Saturday, March 6, 2010

Read Out the Jams, Mofo: "Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music" by Greg Kot [book review]

Greg Kot has been a music columnist, blogger, and reporter for the Chicago Tribune since 1990. His previous book, Wilco: Learning How to Die was published in 2004.  Kot's new book, Ripped:  How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, came out in May 2009.  The book is a collection of re-worked and expanded essays that Kot wrote over the last decade and covers all sorts of interesting topics that explore the intersection of technology and music. Each chapter focuses on an issue (filesharing, the political economy of record labels, the death of print music magazines and the rise of internet music sites, etc.) and/or a band/musician (Prince, Bright Eyes, Death Cab, Wilco, Arcade Fire, Metallica, etc.) that is trying to play/succeed under the new rules of the game in the music business.

Kot writes very well and has a deep knowledge of both the 'music' and 'business' sides of the music business. While some of the chapters bog down a bit in repetition of the core argument(s), most of the book is a quick, fun read that explores music-related topics that are currently of great interest. I particularly enjoyed the Prince chapter and found the smattering of quotes throughout the book from 'young people' about their views on music and downloading to be quite interesting. In addition, one certainly gets the feeling after reading the book that the big music labels might have been able to save themselves at some point earlier in the last decade, but they made crucial errors in judgment and fell into the sea-of-music-business-oblivion without enough life preservers as a result of their mistakes.

Verdict: Recommended if you want a readable synopsis of where the music business has been and where it is likely going, written from the perspective of someone that has followed the industry for over two decades.

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