Summary of How Music Got Free

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How Music Got Free book summary
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8 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Journalist Stephen Witt tracks the history of the mp3 music player from its invention to its adaptation as a standard feature of daily life. Witt frames his tale through the prism of two men’s careers: record executive Doug Morris and pioneering pirate music uploader extraordinaire Bennie Lydell Glover. One man made millions off the changing habits of people who listen to popular music; the other served those habits faithfully and wound up in jail. Witt’s story comes most alive when he goes into the disparities between Morris’s and Glover’s lives – privilege, race, earnings and impact – as his narrative goes back and forth between them. Except for those deeply vested in these worlds, the story can sometimes be hard to follow, such as when Witt dissects the arcane politics, specifications and lab obsessions involved in the development of digital music formats. The technically uninterested should skim just those early pages; the rest is as totally satisfying as a good album. getAbstract recommends Witt’s reportage to investors, social historians, music lovers, and anyone interested in what drives the profit-and-loss-of-selling culture in the digital age.

In this book, you will learn

  • How the mp3 changed the music industry,
  • How record companies responded to music downloading,
  • How networks of hackers and uploaders fueled music sharing, and
  • How law enforcement and civil suits ended free music sharing.

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