Matt Mason’s Summer Reading List
Here at Hypebot, we are going to start rolling out our summer reading lists, written by some of the leading thinkers in the industry. If you happen to be in that crowd and want to join in the fun, or just happen to have a damn good list to share, email me five of your picks and reasons why the music industry should be reading them.
Piracy by Adrian Johns (Chicago)
I just cracked this dense, comprehensive tome on the history of IP 'from Gutenberg to Gates' which came out a few months ago. So far, very good.
Johns is a great storyteller and this is really readable. I got some complaints that my book wasn't a more complete history of piracy – but that wasn't what I was going for, I wanted to outline some strategies as to how to think about the subject moving forward. But this – this is the complete history. If you only buy one book about pirates all year, buy this one.
As Strategy Director at Syrup, the creative agency behind all of Puma's soccer advertising, I'm always looking for fresh takes on the beautiful game, and this is a great read for anyone jonesing for more now that the World Cup is almost behind us. Galeano's screed on why soccer captivates the world is real pleasure to take in, even if you don't care about the finer points of the offside rule. He understands why people really love football and get so emotional about it, which helped us as an agency nail down what to say about it that was true to both Puma and the game. It's hard not to be inspired by this book. Whatever field you are in, finding the most passionate writer out there talking about what you do is never a bad idea.
Show Sold Separately by Jonathan Gray (NYU)
If you're in the music business, or any media-related business, and you're not paying attention to transmedia, you're about to go out of business. It's become such an overused buzzword, but I really believe this idea is changing things for anyone trying to tell a story. Thinking about your story, where you tell it, and who is telling it with you and for you is not a buzzword, it's simply something all businesspeople and artists should be doing at this point. This is the first of a slew of new books about to come out on transmedia (I'm also looking forward to Frank Rose from Wired's forthcoming work The Age of Immersion), and he really breaks down how meaning and value is constructed in the digital age. Make it a priority.
Invention by Norbert Weiner (MIT)
Weiner is the Nikola Tesla of the Information Age, the unsung hero behind systems theory, who first understood so many of the complex mechanisms that govern the natural world, and then outlined many of the mechanisms that govern the digital world. I've been thinking a lot about the nature of complexity recently because it seems to me it's at the heart of all our problems. The music biz got too complex, as has the environment, our financial institutions, our governments. We're kind of bad at dealing with complexity as a species, our brains are hard wired not to see it, and Weiner has a knack for making it all seem simple. This was first released in 1954, but it's his most readable work and still relevant well after it's time.
13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Micheal Brooks (Profile)
I'm still getting through this, but every story so far is just mind blowing. Brooks takes stock of anomalies in science that the world's most brilliant minds still haven't been able to explain or disprove, like the time we almost cracked nuclear fusion, and why 96% of the universe is missing. His point is that we shun anomalies in science too easily, and we stay away from the things outside of our comfort zone when we should be studying them rigorously. He makes it well, and there's lesson for those in other fields too. Napster was an anomaly we ignored too. If you don't understand something in your field, jump on it.