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Profile Image for Caroline .
418 reviews569 followers
June 23, 2022

There are so many products, so much art, so much music, so many fashion trends, so much of…everything in this world, but only a tiny fraction becomes popular. Why? In Hit Makers, Derek Thompson explains this phenomenon (the “science of popularity”). The book was a hit for me, as interesting as Thompson’s articles in The Atlantic, and articulated with the precision of a born writer.

His thesis is that when it comes to what becomes a hit, simply being talented isn’t enough. History has shown time and again that “hit makers”--networks of people or one influential enabler--need to be in place to tip the scales in the right direction. That hit maker could be a gifted speechwriter, a born salesperson, an uber-popular celebrity who retweets your tweet…some special someone who works the right magic at just the right time. “The Age of Distraction” in the subtitle refers to the challenge of standing out in an era of so much noise--social media, plentiful choices, the competition of numerous other things vying to become hits.

Hit Makers is chock full of a varied range of examples from different time periods. To name just a few, Thompson explains how Disney grew to become as popular and influential as it is; how Bumble and Hinge took off when Tinder was already popular; why Claude Monet’s work became one of the most recognizable in the world while the talented Gustave Caillebotte, an artist painting at the same time as Monet, is barely known. For every wildly successful someone or something, there are hundreds that may be just as, or even more, skilled or promising, but because they didn’t have a hit maker, they sank into obscurity.

Thompson also explores the psychology behind our taste preferences. We are sensitive to social influence, particularly the allure of popularity (e.g., conflating “best-seller” with “best quality” or “most interesting”). However, there’s more: As Thompson says, “People don’t make decisions individually. They aren’t just creatures of influence (‘I bought it because it’s popular’). They’re also creatures of self-expression (‘I bought it because it’s me’).”

I think most readers know that when it comes to certain things, we humans are easily influenced, and we know connections can make or break a person’s success. At the least, helpful connections can give us a leg up. But reading the psychology and the many examples in Hit Makers--each strengthening Thompson’s thesis but unique in their truly incredible stories--takes a truth that we may not think about deeply and magnifies it.

With that said, I find the “science of popularity” descriptor slightly inaccurate because simple, mysterious luck plays a role in the making of hits. What Thompson explores is a kind of science because there’s an observable pattern to how hit making plays out, but because some luck is mixed in, the pattern can’t simply be set down and strictly followed to get a guaranteed result.

The book educated and fascinated me, but it is extremely information dense, and that’s my only criticism. I read every word, posted many excerpts as status updates, and understood it all, but trying to summarize each example is next to impossible without a second or third reading. This may be ok, though, because they’re connected by a simple main idea. Examples of this “science of popularity” truly are everywhere, and Hit Makers has me viewing hits with new eyes.
Profile Image for Долгион.
48 reviews8 followers
January 15, 2018
I started this book to come down after reading "The Gene", which was far more demanding and beefier than this one. "Hit Makers" is a good read, but not really all that educational. The books primary question is "what makes a thing popular?", and I enjoyed the approach of the author.

Every chapter looks at something that became a hit, be it a song, a household product, a movie, etc. It's a good collection of anecdotes, well written as you'd expect from a professional journalist who writes of publications like the Atlantic.

In the end, while I enjoyed the reading of the book, at the end I felt like I just read a really long, nice article on the Atlantic. There's not much of a takeaway, except maybe for Raymond Loewy's MAYA (most advanced yet accessible) concept, which in itself isn't that mindblowing anyway. So if you were hoping that this book would reveal some secret formula or real wisdom as to how to make your product a huge hit, you'll be disappointed, but then that'd be a foolish motivation in the first place.
Profile Image for Nelson Zagalo.
Author 9 books320 followers
June 7, 2017
Thompson writes very well, and is able to engage us in stories and facts. He's a journalist and uses this book to go much further than he could with just simple articles. You'll be surprised and gain a lot of insight into contemporary culture, which will make you think about what you like and dislike and why.

This is not the dry academic book, it uses very good storytelling and lots of techniques to maintain the reader interested. On the other side it encompasses too many perspectives, approaches and cultural production that makes it impossible to deliver the promise made by the title. There's really no science in these pages, but only lots of stories, causalities and correlations. Even if Thompson starts with determination and convincing us, bit by bit he acknowledges the impossibility of the task he purposed to achieve. Therefore it's up to you, the reader, to extract the best from it, and build your theories on how successes are made.

A more in depth review was made for my blog:
Profile Image for Lori L (She Treads Softly) .
2,257 reviews87 followers
February 7, 2017
Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson is a very highly recommended examination of popularity of things and how and why they gained their status. This is an engrossing look at popularity. Thompson has a comfortable writing style that is full of anecdotes and examples. He creatively ties widely divergent topics together in a fascinating, entertaining format.

Nothing really "goes viral." There is a reason why a song, movie, book, app, etc. became popular. Thompson explores "the psychology of why people like what they like, the social networks through which ideas spread, and the economics of cultural markets." As he succinctly points out, people are both "neophilic - curious to discover new things - and deeply neophobic - afraid of anything that’s too new. The best hit makers are gifted at creating moments of meaning by marrying new and old, anxiety and understanding. They are architects of familiar surprises." So, Hit Makers asks two questions: 1. What is the secret to making products that people like - in music, movies, television, books, games, apps, and more across the vast landscape of culture? 2. Why do some products fail in these marketplaces while similar ideas catch on and become massive hits?

Thompson covers a wide variety of pop cultural blockbusters ranging from and including Brahms lullaby, the impressionist canon (yeah, the Impressionists, as in painters), ESPN, Cheers and Seinfeld, Star Wars, Rock Around the Clock, Fifty Shades of Grey, Game of Thrones, Etsy, Facebook, the laugh track, Vampires, Disney Princesses, and much more. Even more interesting is how he ties so many different hits together to explain what they became hits. One principle that governs almost all hits is MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Achievable. "MAYA offers three clear lessons. First: Audiences don’t know everything, but they know more than creators do. Second: To sell something familiar, make it surprising. To sell something surprising, make it familiar. Third: People sometimes don’t know what they want until they already love it."

The incident that created the impressionist canon took me by surprise, and yet it makes perfect sense. Thompson shows how "the impressionist canon focuses on a tight cluster of seven core painters: Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley - the Caillebotte Seven. When painter and collector Gustave Caillebotte donated his art collection upon his untimely death, his donation helped to create the impressionist canon. The power of repeated exposure, whether it is paintings that are exhibited or other things is a powerful tool in determining what is a hit.

What makes a song succeed? "Even at the dawn of the American music business, to make a song a hit, a memorable melody was secondary to an ingenious marketing campaign." Interesting, but clearly true.

I wanted to pump my fist and yell "Yes, this!" when Thompson points out, and rightly so, that "there is such a thing as too much familiarity. It’s everywhere, in fact. It’s hearing a catchy song for the tenth time in a row, watching a movie that is oh so predictably uncreative, or hearing a talented speaker use overfamiliar buzzword after buzzword. In fluency studies, the power of familiarity is discounted when people realize that the moderator is trying to browbeat them with the same stimulus again and again. This is one reason why so much advertising doesn’t work: People have a built-in resistance to marketing that feels like it’s trying to seduce them." I have experienced this many times over the years (mindset or grit, anyone?) Recently when the video for a women's conference kept repeated the name of the event throughout the video as a buzz word, all it did was annoy me and strengthen my determination to not attend.

This is specifically for readers. Many of you will understand: "When people read, they hear voices and see images in their head. This production is total synesthesia and something close to madness. A great book is a hallucinated IMAX film for one. The author had a feeling, which he turned into words, and the reader gets a feeling from those words - maybe it’s the same feeling; maybe it’s not. As Peter Mendelsund wrote in What We See When We Read, a book is a coproduction. A reader both performs the book and attends the performance. She is conductor, orchestra, and audience. A book, whether nonfiction or fiction, is an 'invitation to daydream.'"

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the Penguin Publishing Group.
Profile Image for Rose.
32 reviews1 follower
August 28, 2017
I am utterly confused why this book is so highly rated. My current hypothesis is that it falls for the trap of popularity driving familiarity (and driving distribution) and thus more popularity...this theory of familiarity is one which he spends a good deal of time discussing and rehashing. After 2/3 of the book, I have not found a single aha moment and it has been a slog to even get this far. I have enjoyed other books in this genre (Outliers, Give & Take, etc.) so I was surprised I couldn't find enjoyment in this one. I think there are two things that are making it impossible for me to finish this book: (1) the author's writing style feels particularly obtuse (he writes about his process of writing this book) (2) there is no analysis - since he is covering a smattering of topics within one book, it just boils down to a disjointed collection of anecdotes and high-level overviews
Profile Image for نیما اکبرخانی.
Author 3 books121 followers
April 11, 2020
فکر کنم برای آشنایی با موضوع کتاب بهتر باشه به جای نوشتن مرور شما رو ارجاع بدم به گوش دادن پادکست بی پلاس که خودم هم از همونجا پیدا کردم این کتاب رو
اما بعد از خوندنش باید بگم که تخصصی تر از چیزی بود که من فکر می کردم و راستش همین هم شد که به سختی تمومش کردم و یک کمی طولانی شد و اذیت شدم .
نهایتا خلاصه شده ش توی همون پادکست به نظرم به قدر کافی مفید بود مگر اینکه اطلاعات درون این کتاب به کار شما بیاد منظورم از نظر حرفه ای هستش یا اینکه به این حوزه ی رسانه و ... خیلی خیلی علاقمند باشید
من علاقمند بودم صرفا نه خیلی علاقمند و همین بود که یک کمی اذیتم کرد.
مثال هاش ولی خیلی لذت بخش بود .
297 reviews
August 29, 2018
I would have given this 2 stars if the title and introduction didn't lie. Firstly, there is no "science" in here. At best, it's some vague factoids. And secondly, there is so little "age of distraction" here -- it's history after history. I don't know who the book is for, but it's definitely not for anyone looking for scientific analysis of market. If the premise is to make science of popularity accessible to a layman -- this book does none of that.

Profile Image for Vadym Didyk.
35 reviews44 followers
January 8, 2023
Як сказав би один експрезидент - "це скарб!". Книга корисна, цікава, інформативна, і для любителів робити нотатки тут знайдеться багато роботи, бо навіть я, людина яка дуже не любить щось виписувати з книг, занотував собі певну важливу інформацію.

Як зробити ваш продукт популярним? Чому за певний період у світі з'являється безліч нових пісень, і штучний інтелект бачить серед них потенційно припустимо 10 можливих хітів, але лише 1-2 з них стають тими піснями, які слухає весь світ? Про це дізнаємось на прикладі "Колискової" Брамса.

Чому люди хочуть бачити в новому продукті щось оригінальне, і водночас знайоме? Про це дізнаємось на прикладі "Зоряних війн".

Чому художників безліч, але картини лише деяких з них вважаються безцінними? Про це дізнаємось на прикладі французьких імпресіоністів.

Чому промови Кеннеді були крутими, у чому феномен "50 відтінків сірого", у чому секрет "Гри престолів"?

Перелік подібних питань можу виписувати до вечора. Думаю, суть ви зрозуміли. І Дерек Томпсон дає відповіді на ці питання. Все просто і складно водночас, але у вас з'явиться розуміння, як це взагалі можливо. Де тут випадковість, де цілеспрямованість, чому недостатньо просто створити геніальний контент, чому так важливо займатись хоча б якоюсь дистрибуцією.

Зрештою, ви зрозумієте, що все навколо - хаос. Але у цьому хаосі є певна логіка і закономірність.

Рекомендую, класна книжка, в якій автор не просто вириває клаптиками щось і пояснює це, але і дає загальну картину та ретроспективу.
Profile Image for Bob.
1,852 reviews621 followers
February 28, 2017
Summary: Explores what makes a hit, and explodes some of the myths around hits such as the idea of something going "viral."

How does something become a "hit?" Anyone creating a work of art, propounding an idea, promoting a candidate, launching a new product would like to know. Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, was curious about this phenomenon and out of his research come countless stories about everything from Brahms Lullaby to Fifty Shades of Grey.

Brahm's Lullaby is a case in point of the kinds of things Thompson explores in this book. It sounds very much like an Austrian folk melody--familiar elements with a gentle surprise and a "hook." Thompson observes that it has both the novel and the familiar and that this combination is crucial for a hit. Thompson explores the MAYA rule of designer Raymond Loewy, MAYA standing for Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. He implemented this principle on everything from mimeographs and trashbins to bullet-shaped train locomotives, Coldspot refrigerators, and Lucky Strike cigarette packs. Advanced yet familiar--and they all sold like crazy. Thompson goes on to show how this applies to music, movies like Star Wars, the rise of vampires and cable news, and phenomena like Taylor Swift and the laugh track on comedies.

The other crucial element is distribution. Brahm's Lullaby became a global phenomenon because of German migrations to North America and elsewhere in the second half of the nineteenth century. Thompson explodes the myth of something going "viral." Instead, what often makes the difference is when a few figures who already have an audience promote something, millions here and then it takes off. And there is a hidden side of "dark broadcasters" whose unseen influence helped build the awareness of people like E. L. James of Fifty Shades fame. On the flip side, success is sometimes isolating the particular audience with an affinity to your product--homophily. What may be critical is knowing who are the friends of your audience. And sometimes, it is plain chaos, where Rock Around the Clock becomes the first rock 'n roll hit when a young boy, Peter Ford, buys the record, and a few months later through his father, Glenn Ford, plays the record for a director filming a movie titled Blackboard Jungle. The rest is history as a record (a "B" side!) that had gone nowhere suddenly became the anthem of a generation.

What makes this book fascinating is that Thompson is a prolific story gatherer, introducing us to everyone from an obscure, but wealthy Impressionist artist, Caillebotte, whose collection became the Impressionist canon, to the people who have launched our social media blockbusters. He explores the backstory behind Game of Thrones and Mickey Mouse and the evolution of reading from books to the News Feed. He also raises profound questions about the transforming influence of the little plates of glass we carry about with us that connect us to the world, that both inform us, and constantly transmit information about us to those trying to shape the next "hit."

It is here that I thought Thompson was at his most thought-provoking. He describes in the chapter "Interlude: 828 Broadway" visiting Chartbeat, that gave instantaneous feedback about reader behavior on websites. Downstairs from Chartbeat was the venerable Strand
Bookstore. He asks "Does great art begin with feedback, or does it start with the opposite--a quiet space, devoid of distractions, where creators can turn the spotlight inward and make something mostly for themselves?" As both bibliophile and a new generation writer fluent with the online world, he wrestles with the implications for himself:

"I've come to see that I need the feedback loop, the standing ovation and devastating silences that can greet an online article. But when I circle a pile of books at the Strand, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that perhaps the best writers also knew to just do the work and forget, for a moment, that anyone would ever read their reverie. They mounted a stage production in their minds, but just for them, something palatial and private, like a daydream" (pp. 280-281).

The irony I'm struck with as I read Thompson's work is that excellence and originality in writing, art, music and innovation are not always what is rewarded. He observes the absence of good taste, and that the biggest hits are often re-boots of the familiar. The challenge today is that instantaneous nature of the feedback. Was it easier to practice artistic integrity when most likely you wouldn't be famous, a "hit," until after you were dead? You might struggle with poverty as you "did the work and forgot." But were you tempted so greatly to bend the work to the feedback loop? Maybe this has always been the tension in which artists live. Perhaps it is a good thing that there is an element of randomness in all this or we might all be tempted too greatly, and all art and endeavor be reduced to pursuing the "hit."
Profile Image for Narges.
63 reviews10 followers
Shelved as 'book_podcasts'
May 7, 2021
آشنا باشه و یه نوآوری کوچیک داشته باشه، امکان محبوبیتش بیشتر میشه! و البته تایمش ممکنه محدود باشه
ارائه‌ی خوب، مهم‌ترین نکته‌ای که من همیشه ندید میگیرم و به سادگی ازش رد میشم !
Profile Image for عبدالرحمن عقاب.
680 reviews764 followers
March 27, 2020
هذا كتابٌ في محاولة فهم ظاهرة انتشار بعض الأعمال الفنية والتكنولوجية (مثل الأفلام ‏والأغاني والرسوم والتطبيقات..وغيرها) واشتهارها. ‏
يحلل الكاتب بعض تلك الأعمال، ويحاول فهم العوامل التي ساعدت على انتشارها. يرفض ‏الكاتب التسمية المعروفة بـ"فيروسية" العمل، أي التي تُشَبّه الانتشار بالانتقال الفيروسي، ‏ويطرح فكرة البثّ والتوزيع تفسيرًا لمثل هذه الظواهر. كما يدرس الموازنة الدقيقة بين ‏الحديث الغريب المستفزّ والمألوف المعتاد. ‏
يعيب الكتاب الإغراق في تفاصيل القصص التي يسردها، كما أنّ الأمثلة كانت غربية وأميركية ‏أكثر منها معولمة، وبسبب تكرار الأمثلة من عالم السينما والأغاني فإني واجهتُ مشكلة في ‏الاستمتاع بالأمثلة والاستفادة منها. ‏
الكتاب جيّد ومفيد، ويطرح عددًا من الأفكار والأطروحات الاجتماعية والنفسية والتسويقية ‏المثيرة للاهتمام. غير أنّه لن يصل بك إلى "وصفة" جاهزة، ولا إلى معادلة دقيقة لصناعة ‏الانتشار، أو صناعة المادة القابلة للانتشار؛ لذا فسيبدو الكتاب ساحة لطرح الأسئلة، وإجابات ‏نصف مكتملة، بل وظهر لي وكأنّه طريق بلا نهاية ولا معالم واضحة.لذا فقيمته في أفكاره لا في ‏ما لا يقدمه من وصفة أو نصائح. ‏
يعيدني هذا الكتاب إلى ثلاثة كتب في ذات الموضوع، سبق لي قراءتها، وقد آن وقت إعادة ‏قراءتها، وهي :
tipping point- made to stick- contagion
Profile Image for Hossein.
238 reviews39 followers
November 10, 2019
این کتاب خیلی به کار من نیومد. گرچه به نظرم کتاب خوبی بود . خیلی جاها آمارهای دقیقی ارائه میداد ولی به نظرم کاربردی نیومد.
Profile Image for Stetson.
208 reviews147 followers
October 11, 2022
Why can't you get "Call Me Maybe" out of your head? Why are Monet's Water Lilies the ur-paintings of Impressionism? How did American political attitudes about gay marriage change so rapidly?

These are the questions that Derek Thompson, writer at The Atlantic and host of the Plain English podcast, tries to answer in his 2017 national bestseller Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction. His book, marketed as an update to Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, is divided into two parts, "popularity and the mind" and "popularity and the market," where as these headers suggest Thompson analyzes how human cognitive quirks and market dynamics govern what becomes a hit and what doesn't. The work is often focused on music, especially pop music, but has brief interludes on art (Caillebotte's influence on how Impressionism is memorialized), political rhetoric (JFK's famous antimetabole), film (Stars Wars as a patische of mythologies), and literature (E.L. James' trek from fan fiction journey woman to mega-bestseller).

The epiphenomenon of becoming a popular, known quantity by writing a book about popularity is perhaps a potentially a revealing meta-commentary on popularity itself. But kudos to Thompson for leveraging his craft. Thompson is a compelling writer and not just in the way that his fore-bearer and ostensible influence Malcolm Galdwell is. Thompson is more tethered to scientific and careful readings of data and trends and is less inclined to rely on cheap rhetorical devices to hold the attention of readers. I respect this, but also still take umbrage with some of the oversimplification and hyperbole in Thompson's work.

Thompson's argument about why things become popular mostly rests on the combination of three related principles: the "mere exposure effect," the most advanced, yet acceptable (MAYA) design principle, and herding psychology. Essentially, the thing that receives the most exposure (listens, clicks, view, buys, etc) that is most familiar in a surprising way and is also being consumed by the greatest number of other people with influential networks becomes the most popular. Thompson substantiated these claims fairly well with illustrative anecdotes, expert perspectives, and data. However, he fails to explore in detail what informs the default preferences of people and how and why they may vary.

To some extent, Thompson hints that there are at least somewhat universal preferences (e.g. the appeal of the hero's myth as described by Joseph Campbell), but avoids investigating why such universal preferences exist. This oversight informs some of his sillier claims. For instance, he claims that the market demand for predominantly romantic or maternal representations of women in popular narratives contributes to the continued disenfranchisement of women. Hmm, why might these representations be so popular and enduring? Big mystery, right?

But "in the final analysis," as Thompson likes to say, Hit Maker is an engaging and quick read that introduces are number of appropriately sticky ideas about getting something to stick in the slippery content-overloaded world. It is a great read for any creative or social type.

Longer review at ->
Profile Image for Diego Eis.
Author 6 books144 followers
January 1, 2022
O livro é bem legal, mas confesso que mesmo tendo um leve resumo no final, eu ainda não tive a resposta direta de “isso faz um hit maker”.

Mas as histórias de como algumas coisas se tornaram hit makers. Acho que o livro poderia ter a metade do tamanho.
Profile Image for Reza.
66 reviews2 followers
December 19, 2018
کتاب بیشترش درباره محبوب شدن بعضی آثار به خصوص موسیقیه. اینکه چرا مونالیزا محبوب تر شد. در واقع نویسنده این کتاب معتقده برای محبوب شدن استعداد کافی نیست بلکه شانس هم لازمه. در کل کتاب مفیدی بود با کلی مثال درباره آلبوم های موسیقی موفق. در ایران هم ترجمه شده به اسم موفق سازها
Profile Image for Robin Tierney.
137 reviews3 followers
February 21, 2017
Many good case studies and thoughtful observations.
My notes (not a review) follow.

Hit Makers:
The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction

By Derek Thompson

Facebook has irreversibly changed news delivery and is the key news source today. Ad supported, so must find ways to catch and keep your attn enough to scroll through ads.
Reactivity: when ppl know their behavior is being watched, they change their behavior (and not only how they report it). FB watches readers without their explicit awareness that they are under surveillance. This reveals what ppl really want to read.

Facebook likes, shares and comments pour into an algorithm that is constantly reordering the feed to surface the most relevant stuff at the top. It creates somewhat of a modern personalized newspaper, a daily tabloid. It’s a media juggernaut.

FB =some angry when learning FB manipulated News Feeds to make them see more positive or negative news. People who saw more positive posts contributed happier content. People who saw more negative stories adopted negative tone in their posts. Suggesting that moods can be contagious.
The data allows study of individual’s aspirational vs. actual behavior.

Clickbait - 2 part headlines: “Wonder about/if you think….The answer will surprise you.”
FB in last year years developed strategies to reduce curiosity-gap headlines.

McD found healthy options lure more people inside, but many of them order even more of the unhealthy choices.

What people don’t know they want, til offered. Like iPhone. And also FB and Fox News.
Superpowered media companies. Really unique categories, not just brands.

Book authors cannot observe their readers. No feedback loop. Great Gatsby was denounced a dud, but fans bought it.

Now a revolution in attn.
Good to share, downside less (critical) thinking on own.
Noephilia more upsides than neophobia. Learn.
MAYA: music for a more advanced audience is not debut album.

No printed books in 1400, no public museums in 1700, no movie theaters 1900, no radio news programs before 1920s, Before 1960s, high-grossing movies based on books.

Cheaper music tech gave access to more artists, including black talents.
In 2014, the top 1 percent of bands and solo artists earned 77% of all revenue from recorded music, and 10 bestselling tracks commanded 82% more of the market than in the previous decade.

The number of indie bookstores is up 35% since 2009.
Both empires and indies can be stronger than ever.

Merchandising...of fairy tales:
** Disney owns now only animated movies of animals and princesses that made it famous, also Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Pixar….operates ESPN and ABC with partnership stakes in A&E and Hulu...owns 8 of the 10 most popular amusement parks in the world. Walt Disney, though, spent every penny on his next film in the 1920s. Kay Kamen (Herman Samuel Kominetsky) Baltimore, Russian emigre, hs dropout, juvenile penitentiary in teens, selling mink hats in Nebraska, unattractive but successful salesman, in 1920s, specialized in developing products based on movies, 1932 saw Mickey Mouse cartoon and recognized the mouse could be a star beyond movies, called walt and Roy: “let me sell your cartoon mouse.” He suggested move MM out of dime store into dept stores, which was where consumers were moving.
Signed to license Disney character merchandising worldwide. Hollywood regarded toys as ads for movies. Kamen saw the money in merchandising. Biggest: Mickey Mouse watch, which debuted Chicago World Fair in 1933.
Those Licensing profits enabled D to make Snow White. Second grossing sound film, and merch (coloring bks, caramels) made far more. “Industrialized fantasy.”
Goebbels gave Hitler 18 mm films

Disney also recognized TV as movie theater in every home that would also promote movies. Stroke of genius: sold TV show to network only if invested in his park too. 1952 ABC smallest network invested in ⅓ of the park Disney Land. Disneyland show first ABC show in the year’s top 10. One episode previewed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 2nd highest gross movie 1952. Leveraged postwar baby boom. Theme park opened 1955. ABC later sold shares back...1995 D bought ABC.
Bought Star Wars and Marvel and produced lavish familiar surprises. - new chapters of old stories.
Lion King musical.
Brand empire.

Indies - internet frees from traditional gatekeepers. New channels. Free distribution hubs.
Network is power.


Brahms lullaby key elements of repetition and then gentle surprise. Borrowed a popular Austrian folk tune and bedecked it with concert hall grandeur. His lullaby was an instant success not because it was incomparably original, but because it offered a familiar melody in an original setting. Most people are simultaneously neophilic - curious to discover new things - and neophobic - afraid of anything too new.
Popularity spread over years back tech, lack of technology. No radio signals. No digital.
What is the secret to making products that people like - music, movies, TV, books, games, apps?
Why some cultural products fail and other ideas catch on?
Instagram: art and gave early versions to San Fran tech tycoons - influencers, who posted several I photos on Twitter. Elite social network.
Ben-Hur celebrity audience premiere 1959. Hollywood record most expensive production budget and most expensive marketing campaign, became second-highest-grossing movie in history at that time, behind Gone with the Wind.
Claude Monet The Japanese Footbridge blue bridge over emerald green...NGA even kids recognize.

Gustave Caillebotte 1897 submitted impressionist The Floor Scrapers to the Academy of FIne Arts in Paris. Acclaimed, but Monet is who we know today. Monet same exhibit 1976. French govt initially refused donation of his artworks. C didn’t try to sell, though new wealth created space for new tastes like Impressionism. So, lacked exposure. And Monet and Renoir produced more….M 2,500, R 4,000 works.

Mathematician George David Birkhoff proposed formula for writing poetry.

People are born average and die unique.
Humans prefer own faces.

Some landscape details seem universally appealing across backgrounds and cultures: clean-looking water, mountains divided by snaking rivers and forests cut by trails that slink away toward a vanishing point. These details signify something human ancestors would have loved to see: a navigable path through the chaos of nature.

Radio airplay products of testing and distribution strategies that ran on sheet music and shoe leather.
SPotify playlist by Napster cofounder Sean Parker credited with launching Lorde’s “Royals” 2013. Tastemakers. Call Me Maybe didn’t take off for a year until Justin Bieber praised it on Twitter.

HitPredictor (iHeart Media, the largest owner of radio stations in the US), predicts based on playing a hook from a new song to online audience 3 times -- to capture the catchiness in a vacuum, numerical rating. But: every year catchy songs don’t become hits.

2016 politics changed. Candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio had the elite party support but flamed out. Trump spent the least on advertising, outrageous statements kept him top of the news cycle and exposure resulted in landslide primary. ...he’d earned $3 billion in free media, more than his rivals combined. Gatekeepers lost power with so much 24/7 media.
Maybe big flat screens helped re: exposure.

Rating game: think of a movie, count 7 things you like, the rating typically goes down. Even tho thinking of reasons to like it? Disfluency - the less is more effect. When asked to m=name more positives, harder to think about and less comfortable feeling transferred to the object of their thinking.

Raymond Loewy, father of modern design, French orphan 1919 shop in AMerica: sports car modern train, Greyhound bus, Coca-Cola fountain, Lucky Strike cigarette pack. Art made a comeback in the 1920s, people began waning not just practical but beautiful. Mimeograph machine 1929 commented control looked like mold on tired Gorgonzola, redesigned.Cars, like the Studebaker Coupe - long angular headlights like eyes. Designer laureate of mid-century America. Even NASA’s Skylab space station. Recognized the genius of egg. He designed to match people’s habits. Talked to housewives about Armour meats. Talked to passengers on trains for months. MAYA most advanced yet acceptable. Balance surprise and comfort.

Artwork: ppl like a challenge if they think they can solve it.

Tetris most popular video game tetra and tennis. Then Minecraft

Sweden is Silicon Valley of pop music technology: dozens of number one singles by Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, exporting catchy melodies to the world since ABBA debuted 1970s. Max Martin super-producer. Amazing song doctor.

Familiar melodious with smart fresh new instrumentation.

Take a spoken phrase, repeat it at a common interval, the spoken words can evolve to sound like music. Give a random phrase a key, time signature, syncopation and rhythm.

Spotify accidentally discovered people like ‘new’ playlists that include songs they already heard/liked.

Brains: earworms, jingles. Sequence of repetition and variation. Novelty burst. Reflected in global music patterns.

Bye Bye Miss American Pie.

Call and response MLK speeches, songs...ppl remember songs for their chorus. Hook in speeches too.

Increased simplicity of American rhetoric is not dumbing down, but aim to reach broader audience, so emulating other populist forms of mass entertainment, like music.

Repetition has made aphorisms sound true. “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit….an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Dale Carnegie: Arguments: If you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions..
To be interesting, be interested.

Pitch of the voice, rhythms - all speech is composed of microscopic melodies and undiscovered songs.

EXPOSURE (hustle)
Shared experience - goosebumps

Speeches -- Yes we can, repetition of epistrophe. Speechmaking tricks: rhetorical inversion: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s size of the fight in the dog,

Shakespeare and George Lucas (American Graffiti, Star Wars, wrote scripts by hand on lined paper) both master assemblers of old allusions. Not original.
Re-watch movie like Harry Potter, The Shawshank Redemption for the details.

Anthropologists study rituals, psychologists study patterns of behavior. loved, like Brahms, nostalgia and goosebumps, warm us up.

Myths: Lucas read Joseph Campbell who said most famous stories share same basic narrative arc - a monomyth with Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Beowulf (and now, comic book heroes).
Lucas described Star Wars as a western set in outer space. Empire Vs. rebel epic turned into space fantasy. Plus Flash Gordon.

Some elements of popular narrative patterns: nostalgia, goosebumps, cliffhangers, enchant, hero’s journey has empathy and challenge and transcends.
Superhero, apocalypse, vampires (based on myth believed to be true), stop unstoppable horror. Rom com: 3 acts.

Cake: salted caramel. Picasso. A great creator knows the rules and can find the sweet-spot exceptions.


Age 33 when many stop listening to new artists on Spotify.

Women characters less prevalent and lower status. Bias: remain loyal, fidelity. Double standard.

Now some revolutionary ideas mainstream in 20 years like gay marriage.

Less legible font made people more careful readers (Moses take on ark...when Noah)
Attention limited.

Popular names. For 100s of years, first names traditions vs. fashions.
And clothes were costumes frozen in time.

Laver’s Law: Indecent (10 years before its time), Shameless (5), Daring (1 year before), Smart (current fashion), Dowdy 1 year after, Hideous, 10, Ridiculous 20, Amusing 30, Quaint 50, Charming 70, Romantic 100 years after, Beautiful 150 years.

Laugh track conceived in controversy, became a social norm, and is dying a cliche.

Art dates to 50,000 BCE, cave paintings, pictograms, but then 10s of 1000s of years for humans to develop anything approaching an alphabet. Cuneiform in SUmeria and hieroglyphics in Egypt both date to about 3000 BCE.
Language evolved from ideograms - shapes represent ideas, to phonetics, with letters representing sounds.
Literacy rates France not cross 50% til 1800s.
Gutenberg press.
1990s Cambrian explosion of communications technology. FIrst text 1992 “Merry Christmas and 8 years later half the country owned a cell phone. 1995 60% of US adults said never heard of the internet. Snapchat 2011. Modern pictograms - emojis.
So now changing fashions for talking and what talking means.

Teenager - emerged as powerful influencer in mid-20th century. Confluence of trends in education, economics and technology. Rise of powerful culture, independence, empowered by cars to mobile tech (text to Tinder). Could afford logo clothes too. Tv shows teenage stereotypes and aspirational characters. Teens became the market’s neophiles, the group most likely to accept a new musical sound, clothing fashion or technology trend.

** Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley (half-blind self-taught guitarist) comets...1952 Crazy Man, Crazy. 1953 Rock Around the Clock, Essex label’s founder ripped up the music in front of Haley when rejected, so to Decca. But Decca required them to record 13 Women song about man who is custodian of a harum after H-bomb destroys the world. Rock was B-side, forgotten, until a teenager bought it and his dad Glenn Ford when filming Blackboard Jungle, director Richard Brooks visited, wanted a jump-jive song reflecting the generation to kick off the movie, 1955 kids dancing in theater. Chaos theory in play.

Mona Lisa fame assisted by a thief...1911 newspapers, missing a few years, then Marcel Duchamp made replica with mustache L.H.O.O.Q., pronounced letters in French is dirty homophone.

Ads movie studios in 1980 spent 20 cents for every $1 earned at box office, now 60 cents.
In 1996 none of 10 biggest films were sequels or superhero movies and films based on comics accounted for just .69 of the box office. In each year so far this decade, most of the 10 top-grossing films were sequels, prequels or reboots. 2016 releases, 4 superhero films (Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, Batman v. Superman and X-Men Apocalypse accounted for 29% of total box office. Lesson from old serials or modern TV: if you find a story that clicks, keep producing new episodes.

** 50 Shades of Grey...viral myth. Twilight. FanFiction. Twilight recast protagonist Edward as a dork yet dominant sex god...raunchy motifs, collage artist like George Lucas, unusual assemblage to create story both surprising and familiar. A fan recast Edward as CEO with flair for bondage...retitled 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Broadcast and reached a lot of people, not viral / infectious. Author maintains a distinction: that it’s not viral if people choose to embrace the idea. DivaMom and other evangelized the e-book. Not thru newsp, but less traditional and still powerful channels. Vintage agent following, relaunch as paperback. 50 Shades Darker and Freed. Best Romsnce nominated 2011 based on do many Goodreads reviews. Morning show interviews. Lots of nonreaders bought and discussed it. Then WSJ and NYT praised its success. Cultural phenomenon. Sex is about power.

Cholera, bacterial, London greatest city in world and massive cesspool of disease, 1854 outbreak, John Snow interviewed hundreds of sic and healthy families, plotted cases on map. Not infected by miasma - invisible airborne poisons. Traced offer immunity? -- no, because water was boiled in fermentation process. It was not air or spreading between households, but water source -- same pump.

Helps to have celebrities tweet, like Justin Bieber..

Ratings experiment - inverted top popular songs, buyers downloaded them. Popularity begets pop.
Digital world: everyone can see what the world’s watching.
Pokemon GO.

Getattentio and get people talking.

Social groups, share qualities but starting with neighborhood.
Moonies. Cult...united in opposition.
Tinder creator SMU Dallas, asked sororities and then frats to DL app. Do not disappoint the girls, because they’re waiting for you!
People like to share what’s weird about themselves. Not what’s ordinary.

Convergence (apple 2007)
Rupert Murdoch insisted dad adapt Brit TV show Pop Idol.

Warren Buffett Cassandra housing crash.

Cable TV, reality TV
AMC go for quality, Matthew Weiner The Sopranos.

Find an original voice, compelling characters that audience wants to wear their sin - superheroes and antiheroes - extra-ordinary.
Focus groups might have told Lena Dunham’s Girls be nicer to friends. So HBO doesn’t. The Sopranos and Six Feet Under were two dark strange explicit for broadcast. Game of Thrones. Docs like Unlocking the Cage.
Mad Men enabled AMC to pick up Breaking Bad, one of TV’s most acclaimed shows.
Betting. Calculated risks.
Cable networks are brands.

New Business.
People flocked to cheaper newsp with shorter pluckier stories, like the Daily Mail sensation in Great Britain when debuted 1896. Tabloid ethos. Affected venerable papers like Washington Post and NYT, more sports and blood to keep up with readers’ tastes.
Gallup interest in reader interest gauging began 1928. Believed readers lied in surveys. Determined front page hard news not more popular than inside features, women most read style and beauty pictures, most men liked the cartoon on front page.
TV supplanted np, and they had to compete even harder.
Profile Image for Tanya Fabrychenko.
137 reviews2 followers
October 24, 2022
Здається, що дуже невдало підібрали назву для книжки, бо всередині не було хоча б трохи структурованого пояснення, як створити хіт. Вибачте, але розжовування однієї тези, що людям треба щось нове з нотками старого, звичного й ностальгічного, то шось таке)

Загалом, непоганий набір рандомних історій, які частково стосуються теми, було цікаво їх читати. Але от в загальну картинку для мене це не зрослось, виглядало занадто хаотично.
Наприклад, за 5 сторінок автор зміг перепригнути з проблеми гендерної нерівності на перевірку правдивості фактів, а потім ще й на проблеми сприйняття інформації. І нашо то було треба - хз.

Для мене забагато води. І бібліографічних зносок і пояснень (десь 15% книги), які розташовуються чомусь в кінці книги (але може то проблеми електронної версії), і ти вже й не зовсім згадаєш, до якого розділу вони стосуються.

П.С. Цікаво, скільки в Facebook заплатили автору за рекламу:)
Profile Image for Julia.
72 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2023
Fascinating sociocultural + anthropological examination of what makes a hit - peppered with cocktail hour tidbits about your favorite pop culture icons. Clever and highly memorable.
Profile Image for Pavel Annenkov.
438 reviews110 followers
September 15, 2020
Книга от ведущего редактора The Atlantic, в которой автор ищет ответы на два вопроса:
1. Как получаются продукты-хиты во всех областях культуры(музыка, кино, книги, игры, приложения и даже мемы)
2. Почему одни продукты не выстреливают, а другие становятся хитами и завоевывают бешеную популярность?

В итоге Дерек показывает нам, что не надо тратить время на ненужные творческие эксперименты, а можно брать уже давно работающие модели и применять их в своих компаниях и бизнес-проектах.

Очень занимательно чтение. Но эта книга не только развлекает, как работы Гладуэлла, а дает еще и руководство к действию.

Особенно понравилась глава про сценарии кинофильмов. Все популярные фильмы делаются по шаблону. Не осталось никакой магии прямо)

Создание популярных продуктов - это не искусство, а наука. Есть десятилетиями и даже столетиями проверенные подходы, которые можно брать и применять.

Чтобы разобраться в законах создания и продвижения новых продуктов.

- Хитовый продукт - это что то новое, но при этом хорошо знакомое. Все хотят новизны, но боятся совершенно незнакомых вещей. В продукте должна быть смесь взволнованности и ожидания чего то нового и радости от узнавания привычного.

- Самый популярный продукт, не значит самый лучший продукт. Самый популярный просто есть везде. Поэтому так важна дистрибьюция. Нужно сразу вместе с разработкой продукта разрабатывать план его продвижения. Особенно важно понимать, как прав��льно донести информацию о нем до агентов влияния.

- Каждый рождается со среднестатистическими предпочтениями, а умирает со своим уникальным вкусом.

- Есть очень много, работающих десятилетиями приемов, для создания запоминающихся речей и текстов. Не надо ничего придумывать и креативить заново. Всё уже придумано и проверено до нас.

- В каждой речи должен быть остов. Фраза, которая повторяется много раз и является её основой.

- Популярность любого бренда и его продуктов находятся всегда под влиянием трех факторов:
1. Возможность выбора
2. Состояние экономики
3. Маркетинг самого продукта
Надо при запуске всегда оценивать эти факторы влияния.

- Мир - это хаос, в котором невозможно просчитать и предсказать популярность того или иного продукта. Единственный способ - это упаковать его в историю. Потому что люди не мыслят процентами, а видят мир через истории.

- Когда мы покупаем что то популярное, мы покупаем не сам продукт, а возможность присоединиться к популярному тренду вместе всеми. Сама популярность становится продуктом.

- Чтобы добиться большого успеха и создать свои самые значительные работы, сначала надо выиграть соревнование по популярности. Затем наступает момент настоящего творчества и создания больших хитов. Это доказывает статистика.

- Технологии меняются быстрее, чем меняются люди. Несмотря на огромное количество каналов информации и развлечений, людям все равно нужно удовлетворять свои базовые потребности в живом общении, чувствовать себя уникальными, но в тоже время частью чего то большого.

- Технологии просто предлагают нам новые инструменты для выполнения старой работы. Люди всё время хотят одного и того же.

- Часто за главным продуктом бизнеса скрывается мощная система генерации дополнительной прибыли. В Голливуде раньше думали, что мерч(брендированные игрушки) - это способ продвижения фильмов. В 30-х годах компания Disney изменила ситуацию и теперь мерч и продажа прав на него приносят больше денег, чем прокат фильмов.

- Еще раз напоминать себе, что сторителлинг через подход "Путь героя" - это лучший способ донести свой посыл до любой аудитории.

Йона Бергер "Заразительный"
1 review
February 7, 2017
I received an advance uncorrected proof of Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction from a Goodreads giveaway.

I haven't made a habit of reading much non-fiction in the past, because I've often found it either too dry, or, if interesting, poorly argued. Hit Makers didn't suffer from either of these issues, in my opinion. The book was both engaging and well-written (though it did have a handful of errors that I hope will be corrected before it hits shelves).

The stories that Derek Thompson chose to include were compelling and served as strong support for his claims about popular culture and the genesis of hits. Ultimately, I wouldn't say that the book contained any earth-shattering revelations -- the conclusion seemed to be that hits are largely the result of luck and catching the right break at the right time -- but over all it was still a good read for the novel anecdotes and clear explanations of why popularity is so unpredictable.

The advance copy that I received listed the release price at $28.00 USD, which is honestly much more than I would be willing to pay for it (or any other book of its type, really), especially because it's not the kind of book that I think anyone would be likely to read more than once. That said, it was entertaining and informative, which is what I think all books like it should strive to be. Hit Makers isn't a book that I probably would have picked up on my own, but I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to anyone interested in pop culture and the "science" behind media trends.
Profile Image for Samin Mehrasa.
182 reviews90 followers
March 19, 2020
یه بخشی از موفقیت اثری که ارائه میدیم به کیفیتش ربط داره، بخش مهمش به نحوه ارائه اثر ربط داره. و بخش مهم دیگه ش اینه که آیا اثر شما توسط یه رسانه ارائه میشه یا نه.
در دنیای حال حاضر تبلیغ و معرفی‌توسط یه رسانه پر مخاطب قوی حرف اولو میزنه. نمونه ش هم معرفی اول مارکت در برنامه دورهمی مهران مدیری که برد تمام عیار واسه مالکش بود.
بعلاوه سهمی از محبوبیت یه کار یا اثر هم در اینه که تلفیق مطلوبی از آشنایی و نوآوری باشی. نه اونقدر اثعیجب غریب که مردم نتونن باهات پیوند برقرار کنن. و نه اونقدر تکراری که حوصله شونو سر ببری.
حرف دیگه ای. که کتاب زد این بود که محبوبیت یه قله داره. دیده نمیشی نمیشی یهو محبوب میشی همه تحسینت میکنن و بعد شروع میکنن به لگدمال کردنت.
اینو تو ریویوو های گودریدز هم میشه دید. اینجوری که کتاب هایی که کلی جایزه گرفتن و ترکوندن، مردم تو گودریدز بهشون خوب ستاره ندادن و تو ریویوو ها خیلی نقد کردن. حالا شاید بخشی از علتش این بود که سطح توقع بالا میره و توقع داشتن با یه چیز‌استثنایی روبرو بشن.
آخرین روز از سال ۹۸
February 7, 2017
This is just a really excellent pop science book. Thompson is a talented story teller and lovely writer who breezily explains the psychological and economic forces that shape what we like. It's wide-ranging; he uses the making of Star Wars, impressionist art, ESPN, Disney, 50 Shades of Gray, early Rock n' Roll, and much more to illustrate the academic theories the book explores. It's full of wonderful little insights that explain things like why CNN went so overkill on Trump coverage during the primaries, or why catchy speeches mirror good song writing. At the same time, it resists oversimplification in a really satisfying way. If you're interested in the business of culture, or really culture period, I'd give it a read.
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,404 reviews2,354 followers
December 20, 2017
Solid 3.5
This book sets out to answer two questions:
1. What is the secret to making products that people will like-in music, movies, television, and more across the vast landscape of culture?

2. Why do some products fail in the these marketplaces while similar ideas catch on and become massive hits?

For the most part two questions were not definitively answered because, those are two very ambitious questions for anyone to answer. However, the data was well presented, engaging, thought-provoking and informative.

As a digitial marketer, I learned a lot from this book. I recommend anyone who is in marketing and advertising to give this book a read. Also, if you are curious at heart, you will love this book.
Profile Image for Mike Zickar.
346 reviews3 followers
April 7, 2017
The book is a melange of interesting ideas and threads that, I felt, lacked a grand unifying structure. It was as if the author got excited about uncovering a new idea and left the thread that he was pursuing to go down another path.

An interesting read despite this criticism. . .
Profile Image for Andreea Chiuaru.
Author 1 book761 followers
February 17, 2018
Una dintre cărțile la care o să mă întorc mereu ca referință atunci când va trebui să vorbească despre lecturi care m-au inspirat. Pentru că, deși pe alocuri aș fi vrut-o ceva mai concinsă, la final, am avut impresia că absolut tot ce am aflat s-a legat frumos și cu sens. Recomand!
Profile Image for R El.
52 reviews5 followers
January 23, 2021
Insightful analysis and wonderful prose

I came into this book with the same doubt that most creatives fee about formulaic predictions of success. This book, however, is not about formulas. It is about unlikely stories, unexpected insight and an exploration of a cultural mystery.

Besides the wide range of considered ideas and great variety of interviewees, the author's quality of prose deserves an honourable mention. I loved the pacing. Moreover, many of the metaphors and passages were simply a pleasure to read.

Strong recommendation from me :)
Profile Image for Anastasiia Polieshko.
64 reviews2 followers
June 11, 2021
Непогана книжуля, багато цікавих історій, спостережень та фактів.
Проте, це не звичний для мене нонфікшн, саме за стилем написання. Забагато зносок на пів сторінки, які можна було б вже і в самому тексті розмістити, забагато усіляких високопарних фразочок та філософствувань, забагато води від самого автора.
Загалом за інформацію 5, а за сам текст книги 3.
35 reviews
September 16, 2020
Hit Maker’s comes off as an underdeveloped Master’s Thesis that required several tangential stories just to meet a page limit. That is not to say the book does not have merit. Within its pages are several lessons to be learned and catchphrases to be caught and, like an appropriate earworm, they cannot be forgotten; they are refreshed each time you think about your favorite song, favorite movie, or favorite rule of three (you’ll find a plethora in the book). But, in its bid for your interest, the book’s wide net of material also occasionally hauls in a maddening contradiction or bland anecdote. Statistically speaking, someone had to focus on those flaws and dislike the book. I fall into that category. 2/5
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