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Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music Review
I just finished reading the book, Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music. I’m a little mad at myself for waiting so long to read it. It’s been in the “must read” pile for a long time and I’ve only just started reading it. It’s a fantastic look at how music has evolved over the past 20 years. From the rise of indie bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes, to Prince’s label, mp3s and the “pay what you want” model introduced by Radiohead and NineInch Nail’s Trent Reznor.
I honestly can’t say I remember my 7th grade history class. I couldn’t even tell you the name of my teacher, not to mention what we “learned” that year. The only thing I remember is that there was a banner hanging above the blackboard. He said: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
If you want to be a musician today, you need to understand how the music industry has changed so you can try to figure out where it’s headed. Of course, it’s good to know the writers of Tin Pan Alley from the late 1800s to the early 1900s; it is important to understand the role of radio in the emergence of popular music and how payola controlled this; it’s important to know that the first video ever to air on MTV was The Buggle’s “Video Killed The Radio Star” (think about it seriously for a minute).
Over the past 20 years, the music industry has changed more than it has in most of its existence. Or, certainly in this century. The current music industry in which we operate continues to evolve at a rapid pace. There’s speculation that CDs will go extinct within 2-3 years, there’s been a major resurgence in vinyl (who saw that coming?!), major record labels as we knew them might end to exist 5 years from now, mp3s and file sharing are now a good thing and a major source of worldwide distribution (what?!).
“Ripped” by Greg Kott is one of the most fascinating books on current music history I have ever read. It jumps right in with the first chapter about the major consolidation that all the big 5s had (at that time there were 5 major labels, as opposed to the 2 1/2 there are now). It was a huge change in the recording industry at the time. It scared off a lot of artists and put a lot of people out of work.
Greg does a great job detailing the consolidation of the majors, the rise of indie bands, the fight against and for sampling on hip-hip records and new mashup records and artists, Prince’s label and his do-it approach -yourself, the rise of mp3s and the fall of Napster and the “pay what you want” model that Radiohead started with “In Rainbows”, which Trent Renzor “improved”.
I don’t want to give away too much, because I want you to enjoy this book. He isa pleasant book. It goes into great detail about the many things that have happened over the past two decades that have dramatically changed the face of the music industry.
You can read each chapter as a vignette about each group or person or aspect of the industry. But taken as a whole, “Ripped” feels more like a cautionary tale with a hopeful ending.
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
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