Have you ever wondered why hit songs actually become hit songs in the first place? What are the success drivers behind Hollywood blockbusters? Is this all thanks to the genius of marketers, the power of recommendations or the quality? Maybe, after all, it’s simply a matter of luck?

Check out: That Hit Song You Love Was a Total Fluke





  • ingenious – very smart or clever
  • snowball – to increase, grow, etc., at a faster and faster rate
  • subsequent – happening or coming after something else 
  • encapsulate – to show or express the main idea or quality of (something) in a brief way
  • outperform – to do or perform better than (someone or something) 
  • rule of thumb – a method of doing something that is based on experience and common sense rather than exact calculation 

Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What was the result of the experiment that Salganik conducted?
  • What are the implications of the statement: “I can predict failure, but I can’t predict success?”
  • In what way can embracing inherent unpredictability be beneficial for decision making?
  • How can the findings of the author’s research be implemented within an organization?
  • How did the author come to the conclusion that “[d]ifferences in quality create real limits to self-fulfilling prophecies?”


Practice makes perfect

In the following paragraph fill in the blank spaces with (1.) the correct forms/tenses of the verbs in brackets (2.) the missing words – you can use ONE word per blank space.

When Princeton sociology professor Matthew Salganik ________ (be) a doctoral student at Columbia, he got interested ________ blockbusters –- specifically, he got curious about the role of social influence ________ determining the success of music, art, and books.  He and his coauthors ________ (set up) an ingenious experiment: they ________ (create) a website where people could listen to songs by unknown artists, then decide whether they wanted to download particular songs to their private library. Participants were randomly assigned to different virtual rooms. ________ some rooms, people saw only a list of songs, while ________ others they could see how many times a song ________ (download). Altogether the researchers created eight rooms — parallel worlds, really — which allowed them to study not just the role of popularity, but also the role of chance, ________ the creation of hits.


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