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Indispensable for anyone who wants to understand popular music in the 21st century.

Clear, concise and entertaining account of the tectonic shift in the recording industry over the past decade, thanks to technological innovations like the Internet, the MP3 and the iPod.

Music critic for the Chicago Tribune and co-host of NPR’s Sound Opinions, Kot (Wilco: Learning How to Die, 2004, etc.) begins by chronicling the rise and fall of the compact disc, introduced in 1983. It was the recording industry’s cash cow, forcing consumers to replace vinyl albums at exorbitant prices that bore little relation to costs. Beginning in the summer of 1999, however, Napster and other file-sharing applications gave fans the means to acquire music without paying for it. The resulting collapse of the CD market led the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to launch a campaign to sue illegal downloaders—including 12-year-old girls and at least one single mother on welfare—ostensibly to recover lost copyright fees but also to intimidate consumers back into the music-buying habit. Alas, for the RIAA, the downloading genie was out of the bottle, and the music industry would never be the same. Despite the best efforts of corporations to consolidate control over the star-making machinery, Kot shows how increasingly sophisticated musicians and fans found ways to create new standards for assessing what is and is not a hit. Each chapter tells a story about key participants in this revolution, from Napster’s Shawn Fanning and Ryan Schreiber of the influential webzine Pitchfork to unlikely rock gods Death Cab for Cutie, Girl Talk and Arcade Fire. Some artists, like Metallica, who joined the RIAA in going after Napster-using fans, struggled and failed to come to terms with radical change. Others, like Prince and Radiohead, the heroes of this book, led full-frontal assaults in the music revolution, leaping ahead of the record companies—and reaping rich rewards for themselves—by offering fans free music and more choice in the packages they might be willing to pay for.

Indispensable for anyone who wants to understand popular music in the 21st century.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4727-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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