Record Companies Refused to See Efficiency of Napster Distribution System

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Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.

(p. A15) . . . the central character in “Appetite for Self-Destruction” is technological change.
. . .
Record labels scrambled to negotiate with Napster and develop a legal version of the service with multiple revenue streams. The attempts all failed. In Mr. Knopper’s telling, there were unreasonable demands on all sides. But he faults music executives for “cling[ing] to the old, suddenly inefficient model of making CDs and distributing them to record stores. . . . In this world, the labels controlled — and profited from — everything.” In the new world being ushered in by Napster, he writes, control was shifting “to a snot-nosed punk and his crazy uncle.”
The labels’ inability to reach an agreement with Napster destroyed “the last chance for the record industry as we know it to stave off certain ruin,” Mr. Knopper writes in a typically overheated passage. Had a deal been consummated, he suggests, a legal version of Napster might have generated revenues of $16 billion in 2002 and saved the industry. Whether or not the author’s estimate is accurate, his larger point remains: The music industry’s big mistake was trying to protect a business model that no longer worked. Litigation would not keep music consumers offline.

For the full review, see:
JEREMY PHILIPS. “BUSINESS BOOKSHELF; Spinning Out of Control; How the record industry missed out on a chance to compete in a new digital world.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., February 11, 2009): A15.
(Note: first two ellipses added; third ellipsis in original.)

The book under review is:
Knopper, Steve. Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. New York: Free Press, 2009.

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