Appetite for Self-Destruction by Steve Knopper
The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age

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For the first time, Appetite for Self-Destruction recounts the epic story of the precipitous rise and fall of the recording industry over the past three decades, when the incredible success of the CD turned the music business into one of the most glamorous, high-profile industries in the world -- and the advent of file sharing brought it to its knees. In a comprehensive, fast-paced account full of larger-than-life personalities, Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper shows that, after the incredible wealth and excess of the '80s and '90s, Sony, Warner, and the other big players brought about their own downfall through years of denial and bad decisions in the face of dramatic advances in technology.

Big Music has been asleep at the wheel ever since Napster revolutionized the way music was distributed in the 1990s. Now, because powerful people like Doug Morris and Tommy Mottola failed to recognize the incredible potential of file-sharing technology, the labels are in danger of becoming completely obsolete. Knopper, who has been writing about the industry for more than ten years, has unparalleled access to those intimately involved in the music world's highs and lows. Based on interviews with more than two hundred music industry sources -- from Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. to renegade Napster creator Shawn Fanning -- Knopper is the first to offer such a detailed and sweeping contemporary history of the industry's wild ride through the past three decades. From the birth of the compact disc, through the explosion of CD sales in the '80s and '90s, the emergence of Napster, and the secret talks that led to iTunes, to the current collapse of the industry as CD sales plummet, Knopper takes us inside the boardrooms, recording studios, private estates, garage computer labs, company jets, corporate infighting, and secret deals of the big names and behind-the-scenes players who made it all happen.

With unforgettable portraits of the music world's mighty and formerly mighty; detailed accounts of both brilliant and stupid ideas brought to fruition or left on the cutting-room floor; the dish on backroom schemes, negotiations, and brawls; and several previously unreported stories, Appetite for Self-Destruction is a riveting, informative, and highly entertaining read. It offers a broad perspective on the current state of Big Music, how it got into these dire straits, and where it's going from here -- and a cautionary tale for the digital age.

About Steve Knopper

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Steve Knopper is a Denver-based travel writer, Rolling Stone contributing editor, and author of Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. A native of Michigan, Steve grew up taking twice-a-year vacations in the Rocky Mountains with his parents. Falling in love with the area, they moved to Boulder in 1983, and set to building a house in the foothills. Steve graduated from Boulder High School and the University of Michigan. Steve began his writing career on staff at the Richmond, Virginia News Leader, the Boulder, Colorado Daily Camera, and the Gary, Indiana Post-Tribune before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 1996. In addition to covering the music business, his specialty, Steve has written for publications as diverse as Sunset, National Geographic Traveler, Wired, GQ, and the New York Post, among others. Steve lives in the Highlands area of northwest Denver, around the corner from excellent restaurants like Julia Blackbird's and Mead Street Station, with his wife, Melissa, and daughter, Rose.
Published January 6, 2009 by Free Press. 301 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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You didn’t have to be a marketing genius in the 1980s to know that the introduction of digital media would soon throw the record industry onto an entirely new course.

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The New York Times

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Maybe not, Steve Knopper writes in “Appetite for Self-Destruction,” his stark accounting of the mistakes major record labels have made since the end of the LP era and the arrival of digital music.

Jan 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Appetite for Self-Destruction...

AV Club

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Summing up the troubles of Big Music with an implacable gaze, veteran music-business reporter Steve Knopper devotes his book Appetite For Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash Of The Record Industry In The Digital Age to tracing the industry's blithe obliviousness to the competitive threat of d...

Jan 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Appetite for Self-Destruction...


And Bugliosi cites multiple former officials who attest to that intense pressure, including Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of CIA who said the “administration ‘hammering’ on Iraq intelligence was harder than anything he had seen in his thirty-two years at the agency.” When Richard Clarke...

Jun 26 2008 | Read Full Review of Appetite for Self-Destruction...


Vermonters learned of enviable Danish freedom in a series of town meetings this month with one of their senators, Bernie Sanders, and Peter Taksoe-Jensen, the Danish ambassador to the U.S. “Large crowds came out to learn about a social system very different from our own which provides extraordina...

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By - bill, June 3, 2010 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment.

May 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Appetite for Self-Destruction...


Is it war - presumably, at least by his own reckoning, ‘a force that gives us meaning - or is it “Defense and military industries”: is it “permanent war” or the “permanent war economy”?

May 18 2009 | Read Full Review of Appetite for Self-Destruction...


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With Americans for Responsible Solutions engaging millions of people about ways to reduce gun violence and funding political activity nationwide, legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby,” Giffords and Kelly write in an op-ed for USA Today.

Jan 08 2013 | Read Full Review of Appetite for Self-Destruction...

Ken Greenleaf

Mired in an old-school business model that had worked for decades — the suits had always piled up outrageous profits at the expense of their own artists and customers — the gluttonous power brokers running the majors finally had the tables turned on them come the 1980s and '90s.

Jan 13 2009 | Read Full Review of Appetite for Self-Destruction...

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