From Publishers Weekly
In this ambitious look at the music industrys digital revolution, freelance music writer Knopper admirably attempts to make sense of more than three decades of fitful technological innovation and ego clashes. The story begins with the antidisco rallies of the late 1970s, spends a great deal of time on the excesses of the CD era (with an unnecessary detour into the nefarious business dealings of boy band manager Lou Pearlman), then chronicles the reign of Napster and its eventual usurpation by Apples legal iTunes service. Knopper is at his best giving life to the tales of technological innovation and diligent salesmanship that fueled these shifts in consumer trends, as in the story of the CDs invention and the subsequent difficulty of persuading label executives to adopt the new format. The later tales of backroom deals featuring Steve Jobs and various label heads have the spark of real drama, but this is undermined by Knopper not having access to Jobs and by the historical proximity of the events. (Jan.)
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Knopper, a regular contributor to Rolling Stone, takes an inside look at the highs and lows of the record industry during the past 30 years. Beginning with the crash of the disco craze in the late 1970s, the industry revitalized itself numerous times over the years, beginning with Michael Jackson, MTV, and the boom in CD sales in the 1980s, through the teen pop of the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, and Britney Spears in the 1990s. The entrenched sense of entitlement and complacency was rocked to its foundation, however, with the ushering in of the digital age. Instead of embracing the new medium, the record companies insisted on clinging to the old model of forcing buyers to pay $18.95 for a CD just to get the one or two songs they really wanted. Knopper takes us inside the boardrooms for heated debates between high-flying record executives, and into the basements and garages of the computer geeks who brought them down. Although the record industry continues its uneasy relationship with digital music, he shows how independent artists are finding creative ways to use the medium to their advantage. --David Siegfried