business. But that comes with risks that Bharat Anand teaches us how to recognize and navigate. Filled with conversations with key players and in-depth dispatches from the front lines of digital change, The Content Trap is an essential new playbook for navigating the turbulent waters in which we find ourselves. Praise for The Content Trap “Today, to some extent, every company is a media company, but Anand emphasizes that it’s not just about the content you create; it’s the connections you make that matter—the platforms and network effects.”—Doug McMillon, CEO, Wal-Mart Stores “The Content Trap is a book filled with stories of businesses, from music companies to magazine publishers, that missed connections and could never escape the narrow views that had brought them past success. But it is also filled with stories of those who made strategic choices to strengthen the links between content and returns in their new master plans. . . . The book is a call to clear thinking and reassessing why things are the way they are.”—The Wall Street Journal
An in-depth look at the influence of fans—society’s alpha consumers—on our lives and culture. As fandom sheds its longtime stigmas of geekiness and hysteria, fans are demanding more from the celebrities and brands they love. Digital tools have given organizations—from traditional businesses to tech startups—direct, real-time access to their most devoted consumers, and it’s easy to forget that this access flows both ways. This is the new “fandom-based economy”: a convergence of brand owner and brand consumer. Fan pressures hold more clout than ever before as audiences demand a say in shaping the future of the things they love. In Superfandom, Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer explain this new era of symbiosis. For producers, it can mean a golden opportunity: brands such as Polaroid and Surge, preserved by the passion of a handful of nostalgic fans, can now count on an articulate, creative, and, above all, loyal audience. Yet, the new economy has its own risks—it’s also easier than ever for companies to lose their audience’s trust, as Valve did when it tried to introduce a paid mod system for its Skyrim video game. Examining key cases that span a wide range of consumer markets, Fraade-Blanar and Glazer explain why some kinds of engagement with fans succeed and some backfire. Throughout, the authors probe fandom’s history, sociology, and psychology. From the nineteenth-century American Alice Drake, who bribed her way into the houses of her favorite European composers, to Hatsune Miku, the Japanese virtual celebrity whose songs are composed entirely by fans, the dynamics of fandom—the activities we perform to show we belong to a group of people with common interests—may be as old as culture itself. For groupies of financier Warren Buffet and enthusiasts of Cards Against Humanity alike, the consumer relationship has been transformed. Superfandom is an essential guide for those who care about, contribute to, and live in our rapidly expanding fan-driven economy.
Presents an analysis of social media, discussing how a technology which was once heralded as democratic, has evolved into one which promotes elitism and inequality and provides companies with the means of invading privacy in search of profits.
Understanding the economic paradigms at work in media industries and markets is vitally important for the analysis of the media system as a whole. The changing dynamics of media production, distribution and consumption are stretching the capacity of established economic paradigms. In addition to succinct accounts of neo-classical and critical political economics, the text offers fresh perspectives for understanding media drawn from two 'heterodox' approaches: institutional economics and evolutionary economics. Applying these paradigms to vital topics and case studies, Media Economics stresses the value – and limits – of contending economic approaches in understanding how the media operates today. It is essential reading for all students of Media and Communication Studies, and also those from Economics, Policy Studies, Business Studies and Marketing backgrounds who are studying the media.
One of Michiko Kakutani's (New York Times) top ten books of 2016 A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We've begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog. David Sax has uncovered story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who've found a market selling not apps or virtual solutions but real, tangible things. As e-books are supposedly remaking reading, independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country. As music allegedly migrates to the cloud, vinyl record sales have grown more than ten times over the past decade. Even the offices of tech giants like Google and Facebook increasingly rely on pen and paper to drive their brightest ideas. Sax's work reveals a deep truth about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with first-rate reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life-and the robust future of the real world outside it.
For over thirty years, Dollar Tree has succeeded at something the retail industry thought impossible: selling goods of surprising quality for no more than a dollar apiece, and in the process earning profits that defy common sense. In One Buck at a Time, company cofounder Macon Brock leads readers through the twisty path that saw Dollar Tree mushroom from a humble five-and-dime in Norfolk, Virginia, into one of the fastest-growing businesses in America—one that today operates more than 14,000 stores, provides jobs for 165,000 people, and is climbing the Fortune 500. How has it been able to stick to its one-dollar price point in the face of inflation, the vagaries of currency exchange, and pressure from suppliers? The answers to such questions are both simple and complex. And they underlie Dollar Tree’s mission to stay true to its founding principles and, in so doing, distinguish itself from every other discount chain in America and inspire imitators around the world. One Buck at a Time offers an informal history of budget retail and a how-to on building an organization dedicated to doing it right. Brock credits everyone from executives to store managers to warehouse workers for Dollar Tree’s corporate culture of value and service. And he paints an entertaining and often surprising picture of how the company pulls off a mercantile miracle, year in, year out—scouring the globe to maintain an all-important but elusive price point while fashioning a product mix that never fails to surprise and delight.
When a little green frog hops into Little Quack's pond - the other ducklings are not at all sure if they should make friends with him - after all he sounds funny, he's green and he's not at all fluffy. But Little Quack wants to be frog's friend and soon persuades his brothers and sisters that hopping, splashing and jumping are all fun things to do - so Little Ribbit is soon very at home in his new pond.
A fascinating and unusual chapter in American history about a religious community that held radical notions of equality, sex, and religion---only to transform itself, at the beginning of the twentieth century, into a successful silverware company and a model of buttoned-down corporate propriety. In the early nineteenth century, many Americans were looking for an alternative to the Puritanism that had been the foundation of the new country. Amid the fervor of the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening, John Humphrey Noyes, a spirited but socially awkward young man, attracted a group of devoted followers with his fiery sermons about creating Jesus’ millennial kingdom here on Earth. Noyes established a revolutionary community in rural New York centered around achieving a life free of sin through God’s grace, while also espousing equality of the sexes and “complex marriage,” a system of free love where sexual relations with multiple partners was encouraged. Noyes’s belief in the perfectibility of human nature eventually inspired him to institute a program of eugenics, known as stirpiculture, that resulted in a new generation of Oneidans who, when the Community disbanded in 1880, sought to exorcise the ghost of their fathers’ disreputable sexual theories. Converted into a joint-stock company, Oneida Community, Limited, would go on to become one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of silverware, and their brand a coveted mark of middle-class respectability in pre- and post-WWII America. Told by a descendant of one of the Community’s original families, Ellen Wayland-Smith's Oneida is a captivating story that straddles two centuries to reveal how a radical, free-love sect, turning its back on its own ideals, transformed into a purveyor of the white-picket-fence American dream.
If you have ever wondered why SUVs replaced minivans, how one rap song turned the cognac industry upside down, or what gives Levi's jeans their iconic allure, look no further-in Cool, Steven Quartz and Anette Asp finally explain the fascinating science behind unexpected trends and enduring successes. We live in a world of conspicuous consumption, where the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the food we eat lead double lives: they don't merely satisfy our needs; they also communicate our values, identities, and aspirations. In Beverly Hills, tourists flock to the famous Rodeo Drive-not to shop, but simply to take photographs of themselves in front of luxury stores. And for one week in August, hundreds of thousands of HarleyDavidson fans from all over the world descend on the remote town of Sturgis, South Dakota, and engulf the otherwise sleepy hamlet in the deafening roar of motorcycle engines. Why do brands inspire such devotion? Quartz and Asp bring together groundbreaking findings in neuroscience, economics, and evolutionary biology to present a new understanding of why we consume and how our concepts of what is "cool"-be it designer jeans, smartphones, or craft beer-help drive the global economy. The authors highlight the underlying neurological and cultural processes that contribute to our often unconscious decision making, explaining how we're able to navigate the supermarket on autopilot for certain items and yet arrive at the checkout counter with a basket full of products picked up on the spur of the moment. And they explore the opposite side of the consumer equation-the "choice architects" who design store interiors and the "coolhunters" who scour Berlin and Tokyo on the lookout for the latest trends. Through a novel combination of cultural and economic history and in-depth studies of the brain, Cool puts forth a provocative theory of consumerism that reveals the crucial missing links in an understanding of our spending habits: our brain's status-seeking "social calculator" and an instinct to rebel that fuels our dislike of being subordinated by others. Quartz and Asp show how these ancient motivations make us natural-born consumers and how they sparked the emergence of "cool consumption" in the middle of the twentieth century, creating new lifestyle choices and routes to happiness. Examining how cool was reshaped in the 1990s by a changing society and the Internet, they unpack the social motivations behind today's hip, ethical consumption, arguing that we should embrace, rather than deny, the power of consumerism. Taking us from Norman Mailer to normcore, Cool is surprising at every turn, and will forever change the way you think about money, status, desire, happiness, and choice.
Finalist for the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, and the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year One of Billboard’s 100 Greatest Music Books of All Time A New York Times Editors’ Choice ONE OF THE YEAR'S BEST BOOKS: The Washington Post • The Financial Times • Slate • The Atlantic • Time • Forbes “[How Music Got Free] has the clear writing and brisk reportorial acumen of a Michael Lewis book.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime? How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store. Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet. Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online—when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. In the page-turning tradition of writers like Michael Lewis and Lawrence Wright, Witt’s deeply reported first book introduces the unforgettable characters—inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers—who revolutionized an entire artform, and reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives. An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself. From the Hardcover edition.
The New Kingmakers documents the rise of the developer class, and provides strategies for companies to adapt to the new technology landscape. From recruiting to retention, it provides a playbook to work more efficiently and effectively with the most important members of your organization.
David Wootton guides us through four centuries of Western thought to show how new ideas about politics, ethics, and economics stepped into a gap opened up by religious conflict and the Scientific Revolution. As ideas about godliness and Aristotelian virtue faded, theories about the rational pursuit of power, pleasure, and profit moved to the fore.

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