Free Ride by Robert Levine
How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back

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What you will not find much of here is an attempt to explore seriously the argument in favour of the free flow of information. That’s a pity and a strategic error.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

How did the newspaper, music, and film industries go from raking in big bucks to scooping up digital dimes? Their customers were lured away by the free ride of technology. Now, business journalist Robert Levine shows how they can get back on track.

On the Internet, “information wants to be free.” This memorable phrase shaped the online business model, but it is now driving the media companies on whom the digital industry feeds out of business. Today, newspaper stocks have fallen to all-time lows as papers are pressured to give away content, music sales have fallen by more than half since file sharing became common, TV ratings are plum­meting as viewership migrates online, and publishers face off against Amazon over the price of digital books.

In Free Ride, Robert Levine narrates an epic tale of value destruction that moves from the corridors of Congress, where the law was passed that legalized YouTube, to the dorm room of Shawn Fanning, the founder of Napster; from the bargain-pricing dramas involving iTunes and Kindle to Google’s fateful decision to digitize first and ask questions later. Levine charts how the media industry lost control of its destiny and suggests innovative ways it can resist the pull of zero.

Fearless in its reporting and analysis, Free Ride is the busi­ness history of the decade and a much-needed call to action.
 

About Robert Levine

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ROBERT LEVINE was most recently executive editor of Billboard mag­azine. His articles on technology, business, and culture have appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, Condé Nast Portfolio, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Travel & Leisure. He lives in New York.
 
Published October 25, 2011 by Anchor. 322 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Computers & Technology, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Free Ride
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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Paula Todd on Jan 20 2012

What you will not find much of here is an attempt to explore seriously the argument in favour of the free flow of information. That’s a pity and a strategic error.

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