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Sonic Boom: Napster, P2P and the Battle for the Future of Music [Paperback]

John Alderman


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Book Description

6 May 2002

The first book to tell the inside story of the battle for control over the future of music and how technology is ripping up the traditional rules of business.

As the internet grew throughout the 1990s, software was developed, such as Liquid Audio and MP3, that could deliver music anywhere and most importantly for free. Bands were reaching fans without record company support; entrepreneurs made money distributing digital music files without licensing agreements; the music industry executives complained of piracy and refused to embrace the Information Age.

The story of the struggle to define the future of the music industry is a parable of how technology is completely changing the way we think and do business. Internet companies such as Napster, invented in 1999 by the nineteen-year-old Shawn Fanning, were rewriting the rules. Within two years, the music industry was on the attack, Napster was shut down by the courts and then bought by Bertelsmann.

The on going battle highlights some of the most crucial questions facing all forms of commerce in the face of the internet: how does the internet change the way we pay for things? How far will traditional businesses go to protect their future?

‘Sonic Boom’ is immaculately researched and peopled by the musicians, executives, entrepreneurs and programmers behind one of the most vital questions concerning the Information Age: who owns intellectual content on the web?



Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (6 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841155136
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841155135
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,849,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘An important book for anyone interested in where our culture is headed.’ Mark Simpson, Independent on Sunday

‘There’s unlikely to be a better tool than this book for understanding what's been going on.’ Francis Spufford, Evening Standard

From the Back Cover

'The first book to tell the inside story of the battle for control over the future of music which has made headlines around the world.'

As the internet grew throughout the 90s, software was developed, such as Liquid Audio and MP3, that could deliver music anywhere and most importantly for free. Bands were reaching fans without record company support; entrepreneurs made money distributing digital music files without licensing agreements; the music industry executives complained of piracy and refused to embrace the Information Age.

With the growth of Napster, invented by the nineteen-year-old Shawn Fanning and launched in 1999, the demand for on-line music exploded. Millions of fans exchanged their favourite music with others for free. The response from the music industry was seismic – rocks stars disowned the fans who had downloaded their music while others celebrated the new relationship. Although acquired by Bertelsmann in 2000 and offering a subscription service rather than free music, the music industry is still violently opposed to all Peer-to-Peer transactions and are using any possible method to close down Napster.

‘Sonic Boom’ is immaculately researched and peopled by the musicians, executives, entrepreneurs and programmers behind one of the most vital questions concerning the Information Age: who owns intellectual content on the web?


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
On the sunny afternoon of May 3, 2000, a mixed crowd of techies, music fans, and reporters began to assemble in front of an uninspiring beige building on a street corner in San Mateo, California. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY da Boom (bada bing)... 8 Jan 2002
By R. Hendee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book when it was first released and it sat in a big pile of "future-reads" until months later. When I finally got around to picking it up I couldn't put it down. For someone who has closely followed the digital music revolution from the early days, it was more a trip down memory lane than anything but I definately learned some interesting tidbits along the way. Chronicling approximately a 4 year span of efforts from companies and characters from the pre-Napster days (Goodnoise and Liquid) to the post-Napster era (Gnutella and the peer-to-peer craze) and everything in between, this book is a quick and fun read. If you're into music and technology and have followed the bitter but inevitable marriage of the two, you'll enjoy this historical romp down memory lane.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Examines the advent of Napster and the response of musicians 16 Oct 2001
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What happens when rock stars fight business over copyright issues and online downloads? Sonic Boom examines the advent of Napster, the response of musicians, and the fans who have come to view access to free music as a right. Blend in assessments of new technologies and key issues of artists' rights and you have an absorbing musical and cultural history.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good primer on digital music distribution 13 Dec 2001
By "rajeshaji" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As the business of music distribution and consumption goes through a radical change, this is a good book for understanding how and why we got to where we are in the process. A good overview on the players, the technology and the legal and business issues involved. No one really knows where we are going from here in the music distribution business but this book lays out the history and issues so you can follow the fascinating developments.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only if you're genuinely interested.. 7 May 2003
By "wuscorp1" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An excellent documentary of a tale that may initially conclude as the music industry's final straw with musicians and fans alike. Unfortunately, author John Alderman might have jumped the gun with timing the release of this book, because the war over 'all things MP3' is just now starting to heat up. With that being said, "Sonic Boom" is surely your best bet for research on music copyright and the conflict over its piracy. More importantly, however, this book explicitly warns the music industry about repeating mistakes of the past: ignoring technological advances, and the Internet's definite position in the future of music sales. It covers the twists and turns of the over-celebrated court case against Napster, while underlining how the collapse of traditional economics of the music industry was not completely inevitable. Alderman repeatedly returns to the notion that if different decisions had been made at particular moments, it might have been possible to preserve copyright within cyberspace. According to the author, the failure to create a virtual marketplace for selling music was a fatal error. Instead of using all their lobbying power and legal resources to attack the Net, the industry's corporate leaders should have been working out qualms in developing technologies, so that the fan and musician would prosper in today's rapid Internet growth. However, copyright laws were strengthened, Napster was prosecuted, and blocking software was developed to "kill" Peer2Peer sharing. Alderman argues that despite these triumphs, all these efforts only delay the inevitable.
Good book, quick read, and definitely a few years ahead of its time. As legal action against copyright infringement and Peer2Peer sharing heats up ($17,000 settlements among colleges and their students), intelligence of John Alderman's caliber is as necessary today as it has ever been.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Answer's Out There Somewhere 4 Oct 2002
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While slightly outdated (mid-2001), and displaying some typos as well as Alderman's slightly scatterbrained writing style, this short but effective book is a telling report on how the world of music distribution is experiencing a true upheaval. Unfortunately, nurtured by the free-for-all of the internet revolution, the expectation that all music should be free led to the free file sharing services. File sharing is certainly a great way to stick it to the big companies that have unapologetically ripped of musicians and consumers for decades. But the problem is that artists deserve to be compensated for their music, so free file sharing is not the answer. The rash of lawsuits by the big corporations proved that they only have their own profiteering at heart, and their insistence that they are fighting for artists' rights is a farce. The highlight of this book is an excellent quote from online music pioneer John Barlow to close chapter 1: "The greatest constraint on future liberties may not come from government but from corporate legal departments laboring to protect by force what can no longer be protected by practical efficiency or general social consent." That is the angle from which Alderman writes this book. The big labels, through lawsuits and intimidation, refuse to face the fact that they may be toppled by a revolution and have reacted like any fading strong-arm dictator. As soon as someone figures out how to properly compensate the artists, all fans and musicians, as well as culture in general, will benefit beyond comprehension. Alderman doesn't pretend to know the answer, and nobody does anyway, but this book proves aptly that something dramatic is happening in the world of music.
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