In a comprehensive, fast-paced account full of larger-than-life personalities, Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper shows that, after the incredible wealth and excess of the '80s and '90s, Sony, Warner, and the other big players brought about their own downfall through years of denial and bad decisions in the face of dramatic advances in technology.
Based on interviews with more than 200 music industry sources - from Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. to renegade Napster creator Shawn Fanning - Knopper is the first to offer such a detailed and sweeping contemporary history of the industry's wild ride through the past three decades.
From the birth of the compact disc, through the explosion of CD sales in the '80s and '90s, the emergence of Napster, and the secret talks that led to iTunes, to the current collapse of the industry as CD sales plummet, Knopper takes us inside the boardrooms, recording studios, private estates, garage computer labs, company jets, corporate infighting, and secret deals of the big names and behind-the-scenes players who made it all happen.
This is an awesome book about the music business, where it's been, and where it's going. A lot of deep dark secrets are revealed here in how the corporatization of rock 'n roll corrupted the music, ripped off the performers, cheated the fans, and battled the technology that threatened corporate profiteering. Robert Johnson may have made a deal with the devil at the crossroads, but our favorite musicians and singers didn't do much better with the record label companies. Those who were lucky enough to be "signed" found themselves in a corporate profit machine, manufacturing music as a product. First it was 45s and LPs. Then came CDs. We consumers made those corporate devils rich. But this is changing as we speak. So before you buy another CD, get this book. If you're a musician, composer, or performer, this book is a must read for your future.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This book details the events and highlights the colorful characters who shaped the music industry since the disco era. They were tech dinosaurs and Luddites and protectors of their obscene multimillion dollar salaries. The death of the major labels was foretold, Napster and file sharing were inevitable. We all knew we were paying $16 for a CD that cost pennies to make, and only a tiny fraction of that went to the artist. Plus the top-down focus on big hits from agents to labels to big box stores and even radio stations limited our choices.
The writing style is a little strange. It's almost like a column in Spin or Rolling Stone where the author injects his own opinions instead of always quoting others. The familiarity was a little jarring but I got used to it.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
We should always pay attention when whole industries implode before our eyes. In my lifetime I've seen the rise of the the big corporate music industry (music industry complex?) as multinational music companies rode the ridiculous profits of the star system and the CD and then rapidly eroded into irrelevancy as technology changed the game. The RIAA's strategy to deal with the MP3, file-sharing, iTunes and the iPod has been to sue their own customers, helping the rest of us to fully understand that the music industry is the enemy of artists and great music. How many great artists were left out a pure hit-making strategy (with massive promotions), and how many musicians made pennies on the dollar for each CD they managed to sell?
Knopper, a reporter for Rolling Stone, traces the excesses of the rise of the music industry and its subsequent fall as we all started to get our music from Napster and later one song at a time from iTunes and Amazon. While the book has way too much (for me irrelevant) detail about the personalities of music industry executives, the basic story of Shakespearean egos and unmatched executive stupidity makes for an enjoyable diversion. Imagine if the record industry had figured out how to license a subscription music service early on during the rise of digital music and Internet distribution?
The technology could have brought new markets and new customers, and billions of dollars to artists. But by fighting the technology (and suing it's customers) the record industry insured its irrelevancy and demise. What can we learn from this story for us in the "educational industrial complex?".
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Very interesting for fans of the industry. Those that want an insight into the rise and fall of the CD will be engaged for sure. It also emphasises the strength the industry still posseses. Miller's narration is easy to listen too aswell.
Having worked in and watched the record industry over the past 35 years, I can say that this book hits the problem on the head. While it's not really a problem for us consumers, it's what my current friends in the business are dealing with. Trying to get and stay rich as they did in the old days.
I could envision people I know in the industry throughout this listen. Even, unfortunately, the ones who have lost their jobs as a result of the digital revolution.
This book is only interesting when it talks about technological innovation (namely the invention of the CD, MP3, Napster, and the IPOD). The rest of this book feels like a tedious almanac of the politics, personalities, and mergers at record labels and most of it doesn't really fit into any kind of narrative. There is an insane amount of name dropping of executives and artists and the salaries, bonuses, and sales associated with them, all of which feels like an non stop attempt to shock us with big numbers. We get it... they made a lot of money off cds. There has to be better books on this topic that focus on the real issues and have a decent editor that wont allow the author to just pour out a brain dump of industry anecdotes and trivia.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
TV is doom to fail. As a paying customer, I don't give a rat ass on what the providers and the networks are arguing about. I just want the content. Read Appetite for Self-Destruction on what happened to music.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Good to know about some of the details of how the record labels made big mistakes that led them to loose terrain even more than just because the piracy, many myths will be revealed but there's too much extra information that made me loose the desire of keep on listening, it became boring .
0 of 2 people found this review helpful