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Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 1, 2002

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, February 1, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When did the money become more important than the music? Cornyn, a veteran of Warner Bros. Records from its birth in the late 1950s, fondly recalls when it was about the music (and the dames and drunken fun didn't hurt), a time before such terms as "units," "product," "industry" entered the vernacular. He's frank about the people and circumstances that have forever changed the business. Also realistic, he knows changes will continue (which is why he urges readers to turn this into a "living book" by contributing their own observations online). Having spent 34 years with the company in its many incarnations, Cornyn could've chosen the route of raunchy expose, but instead he delivers good gossip with high humor and class. He describes the unknowns who stepped in and rescued Warner during down times, like Bob Newhart with his comedy album in 1962, and later Madonna. Snappy stories of artists itching to break contracts Sinatra did so with "laryngitis," the Sex Pistols with urine, Jackson Browne with tears. But even juicier, as the company history unfolds, are the insider takes on the men (and the occasional women) behind the music, the boardroom brawls, midnight calls, hush-hush deals, and talks with Teamsters. Endearingly, he freeze-frames the grander moments, when someone makes the perfect quip or sings a line just right. This music narrative has all the elements drama, mystery, comedy, a course in business (royalties, payola, severance pay), debauchery (Queen's outrageous party in New Orleans) and history.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A creative executive at Warner Bros. Records for 30 years, Cornyn presents a provocative, witty, and engrossing insider's story of that label and the cutthroat machinations of the record industry. Beginning with the takeover of Warner Bros. Pictures by the despicable Jack Warner, he charts the rise of Warner Records in the late 1950s with Mike Maitland, who first brought success to the label. He then moves to the merger of Warner Bros. Records with Frank Sinatra's Reprise label, its absorption of successful independents Atlantic and Elektra, and the buyout of Warner by Steve Ross of Kinney National, who created Warner Communications. Cornyn continues with Warner's assimilation of Asylum Records, its merger with Time, and its eventual union with Ted Turner's communications empire. Giving little emphasis to the artists except as fleeting commodities, the author graphically reveals the transition of Warner from a fledgling record company dedicated to unearthing the newest music trends to a corporate conglomerate obsessed with greater market share and escalating profits. Fans of record mogul tell-alls will enjoy this. Highly recommended for popular music collections. Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (February 1, 2002)
  • ISBN-10: 0380978520
  • ASIN: B000H2M432
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,980,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By tjs001 on June 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Exploding is populated by music stars like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Lil' Kim, Dr. Dre, the Grateful Dead, Queen, Madonna, Ice-T, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Alice Cooper, and dozens more".
Yeah? Where?
The artists are merely footnotes in this saga; weirdos to be tolerated (barely) and joked about. I spent a lot of money on this tome hoping to read about some of them. Instead I got 450 pages of business talk with about 4500 witticisms to amuse and confuse.
At least I found out why their awesome back catalogue has shamefully been left to earn whatever dollars it can in crappy 80's CD output (in the main) while other labels remaster properly and expand on their reissues - Warners just don't give a damn.
Won't be reading it again, I assure you.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Exploding" not only gives a very thorough and complete historical structure of how Warner Bros. became a film and music leader, but gives outsiders the intense understanding of what the "insiders" were dealing with, when the company and the music industry went through the myriad changes of the 20th century.It's a time-line saga and sensory experience of all that the Warner Music business was and later became. The book gives readers both funny, poignant and enlightening glimpses into the key players and other personalities of the Warner Music Group, and describes how the rock industry's stars rose and fel. After working in the music industry for many years, I learned even more than I ever previously knew about how WB began and evolved. From mostly behind the scenes and through mainly a mere few "big-wigs" the cards were dealt or held for many future careers at the WB family of labels. Musicians, songwriters, radio and record neophytes could learn alot from reading this book. Industry veterans will enjoy the trips down memory lane, and ultimately, be carried along it's emotional currents. Coryn's writing is witty and he gets to his well-crafted points with style and substance. After dozens of years working deep in the creative trenches as the changes occured, he is well-suited to tell the tales, both bitter and sweet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By johnf on March 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The single most-missed aspect in most articles, reviews and books about popular music, and particularly about the period of the 60's and 70's is the fact that it was a business. There are many excellent pieces written on the music and cultural changes of the era, but the details and even the existence of the business that underlay the entire thing gets barely a mention. Yet the business side of music controlled who was signed, how they were promoted, who got airplay and how it was distributed in a way that made it almost a co-creator of the whole phenomenon. In studying this vital period, it is as important to know the business history as it is any other aspect of it.

In a way, the "record business" was almost too successful, in that the songs seemed to appear before you out of nowhere, and just as miraculously, the record would be in the bins to be purchased; the work of hundreds of people, the big organizations, the payola, the agents and the deals all hidden away, unnoticed.

Stan Cornyn was uniquely positioned as one of the original employees of Warner Brothers Music from its founding in the Fifties, through its heyday as the world's biggest music label group in the Seventies and Eighties, to its later decline. Not only that, but he became a major executive within the company but was a creative, music person and not a 'Suit". I first noticed him as a writer of Frank Sinatra's liner notes (for which he won Grammy awards) and also of delightfully over-the-top notes for Petula Clark's LP's. He went on as head of Warner's advertising and promotion to be a major creator of a label whose atmosphere appealed to the new crowd of singer-songwriters and rock stars who wanted to sign with this label and not its stodgy competitors.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Clark Benson on March 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
then you will definitely find this worth your time.
I've been in the record biz for the last ten years and got an awful lot out of reading this - it tells the business story in an entertaining manner - it's about the personalities behind the music, but not as much about the hype (as much as it's possible to take hype out of anything about the entertainment industry).
now with the record biz in a rough spell is a particularly timely point to put your book out - the perspective of this book (which covers about 40 years quite well) is well needed.
I especially liked the focus on the business end, all the numbers, the annual growth, etc. This is the rare (only?) record biz tale that really gets to the bottom of how records get out there and in the public's hands - the nuts and bolts like NARM conventions and less emphasis on A&R stories than in most books about the biz (yet it's still a great tale of personalities).
It's up there with Hit Men, definitely.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I'm a 20-year veteran of rock 'n roll radio in the 80s and 90s, and a lifelong devotee of rock music, beginning in the decades prior. Some of these tales I'd heard during my years on the air as industry scuttlebut; many I'd never heard before, but one thing is clear: Stan Cornyn is the man to tell them.

Cornyn worked his way from an anonymous liner-note jockey in the '50s, during Warner's formative years, to its Communications Director in the '70s and '80s, to head of the Warner New Media division in the '90s. He was there when Jack Warner nearly pulled the plug; there when Mo Ostin got the big chair, there when Atlantic, then Elektra came into the WEA fold. He saw it all firsthand, and as a talented writer should, weaves a tale that any rock music fan, record collector or follower of the Hollywood machine will find absolutely spellbinding.

I guarantee: when you're done with this, you'll want more. Luckily, you can cruise over to the Rhino Records website and get it, where Stan is now writing a twice-weekly column that fills in the gaps and gives many, many personal recollections of everyone from Dick & Dee Dee to Neil Young.

Recommended highly for music lovers - vinyl lovers especially - and anyone who looks back with fondness on the days when you could happily spend an afternoon of discovery pawing through the bins at your local record store, staring at cover art and reading liner notes, charting your own path through the universe of pop music. A+++. An easy 5 stars.
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