walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_How Music Got Free_, Stephen Witt

Subtitled: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy
Published by Viking, an imprint of what Nate over at The Digital Reader likes to call the Randy Penguin.

Excellent, super, amazeballs non-fiction. Honestly. Go buy it now and read it. Here, I'll give you a link to the kindle edition:


In any many ways, I should _not_ have liked this book so much. Witt has several axes grinding (he belabors the lead up to saying that Dell Glover destroyed an entire industry so he could pimp out a car that a few years later he found embarrassing -- he belabors it so hard that by the time the punch line arrives, I was like, finally, we can abandon that buildup). And he doesn't explicitly depict his research (I prefer non-fiction in which the author and their research process is a front-and-center part of the story. I'm not asserting this is _better_. I'm saying I like it more).

Nevertheless, I bought the book because, despite living through the mp3 format start to finish, and being quite aware of it from many different perspectives (right down to wondering whether I should do more about the co-worker ripping on company time and using company internet resources, or whether I should just ignore it because the dude was way productive and I didn't want to lose him), I had a whole bunch of questions about just how extensive piracy really had been and whether it had decreased or not and, if so, why (if you believe this guy, Spotify is why).

Anyway. If you've ever wondered what the hell that "Vevo" meant that popped up on a ton of music videos on YouTube a few years ago, and why the majors quit suing everyone for using pop music in their wedding videos on YouTube right around the same time, well, This Book Will Answer Your Questions. And many more, if you're like me.

What the book won't do is answer any questions about what the next format is going to be (altho it's worth pointing out, as my friend M. did, that when you buy from the Apple iTunes Store, you probably aren't actually getting an mp3; you're getting AAC, just not the lossless version).

But especially, if you've been wondering why people assert you can't tell the difference between an mp3 and a CD when you know perfectly well that it's actually quite easy to tell the difference on any kind of decent sound system, this book will introduce you to all the psychoacoustics research that led to the compression of music formats that made possible Our Streaming World (and music locker world, too, for that matter).

Fun stuff. Read it. It's really, really, really good, and the information is helpful.
Tags: book review, economics, non-fiction
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