How Music Got Free
by Stephen Witt
Bodley Head, hardback. Published 18 June.
Review by Ben Myers
Hundreds of music files will have been illegally downloaded and shared by the time you’ve read this review; thousands in the time it took to write it. To date in total, 100,000,000,000 and counting, at a cost of $21,000,000,000 to the artists who created the works and the labels who financed them. This is, author Stephen Witt notes, a crime committed by an entire generation.
And it is a generational thing as the 36 year old observes that “my older friends regarded piracy with scepticism, and sometimes outright hostility”. There are still some of us even just a couple of years older than the author whose musical purchase power has straddled both sides of the great internet explosion; who accrued substantial vinyl and CD collections before we’d ever been online and therefore still somehow view a song as more than a file on a hard-drive. But we are a dying breed, a minority in a world of consumer cultural entitlement…