Move Fast and Break Things

By Jonathan Taplin, Macmillan, £18.99

The problem with most books on culture, creativity and media trends is that they’re generally written by authors with a good sense of business (and personal brand management), but no real understanding of what it means to be an artist. They focus only on the most popular – the Beatles, Harry Potter – not realising that the lessons learned from these anomalies are worthless when considering creative endeavour as a whole. They turn creativity into something similar to winning the lottery, rather than the daily soul-searching necessary for the production of good (let alone great) art.

Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things is different. He may use Bob Dylan as an example – another sui generis genius who frequently turns up in such books, often in relation to lessons Apple’s Steve Jobs learned through listening to his bootlegs – but in this instance it’s more than justified, as Taplin worked for him. This alone is reason enough to give Taplin 300 pages. But he has had as much success working in film as music, producing Wim Wenders’s wonderful Until the End of the World.

The book isn’t, however, merely the memoirs of a tour manager and film producer. Instead, Taplin examines how the rise of tech companies has had an impact on the role, lifestyle and financial wellbeing of filmmakers, authors and musicians.

Taplin has an amusingly dismissive opinion of the biggest names in technology, seeing them as a combination of vandals, geeks, socially irresponsible libertarians and, most damningly, failed musicians. He suggests that Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google (who played saxophone in high school and tried to invent a music synthesiser), Napster’s Sean Parker and “perhaps Steve Jobs” didn’t have the talent to make it as professional musicians and turned to technology instead.

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