The Money Behind The Music
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Eliot (American Television, 1981; Televisions, 1983; etc.) breathlessly reveals that rock-and-roll musicians are motivated by money and that record companies are profit-making institutions. Despite his hyped-up tone, Eliot has written an accessible, if somewhat superficial, history of the business side of popular music in America. He chronicles the rise of the music business from New York's Tin Pan Alley to today's $8-billion industry. At the center of his tale is the continuing struggle between musicians and their publishers and record companies for control over musicians' creative efforts. From underground music heard only in dingy bars three and four decades ago, rock-and-roll is now, according to Columbia Records' Arthur Levy, "The only American art form that has an industry built around it; an industry of demographics, technology, manufacture, distribution, merchandising." Self-righteously, Eliot decries the crass materialism that drives so much of the music business. Rock-and-roll's movers and shakers, he points out, are not just the musicians, but record company executives, agents, music publishers, publicists, managers, and disc jockeys. Eliot does provide a service by describing the sleazy deals that deprived many performers like Chuck Berry of any rights to their songs. He also details the megadeals that manager Allen Klein arranged for the Rolling Stones, and how Michael Jackson acquired control over the Beatles' songs; some may be disillusioned when they read that the Beatles and the Police broke up over money, not the "creative differences" cited in their press releases. The world still awaits a thoughtful analysis of the music business, but Eliot's breezy style and the recent nostalgia craze for the 1960's will probably ensure substantial sales for this one.

Pub Date: May 8th, 1989
ISBN: 531-15106-9
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