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Inside the Business of the Country Music Machine

by Dan Daley

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-87951-770-0
Publisher: Overlook

 This study of the country-music industry takes a smart look at the business end of America's most popular musical genre. Music journalist Daley divides Nashville's music empire into four fiefdoms: producers (whom he dubs ``princes''), songwriters, publishers, and musicians. Among musicians, the author focuses not on star performers but on session musicians--the professionals who give the music its identifiable sound. With this rule in place, Daley adopts an anecdotal approach to the growth and development of Nashville, calling on his dozens of interviews with major figures to explain what makes the city the undisputed capital of country. Those interviewed range from relative old-timers like Owen Bradley (who, with Chet Atkins, helped to establish many of the unwritten rules of Daley's title) to the newest musicians to join the A-list of session players selected to cut records by producers. Daley painstakingly details such unwritten rules as ``Thou shalt live in Nashville,'' which refers to the industry's disapproval of anyone daring to commute between the main hive and the outlands. Indeed, if producers are the princes of Nashville, then the twin villains, observes Daley, are the swaggering provinces of New York and Los Angeles, whose expatriates are treated with no small amount of suspicion when they arrive on Nashville's Music Row, purportedly threatening the local industry's ``rigid, familial, and benignly feudal structure.'' Rigid as this parochial prejudice against outsiders and commuters may be, it has also, as Daley points out, helped to keep country music authentic and has led Nashville to spectacular success in sending its music all around the nation. A solid plumbing of the forces driving a dominant and uniquely American industry. (16 b&w photos, not seen)