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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.
All businesses, artists, and people looking to promote themselves and their work want 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 21st century - people's attention.
From the dawn of impressionist art to the future of Facebook, from 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 the world's most important modern newspaper
How advertising critics predicted Donald Trump
The fifth 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
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mr on 04-22-17
A lot more interesting than I expected...
There's certainly some science here - both interesting and obvious - but I don't think that alone would have made this book a good listen.
What I found much more interesting were the stories used to illustrate some of the points - which dive into art history, industrial design, politics and linguistics.
Some of the most up-to-date pop culture references will probably date this book quite quickly, but the historical parallels are timeless, and arguably more interesting.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Warren Whitlock on 04-01-17
Best Book Ever if You Want to Understand Poularity
What did you love best about Hit Makers?
Most books on what makes a hit are rubbish. So I was not expecting much from Derek Thompson's "Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction." As one who popularizes new ideas for a living, I don't expect to pick up more than a couple of ideas while studying a book that moves my brain into thinking more about a topic. I was wrong. I totally underestimated the depth of understanding in this book. Instead of "cracking a code" and pretending there's some magic formula, Thompson traced the path of hits back to their origins, interviewed unlikely contributors and found the inception of ideas. This is the only way we can see the triggers that might contribute to making something a hit. Best explanation of why "viral marketing" is a fraud, best Disney history and several patterns I recognized in case studies outside of the book. I'm using this knowledge already.
What other book might you compare Hit Makers to and why?
Cialdini's "Influence" was groundbreaking for setting out 6 principles but is readable because of the stories shared. "Hit Makers" delivers on the stories.. and does well on explains these and other principles
What does Derek Thompson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Always best to hear the book in the author's voice. Usually, it's a compromise. In this case, Thompson's deliver was great.
What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?
Brahms best work was derivative.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful