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Tarzan Economics

Eight Principles for Pivoting through Disruption

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A stunning new insight into how the most crucial lesson you can learn in today’s challenging business environment is how to change the fundamentals of what you do, rather than carry on fighting a battle that is already lost.

The near destruction of the music industry at the hands of online piracy and its subsequent recovery on the backs of digital streaming platforms is more than just the biggest story of disruption and reinvention of the digital age. It is also a trove of insights on how to confront the metamorphosis we are all facing in dealing with the Covid-19 era, as accelerating tech and economic changes reshape our work, our play and our very minds. 

Will Page, Spotify’s first chief economist, extrapolates music’s journey into eight guiding principles for pivoting through the ubiquitous disruption in nearly all industries. Expect the unexpected with transferable lessons coming from Starbucks, Tupperware and even Groucho Marx. The notion of 'Tarzan Economics' ties these principles together: a framework for recognising and acting on disruption, by letting go of the old vine and grabbing onto the new. Page joyfully brings these insights to life and provides a guide for knowing not just how to grab the new vine, but when. He assesses the new dynamics of the 'long tail', identifies friends and foes in the battle for scarce attention and provides a practical tool for discovering the right role for each of us to succeed in this new modern world.

As we emerge from the unprecedented disruption of a global pandemic, Tarzan Economics shows all of us - individuals, organisations and institutions - that if the vine we are holding onto is withering, we can have confidence to reach out for a new one in 2021 and beyond.

Will Page is the former Chief Economist of Spotify and PRS for Music where he pioneered Rockonomics. At PRS he published work on Radiohead's In Rainbows and saving BBC 6Music. At Spotify he helped redefine catalogue and articulated the global value of music copyright. A passionate communicator, Will’s work is regularly featured in Billboard, the Economist and the Financial Times. His most recent publication examined COVID-19's impact on Britain's live and recorded music industries. Will is a Visiting Fellow of the London School of Economics and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Tarzan Economics is his first book.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (April 1, 2021)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471190926

'Tarzan Economics is a wild ride ... fun to read and full of business strategy take-aways - from Napster to Mark Twain's patents, Will Page writes with verve and deep insight.'

– Preston McAfee, Google Distinguished Scientist

'I loved this book - it's highly entertaining and full of brilliant factoids and nuggets. But, more importantly, it's got an important, well-presented and well-argued central thesis about the need for industries - and government - to make the technology leap, not just in how they do things, but how they measure things, too. It makes provoking connections...why museums should learn from the Atlanta Falcons; and how spectacularly wrong it is to measure the health of the economy on GDP.'

– Lord Vaizey of Didcot, Minister of State for Culture & the Digital Economy, 2010-16

'As the chief economist at Spotify, Will Page didn’t just react to disruption - he anticipated it and helped to fuel it. His experience in the music industry is full of takeaways for riding waves of change instead of being bowled over by them.'

– Adam Grant, Bestselling author of Think Again and Originals

'Economics - the "dismal science" - is brought to life in Tarzan Economics. Rapid changes in technology and in mindset can turn a problem into a massive opportunity'

– Lord Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 2007-10

'The turbulent recent history of the [music] industry also provides a catchy soundtrack for other examples, from kitchen and household brand Tupperware’s early success in viral marketing to the 13th-century Rhine League’s cautionary tale for collectives, interspersed with anecdotes and song references. If this entertaining book doesn’t yet have a Spotify playlist, it certainly should do.'

– Financial Times

'This book carries lessons on two essential concepts in today’s world: the attention economy and the difference between builders and farmers. The takeaways are as relevant to running a large corporation as they are to starting your own business. A compelling and generous read.'

– Scott Galloway, Bestselling author of 'The Four' and 'Post Corona'

'Entertaining and insightful...full of colourful examples'

– Linda Yueh, author of The Great Economists

‘Not just an engaging account of the recent economics of the music industry, but a treasure trove of general lessons in business economics.’ 

– John Kay CBE, Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, and award-winning author of 'Radical Uncertainty'

'"Welcome to the jungle," Tarzan! Will Page nailed it again. At Kobalt, we loved every time Will drew conclusions about the music industry and pointed to where it needed to go. Facts instead of fear. Here in his new book, he summarises complex changes into understandable concepts. You spend 20 years in school. Reading Will's book is a faster way to understand more, especially about yourself!'

– Willard Ahdritz, Founder & Chairman, Kobalt Music

'Deftly extrapolating from the music industry’s disruptions, Page urges us to look sceptically beyond face value. He guides us on how to pivot our thinking by identifying factors that point in a contrary direction - sometimes subtle, sometimes hiding in plain sight.'

– Mary Megan Peer, CEO of peermusic