Have you ever noticed the resemblance between pirates and Robin Hood? Both were withdrawing the goods from riches and, as Matt Mason reveals in ‘The Pirate’s Dilemma’, both were giving those goods away to society for free. Such a way to see modern pirates, who steal intellectual property to spread it online for free or resell it much cheaper and faster, reveals that piracy can be a constructive and positive power.

“Acting like a pirate—taking value from the market, or creating new spaces outside of the market and giving it back to the community, whether it’s with free open-source software or selling cheap Starbury sneakers—is a great way to serve public interests and a great way to make an authentic connection to a new audience.” – Matt Mason, ‘The Pirate’s Dilemma’.

Exploring the way recent youth subcultures emerged and made their way from niches to masses, Mason compares it to the way new businesses develop, occupying new market niches and growing with support of their loyal audiences. The analogy may not be the most obvious, however, the discoveries about the psychology and nature of youth movements and Punk businesses brought up by them change the picture.

In some parts books felt a bit too narrowly focused on music and related markets of youth culture, in other parts the tips and conclusions were a bit simplistic and idealistic, however, this book worth reading at least because it provides an outstanding summary of major facts about marketing and business we need to consider in the Information Age and upcoming digital future of 3D-printing and Internet of things. Here are the thoughts I see to be important in this book:

Here are the thoughts from this book I’ve found to be attention-worthy :

  • Remixing of ideas is the main fuel for entrepreneurship and development of business; open-source models can and would be profitable and popular because mixing few ideas and editing and re-editing original plans drives improvement; way to perfection lays in endless improvement, undertaken by thousands of independent workers who are connected by common believe in future of their project and ability to make the difference through it – for the company, for themselves and for the society;
  • Marketing and traditional ads do not work anymore as people demand mutual benefits from such communication; only companies, which provide real value to their customers both with products and services and through communicational strategy can succeed and win the battle for limited attention of the customers;
  • Authenticity (which now seems to be overused buzzword) gains its significance for new generations of people, who are tired from media noise and information pressure; only real stories and real effects matter in the world of rumours and commercials as we seek our identities and ways to personalize ourselves through the brands we acquire; only investing in authenticity, companies may reach their specific audience, their narrow target market, ready to listen to them;
  • Youth cultures like rock, punk or hip-hop are emerging now as the commercialization of them deprived them of authenсity; nanocultures take the scene, replacing each other quicker then we have had a chance to find out about them or staying in the underground, talking only to the niche loyal audiences.

“Marketers became obsessed with co-opting temporary trends, training their crosshairs on new youth cultures as soon as they emerged. Youth cultures responded by becoming moving targets, evolving constantly and seeking out new territory to stay relevant. Stay still and they shoot you.” – Matt Mason, ‘The Pirate’s Dilemma’.

  • The lack of authentic youth cultures create the artificial viral stunts, used by companies to market their ideas and earn their 5 minutes of fame;

“It’s easier than ever to get out there but ‘there’ is a lot more crowded. The effect of all this is that old ideas, companies, and movements can be dislodged in an instant by a new upstart.” – Matt Mason, ‘The Pirate’s Dilemma’.

Genuine and engaging book by Matt Mason will be of interest to much wider audience than author states. The lessons from youth cultures and their rebellion, seen today as a piracy, may show the new ways to look at the world for those who do care how information is disseminated and what pathways businesses and media will follow.