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Cowboys and Indies Hardcover – 10 Jul 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (10 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250043379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250043375
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 605,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A must-read for any music, 20 of the Summer's Best Books. A fascinating account of the way recorded music has evolved, touched people and helped shape popular culture as we know it today.--Sir George Martin, legendary record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician. Record labels, at their best, are invariably driven by the taste, the personality, and the ambition of one man, or woman - this book fascinatingly charts their course, their perversity, their bloody mindedness. It's those men, those labels, that found and broke the artists who have created our musical world. --Martin Mills, founder of Beggar's Group Just when you thought the record label beast was dead and buried, along comes Gareth Murphy with a tour de force that makes you almost want to dance with that devil again. Through COWBOYS AND INDIES, new artists will get a sense of history that will enlighten their success and lessen the pain of being ripped off! --Andrew Loog Oldham, Rolling Stones producer, Immediate Records founder. Murphy captures the ever-changing nature of the record industry as it ebbs and flows with trends, technology and time... He lets the record execs, producers, and talent scouts tell their own stories, giving this work a personal feel and providing music lovers with first-hand accounts of how many great artists were discovered, what it is like when labels fight over bands, and the perilous nature of being too big or too small... Through setting out to document the lineage of the record industry, which he's done, Murphy has as well created a history of popular music told from the inside out to give music fans and historians a new and dynamic perspective of this oft-covered topic. Publishers Weekly Gareth Murphy's Cowboys and Indies The Epic History of the Record Industry comes just as billed...this is a rich and rewarding tale, a survey course on the history of rec --Various

Book Description

The definitive history of the music industry --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a book which tells the stories of the recording industry from the very beginning and takes us through to the present and, indeed, the future of the music industry. The story begins in Paris in 1853 with the idea for the first sound-recording device. Eventually, research led to the graphophone, which was marketed as a dictating machine. However, when Columbia began recording cylinders, it soon became clear that the talking machines future lay not in local government offices, but in entertainment…

This takes us from the founding fathers of the recording industry, through Edwardian times and into the roaring Twenties. If we imagine that the music industry is now threatened by the internet and downloading, we soon learn what any lovers of history of always aware of in great historical events – this is nothing new. Indeed, the 1920’s saw the recording industry spiralling into depression with the advent of radio and it never really recovered throughout the inter-war years.

Of course, after the second world war, we enter a new era and the 1950’s saw the advent of rock and roll. Before long we are thrown into an unfolding story of great music – Sun Records, Motown, Phil Spector, The Beatles and more… Much of this part of the book was known to me and, in a book which attempts to cover so much, you can obviously just touch on all of these figures. Still, anybody who is anybody, is covered here – from major record labels, to indie labels, from record producers to managers to artists. This also, as I said at the beginning of this review, looks at the future of recorded music and gives a good overview of its history. I found the whole book interesting; particularly those early years – and fascinating characters – which I knew little about. A good read for all music fans.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fascinating look at the recording industry from the VERY beginning. Who would have known that Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison amongst others were the very core of the industry. The book develops nicely with tales and legends that formed the business, sometimes in a jumpy sort of way that can throw you off track. The mention of a name early on is out of context by the time it appears again later in the book, and much suffling back and forth to reference the connections between names is needed to follow the biger picture at times. That apart, it has all the pieces in the story that come together to meet up with many of the familiar names of today or the recent past. Well worth reading a couple of times to grab the important points that you can so easily miss in one session.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent book! Starting right at the birth of recorded sound and detailing the histories of the geniuses, rogues and visionaries whose lives and careers shaped the record business. The depth of detail is astonishing and fascinating. The book is as much, if not more, about the men (and it is mostly men) who brought us the famous artists we love, as it is about the artists themselves. Murphy does not shy away from detailing the skullduggery and excesses that litter the history of the record business, and the book is all the more fascinating for that. Great men are praised (John Hammond, Alan Lomax, Steve Ross) but Murphy does not shy away from revealing their weaknesses and mistakes. There are many huge characters in this book. Some big names come out of it well. Others, not so much. Richard Branson was, we discover, not so much a genius talent spotter as a tin-eared opportunist, whose cousin was in fact the driving force behind Virgin Records. Murphy has conducted interviews with a number of major players in the industry, many of whom have been very candid indeed about their business relationships, both successful and unsuccessful. The section on the Disco era, featuring the rise and eventual collapse of Casablanca Records, is worth the price of admission alone.

Some reviewers have commented on this or that label or band not being mentioned, but this was a huge industry and this book charts a course through it that gives a good picture of a pretty big cross section of it.

This is a hugely entertaining and informative book for anyone with even a passing interest in the record business, from its beginnings, through its golden age, and on to its era of excess and decline.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for my girlfriend because the music industry has been her life - so it was kind of a whimsical / cute gift idea. Boy! She's been raving about it since opening the surprise package! Not only is it filled with industry stories (as you'd expect) but it is also contains a lot of unwitting testimony from the movers and shakers of the time. Equally so, you can vaguely track world events as the narrative moves through history.

If you're looking for an in depth and critical analysis of popular culture - look elsewhere. If you're looking for something to tickle your fancy then this really is the book for you.

Go get it!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What could have been a dry economic history of the music industry turns out to be a page turner. Gareth Murphy has at his call a roster of eccentric and colourful label pioneers who have populated the record business since it all began. But he doesn't allow them to obscure the arc of the story which he tells with obvious affection and accuracy. The coming of the internet has required the labels - majors and indies - to re-examine how the model can be made to work. As Murphy points out, this has had no more significant impact than did the arrival of music radio stations in the States 80 years ago.
He deals well with the tension which has always existed between the majors and the indies. Ultimately, the successful indies of the 70 and 80s - A&M, Island, Chrysalis, Mute - did not have the financial clout to compete in the States in the days of payola. The chapter dealing with the rise and fall of Casablanca is a gem.
The one indie giant from that era who continues to this day is Martin Mills, founder of the Beggars Group. He has read the market changes better than the rest. As one former colleague said "If you were to be washed up on a desert island, the man you would want in charge of the rations is Martin Mills".
Gareth Murphy has written a fascinating book which has been researched with diligence but written with the lightest of touches. Highly recommended.
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