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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Told Them So, April 5, 2009
This review is from: Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age (Hardcover)
Music fans and industry watchdogs will already know many of the details in this book, but Steve Knopper illustrates the downfall of the music business as a long historical process going back almost to its own beginnings. While the standard villains in industry's recent collapse are file sharing and unprotected digital music, Knopper shows that the music industry already had an entrenched structural pattern of booms and busts, poor money management, aversion to new technologies, and inability to adapt to new consumer behaviors. File sharers are not totally to blame for the industry's collapse, since file sharing is an embrace of the same digital technologies that the industry once used to soak consumers during the CD boom, and a reaction to the industry's decades-old manipulation of price and distribution. Now the industry can do little more than fantasize about the glory days and sue its own customer base in order to scrape out a few more years of anemic income.

Knopper puts all of these trends into a long-term historical perspective that really shows how the record companies brought their demise on themselves and how the industry is inherently unsustainable, notwithstanding a few decades of temporary big profits. The only real problem is that this historical focus is off-kilter in places, with an over-aggrandizement of fads like disco and boy band pop as the lynchpins for huge business developments. In the book's closing chapter, Knopper makes some predictions about the future of digital song sales and the decline of the CD that are quite speculative and might make the book outdated very soon,

A better conclusion would have been an analysis of how musicians will always create and fans will always consume, but maybe industrial-sized distribution and economics are unnatural for the creative world, and that big business is incompatible with the interpersonal creation and enjoyment of music. Knopper comes close to a strong cultural discussion to go with his historical analysis. But he falters a bit by focusing only on the big business, which is the same mistake the industry has made. Music will survive, but the industrial manipulation of it is finished. Now let's find a new and better way for honest musicians to make a living. [~doomsdayer520~]
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 18, 2009 6:57:58 AM PST
Wanners says:
Very nice discussion!
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