How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music

By Greg Kot

Scribner, Hardcover, 9781416547273, 272pp.

Publication Date: May 19, 2009


A decade ago the vast majority of mainstream music was funneled through a handful of media conglomerates. Now, more people are listening to more music from a greater variety of sources than at any time in history. And big corporations such as Viacom, Clear Channel, and Sony are no longer the sole gatekeepers and distributors, their monopoly busted by a revolution -- an uprising led by bands and fans networking on the Internet. Ripped tells the story of how the laptop generation created a new grassroots music industry, with the fans and bands rather than the corporations in charge. In this new world, bands aren't just musicmakers but self-contained multimedia businesses; and fans aren't just consumers but distributors and even collaborators.

As the Web popularized bands and albums that previously would have been relegated to obscurity, innovative artists -- from Prince to Death Cab for Cutie -- started coming up with, and stumbling into, alternative ways of getting their music out to fans. Live music took on an even more significant role. TV shows and commercials emerged as great places to hear new tunes. Sample-based composition and mash-ups leapfrogged ahead of the industry's, and the law's, ability to keep up with them. Then, in 2007, Radiohead released an album exclusively on the Internet and allowed customers to name their own price, including $0.00. Radiohead's "it's up to you" marketing coup seized on a concept the old music industry had forgotten: the customer is always right.

National radio host and critically acclaimed music journalist Greg Kot masterfully chronicles this story of how we went from $17.99 to $0.00 in less than a decade. It's a fascinating tale of backward thinking, forward thinking, and the power of music.

About the Author

Greg Kot has been the music critic at the Chicago Tribune since 1990. He has established a national reputation not just for his comprehensive coverage of popular music -- from hip-hop to rock -- but for enterprising reporting on music-related social, political and business issues. His Tribune-hosted blog, Turn it Up, is considered a must-read for music buffs and industry insiders alike. With his Chicago Sun-Times counterpart Jim DeRogatis, Kot cohosts Sound Opinions, "the world's only rock 'n' roll talk show," nationally syndicated in over twenty markets and avialable worldwide on the web. Kot has been a regular contributor to Rolling Stone since 1992, and has written for Details, Blender, Entertainment Weekly, Men's JournalGuitar World, Vibe and Request. Kot’s biography of Wilco, Learning How to Die, was published in June 2004. He lives on Chicago's Northwest Side with his wife, two daughters, and far too many records.