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Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry

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3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Cowboys and Indies is nothing less than the first definitive history of the recording industry on both sides of the Atlantic.

From the invention of the earliest known sound-recording device in 1850s Paris to the CD crash and digital boom today, author and industry insider Gareth Murphy takes readers on an immensely entertaining and encyclopedic ride through the many catacly
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Hardcover, 382 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Joshua May
Gareth Murphy's poetic telling of the magnificent history of the record industry is a gem waiting to be discovered by historians and summer beach readers alike. A work of art in it's own right, Cowboys and Indies preserves the emotion and splendor in the events of it's telling with effortless prose. If you are on the fence about this one, don't be. Murphy circles the wagons of truth, while still managing to excite and delight with a compelling narrative of some overlooked warriors of industry.
Tom Donaghey
In his first book, Irish writer Gareth Murphy has tried to do the impossible and almost succeeded. COWBOYS AND INDIES tries to tell the entire story of the recording industry, from the inventions of A. G. Bell and T. Edison, through the onset of a thousand small companies selling recordings and through into today’s major labels, and for a book that comes in at 400 pages, does a remarkable job.
There is a lot of information here about the early days of sound recording, and how important litigati
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Michael Ritchie
Uninspiring, underresearched book about the record industry. For the most part, the author only includes material about people and companies that have already had books written about them (Columbia, Elektra, Island, Warner, Asylum) and virtually ignores other major labels like RCA, Decca/MCA,and even Reprise which was started by Frank Sinatra and included Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa and Neil Young on its roster). Granted, I've read a few book about the music industry, but the only new material in ...more
John Raso
There are several other books that overlap the companies and stories here, but the author is well aware of this and stays away from going into too much detail. As a result, this is an excellent companion piece to Hit Men and spends much more time and depth on the areas not covered by that excellent book. In particular, there is detailed history of the competitive businesses that developed the record player (or "Talking Machine" as they were originally marketed) . These were the companies that be ...more
sculptcha
Jul 01, 2014 sculptcha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like music or enjoy music trivia
Shelves: first-reads
For what it is, this book is packed full of interesting music and recording related tidbits and little-known facts that will probably surprise a lot of readers like myself who love music but do not particularly pay attention to the seedy underbelly of the The Record Industry. It's accessible, well written, and entertaining throughout.

It was very interesting to read that the industry had experienced and almost fatal blow once, and recovered stronger than ever, which means there is hope for the cu
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Peter Gladue
As a person who worked in Music Retail for most of his life, I found this book to be a very complete historical roadmap of the Record Industry. To understand the present state of Music industry we must follow and try to understand the past. There are Heroes and Villains, some are known and some are unknown. Each chapter breaths a life on their own, almost like a short-story collection. I have read the book from start to finish, but now I leave it nearby my bed, to spot up the book anywhere to re ...more
Neil
A somewhat choppy but entertaining overview of the history of the music-selling business. Starts with Alexander Graham Bell and ends with the current homogenization of dozens of former influential indies by the international conglomorates that swallowed them up. The industry has always seen boom and bust times. Makes you wonder if there'll be another boom.
C. Michael
Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry
Gareth Murphy
400 Pages
ISBN: # 978-1250043375
Thomas Dunn Books
2014


"Revelations: I suppose you've come to see the future? If you wish to believe today's self-proclaimed experts, imagine a system of mobile devices through which music flows as a kind of utility, financed by a subscription similar to public television in Europe. Tomorrow's listeners will, they say, consume music like water..."


Songs stored and played as computer files
...more
Scottfoley
An author could fill a multi-volume set with a detailed history of the record industry. Short of that, author Gareth Murphy has done an admirable job of highlighting just the key moments, from the very development of recorded sound to today's issues with downloading and digital file sharing. It's a very reasonable length for readers looking for a quick overview, and it won't leave you feeling you've missed out on anything. One of the best books of its kind.
Nooilforpacifists
Brilliant in places; hilarious elsewhere, choppy mostly. Damned interesting. But the flaw is that it's two different works stapled together: the first, a history of phonograph and radio TECHNOLOGY; the second, a history of record companies, recording artists and agents. I'm nerdy enough to enjoy the first part (which in some ways reminded me of "The Victorian Internet"), and was in the business enough to enjoy the second. But think few would enjoy both. And one would need flow-chart diagrams to ...more
Violet
**Received Goodreads giveaway copy**
This is an interesting, in depth look at the record industry. Definitely would recommend it to anyone interested in the record industry and its dramatic past. It sometimes gets a bit too inside baseball, but still has some really interesting facts and tidbits for even a casual reader.
Steele Dimmock
This is a hodge-podge collection of mini biographies. Focusing on behind the scenes players in the industry rather than the machinations of the music industry. The good information in this book is buried deep inside mountains of blather.
To save you the read, the author does highlight the apathy felt by the consumer towards the industry before the dawn of the MP3. Consumers were tired of buying a full CD for 1 good song. So artists lamentations about losing control of the album as their artist co
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bfred
On a cursory level, this is an enjoyable history of the invention and evolution of the record business. As an introduction to the major players and trends, it is adequate, and at times, insightful. However, as the book went on, it became clear that, conscious or not, Mr. Murphy seems to be advancing an anglophile agenda here.

From reading this book, one would get the impression that every major musical trend and business advancement in the second half of the 20th Century was the result of white B
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Gordon
pretty good overview of the recorded music industry from a us/uk/european perspective. covered most of the bases, although the last chapters lost some momentum trying to cover the newer indie labels: Sub>Pop, 4AD, Beggar's okay but what about Epitaph, Dischord, Merge and Touch & Go?

i do love reading about the "record men" of the 60s and 70s and there's plenty of sordid stories here. when you retrace the steps, you realize it's not enough to be good, you have to be damned lucky.
Steve
A quick overview of the record industry from the first records to the present. From the early format battles, to the impact of radio and the Great Depression to the rise of CD's to iTunes, this book looks at the record companies themselves. For me the pre 60's stuff was interesting but the post 60's stories were great, and the record executives stories were, in some cases, just as wild as the artists. While an entire book could be written on some of the personalities in this book, it was a great ...more
Dkolacinski
A comprehensive history of music recordings from 1840 to today (relatively speaking). Shows well the contrasting forces of music and business. Not light reading, but very informative.
Hillery
Interesting, but scattered. And he ignores some major labels.
Aaron Cassese
This book was much more about the record executives than about the artists themselves. I think I would've found this much more interesting had Murphy delved into the history of the musicians more so than the the A&R guys. The book also seemed to gloss over big chucks of what seems to me very important eras in music history i.e. Motown, grunge, and the doo wop of the 60s among others. Perhaps Murphy set out purposefully to focus almost exclusively on the inner machinations of the industry and ...more
victor harris
Some interesting individual story lines on Dylan, the Beatles, etc. but sorting through the clutter to keep the record companies and the personnel straight was a chore. Reads more like a reference work than a tight fluid narrative.
Steven Pofcher
Interesting overview of the invention of the record and the record industry
Edward Sullivan
Not at all definitive and more a collection of stories than a cohesive narrative but it is quite interesting and entertaining. It seems terribly self-serving that all the laudatory blurbs are from people admiringly profiled in the book.
Nancy
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
There was a lot of information in this, almost too much. Seemed the author was trying to stuff everything he knows into the pages and it felt like I was reading the ramblings of someone with ADD.
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I was born in London in 1974, but before I could remember anything, we moved back to Dublin where my father became a promoter. In 1977, he organised Ireland's first outdoor stadium concert featuring Thin Lizzy and the Boomtown Rats. He ran gigs for Tom Waits, the Ramones, Ian Dury, Dr Feelgood, The Specials, the Clash and many others. He also managed arguably the most important ever traditional Ir ...more
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