Louis Barfe's elegantly written, authoritative and highly entertaining history charts the meteoric rise and slow decline of the popular recording industry.
Barfe shows how the 1920s and 1930s saw the departure of Edison from the phonograph business he created and the birth of EMI and CBS. the arrival of Elvis Presley changed popular music (and sales of popular music) overnight.
After Presley came the Beatles, when the recording industry became global and record sales reached all time highs.
But the 1990s ushered in a period of profound crisis and uncertainty in the industry, encapsulated in one word: Napster.
Barfe shows how the almost infinite amounts of free music available online have traumatic and disastrous consequences for an industry that has become cautious and undynamic.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books
- Publication Date: 01/01/2005
- Category: Music industry
- ISBN: 9781843540670
- EPUB from £1.59
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Review by djalchemi
This is clearly a carefully researched book, and I can't imagine there's a more thorough and accessible history of the record business. My disappointment with it is that the thoroughness makes it a little flat. For several decades, there's a steady stream of patent wrangles, management changes, mergers and de-mergers. After a while all the names start to blur. The impact of radio, Napster etc is addressed, but not at as much depth or length as I would have liked. I wonder if, by not spending enough time analysing what is going on outside the record industry, Barfe makes some of the same mistakes as the industry itself.