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Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age [Kindle Edition]

Steve Knopper
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"Knopper, a" Rolling Stone" music business writer, thoughtfully reports on the record racket's slow, painful march into financial ruin and irrelevance, starting with the near-catastrophic sales slump that began in 1979 after the demise of disco. Though the labels persevered, they finally lost control of their product when they chose to ignore the possibilities of the Internet.... Knopper piles on examples of incompetence, making a convincing case that the industry's collapse is a drawn-out suicide." -- "Los Angeles Times"


For the first time, Appetite for Self-Destruction recounts the epic story of the precipitous rise and fall of the recording industry over the past three decades, when the incredible success of the CD turned the music business into one of the most glamorous, high-profile industries in the world -- and the advent of file sharing brought it to its knees. In a comprehensive, fast-paced account full of larger-than-life personalities, Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper shows that, after the incredible wealth and excess of the '80s and '90s, Sony, Warner, and the other big players brought about their own downfall through years of denial and bad decisions in the face of dramatic advances in technology.

Big Music has been asleep at the wheel ever since Napster revolutionized the way music was distributed in the 1990s. Now, because powerful people like Doug Morris and Tommy Mottola failed to recognize the incredible potential of file-sharing technology, the labels are in danger of becoming completely obsolete. Knopper, who has been writing about the industry for more than ten years, has unparalleled access to those intimately involved in the music world's highs and lows. Based on interviews with more than two hundred music industry sources -- from Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. to renegade Napster creator Shawn Fanning -- Knopper is the first to offer such a detailed and sweeping contemporary history of the industry's wild ride through the past three decades. From the birth of the compact disc, through the explosion of CD sales in the '80s and '90s, the emergence of Napster, and the secret talks that led to iTunes, to the current collapse of the industry as CD sales plummet, Knopper takes us inside the boardrooms, recording studios, private estates, garage computer labs, company jets, corporate infighting, and secret deals of the big names and behind-the-scenes players who made it all happen.

With unforgettable portraits of the music world's mighty and formerly mighty; detailed accounts of both brilliant and stupid ideas brought to fruition or left on the cutting-room floor; the dish on backroom schemes, negotiations, and brawls; and several previously unreported stories, Appetite for Self-Destruction is a riveting, informative, and highly entertaining read. It offers a broad perspective on the current state of Big Music, how it got into these dire straits, and where it's going from here -- and a cautionary tale for the digital age.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 597 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 301 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 1847371361
  • Verlag: Free Press; Auflage: 1 (6. Januar 2009)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B001NLKTA6
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Nicht aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #278.717 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Interessante Einblicke in das Musikgeschäft 10. Oktober 2014
Von C J
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Das Buch verfolgt die Entwicklungen im Unterhaltungs-Musiksektor von den 60er Jahren aufwärts. Da erfährt man sogar als geschulter, interessierter Musikliebhaber Einzelheiten über Ereignisse, die sich hinter den Kulissen dieses riesigen Geschäftszweigs abgespielt haben. Und die wie ein Domino-Effekt das Musikgeschäft beeinflusst haben. Ich habe das Buch zwar noch nicht ganz zu Ende gelesen, bisher ist es aber sehr informativ und auch gut geschrieben.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.8 von 5 Sternen  54 Rezensionen
18 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen It's like reading the world's longest obituary 12. Oktober 2009
Von John S. Harris - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Being in my early forties, I am just old enough (and just young enough) to have lived through pretty much every stage of the decline of the record industry so painstakingly detailed in this book.

I grew up going to record stores, then chain stores, then saw the advent of the CD when I started college. I lived through the CD boom and read about big-name acts signing new contracts worth untold millions of dollars primarily because their back catalogs were selling so well when the world was upgrading their record collections from vinyl to CD. I watched in horror as the "boy bands" seemed to take over. I again watched in horror as the labels pushed only the best-selling artists and dumped the rest from their rosters. I moaned in disbelief when I learned that WalMart was the biggest brick-and-mortar retailer of recorded music, and that was sad and unfortunate because their selection was so narrow. I nearly cried as the rock radio stations I listened to became far more repetitive and far less interesting. I was initially horrified by Napster and sided with Metallica -- file swapping was theft, plain and simple. But the labels' litigious response to it was no less outrageous. Understandable on some level, but outrageous nonetheless. When digital music became the norm, the powers-that-be did everything they could to stem the tide, and they did it in such a way to sour the record-buying experience.

Perhaps worst of all, though, is that the "album" has all but died. It's all about the hit single. There is almost no such thing as artist development anymore. Remember a few decades ago when artist would put out a record every calendar year and tour behind it every calendar year? Each year you could count on seeing your favorite band (Van Halen, Journey, KISS, Rush, The Police, maybe even The Who) tour all over the U.S., even hitting the secondary markets. Nowadays many big-name artists wait up to 3 or 4 years between releases. MTV and the labels milking every last drop from every last album changed all that.

Basically, I lived through every milestone event Steve Knopper details in this book. I stood on the sidewalk and watched that entire fiasco parade pass by. This book reads like an "E! True Hollywood Story" account of the demise of the record industry. Part of the fun of browsing through a huge record store's bins was getting to discover and listen to new music. Not any more. There's a huge difference between trying out a new record at the listening station and hearing a 30-second snippet on iTunes or Amazon. There's very little of the feeling of ownership anymore, at least with digital download. No more opening up the record or CD to peruse the insert booklet, read the liner notes, read the lyrics, look at the artwork and photos, check the credits to see what guest artist or studio musicians may have played on it or co-written a tune or two.

But in today's world that may not be important to everyone. It's hard to believe, but there is an entire generation of kids out there buying music online who have NEVER set foot in a record store EVER. Boggles the mind. I'm getting old, but I'm not THAT old.

Many people my age saw most of these events as they happened. The great thing about Knopper's book is that we now have names to put with those events. We know the "what", and thanks to Knopper's research we also know the "who", "why", and "how".

As with many other culture-shifting events and history-making events, the change in the tide isn't always an inevitable force of nature. Often it is the end result of the actions (or lack of action) of a relatively few people of influence, the events affected by their individual personalities, ambitions, prejudices, greediness, or what-have-you. You might even say that the whole reason the record industry playing field was moved in the first place was because of the rise of the personal computer, and for that we have various players like Gates, Jobs, Woz, folks at the Palo Alto Research Center at Xerox, IBM, etc. One might say the music business changed so dramatically because the personal computer industry simply came into existence. Had the latter never developed (or developed differently), the former may not have changed the same way.

I guess a better introduction for Knopper's book could have been the book "Accidental Empires" or the PBS documentary "Triumph of the Nerds". Everything that happens is a result of many seemingly unrelated things that happened previously. Everything is connected.

"Appetite For Self-Destruction" is a fascinating book. Highly recommended.
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent Book about the Free Fall of the American Music Industry 13. April 2009
Von T. B. Vick - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This is an excellent book. Steve Knopper, contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine, and who has also written for such publications as Wired, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly and the Chicago Tribune, has written this book detailing the trends from the near death of the music industry in the late 70s to early 80s to the life-saving entities such as MTV and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album. Knopper provides meticulous detail about the negative and positive trends of the music industry over the past 20 years to the newly developed digital age of downloading music via iTunes. Knopper mentions names of major labor leaders; details the decisions these major labels have made that have been effective and those decisions that have been fairly detrimental.

Moreover, Knopper describes how the rise of Napster ultimately lead to severe bleeding within the music industry due to the consumer now having the knowledge to easily pirate music. The reaction of the music industry to Napster and its smaller subsequent file-sharing groups eventually lead to the now slow death of major labels. Knopper details how and why this happened. Additionally, Knopper details how Steve Jobs (of Apple computers) strong-armed the five major music labels into deals that lead to iTunes and huge sales of the iPod. This trend ultimately changed the music industry and pushed it into a direction to which it has not adjusted very well.

In fact, according to Knopper, it has taken the major music labels nearly ten years to realize how technology can actually help the industry, but now its probably too late. Moreover, many bands and artists are actually turning to their own independent methods of releasing their new albums and songs. These bands and artists (such as NIN, Radiohead, the Eagles, etc.) are realizing that this new avenue is actually more appealing to their listeners and making them a larger profit than they ever had signing contracts with the major labels.

This, and much more is described in great detail in this work. This is a very telling book about how greed and ignorance has actually cost the music industry in the long run. And, according to Knopper, if the major labels do not make massive changes very quickly, the music industry as we have known it for the last several decades will no longer exist.
23 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Must-read for anyone who cares about music culture 13. Januar 2009
Von Patricia Romanowski Bashe - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In the sub-sub-genre of books about rock music and the industry, I rank this right up there with classics like "Hit Men" and "The Death of Rhythm and Blues." We think in terms of "industry," but through his deftly drawn portraits of industry leaders, Knopper helps us see clearly how we got to here from there: simple bad decision making and a blatant refusal to consider, first, that the world had changed and then a stunning lack of curiosity about how it had changed. Highly recommended. Enjoy!
18 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The Music Industry Missteps At A Glance 5. Februar 2009
Von H. D. Espinosa - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is a nice recollection over the most catastrophic moments of the music industry since the late 70s to date. If you follow the news on music and technology regularly, you might not be too surprised to read something that you probably already know, but this material is just great for somebody who have developed sudden interest in this subject.

It covers the supposed disco and boy band obsession which record labels dived in and hoped that it would last forever, the "pay-to-play" practices that made the Top 40 a place where only paid music - not necessarily good music - deserved to be, lousy contracts which exploited artists to the bone, skepticism over new technologies and business models and disrespectful practices toward consumers (the infamous Sony BMG CDs infected with root kits, the inflated Album CD prices, the killing of CD singles and the RIAA lawsuits), showing that the music industry had made one mistake after another that ended up leading it to the situation it is today.

The only thing I disagree about the author's thoughts is the notion that the CD is deemed to die completely. I don't really think this is going to happen, because CDs still caters to a great number of people who cares about a better sound quality (which is far better then MP3, as a matter of fact) and likes to hold a physical, collectible product. It is correct to assume that less and less CDs will be sold over time and that shelf space devoted to them is getting thinner, but it is not going to disappear completely.

Entertaining and easy to read book, go for it.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Sad for a music fan to read. 23. Januar 2010
Von Rob Mattheu - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Ever since I was 9, I've been a huge music fan, buying first records, then cassettes, then CDs by the boatload. During my college days in the early 90's, I lived my life in Tower Records and Newbury Comics browsing the racks. I think most people my age watched the demise of the music industry in the past ten years with a certain sadness. How was it that an incredibly powerful industry went from raking in the dough to crashing and burning.

Steve Knopper sets out to answer that question in Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. For most, including myself, the simple answer is that napster and file sharing destroyed the industry. Knopper digs deeper, starting off in the end of the Disco Era, Knopper traces an industry that continues to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in spite of itself. Along the way, Knopper nails down the many missteps that piled up for the industry, including excessive CD prices, killing the single (which made people pay $15 for 1 or 2 hits), excessive copy protection, outdated and expensive promotional methods, embracing the big box retailers at the expense of record stores, goinand finally, failing to embrace the digital file age until it was too late (and Apple had the upperhand).

Appetite for Self-Destruction is a fascinating portrait of what happens when an industry fails to adjust to changing times. While Knopper hits on the eccentric nature of the players in the business, he eschews the gossipy tone typical this type of books and instead points to the business problems that brought the industry down.

While Knopper makes clear that illegal downloads hurt the industry, he does not place the entire blame on illegal file sharing. He points out that the industry's biggest problem was not the theft of music, but their outright refusal to deal with it on any level beyond suing the pants off of people who posted files for sharing. There were several in the industry who felt that the record companies should start selling files online, and several aborted attempts at creating an iTunes like service occurred throughout the industry, but nobody wanted to let go of the cash cow that was the CD.

Appetite For Self Destruction is a great book for any music fan or business student wanting to see a case history of an industry that fails to adjust to changing times.
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