Synopses & Reviews
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 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 speech writers 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
"Derek Thompson has long been one of the brightest new voices in American journalism. With Hit Makers, he becomes one of the brightest new voices in the world of non-fiction books. Ranging from Impressionist art to German lullabies to Game of Thrones, Hit Makers offers a fresh and compelling take on how the media function and how ideas spread. As deftly written as it is keenly argued, this book — true to its title — is a hit." Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive and To Sell is Human
"How does a nice idea become an earworm, or a fashion trend, or — shudder — a meme? Atlantic senior editor Thompson ventures a few well-considered answers…. Good reading for anyone who aspires to understand the machinery of pop culture — and perhaps even craft a hit of his or her own." Kirkus Reviews
"Thompson tackles the daunting subject of how products come to dominate the culture in this interdisciplinary romp that delves into many facets of the entertainment industry as well as industrial design, art history, publishing, and politics…presenting his case with verve and a lightning chain of compact anecdotes…. This book will appeal to readers of Malcolm Gladwell as well as pop-culture enthusiasts and anyone interested in the changing media landscape." Booklist
About the Author
Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, where he writes about economics and the media. He is a regular contributor to NPR’s "Here and Now" and appears frequently on television, including CBS and MSNBC. He lives in New York City.