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How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry,…
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How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and…

by Stephen Witt

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Showing 5 of 5
A friend who shares similarly my love of music brought this book to my attention. I devoured it in three nights - which is very fast for me. It really sheds a lot of light on the changes in the music industry, the effects of the MP3 format, and how certain key figures in different aspects of the music scene evolved. ( )
  Martin_Maenza | Apr 14, 2017 |
Interesting account of the music file-sharing craze in the late 90's and early 2000's and how it affected the music industry. The book focuses on 3 main story lines: Karl Brandenburg and the German audio engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute who invented the mp3 computer file format; Doug Morris, the CEO of Universal Music, one of the biggest music companies; and Dell Glover, a worker at a CD manufacturing plant in North Carolina who leaked thousands of pre-release CDs to the online community. Napster and other online file-sharing networks are discussed only briefly, and there's to be a heavy emphasis on rap music artists. Quite interesting, however, for those of us who remember the time. ( )
  J.Green | Nov 22, 2016 |
Excellent sleuthing and storytelling by author Witt. Provides a glimpse into the technical/scientific side of audio encoding, how warez forums and pirating happens, as well as a look into the ways of the music industry in contemporary times. Is a little bit heroic in the way Witt presents the little man making a huge impact that threatens the big corporate conglomerate global interests. A great history from both a technical and cultural perspective.

I actually listened to this book on audio, read by the author, and found him to be a terrific narrator. ( )
  cjazzlee | Nov 13, 2015 |
"The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy." The largely untold story of how a handful of obscure German engineers, with the eventual help of a vast underground of pirates and hackers, developed the mp3, and turned the music industry inside out. ( )
  zenhead | Sep 13, 2015 |
I found this a fascinating read. The writing style is conversational and engaging, holding my interest throughout.

I'm an avid music collector, now considered "old school", with my vinyl and CD collection. My sons are a little younger than the author, a part of the "free" generation, and so I was very much aware of the piracy issue from early on. Much of the media information back then came via the music industry, with their shouts of foul play and their lawsuits. They failed to grasp that, for the kids, this was not just about getting free stuff; this was a counterculture. Here, Witt gives us the story in its entirety.

The book starts with the invention of the MP3. As an audio format, the industry was not all that interested and it was nearly scrapped. Consumers, however, latched on, surprising everyone with its soaring popularity.

Witt gives us an inside view of the pirate networks, which were, and perhaps still are, a culture all their own. The music industry remained stubbornly determined to stick to their status quo, refusing to acknowledge that their consumers were changing the rules, with or without them.

Stephen Witt's research is impeccable. The content flows well, and is both interesting and enlightening. If you want to know the truth about how and why music became free, as well as just how badly the select few running the music industry failed, definitely read this book.

*I was given a copy of this book by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.* ( )
  Darcia | Jun 18, 2015 |
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To Leonard and Diana, my loving parents
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I am a member of the pirate generation.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525426612, Hardcover)

“[How Music Got Free] has the clear writing and brisk reportorial acumen of a Michael Lewis book.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store. 

Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online — when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. In the page-turning tradition of writers like Michael Lewis and Lawrence Wright, Witt’s deeply-reported first book introduces the unforgettable characters—inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers—who revolutionized an entire artform, and reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives.

An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 04 Jul 2015 10:07:57 -0400)

A riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It's about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store. Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet. Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online--when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. Witt introduces the unforgettable characters--inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers--who revolutionized an entire artform, and reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives.--From publisher description.… (more)

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