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

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  700 ratings  ·  86 reviews
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, f ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Free Press
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(showing 1-30 of 1,574)
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Ranjeev Dubey
Why did my kids listen to my 1970s music when they were teenagers? Why was the rock of the 1990s and 2000s so corporatized and lacking in distinctiveness? Why do the kids still have to dig so deep into Bit torrent databases to find the creative stuff currently being put out by Indie bands?

This book helps answer some of these questions. For sure it doesn't have all the answers, but it at least has all the facts down so you can draw your own conclusions. The part it hints at but doesn't get into
Mar 27, 2009 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by:
Shelves: non-fiction
Oh, the U.S. music industry: you made us hate you. You really, really did. Don't be angry because we learned to hate you too well.

This was an excellent look at the battle between major music labels and their heels-dug-in resistance to changing technology, opinions, and taste over the past several decades. With a host of employees as colorful as the artists they represent, it's no wonder life at a major label has resembled a ride on a roller coaster. Seeing the details and history behind the indu
Surfing Moose
Well I've never been a fan of the majors even when my favorite acts ended up on them (eventually). This book gave me more insight and answers to questions I had into why they f'd up with the digital evolution. I ended up seeing a similarity between the exec's of the music industry and the greed of Wall Street.

That being said, I still love my cds. The art work, the actual physicality of the cd itself, and especially I love albums over singles. The singles I like are the extended versions a la the
Blog on Books
What appears as a tale of the modern day record era actually dates back even further. Music writer, Steve Knopper begins his treatise, not in the post-digital era as one might imagine from the title, but from the post-Disco era, when the business was awash with money, excesses and a party atmosphere that pre-dates the decades long saviours of MTV and the CD era boom.

While much of what Knopper writes about has been covered extensively in other volumes (most notably Stan Cornyn’s “Exploded: the Hi
A quite nice discussion of the imploding record industry (as opposed to the music industry). Full of color and bombastic personality, as appropriate. Unfortunately, I’m the sort of person whose opinion on a book can be irrevocably ruined by details. To wit, a note about how, when initially launched, iTunes took 22 cents out of every 99 cent song purchase for itself, leaving 67 cents to be divided among the various rights holders.

. . . uh . . .

I hope everyone from the author to the copyeditor has
Finally, somebody has the balls to tell the real reasons why the record business is dying. Yes, downloading is one of the reasons, but as Knopper reports, if record companies had worked WITH Napster they could have had a working model for online sales before the majority of consumers even realized they could download material. Knopper also talks about the over-reliance on the $16 CD, the over-spending on trends that were destined to die, and the move from music people running the industry to mar ...more
Ryan Chapman
A nice survey of the music industry from the 1980s til now. There aren't any real conclusions drawn about the digital-driven sea changes of the past few years, other than the usual finger-pointing and scapegoating. What I did enjoy, though, was how Knopper so vividly paints a portrait of the CD-era boom times. Major labels were making so much money, and were so greedy about their condescending attitudes toward fans, that the ensuing industry seizure feels less like a downfall and more like a cor ...more
Phil Wilkins
With the holiday break, I’ve had a bit of time to get through some reading, including finishing Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. This an excellent book on how the music industry has managed to shoot itself in the feet a number of times (and with a canon at that); although it does only cover events upto 2008 (as we enter 2014 it would be brilliant to see an additional chapter to get insight into how the resurgence of vinyl and the ris ...more
Key takeaway from the book: "...the record business is doomed. The music business, however, has a bright future."

No surprise; we probably already knew that, but Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Steve Knopper provides a lot of interesting details and background on how this came to pass. He personally interviewed many of the senior execs in the music business from the past 30 years and has lots of interesting stories. The book tackles the period from the post-disco crash in the early '80s through
Savvas Katseas
Εξαιρετικό βιβλίο για την βασιλεία και την πτώση της μουσικής βιομηχανίας. Από τις ημέρες των '70s, τα βινύλια και την πτώση της disco (που κόντεψε να παρασύρει όλο το σύστημα μαζί της) στην δημιουργία των CD και την επανάσταση που αυτό έφερε και από εκεί στην ψηφιακή εποχή, όπου η βιομηχανία αναγκάζεται παρά την θέλησή της να αλλάξει κάθε μοντέλο που εφηύρε.

Καθαρό, ζωντανό (το μεγαλύτερο κομμάτι αφορά πλοκή που δημιουργήθηκε μέσα από συνεντεύξεις με μεγάλα πρόσωπα της βιομηχανίας, από ιδιοκτήτε
Todd Martin
Appetite for Self-Destruction is a lesson of what happens when an industry is unwilling to change in response to new technology. Through their reluctance to embrace MP3s and by clinging to an antiquated business model involving the sales of pieces of vinyl or plastic, the record industry has lost profits, prestige and the public trust. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

Knopper does a good job describing this history, industry motivations and personalities behind the major labels. The book is
One doesn’t have to work in the music industry (although that is indeed my career background); to know that things aren’t looking so good right now. However, that also depends on where you’re standing. Regardless, the clarity of the situation is that things changed with digital. Not just digital in the iTunes realm, but dating back to the advent of CDs. That is where Appetite for Self-Destruction begins…

Appetite for Self-Destruction is divided into time frames depicting how each era in the recor

4.0 out of 5 stars Sad for a music fan to read., January 22, 2010
By Crutnacker "Crutnacker" (Louisville, KY) - See all my reviews

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
Jason Howell
Good: A fantastic account of the many ways the record industry failed to accept the digital future of music. The book speaks in large part to the business behind the music you listen to.

Bad: The audiobook reader was PAINFUL to listen to. I almost got the sense that he was cutting his teeth on his very first audiobook. About a third of the way through his reading style changes to a lower, more listenable tone, but his over-enunciation... his mispronounciation of certain names, his inflection. Man
pretty interesting history of exactly what the subtitle indicates. Author pushes the view that record companies did not have to suffer when downloading became possible, if they had had the foresight to get on board with ideas such Itunes rather than fighting rearguard action to try to protect the old model of selling albums/CD's.

I'm not sure about that. Maybe they could have lost less money, and generated less ill will from customers (suing individuals for pirating music probably isn't the best
Fun, reads like an extended Rolling Stone piece (not surprising, given that the author writes for them). Maybe not a huge amount of depth there (Levy's The Perfect Thing was, I thought a much more interesting look at the rise of the MP3 player and the iPod), but good.

I'm continually amazed that the record industry got away with as much crap as they did, for as long as they did...I can only assume that it was because they were taking advantage, contractually-speaking, of people who had much less
If you are interested in the recording industry, then you will enjoy this book.

The stubbornness of the various record executives to adapt was amazing and came down to one thing - greed. They did not want to let go of the old ways because they were making money hand over fist.

The transition from LP to CD and the increase in profits that the record companies made with the new contracts was sickening.

On one hand stealing is stealing, but the record companies did nothing to help themselves. When Nap
Yes, at times this gets pretty heavy into how deals were made, but overall it is a pretty fascinating look at how the record industry has imploded over the last few decades. Not so much the music industry, which seems to be chugging along pretty well, but the industry which counted on nearly exponential growth forever.

He traces the initial fall, the death of disco nearly killing off the industry until MTV and CDs (both fought against by the industry) save them. CDs allow them to resell the same
Appetite for Self Destruction is a book about the music industry that I loved. Here is the history of the music business in brief: There used to be hundreds of labels all over the world, then the radio companies started buying up artists and they owned all the means of production and distribution for LPs which were heavy and expensive to ship and fans boycotted any record that cost more than $8.99. Disco was huge for them and they grew bigger and more consolidated and didn't expect the backlash. ...more
Here is the history of the music business in brief: There used to be hundreds of labels all over the world, then the radio companies started buying up artists and they owned all the means of production and distribution for LPs which were heavy and expensive to ship and fans boycotted any record that cost more than $8.99. Disco was huge for them and they grew bigger and more consolidated and didn't expect the backlash. Then everyone boycotted disco for no reason (some believe because disco was fo ...more
I'm not a huge music consumer, but it doesn't take a genius to to figure out something has gone terribly wrong in the music industry in the last 10 years. This book gives all of the ugly details about how they mishandled opportunities and failed to foresee the future. There are many great business lessons to be learned from this book.

The music industry has been so focused on fighting piracy and punishing anyone who steals their music via the digital format they have gained a negative reputation.
This book is part hard journalism; part celebrity gossip. In both cases, the targets are not the musicians who create music, but their managers; the A&R people; the music industry CEO's of large companies -- in short, most everyone responsible for pushing trends and pop tarts, soulless and manufactured pop crap, for the last 30 years.
My take on this book: the author does a fair job convincing me that the music industry has been so used to growing at a rapid clip, through methods both dubious
Chip Viering
15 yrs separates the record industry expose "Hit Men" from this book - "Hit Men" delving into the LP record-based Music biz of the 70's and 80's, the ensuing corruption and the struggles of record companies transitioning from Vinyl to CD - 15 yrs later, this book delves into the the rocky transition from CD to Digital audio file distribution ... "History Repeats Itself" is so appropriate...
Big egos, big money, arrogance, the stupidity of dinosaurs in a tar pit, yep, its all here. In almost overwhelming detail. Not my normal cup of tea, but still interesting.

As a sidenote: copying the audiobook to my Ipod produced a nightmare of something like 900 "tracks," since each disc had a new track every 30 or so seconds. Thought that was a bit ironic, each time I hit the view by "song" button and this audiobook seemingling seemingly overwhelmed everything else. Plus, I think I may have miss
Darren Hemmings
At first glance this book may appear to be quite a dry read. However in reality it is anything but, delivering a quickfire history of the greed and strategic errors made by the major label music industry from the disco period through to the present day. Whilst you certainly aren't left feeling sympathetic for the majors, I think one thing I took from this is that they simply show the same greed as any other large corporation. Or, in other words, they adhered to the "if it ain't broke..." philoso ...more
For an industry that prides itself on creativity and innovation, the record industry has fallen short in both areas in the business areas as showcased in Appetite for Self-Destruction. Steve Knopper lays out the numerous mistakes on the part of the record industry as they not only reject new ways of promoting their products but intentionally try to destroy it. The crash of the industry now in the digital age is only another chapter in an ongoing saga, and unfortunately for the record industry, t ...more
This is a fascinating look at how the record industry slowly put themselves out of business over the past 20 years by making horrendous decisions. If you're old enough to remember 45s, you may have had the experience I had of expecting to find the equivalent of a single on a CD. After putting out a very limited selection of CD singles in the 90's, record companies did away with them altogether. Why? So that if you liked a song, you'd have to buy the full CD. In a nutshell, this explains why they ...more
Ryan Holiday
We need a book that looks at why the music industry resists innovation and makes poor decisions. This book is not that. It's a timeline as told by a series of agents, scouts and label heads. Rarely does the author question what they say and he certainly never seeks to understand it. There is the distinct feeling that his background as a journalist held him back from making this much more than a long article. Ultimately that is why Appetite for Self-Destruction will barely outlive the year rather ...more
Steve Tripp
If you love music and you lived through the move from LP/Cassette's to CD's in the mid 1980's followed by the Napster lead charge to digital music in the late 90's and finally to the current domination of the iPOD, then you should read this book.
It is an insightful historical record of all the noteworthy events and outlines why the music industry nearly collapsed when they fought the digital platform and Napster instead of embracing it.
How different the music world would be now if record label
Stewart Tame
A fascinating look at some of the not so obvious forces that shape pop music. While I lived through many of the moments covered in the book, reading it gave me new insight into some of the reasons that things happened the way they did. A bit on the dry and business-y side at times, but still an interesting book.
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