Dave Haynes’s Summer Reading List
Dave Haynes (@haynes_dave) is VP Business Development at SoundCloud.
Here at Hypebot, we are rolling
out our summer reading lists, written by some of the
leading thinkers in the industry. If you happen to be in that crowd, email me
five of your picks and reasons why the music industry should be
Here is Dave's
You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier
This book was recommended to me by Sean Adams (@seaninsound) from Drowned In Sound who is always an excellent source of recommendations. I might not have picked it up otherwise.
Lanier is best known as a pioneer of virtual reality but he's also a musician and intriguingly has one of the world's largest collections of rare musical instruments. The book itself is actually quite a tough read and can be slightly discomforting as he argues against many of the web 2.0 theories and principles we hear so often, as well as against 'cloud computing' and the 'hive mind'. He makes the case that these trends could stifle creativity, individualism and expression in the human race. I actually found myself disagreeing with a lot of his arguments. But in a way it was really refreshing to hear a critical voice, rather than just lap up another book I know I'll probably agree with even before I open it.
Linchpin by Seth Godin
This is a good example of a book I knew I'd probably agree with even before I opened it. I read Seth Godin, almost religiously, on my way to work every morning. I also had the pleasure of seeing him talk in London last year. A real inspiration. If you don't already read his free, daily blog posts then make sure that the next thing you do after reading this is go to his blog and add the feed to your blog reader.
Many within the music industry will already know Godin from his previous books such as Tribes, Purple Cow and The Dip. Linchpin is perhaps a more personal read, in which he argues that we must become indispensable, setting about our 'true art' rather than being content with being just another cog in the wheel. And that in today's environment that's not just desirable but actually vital, if we're to succeed. Personally, I didn't think this was one of his strongest books and the raw emotive style in which he wrote put me off slightly. But perhaps my disappointment was just a nagging feeling that I was re-reading all his previous blog posts? There's a lesson to be learnt by bands here though. He had engaged me so much with his blog every single day, that he could have written anything and I would have bought it, just as a thank you for all his amazing blog posts.
Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
I'd been looking forward to this book since watching a recording of him talking on the subject at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. That video was a big inspiration for me. So much so that when he came to London to speak a few weeks ago I just had to get front row seats and leave with a signed copy and a photograph. Again even though I'd already heard all the arguments I was still prepared to pay £20 for an upfront, signed copy of the book. More as a souvenir than anything else (another lesson there if you're band!).
He argues that the critical technology that got everyone through the early phase of the Industrial Revolution was actually gin! People had to drink themselves into a stupor just to get through it. In the Post-Industrial Age the gin-equivalent has been the sitcom. For much of the second half of the twentieth century we've collectively watched billions of hours of TV. The compelling argument here is that times are now changing. We're no longer happy to sit back and simply consume. A new generation has started to watch less and less TV and use this spare time, this cognitive surplus, to participate and create. Whether it's posting to Wikipedia, leaving comments on blogs, uploading videos to Youtube or creating lolcats, the fact is that things are getting more participatory and it's easy to create and publish. Media is no longer a one-way street. Personally I think this concept has huge implications for the music industry as we move forward into this next decade. But those thoughts are best left for another time.
What Matters Now by Seth Godin
This one is a bit of a free bonus if you don't have any money left to buy any books. It's not actually authored by Seth Godin but he has compiled a really inspiring e-book with wise words from all manner of different people on 'What Matters Now'. Contributions come from the likes of Fred Wilson, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Hugh MacLeod, Chris Anderson, Tim O'Reilly, Gary Vaynercuk, Jason Fried etc. It's a very simple idea, get a bunch of smart people, ask them to write one short page on what they thing matters now, compile it into an e-book, then ask people to go and share it for free. The aim was to get it into the hands of 5 million people (I've no idea if they achieved that or not). There's a printed version that you can buy too, with all proceeds going to charity. I'd love to see some bands and artists pull together to do something similar (maybe they already have?)
Kill Your Friends: A Novel by John Niven
This is an oldie but goodie. And I wanted to throw it in there for anyone reading this who might just want a bit of light-hearted fiction to take on holiday. Many of you will probably read this already but if you haven't, and you're in the music industry, I can't recommend it highly enough.
It's an extremely dark tale set in the late 90's, at the height of Britpop, about an A&R guy working at a major label. It's loosely based on the author's own experience of working in the music biz and a murderous plotline is wrapped around tales of ridiculous A&R meetings, demands from artists and trips to music conferences such as SXSW and Midem. So much is scarily close to the truth but exaggerated in such as way that you simultaneously cringe and laugh out loud. It's quite full on, but you're going to love it.