New Book Explores the Music Industry’s Long, Slow Acceptance of Streaming

Steve Knopper, author of a must-read book called Appetite for Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, has added to the original with a new edition that covers the streaming era. When the book first came out in 2009, streaming was in its infancy. Now, though, it the music industry is making more money from streaming than physical sales. But it took years for the industry to come to terms with the realities of streaming.

Knopper, a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, offered this excerpt from the new chapter:

Rob Wells was the perfect person for Spotify’s Daniel Ek to meet in the record business in 2006. Within Universal Music, Wells had a reputation for recklessness. Years earlier, as a young U.K. digital-music executive for BMG, the major label known for hits by Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, he attended a management meeting every Friday morning at the stately Bedford House in central London. One day, after listening to the usual talks about market share and new-release strategies, Wells stood up to make a presentation of his own.

“I was sort of light relief at the end,” he recalls. The subject he chose was Napster, at that point five months old and not yet the disruption machine that would make the cover of Time. He projected its search box onto a screen and asked the execs in the room to suggest a song title. Richard Griffiths, later a manager who would turn One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer into superstars, came up with one by The Surfers, a band so obscure he was sure nobody would ever find it. But sure enough, as Wells recalls, “This cascade of results went down the page.”

Continue reading at Rolling Stone.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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