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The Rhino Records Story: Revenge of the Music Nerds

The Rhino Records Story: Revenge of the Music Nerds [Kindle Edition]

Harold Bronson

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Product Description

Product Description

In the 1970s in the backroom of a record store, Harold Bronson and Richard Foos were making history—and Rhino Records was born. Harold Bronson’s The Rhino Records Story tells the tale of how a little record shop became a multi-million dollar corporation. Starting as an expression of Bronson and Foos’ passion for rock music, absurdity, and an anti-establishment sensibility, Rhino soon outgrew its beginnings as a reissue label, taking on new artists and new mediums. Their accomplishments grew to encompass several gold record awards, the Best Label of the Year Award, the revival of careers of famous musicians, and the creation of a company to produce feature films including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

This behind-the-scenes look at a company considered by many to be the industry’s best, reveals the secrets to their success. Written from the perspective of cofounder Harold Bronson, The Rhino Records Story divulges a unique business approach which made Rhino what it was at the height of its success. Woven throughout this story of a rising corporation, Bronson guides us through the ascent, fall, and revival of artists Rhino touched such as the Monkees, the Turtles, the Knack, and Frankie Lymon.

In a mix of hard work, passion for music, and a flair for the unconventional, the story of Rhino Records takes shape. The owners also ran their company humanely, and were awarded the Clinton administration's only Corporate Citizenship Award given to an entertainment company. Rhino Records, as it was envisioned by Bronson and Foos, had higher priorities than the bottom line.

Struggling against corporate interests, rock star personalities, and a perpetual underdog reputation, Bronson provides an exclusive insight into how the industry was run and how Rhino excelled. By the fans, for the fans, Rhino Records is the story of rock history, evolving pop culture, and a unique understanding of the music that mattered.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 14453 KB
  • Print Length: 393 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: SelectBooks; 1 edition (16 Oct 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #592,164 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story 16 Nov 2013
By framo - Published on
I liked this book a lot. If you've ever been possessed by an audacious idea that won't go away, you'll probably like this book, too. Harold Bronson and his partner Richard Foos acted on their idea. It was crazy: "Let's start a record company!" Kind of like "Hey kids, let's put on a show!" * And like Mickey Rooney, they succeeded.

The late great Rhino Records store on Westwood Boulevard in L.A. offered comfort and shelter. No incomprehensible industry hype, just music you liked or didn't like. Music you could like because it was cool, or because it was uncool. You could have passionate arguments with staff and customers about whether the Bonzo Dog Band was brilliant or unlistenable. And whatever your position, you would be right.

It all flowed from proprietors Bronson and Foos, who championed what they liked. They grew up enamored of novelty records like "Purple People Eater," and loved underdogs. They had an ear for talent, whether it was recognized or not. They would buy any used record, even if for only five cents. They got attention with quirky and funny promotions (Hassle the Salesman Contest for only offering you five cents; Deface the Glen Campbell Poster). Celebrities (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and famous musicians (Bryan Ferry) frequented the store and future famous musicians (Nels Cline, jazz department, now with Wilco) worked there. They bought independent releases by unknown artists because they liked them -- they sold 400 copies of Devo's first two singles, more than any other store.

So when Bronson and Foos started a record label, it reflected their iconoclastic sensibilities. Fittingly, their first album release was by Wild Man Fisher, an annoying street musician who was persona non grata at most local stores but celebrated at Rhino Records. With the release of "Wildmania" in 1978, the label became a formal entity. Their encyclopedic musical knowledge and fan's enthusiasm helped find new life for dozens of artists, from Frankie Lymon and Tommy James to The Knack, The Monkees, and The Turtles. They later branched into home video, and even produced a movie -- "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

How they translated their irreverent approach to an actual corporation is one of the most fascinating aspects of the book. The challenges were immense, as if they were a punk band finding a mainstream audience. They wrestled to maintain their core, through a distribution deal with Capitol and a joint venture with Atlantic. They continued to champion music they liked, using unorthodox marketing lessons from retail, giving new life to Atlantic catalog titles from John Prine (242,000 copies of "The John Prine Anthology") and Aretha Franklin (100,000 copies of "Queen of Soul"). Ultimately, Rhino was acquired by Warner Music Group.

It was crazy, and they succeeded. As someone who has tilted at a few windmills, I found the story of how they did it inspiring.

* For you sticklers, Mickey Rooney never actually said "Hey kids, let's put on a show" in "Babes in Arms," more like "I'm gonna write a show for us and put it on right here in Seaport." But that kind of takes the fun away, doesn't it? And I prefer to remember Humphrey Bogart saying, "Play it again, Sam."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars everything you wanted to know about starting a record label but were too afraid to ask! 4 Dec 2013
By Kenichi Sugihara - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Fun read. Great stories. Fascinating and informative top to bottom look behind the scenes of the music biz from an entertainingly contrarian point of view. Rhino Records was tremendously important to many serious music lovers, I'm glad to see that Mr. Bronson documented its history and his place in it for the public.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Back Story of an Iconic Label 11 Dec 2013
By Valerie A. Nemeth - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those who grew up during the time when the record industry was beginning to replace its jeans and headphones with MBAs mostly lacking in any affinity, let alone affection for music, this is the book for you. Even if you are not specifically familiar with the music and cultural influence of The Monkees, The Knack, The Turtles etc, the building of a business starting from a single shop in Westwood Village to an international brand, primarily due to the sincere devotion to music and its creators, would be of interest if not inspiration to anyone who still believes that a true passion for any art form can be translated into a successful business.

Those back stories behind not only some of the music bands and artists such as Frankie Lyman and the teenagers, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of the Turtles, specific hits such as “My Sharona” (now selling real estate in L.A.) and “At This Moment”, as well as the expansion into films (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”), as told by one Rhino brother, are engaging and well worth the read. It is risky to lay out one’s thoughts about decisions and actions of others in the business, as this Rhino brother did, but I believe it was done in such a way which confirms the whole point of a memoir, that this is his story from his perspective, and one of the major reasons Rhino became the brand known not only for quality product but for corporate ethicality, a model we are unfortunately not likely to see again in this industry in the near future.

Not to mention a fun read!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love rocknroll............ 19 Feb 2014
By Paul Almond - Published on
If you want to find out about the eccentric, fabulous corner of the world of Rock N Roll inhabited by the likes of Frank Zappa, the Turtles and Johny Depp, this is the book to buy. A fun fast read about the little record company that became the biggest and best of the purveyors of the classics of the bands that I personally loved (and probably you too). It tells you how the record business really worked during its glory days, the marketing/merchandising tricks of the era, the weird wonderful people that make up the world of music. I constantly said (to myself): I didn't know that! But now I do - and you should also, read the book, you'll love it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rhino, a success story! 23 Aug 2014
By Vernon L. Cassell - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting look inside the record business through the lens of one of the founders of one of America's most original and successful record companies. I enjoyed the inside stories and was entertained by a look at some of my favorite 60s groups. Some of the stories were eye opening as to what was really going on in some of the "big" record companies, some of whom made money in spite of themselves. Rhinos was one of my favorite record companies of all time. Now I understand why. Thanks to Harold Bronson for telling this David and Goliath tale.
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