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30 review for Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay: The Business of Popular Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    The style of this history of the music industry is casual and gossipy, and it’d be really easy to read… if I didn’t keep running into phrases like “Red Indians” and “sang the verse like a virgin and the chorus like a whore”. You what? Red Indians, really? In this day and age? And really, a bit of straight-up Madonna/whore bullshit? I took a couple of deep breaths and read on, but that was just the first chapter and there was plenty more where that came from. If you’re looking for something casual The style of this history of the music industry is casual and gossipy, and it’d be really easy to read… if I didn’t keep running into phrases like “Red Indians” and “sang the verse like a virgin and the chorus like a whore”. You what? Red Indians, really? In this day and age? And really, a bit of straight-up Madonna/whore bullshit? I took a couple of deep breaths and read on, but that was just the first chapter and there was plenty more where that came from. If you’re looking for something casual and gossipy, and you don’t mind the occasional stunningly offensive line, then you might well enjoy it; for a non-fiction book, it is actually quite well paced, and there’s plenty of scandal in the music industry to entertain you. Just… apparently very much not for me. So full disclosure: I didn’t finish it. Originally posted here.

  2. 5 out of 5

    The Duke

    Offered a unique glimpse into the music world. The genesis of American pop music and all the genres it borrowed from. Where the genres evolved from and moved to and how genres like hip hop and jazz found wide spread success despite being pioneered by social outsiders. I was most fascinated on the transition from clubs to publishing houses; there was always an invention out there that brought music into people's homes more conveniently and sheet music allowed artists to sell their music and earn Offered a unique glimpse into the music world. The genesis of American pop music and all the genres it borrowed from. Where the genres evolved from and moved to and how genres like hip hop and jazz found wide spread success despite being pioneered by social outsiders. I was most fascinated on the transition from clubs to publishing houses; there was always an invention out there that brought music into people's homes more conveniently and sheet music allowed artists to sell their music and earn royalties, rather than solely relying on live performances. Also the invention of the first record player allowed people to bring their favorite music into their homes (Thanks Edison!) Music, like everything in life is constantly evolving. Radio went from a threat to music's best advertising vessel. The iPod came out in 2001 and shifted the music purchase scene from expensive singles to $0.99 purchases per song. What this book teaches is music will never disappear. It will always change but the industry will always adapt.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    In my life, there is nothing better than sitting down, and reading a book by Simon Napier-Bell. He was once the manager of Marc Bolan (solo), Japan, The Yardbirds, and Wham!. He has written three books about his experience in the music business, which are three masterpieces. His humor, intelligence, and distain for the music business world is equally fantastic - and he's hysterical on top of it. His new book, "Ta-Ra-Ra- Boom-De-Ay" is very much a history of the music business with a focus on the In my life, there is nothing better than sitting down, and reading a book by Simon Napier-Bell. He was once the manager of Marc Bolan (solo), Japan, The Yardbirds, and Wham!. He has written three books about his experience in the music business, which are three masterpieces. His humor, intelligence, and distain for the music business world is equally fantastic - and he's hysterical on top of it. His new book, "Ta-Ra-Ra- Boom-De-Ay" is very much a history of the music business with a focus on the song publishing as well as record companies and how they obtain and then lost their power. It's pretty straight forward, which is a weakness in this book. I miss the voice of Napier-Bell, yet, there are chapters that really shine. Especially the segment on the history of boy bands, which is pretty amazing. If you never read a book on music business history, this is a superb entrance to that world. But if you have read many - this one wouldn't be that essential of a read. For me, I treasure all Simon Napier-Bell books - and I'm a fan of his record productions as well (Fresh and mid-period Yardbirds).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen- Craig

    I remember when Simon told me that he was writing this book and have long waited to read it and in-fact supported the publication of this book..And am so glad that I did.....This book is a ground breaking contribution to the world of literature about one of the most important industries of the pass few centuries ! I can not recommend this book more highly. It is one of the best and most fact full and truthful books on the beginnings of the music/record business written to date ! Having worked fo I remember when Simon told me that he was writing this book and have long waited to read it and in-fact supported the publication of this book..And am so glad that I did.....This book is a ground breaking contribution to the world of literature about one of the most important industries of the pass few centuries ! I can not recommend this book more highly. It is one of the best and most fact full and truthful books on the beginnings of the music/record business written to date ! Having worked for many of these companies, I found their history fascinating, how they all came to be and how they have progressed to what they are today an amazing tale, that needs to be studied and learned from, as the music/record business moves forward in today's digital age. Having personally known and worked with many of the people mentioned in this book, Simon has captured and exposed many of the "half-truths" often perpetrated by the popular press...As usual Simon pulls no punches and lays the facts out without sweetening or political correctness.....This is a brilliant book about the music/record industries and needs to be "required reading" for anyone and everyone in or wanting to be in the music/record business. Not only does he factually show how "history continues to repeat its self", but exposes the answers to many of the questions about why and where it will all be headed.........Thank you Simon for making such a valuable contribution to this industry what we both have long loved.....Good Job !

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The former manager of The Yardbirds, Japan and Wham! knows a thing or two about making a dollar in the music industry. His affectionately cynical history of the music business goes back to the beginning of music publishing to present day. The book is basically chronological, and has it moves through the decades, with some of the short chapters focusing on a single aspect of the biz. Napier-Bell's style is chatty and gossipy, as he mixes the facts with anecdotes - some tales may be apochryphal, b The former manager of The Yardbirds, Japan and Wham! knows a thing or two about making a dollar in the music industry. His affectionately cynical history of the music business goes back to the beginning of music publishing to present day. The book is basically chronological, and has it moves through the decades, with some of the short chapters focusing on a single aspect of the biz. Napier-Bell's style is chatty and gossipy, as he mixes the facts with anecdotes - some tales may be apochryphal, but they are generally amusing. Napier-Bell doesn't shy away from the cutthroat, exploitationist nature of the music industry. He acknowledges how unfair it is to artists, but notes that pursuit of profit by a publisher or label can be what leads to artists reaching wider audiences and succeeding financially. While the book is researched and sources, it is likely not a complete history, though it hits the highlights and more. Ultimately, it's entertaining and informative on a subject that could have been fairly dry.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Derek Farrell

    I don't think I've enjoyed a non fictioner as much as this in a long long time. Napier-Bell has an encyclopedic knowledge of and true love for his subject: The music business (or as he calls it "Music Racket") and a joyful cynicism. it's not art, he rationales; it's business. And like all businesses based on generating vast profits from intangible product - Banking, Fashion, Publishing, Movies - it attracts lunatics, cynics and greedy cynics like magnets attract filings. The book is filled with go I don't think I've enjoyed a non fictioner as much as this in a long long time. Napier-Bell has an encyclopedic knowledge of and true love for his subject: The music business (or as he calls it "Music Racket") and a joyful cynicism. it's not art, he rationales; it's business. And like all businesses based on generating vast profits from intangible product - Banking, Fashion, Publishing, Movies - it attracts lunatics, cynics and greedy cynics like magnets attract filings. The book is filled with gossipy asides, stories so outrageous that it's almost impossible to believe that some of them are true. But they are. His ultimate findings are less than optimistic, but - as has been said before - the music goes on and on. *Highly recommended for anyone who loves Business stories, Showbiz stories, History and Popular Culture.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tim Julian

    This could have been so good. Napier-Bell is a music legend as songwriter (You Don't Have To Say You Love Me) and manager (Yardbirds, Marc Bolan, Wham) but this  400-page whirlwind tour through the history of the music business is sadly disappointing. There are interesting nuggets of information but most anecdotes are related in such a dull way that they fall flat.  It's only when we reach the chapter on Michael Jackson and Madonna that the narrative comes alive, gossipy not to say scurrilous. Wh This could have been so good. Napier-Bell is a music legend as songwriter (You Don't Have To Say You Love Me) and manager (Yardbirds, Marc Bolan, Wham) but this  400-page whirlwind tour through the history of the music business is sadly disappointing. There are interesting nuggets of information but most anecdotes are related in such a dull way that they fall flat.  It's only when we reach the chapter on Michael Jackson and Madonna that the narrative comes alive, gossipy not to say scurrilous. When he strays into the area of sociology or psychology one rather wishes he hadn't bothered. The "insights" aren't much more profound than "acid meant that singles were too short, so the rock album was born." or "Most pop managers are gay because they know what little girls like". He also makes the odd comment that the Beatles split because they were unable to make the leap from "pop" to "rock" which seems perverse given that with Revolver the Beatles literally invented the rock album. Some hidden agenda there, perhaps. If you enjoy the final chapters in Beatles biographies where all the Klein/Eastman/Lew Grade stuff is hashed over, this is for you. Otherwise, not recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sandip Roy

    An amazing piece of history on the music industry narrated with a simple timeline covering over a century of events. A brilliant account on how popularity of different formats of music and even dance evolved over time fueled by aggressive business motives, treachery, manipulation and perennial exploitation of musicians over decades by publishers and mostly music companies where creativity would take a back seat to garner profits to meet popular demand ... a must read for anyone who loves music f An amazing piece of history on the music industry narrated with a simple timeline covering over a century of events. A brilliant account on how popularity of different formats of music and even dance evolved over time fueled by aggressive business motives, treachery, manipulation and perennial exploitation of musicians over decades by publishers and mostly music companies where creativity would take a back seat to garner profits to meet popular demand ... a must read for anyone who loves music from the west....

  9. 4 out of 5

    Klim

    It's a fascinating glimpse into a part of history I knew nothing about and a world I only suspected. So many crazy anecdotes and colourful characters. Thought ultimately I found it all a depressing reality to come to terms with. And there I was quite taken aback to find the last words from the author to be roughly 'everyone get's screwed in this business- just learn to enjoy it'. Huh? Just because something can be traced back through two centuries doesn't mean we should accept this to continue i It's a fascinating glimpse into a part of history I knew nothing about and a world I only suspected. So many crazy anecdotes and colourful characters. Thought ultimately I found it all a depressing reality to come to terms with. And there I was quite taken aback to find the last words from the author to be roughly 'everyone get's screwed in this business- just learn to enjoy it'. Huh? Just because something can be traced back through two centuries doesn't mean we should accept this to continue into the future. I just can't understand that. On the writing side, I have mixed feelings. It was an entertaining read, and kept my attention (which is usually hard for me and non-fiction). There are many parts that feel to quickly glossed over or fail to mention the date of the event. The author's attempts at humour at times left confused as to wether there was a deliberate joke or if the situation was truly that amusing (as some where). That left me frustrated, as I don't want to drop the book to start researching. Overall, well worth a read as I don't believe there's any comparable book written on this subject.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Uneven, unfocussed, but lots of interesting tidbits. I got bored halfway through, but some of it was really engrossing. Gave me a different way to look at music production over the decades. Wasn't so interested in the insider perspective. Overall: enjoyed it, but could have done with some serious editing. Uneven, unfocussed, but lots of interesting tidbits. I got bored halfway through, but some of it was really engrossing. Gave me a different way to look at music production over the decades. Wasn't so interested in the insider perspective. Overall: enjoyed it, but could have done with some serious editing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Piers

    I mostly quite dry account of the history of the music industry, occasionally peppered with snippets of what would be really interesting annecdotes that are summarised into a sentence. Endlessly talks about such-and-such being the biggest record company at any one time, obsessed with money, and utterly trivialises vast swathes of music with cod-sociology. It was vaguely interesting though.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liv | The Nomad Reader

    As usual, Mr. SNP does a tremendous job describing the music industry not only highly in-depth but always in an entertaining way! I recommend all of his books to anyone and everyone interested in the history of music.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    Interesting account of the pop/rock music business. I found the earlier stuff more interesting and skipped some detail of the contracts and deals in the 80s and 90s

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mr B Evans

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Istace

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gemma Stringer

  19. 5 out of 5

    Søren Bygbjerg

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Wright

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul Winters

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nightswimming

  24. 5 out of 5

    James Cary

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joel Lewis

  27. 4 out of 5

    William Kirkwood

  28. 5 out of 5

    uri ben iosef

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate Milton

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