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Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay: The dodgy business of popular music [Kindle Edition]

Simon Napier-Bell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Simon Napier-Bell is a legend in the music business. Not only was he the manager of The Yardbirds, T Rex, Japan, and Wham!, and co-writer of the hit song You Don't Have to Say You Love Me but he also wrote one of the most lauded books ever written about post-war British pop music, Black Vinyl, White Powder. But Simon wasn't satisfied...

He decided to tackle the whole history of the music industry, right from the beginning; from 1713 when the British parliament gave writers the right of ownership in what they wrote, until to today, when the worldwide industry is worth 100 billion pounds and is entirely owned by the Russians, French and Japanese. And it's brilliant.

Bursting with memorable anecdotes and the kind of witty asides that only a real insider could make, among the many things you will learn along the way are:
- How a formula for writing hit songs devised in the 1900s created over 50,000 of the best-known songs ever
- Why the 'music industry' became the 'song racket', the 'singles business', and then the 'record industry'. But is now the 'music industry' again.
- Why Jewish immigrants and black jazz musicians danced cheek to cheek to create the template for all popular music that followed!
- How Hollywood bought the music industry in the 1930s - then suffocated it
- How industry executives didn't realise till the 1950s that popular music could be sold to young people, and how they then lost their minds to the teenage market
- Why rock music turned the traditional music industry on its head and never put it back upright again!
- How rap, born from a DJs pleasant asides to his audience, became the music of hate and rape - and the biggest selling popular music in the world.

Read Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay and you'll never listen to music the same way again.

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Product Description


"The world's highest-grade rock'n'roll gossip ... Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay is a sharp, fast-moving and beautifully written popular history spanning three centuries of wheeling, dealing, horse-trading, cigar-chewing enterprise and skullduggery" -- Mark Ellen "There's music and there's the music business. And there's the relationship between the two. Simon Napier-Bell pulls no punches. He tells this roller coaster of a story like it is: engaging, amusing, heartbreaking, enraging and appalling with every turn of the page" -- Mark Knopfler "One of the best music books I've ever read" -- Pete Paphides "A fascinating, witty and optimistic music biz history, by one of its legendary insiders ... An essential text" Mojo "The only history of pop music you'll ever have to read" Huffington Post

Book Description

The highly-acclaimed one-volume insider history of the whole damn music business

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2152 KB
  • Print Length: 721 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Unbound; 1.1 edition (24 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LABJ1P8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,763 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Simon Napier-Bell has been a leading figure in the music industry for over forty years - a songwriter, record producer, artist's manager, and entrepreneur. Amongst others, he has managed the Yardbirds, Marc Bolan, Boney M, Asia, Ultravox, Japan, and Wham! He's also written film scores and co-wrote Dusty Springfield's hit, 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' (later recorded by Elvis Presley). In the eighties he masterminded taking Wham! to China, the first Western pop group ever to play there, and during the last two decades he has written four best-selling books on the music industry. He is a director of Papa Entertainments PLC which produces Las Vegas' best-rated music show 'Raiding the Rock Vault', and of Snap-B, a company that provides consultancy to top music professionals. He travels, does business, gives talks, and eats & drinks well, all over the world.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 2 July 2014
Fascinating, exhaustive, clear-eyed, rivetting.

I have recently finished reading Simon Napier-Bell's marvelous romp through the evolution of the music business, how business shaped the choices we make, and those choices the business.. and society. He reveals the undercurrents which formed the industry - such as (for example) the monopolization of the music publishing world from the get-go by jews and how they were not interested in the sexual orientation or colour of who produced the goods for them, thus creating an industry far more tolerant and inclusive than any other.. and thus taste and role models are allowed to form. Significant social evolution under the patronage of simple avarice. Wonderful! (like the man himself :p) Buy it and be clear eyed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a dangerous book. 20 Aug. 2014
The music moguls will hate this book. Simon N-B tells it straight, as always. We have all been shafted for years, and secretly we've all known it and gone along with the stiffing because we love the music more than we hate the industry that robs us. Here is the book that shames the card sharps who have exploited the musicians and the punters with equal disdain and tenacity since the early days of recording music. Simon takes the reader on a fascinating, informative, amusing and deeply revealing magical mystery tour of the whole damn shebang that is the making, production and selling of music. I found his final chapter on where we are now and where we are heading particularly riveting. The global corporations that control the music business are sleepwalking into extinction and Simon explains why. The future is electric and digital and now. Simon is one of the great living experts in the world of music. His joyful enthusiasm for all things witty and quirky and hilarious spills into every section of the book and while it is not as laugh-out-loud funny as his two autobiographical books, it is still full of his infectious genius and unbeatable charm. A must read for anyone interested in the world of music making in the Twenty First century.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars uired to 5 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a seriously great book and really should be required reading for anyone and everyone who wants to know a little about the 'The Soundtrack To Their Life'

In a world where pluggery is king maybe I should stress this is a genuine review !
As a music business contemporary of SNB although our paths , business or social very rarely crossed, It seems guess my knowledge of 'the business' from the 60's onwards is about the same as his and most of those mentioned are well known to me.

Actually also starting in the sixties I became business partners with some well established Swedes (publishers/record company owners) and through them was lucky enough to meet, and sometimes work with many of those mentioned in the earlier-pre 60's - sections of the book.
So I know enough to recommend it unreservedly.

As with SNB's earlier books the style is easy and very readable. There's a huge amount of history and background in here and so on occasions it careers on a bit relentlessly.... but invariably that's setting the scene or providing the background to a another significantly happy step in the industry of human happiness.

I do take issue with his very clear statement that the first club DJ's were in NY in '64/'65 -Sybils and the Sanctuary....Terry Noel and Francis Grasso.
Come on Simon, lets go back to very early sixties. What about the Twisted Wheel, Millionaire and many more in Manchester, Sheffield, London or Club Voom Voom in St Tropez or Johns in Rome.

Just around the corner from De Hems pub in Macclesfield Street just off London 's Shaftsbury Avenue where the entire music industry (and various Kray brothers) would liquid lunch daily there were shops selling twin decks as far back as 1962.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Superb witty acerbic history of music publishing - the bit of the industry which - up to now, anyway - has made the money. Starting waaay back, when the route to big money was flogging the sheet music, Mr N-B explores the various tricks employed to make your song sell, including bribing famous artistes to sing it; and the various tricks of the publishers to keep the money, including buying songs outright from impoverished and innocent composers, or demanding a share of the rights even when they couldn't write a note themselves. Al Jolson was credited as co-composer of hundreds of songs, despite not being able to write a note; and I remember a Dolly Parton interview in which she said she would have loved Elvis to sing I Will Always Love You (he wanted to), but she would not sign away 30% of the publishing, which was the so-called "Elvis tax" charged on every song he recorded. And, of course, the '60s were particularly renowned for the slaughter of the innocents as the Beatles, the Stones, and many others got ripped off in publishing deals because they and their managers had no idea how things worked.

The book is a fascinating tale of the rise of publishing companies in England and the US, their various interconnections, the multitude of tricks they employed to promote themselves and dish their rivals, the creation of the rival ASCAP and BMI companies to capitalise on royalty payments for broadcasts, with the arrival of records and radio, and the ill-treatment of those who actually made the music on which it all depended. If you have any interest in the development of popular music, you should read it.

And it is very very readable, as Mr N-B's books always are: though packed with information, it is no dry weighty tome, but is a jolly rollicking read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
insiders story of rock and pop.
Published 1 day ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read
Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Now it all makes sense..(?)
Intrepid undertaking, to trace all the way back to how it all started. This makes the earlier chapters of the book especially fascinating, shining a torch on the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by rebtanner
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
It does occasionally descend into lists of characters but this is a fascinating book. Some larger than life characters. Amazing stories. More double dealing than any crime novel.
Published 4 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent and interesting story of popular music
Published 5 months ago by Edwynmccann
5.0 out of 5 stars Another valuable tome by the music biz's greatest inside reporter.
Incredibly detailed and courageous attempt to unravel the history of how the music business came to be, beginning at year dot. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for musos everywhere
An exceptional read. I found this book virtually impossible to put down. Informative, thought provoking, and, in places, very funny.
I give it an easy five stars. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. A. R. Twyford
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable
Excellent, comprehensive and engaging. Highly recommended if you are interested in the history of popular music and the murky dealings of those who market it.
Published 5 months ago by Arkie Bennett
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
This is really boring. Just dull.
Published 6 months ago by jay lowe
5.0 out of 5 stars but thus us a great history if the music business
You woukdnt really expect it if a rock and roll manager, but thus us a great history if the music business, from the earlist days of sheet musuc
Published 6 months ago by Paul the Work Avoider
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