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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Future For Dinosaurs
When I was a kid the music business was really simple. Labels discovered artists, artist made music, shops sold music, we bought music.

Things have gotten complicated in the last 15 years and if you'd like to get a handle on why this book sheds a lot of light.

Steve Knopper does a fantastic job of recasting the recent history of music as a...
Published on 24 Sep 2010 by Matt Blick

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 70% prologue, 20% meat, 10% speculation
The author spends an awful lot of time recounting the rise and fall of record companies and A&R men (many of whom were shysters, parasites and gangsters) from the death of disco to their heyday with the birth of the (vastly overpriced) CD. The 'self-destruction' bit doesn't kick in until the appearance of Napster, which he makes clear could have offered the record...
Published on 3 Feb 2010 by Lenny


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Future For Dinosaurs, 24 Sep 2010
When I was a kid the music business was really simple. Labels discovered artists, artist made music, shops sold music, we bought music.

Things have gotten complicated in the last 15 years and if you'd like to get a handle on why this book sheds a lot of light.

Steve Knopper does a fantastic job of recasting the recent history of music as a page-turner whodunit of epic proportions. `Epic' referring to epic greed (with a complimentary side order of monumental stupidity). The `who' of course are the major labels (and the RIAA) and the `it' that they `dun' is killed the record industry.

Anytime any new technology appears from CDs & DAT to mp3 players and, yes, of course, Napster, they try to sue it or kill it. Examples abound. Here's a few of my favourites.

1981-82. After a presentation to executives what they could expect from the new CD technology, they throw it open for questions. Jay Lasker, head of ABC-Paramount records asks why his cable TV picture is sometimes cloudy.(What the...?)

2007. Doug Morris CEO of Universal Music Group explains in an interview with Wired magazine why the majors were blindsided by the digital revolution.

"There's no one in the record company that's a technologist...It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

The interviewer replies,

"Personally I would hire a vet".

The sad thing is that Universal did have amazingly talented technologists, like Albhy Galuten, working for them already. They were just overlooked and ignored. They should have been easy to spot. They were the ones wearing Napster T-shirts.

Speaking of Napster the book makes it clear that the labels had their chance to buy it or make a deal with it. As one artist manager said later, in Napster there were 30 million music users in one place on the net, ready to be sold music, advertising whatever. But the industry killed Napster, Grokster and every other -Ster including a few they created themselves.

Eventually they were left with only one option.

Steve Jobs struck a deal whereby he would get 22 cents on every one of their songs in return for the labels making 0 cents on everyone of Steve's iPods. And because the labels had already killed off the bricks and mortar record stores and the only real record store in town was (you guessed it) Steve J's online emporium.

The examples of greed are too numerous to mention but on fact above all others should make every self-respecting musician want to grab a handful of dirt to throw on Sony's (et al) coffin. When CDs replaced vinyl the retail price jumped $8. Artist's royalties increased by 6 cents.

If you're trying to make a living in the music business and any of the above is a surprise to you then you need to buy this book.

By the way...

I can't help feeling that some of the more negative reviews of this book are because they were expecting this to be something it's plainly not. This is a book about why things went wrong and are doomed to go wronger still. If you want to know where things are heading (and the future is bright, unless your surname is Warner) then you need to check out The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate music biz history lesson, 16 Sep 2009
By 
Mr. C. Leaning "Chris" (London) - See all my reviews
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For anyone who has worked in the music industry this is an essential read. All of those figures we've grown up with named and in some cases shamed. Since reading this I've bought it for several friends in the industry all of whom agree it's a great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The music industry exposed, 11 Aug 2009
By 
W. A. Fallon "Will" (UK) - See all my reviews
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For anyone with an interest in music or the music business this is essential reading. It gives insights to how the business was structured and why it's in so much trouble today.

With chapters focusing on key points in the life of the music industry it provides amazing revelations on what has happened - Napster, Michael Jackson and other events - and finishes by looking at where the business is heading.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 70% prologue, 20% meat, 10% speculation, 3 Feb 2010
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The author spends an awful lot of time recounting the rise and fall of record companies and A&R men (many of whom were shysters, parasites and gangsters) from the death of disco to their heyday with the birth of the (vastly overpriced) CD. The 'self-destruction' bit doesn't kick in until the appearance of Napster, which he makes clear could have offered the record industry a lifeline if it wasn't for ignorance, arrogance and pigheadness on both sides. He describes very vividly how Steve Jobs and Apple did a far better job of getting the industry over a barrel and - well, think Deliverance/Pulp Fiction.

Since the new 'paradigm' for the music business - bands using the Internet and live performance to reach their fans directly, cutting out the A&R middlemen - is still evolving, the author is a bit vague on how this is working out.

But there are clear echoes of Big Blue and the fall of IBM - vast entrenched interests who cannot comprehend or cope with change. Film & TV industry people ought to read and take note - too many of them are still sticking their finger in the dyke of mass filesharing, when they should be anticipating change and trying to set up ways to make money out of these new avenues. But they won't...

Three stars because I got bored ploughing through the ancient and now irrelevant stories of 1980s record industry execs backstabbing each other. There's not enough on the bloated excess, profligacy and exploitation of artists that was such a feature of the music business in the 70s and 80s and helped to make the transition to a slimmed-down industry so painful and difficult.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powershift!!, 28 Aug 2011
By 
T. Satchwell (A Tower in the Heart of London.......) - See all my reviews
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Having spent a lot of my life either working in some capacity in the "Biz"...and or spending my hard earned cash supporting the "Biz"...this is an interesting perspective of the rocky road to ruin...fads have come and gone in musical styles/fashion and technology..I guess up until recent years the "Biz" has always managed to gain control ...usually by throwing money at people ...and perhaps dubious practices.
This book is good at pointing out some of the major blunders the record companies have made over the years...
What is interesting is how the "Power" have shifted over the years and how it now appears to be Apple who are holding ..or were holding the upper hand..that is of course if you ignore the rampant illegal downloading of music.
If you have an interest in the music industry...and maybe why you are now unable to get a job in the "Biz"!!! this is a good read.

I would also recommend The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution and the fab Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened to Record Shops?

In conclusion...I guess it was inevitable that the disgusting amounts of money that were wasted would come back to haunt The Biz....but I guess artists are suffering to...and this is not their doing.
I guess they have to find their own way of making it pay....so the likes of Madonna and Jay Z sign deals with Live Nation..rather than the Sonys and Warners of this world
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched, but my brain hurts, 19 Jan 2011
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This book was very readable and I got through it in a few days, but...the facts were just too much. It was a ticker tape of facts, much of it concentrating on the early days of the music business and the record label executive names.

There was a lot of research and interviewing of those who were involved in the labels at that time, but I would have liked to have read more from the artists who were ripped off.

Overall it is quite a good read, but there is nothing particularly new here. The title explains what the book is about, but it all gets a bit wishy washy when it talks about the present day. Worth it for the history lesson though, so 4 stars.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Appetite for Self-Destruction., 12 Jan 2014
By 
N. A. Shaw (Bradford, UK) - See all my reviews
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Yes, okay the recording industry fell into the hands of predators and incompetents - the usual suspects nowadays. I'd rather read
about the achievements of Isambard Kingdom Brunel than the skullduggery of the greedy, non-creative and sleazy. Don't read this book in the evening - you won't be able to stay awake.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The formats change; the story remains the same, 21 Oct 2012
By 
Livia Cruz (Hampstead, London- UK) - See all my reviews
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When a friend recommended me this book, he said it would make me hate record labels.

It just made me hate illegal downloads.

Of course labels are no saints and everyone in the business played their part in turning the industry into what it is today. As long as everyone's thoughts is on protecting their own assets, it will be hard to reach a safe place.

Having said that, it's worth noting that the industry suffered too in the past with shifting behaviours to radio, to LPs and, later on, to CDs. Different scales; today's music and tech businesses have a lot more players, even if small ones which tend to be bought by the big sharks, and are a lot more intertwined, but there is always a way around. The problem is taking down that first barrier of the "run for your lives" attitude and substitute it for a slight-but-not-completely "all for one and one for all". After all, this is still business and business thrives in competition and needs it for the innovation and development's sake.

Digital is the new CD, which was the new 33 1/3rpm, which was the new radio and so on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How the music industry works!, 3 Nov 2010
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This Book is amazing!
Forced to read for college, and I feel I now have a secret insite to the music industry and its foundations!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ripped off?, 9 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. K. G. Charmer (Torrevieja Spain) - See all my reviews
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If you ever felt sorry for the poor record companies being ripped of by CD copiers and illegal downloaders this book will show another side. The collapse of the record industry is well explained and the wheeling and dealing execs deserve in the main what they got from each other. A fast paced and fascinating story of corruption, back-stabbing, greed and price-fixing, it makes you realise you have been ripped off.

And if you thought payola and punitive artist contracts ended in the 60s think again. All that is bad in human nature shines through but at least the old economic model is over....or is it? A great book and essential read for music collectors and aspiring artists. Highly recommended.
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