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All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning's Napster [Kindle Edition]

Joseph Menn
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The definitive inside account of the file-sharing revolution that overthrew the music industry, "All the Rave" reveals the family betrayal, greed and mismanagement that hijacked one the most fundamental innovations of the Internet era.

Named one of the three best books of 2003 by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., "All the Rave" has been out of print until now and unavailable in most electronic formats.

Author and veteran technology journalist Joseph Menn also wrote 2010's "Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords who are Bringing Down the Internet."

Reviews for "All the Rave":

"The book, by Joseph Menn, provides a well-documented history of one of the most celebrated collapses of the Internet. But it goes far deeper, giving an inside account of the creation of Napster, the battle for its control and the maneuvering by big Silicon Valley names to try to turn music piracy into gold." -- The New York Times

"That rare business book that nicely avoids either hatchet job or hagiography." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"An admirable piece of reporting, of interest to both friends and foes of the movement Napster helped to create." -- The Washington Post

"Menn's revelations are startling...the best seat yet to the online music revolution." -- Newsweek

"An engrossing and utterly coruscating history of the original Napster that deserves to be ranked as one of the two great books written about the dot-com bubble, alongside Michael Wolf's Burn Rate." -- The Register

At age seventeen, Shawn Fanning designed a computer program that transformed the Internet into an unlimited library of free music. Future Facebook President Sean Parker, to be immortalized in "The Social Network" a decade later, joined him as a co-founder of Napster Inc.

Tens of millions of young people quickly signed on, Time magazine put Fanning on its cover, and Napster became a household name.
It did not take long for the music industry to declare war, one that would engulfed the biggest entertainment and technology companies on the planet.

Despite the mass media coverage that came with the revolution and Fanning's status as the first widely admired hacker, no one outside the firm grasped who owned the company or what its real strategy was.

The full tale, revealed only here, shows that the venture money credited with spreading Internet technology worldwide also corrupted its evolution, triggering a backlash that is still reverberating ten years later.

For "All the Rave," Joseph Menn gained unprecedented access to Fanning, Parker, other key Napster and music executives, reams of internal emails, unpublished court records, and other resources.

The result is the definitive account of the Napster saga, for the first time disclosing secret takeover and settlement talks, the unseen role of Shawn’s uncle in controlling Napster, and hidden agendas and infighting from Napster’s trenches to the top ranks of the German media giant Bertelsmann.

Spiced with sex, drugs and rock and roll, "All the Rave" is a riveting account of genius and greed, visionary leaps and disastrous business decisions, and the clash of the hacker and investor cultures with that of the copyright establishment.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It was the best of ideas, it was the worst of ideas. Perhaps the most revolutionary technological concept to emerge in the super-heated days of the internet investment bubble (with apologies to one-click ordering), the peer-to-peer .mp3 file transfer system developed by barely reformed computer hacker Shawn Fanning fueled a company that at its peak claimed 70 million users and ranked as the fastest-growing company in history. Not bad for the out-of-wedlock son of the guitarist for a Boston-area Aerosmith cover band still in his teens.

The story of how Napster challenged the copyrights and distribution hegemony of the world's ruling music business cartel has become one of the e-boom's most enduring myths: David Vs. Goliath, with an outcome more like Tyson Vs. Lewis. In deconstructing the saga, veteran Los Angeles Times business reporter Joseph Menn patiently chronicles the double-dealing, ego, greed, hubris and remarkable naivete – informed by precious little long-term vision – that variously characterized both sides of the epic struggle.

Perhaps Menn's most telling revelations here center around the previously under-reported role of Shawn's uncle John Fanning, the shady, entrepreneurial con-man who claimed to be Napster's co-inventor/co-founder (distinctions that actually belonged to Shawn's teen friends, Jordan Ritter and Sean Parker), cutting himself in for a whopping 70% initial stake in the company. The elder Fanning's ability to clutch defeat from the jaws of even the smallest victory is set up as nothing less than Shakespearean parable. If Menn's work has a shortcoming, it's his seeming reticence to consider the larger, long-term implications of peer-to-peer file-swapping and an internet culture that enthusiastically stood centuries-old notions of property rights and demand-and-supply pricing firmly on its head by the tens of millions.

Ironically, the record industry's touted quashing of Napster was ultimately akin to killing a hydra-head monster. A variety of more lawsuit-resistant systems ultimately arose in its wake, leading one executive to ponder whether future record industry battles against file-swapping would simply degenerate into a never-ending game of "Whack-a-Mole". Jerry McCulley

From Publishers Weekly

In this definitive look at the revolutionary music-sharing site, Menn follows Napster's trajectory, from its founder Shawn Fanning's bedroom in Massachusetts to his relocated headquarters in California, and from the company's challenge of copyright laws and its stand against music industry behemoths to the federal court injunction that paralyzed it. Using interviews with key players, emails, court papers and internal documents, Menn, who covers Silicon Valley for the LA Times, reveals a union of youth, hype, rash decision-making and groundbreaking technology. The company beloved by young music fiends and bored office workers all across America had its share of problems during its meteoric rise: the shady background of the major shareholder and self-appointed co-founder, Fanning's uncle John; the never-ending search for funding and executive staff; the lack of a concrete business plan; and, of course, piracy charges. For several years, though, Napster was bolstered by public opinion and independent bands at odds with the record industry. "Napster dominated the market," Menn contends, "both because of its damn-the-torpedoes approach to business and its flawlessly easy-to-use technology." But when a judge ruled against the company's sale to Bertelsmann and Fanning failed to raise enough money for his own bid, Napster filed for bankruptcy and the young "ungeeky geek" whose hair gave Napster its name moved onto a new idea-one, he maintained, that would respect copyright laws. This story of hacker versus record giant is already a classic dot-com age tale, and Menn does it justice in this worthwhile read. 8-page b&w photo insert.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 907 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Joseph Menn; 1 edition (April 8, 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052YWXGS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,509 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
(22)
3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Let me start by saying that I'm very curious about the anonymous Bay Area reviews that say the book is wildly inaccurate. I'm writing a dissertation chapter on Napster (not the company, more the system), and although I didn't comparing every date and name, it seemed accurate. There are also two completely contradictory reviews by people who supposedly worked at Napster, but who knows if they did.
I feel this book is better than two other Napster books, "Sonic Boom" and "Irresistible Forces". Menn seems to have done a really good investigative job - he is a reporter after all - and includes people, perspectives, and histories that the other books don't mention at all. For instance, it turns out I've met someone who is mentioned in Menn's book but isn't in the other books. Menn interviews people who didn't invest in Napster, not just those who did. In other Napster stories, John Fanning is a father figure, and it ends there. Menn actually researches John Fanning's history, and it is ugly, complete with lawsuits and a police record. Other sources annoying tease us with hints of who Shawn Fanning's father is, and say he is a famous Boston-area musician. Menn tells us who he is - I'm from Boston, and I have never heard of the guy (Joe Rando).
Having read books, business press, law reviews, computer press, mainstream press, and other sources about Napster, I do think Menn does a very good job. Since I was not involved in Napster, I cannot say which versions, which stories, are true. Menn's work, however, gives a much richer picture of the company and the dealings within and around it than other sources I have read.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, well written, very imformative January 19, 2004
Format:Hardcover
I just got done reading this book and I have to say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. You could tell that the author, Joseph Menn, put a lot of work into this with many quotes, facts, and background information on each of the people he introduces. The story that Menn tells is fully detailed and I felt as if I was part of the napster crew myself. The story never has any boring momements and he illustrates the personal relationships between the workers fantastically. I always wanted to know what happened at the napster company and now i know. I recommend this book to anyone who needs a break from fiction and would like to know the story of a kid's idea that changed the entertainment world forver. This book is nothing short of an A+
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and dead on the mark! April 13, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
As someone who actually worked at Napster during the time period of this book, let me tell you that the book is well written and dead on the mark. It uncovers exactly what no one knows -- John Fanning's pathological screwing of anyone (including his own family) to get what he wants, the common but rarely acknowledged minefield of business politics and relationships that coalesce around mega-hit startups (and the insanity that follows it), and of course one wild and crazy ride.
If you're a pedantic, ostentatious second-generation Napster ex-employee with obvious resentments about missing the boat, then this book is not for you. If you're everyone else, though, then buy buy buy!, because this book is a hell of an interesting read, and exposes a fairly common world that 99% of the non-Silicon Valley population doesn't even know exists.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All the Duplicity November 13, 2004
Format:Hardcover
Here we have a voluminous history of the Napster phenomenon, but only from a certain jaundiced angle. As a critical outside journalist, Joseph Menn was unable to directly interview some of the principal players in the saga, and often relies on legal documentation. In turn, much of his research is based on secondary sources and hearsay from people not directly involved in the events described. This all taints many parts of the book and reduces its believability. We do get a good rundown of the genesis of Napster, as teenage computer whiz Shawn Fanning and some ambitious hacker friends had a brilliant idea about music file sharing, which then got far more monstrous than anyone could have ever expected. Menn then spends most of the book describing the byzantine investment deals and corporate wheeling and dealing to launch the doomed Napster corporation, in ways that were preposterous even during the dot-com bubble. In the end, enthusiastic people with great ideas tried to cash in, and watched forlornly as others let everything crash and burn.

These investigations by Menn are initially informative but descend into a tiresome swamp of nitpicking and unnecessary details that detract from the more interesting cultural ramifications of the Napster craze. And the biggest problem is that Menn gets very personal, especially when describing the business executives who got involved in Napster after its incorporation - piling on criticisms from other people who are clearly not neutral observers, and dwelling uselessly on people's love lives and personal transgressions. This goes especially for an apparent personal vendetta that Menn seems to have against John Fanning, Shawn's uncle and business strategist who muscled his way into prominence based on his nephew's invention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thick February 18, 2012
By Mason
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Lots of content covering the Napster rise and ... transition. But, after a strong opening, it wasn't all that entertaining to read in the end. The book had a lot of important details and facts which led to Napster's history being the way that it was, but I was hoping for more anecdotal and fun stories about the company.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaun Young's Review of Joseph Menn's "All the Rave"
Customer Video Review
Length: 9:30 Mins
Published on May 8, 2012 by Arthur M. Diamond, Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, intimate picture of the fastest growing company of all...
An amazing Silicon Valley narrative. The funny thing about geeks is, they turn out to have a lot of personality. Read more
Published on May 28, 2011 by Mary Jo Mathew
4.0 out of 5 stars A Light and Easy Flowing Detail of Napster's Rise & Fall
Among the many vast fortunes and colossal failures written about covering the dot com era, we have the story of Shawn Fanning and Napster. Read more
Published on September 9, 2008 by TW
1.0 out of 5 stars undistinguished-lightweight-establishment-BLAH
Tried hard to finish this, but couldn't. This is significant because I hate wasting money - and therefore, usually slough through to the finish on even the most unbearable works. Read more
Published on March 23, 2004 by Peter Orlovsky
1.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment - Uncritical & Lacking Analysis
Before buying/reading this book ask yourself if you want to invest the time/money reading what the author promises goes below the "surface" on all previous Napster... Read more
Published on March 14, 2004 by Robin Johnson
1.0 out of 5 stars A terribly slow rehash of previously published material
Just finished Menn's "All The Rave," a.k.a. the Napster chronicles....
for what it's worth, i found very little new material here - most of the scoop is previously... Read more
Published on March 2, 2004 by "blog_the_reader"
4.0 out of 5 stars All the Rave Review
I really liked this book. I am fascinated by the burst of the bubble more than the actual boom. This was a smooth and interesting read.
Published on September 3, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Guardians of Cultural/Intellectual Property Rights?
Shawn Fanning and his co-founders devote themselves to perfecting their software; Napster's destruction at the hands of greedy profit-takers is heartbreaking. Read more
Published on July 15, 2003 by "emelyec"
5.0 out of 5 stars Chronology of a Boom Turned Bust
Sean Fanning's Napster is widely regarded as the poster child for the dot-com-bubble's bust. In some ways that description is very apt. Read more
Published on June 22, 2003 by J. Straub
5.0 out of 5 stars Details, Details...
Didn't know much about the details of this sad saga till Menn brought the unknown background and drama to the public side of this quashed revolution. Read more
Published on June 7, 2003
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