Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age
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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.
source. “This industry is like George W. Bush”: Author interview with Steve Gottlieb. Lyor Cohen and Edgar Bronfman Jr. salaries: From Warner Music Group Corp. Schedule 14A filing with Securities and Exchange Commission, January 25, 2008. Jimmy Iovine background and “if you bring somebody tea one hundred times”: From Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A., “Jimmy Iovine Spins More Gold at Interscope,” Wall Street Journal, February 22, 1996, p. B1. “You don’t want to make house music”: Confidential source.
Atlantic Records, owned by perhaps the most famous record industry talent scout ever, Ahmet Ertegun, who (thanks to a hefty paycheck) agreed to be part of the $400 million deal. (Sinatra, as founder of Reprise, received $22.5 million—his biggest-ever single check at that time.) Ross’s style was to pay top executives like Ostin and Ertegun lavishly and leave them alone. The company thrived this way for years, and employees of the Burbank record label grew to, if not exactly love, then respect New
Bogart also botched a new act, Elephant’s Memory, a rock band that would later back John Lennon during his politically active phase in the early 1970s. Bogart surrounded the band at one showcase with inflatable elephants and various barnyard animals, and was surprised when they drew derision from the crowd. Bogart flirted with bankruptcy until the mid-1970s, when he met Italian producer Giorgio Moroder, who introduced him to a gospel-turned-disco singer named Donna Summer. With singles like
television monolith CBS Inc., ended with Yetnikoff threatening bodily harm and pounding his fist on the table. During a 1975 contract renegotiation with Paul Simon and his attorney, the mogul and the singer-songwriter’s aggressive bargaining escalated into a full-blown argument, and Yetnikoff banned Simon from CBS Records’s building for life. “Walter Yetnikoff was crazy and wild and weird like a fox,” says George Vradenburg, former general counsel for CBS Inc. “He could yell and scream and throw
Warner was the one refusing to innovate: “Neither Warner Music nor anyone else there ever accepted that if we could crack the code, there might be whole new ways to market [online].” Meanwhile, the high-tech portion of the company was more sympathetic to Napster than it let on in public. During an off-the-record interview with Swisher, a top AOL executive pulled a Napster T-shirt out of a drawer. “Napster is good,” he said, according to her exhaustive chronicle of the merger, There Must Be a Pony