How Music Got Free: The End Of An Industry, The Turn Of The Century, And The Patient Zero Of Piracy
Witt manages to cover some little known, but important areas of music and file sharing. How did the Music Industry get steamrolled by some nerds. He does this by focusing on a couple key individuals.
We meet Karlheinz Brandenburg and his German research team as they fight to make .mp3 a MPEG standard.. and lose. Only to win in the end.
Doug Morris, who works his way up the ranks of the music business to the very top. How he would get call up the accounting department and find out what was actually selling, a novel concept at the time. Morris would be one of the Industry leaders in the fight against file-sharing.
Hilary Rosen, CEO of the RIAA and the face of evil to the file-sharers, was actually telling her members to work with Napster rather than against it. “In 2002, Rosen began to argue that the recording industry should begin even more aggressive tactics aimed at individual citizens engaged in file sharing. The content industry, already facing an anti-copyright backlash, opted against Rosen’s approach.” (Wiki)
Dell Glover, working at a Philips CD pressing plant in North Carolina becomes the primary source for digital music of the RNS piracy group, and hence rest of the internet. One minor employee managed to directly impacting sales and schedules for the entire industry.
Witt did good research and his writing is good. At times he offered up his opinion, which seemed to vacillate depending on who he was writing about, but overall a very interesting look at an exciting industry during a pivotal moment in time. One that illuminates great truths about change. Either get in front of it or have it crush you.
Excerpts From My Kindle
The nice thing about the rappers was that they were obsessed with money. They talked about it, thought about it, wrote songs about it, and even threw it in the air. Contract negotiations were a bitch, but once you got them signed, the rappers were relentless grinders who put out albums like clockwork. And once they hit it big, they doubled up and started acting as A&R men themselves. Signing one hit rapper could spark a chain reaction that led to a dozen more. – location 2087-2090
Theories abounded. The classical economist saw the benefits of unlimited consumer choice outweighing the cost of ratio maintenance and the risk of getting caught. The behavioral economist saw a user base accustomed to consuming music for free and now habitually disinclined to pay for it. The political theorist saw a base of active dissidents fighting against the “second enclosure of the commons,” attempting to preserve the Internet from corporate control. The sociologist saw group-joiners, people for whom the exclusivity of Oink was precisely its appeal. – location 2869-2873
Life was unpredictable, and the best projections of his accountants had never panned out. He had watched the dark horse win and seen the sure thing fail. His business had been saved by one digital technology, ruined by the next, then potentially saved again by the third. He had been the custodian, several times, for radical upheavals in American culture. More than anyone, he had a sense of what was really possible in life, and it was this boundless sense of potential that kept him eternally young. – location 3284-3288
The Pirates believed this episode was broadly applicable, and that the artificial conditions of scarcity imposed by the state were hampering innovation across a number of fields. – location 3365-3366
For more than a decade Rabid Neurosis had burrowed its way into the music industry’s supply chain. They had scoured eBay for early CDs; they had bribed radio DJs and record store employees; they had sourced moles inside warehouses, and television stations, and music studios; they had even made their way into the factories themselves. They had leaked 3,000 albums a year across every genre. Across the globe they had built a network of infiltration and dissemination. In the shadows of the Internet they had stashed their secret troves of pirated material and kept them locked under uncrackable encryption. A team of expert FBI agents and a small army of private detectives had tried, and failed, to work their way into the group for more than five years. The economic damage they had caused to the recording industry was measurable and real, and ran to millions and millions of dollars. – location 3560-3566
But on March 19, 2010, a Texas jury, specifically selected for its technological unsophisticated, found that the laws that prohibited these activities did not have to be obeyed. – location 3566-3567