Move Fast and Break Thingslized vision of the Internet, in the process creating three monopoly firms-Facebook, Amazon and Google-that now determine the future of the music, film, television, publishing and news industries.
Taplin offers a succinct and powerful history of how online life began to be shaped around the values of the men who founded these companies, including Peter Thiel and Larry Page: tolerating piracy of books, music and film while at the same time promoting opaque business practices and subordinating privacy of individual users to create the surveillance marketing monoculture in which we now live.
The enormous profits that have come with this concentration of power tell their own story. Since 2001, newspaper and music revenues have fallen by 70%, book publishing, film and television profits have also fallen dramatically. Revenues at Google in this same period grew from $400 million to $74.5 billion. Google's YouTube today controls 60% of the streaming audio business and pays only 11% of the streaming audio revenues. More creative content is being consumed that ever before, but less revenue is flowing to creators and owners of the content.
With the reallocation of money to monopoly platforms comes a shift in power. Google, Facebook and Amazon now enjoy political power on par with Big Oil and Big Pharma, which in part explains how such a tremendous shift in revenues from artists to platforms could have been achieved and why it has gone unchallenged for so long.
The stakes in this story go far beyond the livelihood of any one musician or journalist. As Taplin observes, the fact that more and more Americans receive their news, music and other forms of entertainment from a small group of companies poses a real threat to democracy. Move Fast and Break Things offers a vital, forward-thinking prescription for how artists can reclaim their audiences using knowledge of the past and a determination to work together. Using his own half century career as a music and film producer and early pioneer of streaming video online, Taplin offers new ways to think about the design of the World Wide Web and specifically the way we live with the firms that dominate it.
"Jonathan Taplin's Move Fast and Break Things, a rock and roll memoir cum internet history cum artists' manifesto, provides a bracing antidote to corporate triumphalism — and a reminder that writers and musicians need a place at the tech table and, more to the point, a way to make a decent living."
― Jeffrey Toobin, author of American Heiress
"Move Fast and Break Things goes on my bookshelf beside a few other indispensable signposts in the maze of the 21st Century — The Technological Society and The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan. I pray the deepest and highest prayer I can get to that this clarion warning is heeded. The survival of our species is at stake."
― T Bone Burnett, Grammy-winning producer and musician
"Jonathan Taplin, more than anyone I know, can articulate the paralyzing complexities that have arisen from the intertwining of the tech and music industries. He counters the catastrophic implications for musicians with solutions and inspiration for a renaissance. He shows the way for artists to reclaim and reinvent subversion, rather than be in servitude to Big Tech. Every musician and every creator should read this book."
― Rosanne Cash, Grammy-winning Singer and Songwriter
"This is an essential book and a singular hybrid — lucid alternate history of our digital transformation, digital memoir of a pioneering culture industry player, and bracing polemic on how our culture was hijacked and might still be redeemed. And my reaction to Move Fast and Break Things was a three-party hybrid too — provoked, enlightened and inspired."
― Kurt Andersen, host of the Peabody-winning public radio program Studio 360
"Jonathan Taplin's new book could not be more timely. Twenty years after the initial euphoria of the Web, ten years after the invention of social media, it's time to stop breaking things and start thinking seriously about the new habitat we're creating. Move Fast and Break Things provides a blueprint for a future that humans can live in."
― Frank Rose, author of The Art of Immersion
"In a remarkably innovative and precise amalgam of political economy and cultural criticism, Taplin delivers a devastating critique of our "knowledge-based" economy. This book is a profound analysis of the ruinous impact of the internet economy on the promise of American life."
― Benjamin Schwarz, national editor, The American Conservative, former national editor, The Atlantic