Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age
Soft Skull Press
This book is so fast paced it reads like a thriller. I didn’t even mean to start reading it when I did- I had just picked it up and was kind of thumbing through, but I was sucked in right away. Detailing the fast and dirty rise and fall of the record industry in the last 40 years, it is hardcore account of the biz. From the reasonably profitable origins with the record to the outrageously profitable CD, record labels became accustomed to living fat and happy, with waistline to spare. But as the technology that had so generously padded their budgets turned against them when the MP3 was developed, the record labels lost control of their customer base by leaving the online market open for too long, unfilled by a legal product. The result was Napster, Kazaa, and the like, and cornered by their own inability to modernize and move forward with an online music product offering, the record labels made quick deals with Steve Jobs in order to offer their product online via his newly created iTunes. Problem is, no matter how great the number of single song downloads for 99 cents, it just doesn’t match the amount of money the Labels made with their “2 hits, 10 mediocre songs” album formula for $16.99 and up. In addition, the numbers just don’t add up anymore anyway, which, it is still speculated, has much to do with the hitherto unresolved piracy issues. It’s a good read, makes you think. –Ischa B.
Artist Management for the Music Business, Second Edition
A valuable resource for anyone in or interested in the music business, Artist Management for the Music Business, now in it’s second edition, is an explicit look at the ins and outs of managing an artist as a brand and business. While reading it, there were times when I was inspired by the ideas and concepts, as someone who fancies herself both an artist and an entrepreneur. But just as often, I was overwhelmed by the sheer intricacy of the business and the many levels of involvement that are layered as the artist and business grow and evolve. Detailing commonly considered responsibilities like creating, recording and selling music, booking shows, etc. to the legal considerations necessary to sell your wares and tour in other countries, it’s an extraordinary resource when it comes to breaking down the nitty-gritty of actually capitalizing on the artist and the music produced by them. There are some examples of recording contracts and management strategies in the appendix section at the back of the book that are hands on and great at putting it all into real-world perspective. I believe this book is used in classrooms, so even though I didn’t find it hard to get into, don’t expect and easy-to-read feel-good. It hits hard, but it’s well-written, and for anyone interested in taking their art/artist to the next level, it’ll be a quick read. –Ischa B.
The Book of Skulls
Laurence King Publishers
I grew up seeing different skulls inside my uncle’s house, who is a former marine with a few pieces of corpse-like, military memorabilia, so Faye Dowling’s The Book of Skulls seemed to flip from page to page by itself as I mused over reproductions of this timeless symbol of mortality. Dowling presents images of different visual media––photos, paintings, sculpture, graffiti, optical illusions/arrangements, etc.––depicting variations on morbid craniums ranging from black and white to vibrant coloring, such as with Wes Lang’s winged head in Genesis Part 2 (Death). Dowling celebrates the skull in the glosses of the book’s margins, with much of the book’s perspective drawing from Latina/o and Hispanic traditions, such as El Día de los Muertos and cholo street tags. As someone who’s fascinated by skulls, it’s difficult to find a favorite piece in the book, but one that stands out for me is Marc Atkins’ The Hypaethral 22: It seems to be a print of an X-ray of a skull, which is both haunting and delicate as its caption reads “Atkins’ print explores the skull as the threshold for the human skull.” This is a great coffee table collection that’s sure to draw you in many times past the first run-through. –Alexander Ortega