The recipe for success in everything from music to blogging is to be inexpensive, fast, and attentive to audiences, according to this canny primer.
Drawing on his own experience in the recording, news broadcasting, web journalism, and book publishing industries, Lamont (iPhone Basics in 30 Minutes, 2016, etc.) distills a doctrine of project management informed by the lean manufacturing and startup movements—one that takes advantage of new technologies that make professional-quality media easier to produce than ever. Instead of the “chubby approach” of rigid plans with big budgets and lavish marketing, he advocates projects run by small teams with limited funds and a more improvisatorial style. Central to his method is creating rough prototypes—demo tapes, film shorts, series pilots, stand-up jokes, novel drafts—and testing them on audiences to find out what works, then incorporating their feedback into improved versions, leading to a successful product launch. Several chapters focus on strictures of good testing, particularly the importance of identifying the right target audience. Above all, the author stresses that one must keep marketing people and corporate executives from horning in with their own misunderstandings of what the public really wants. (When the public doesn’t want a project in any form, the author sternly counsels the reader to “just put down your pen, or your keyboard or your camera, and walk away.”) Lamont illustrates these ideas with a wealth of engaging and well-chosen case studies: Led Zeppelin, whose first album was made on a shoestring with a hastily cobbled-together band and songs; The Simpsons, first incarnated in 90-second shorts for a sketch-comedy show; The Wizard of Oz, a troubled production that went through multiple directors and reshoots; and his own video software tutorials, which he sharpened with YouTube viewer-attention metrics. The author’s treatment strikes a good balance between the artistic aspect of media and the fact that creators must find consumers and revenue to make an impact. He conveys his tough-love message in clear, readable prose that gives readers a lucid template for thinking through the issues. Starry-eyed amateurs and seasoned professionals alike can profit from his insights.
A useful road map for navigating the media biz.