How Music Got Free: The Inventor, the Music Man, and the Thief

Author(s): Stephen Witt


For fans of The Social Network, the story of an accidental pirate, a mastermind, and a mogul.

How Music Got Free is a blistering story of obsession, music and obscene money. A story of visionaries and criminals, tycoons and audiophiles with golden ears. Itâe(tm)s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, and an illegal website six times the size of iTunes.

It begins with a small-time thief at a CD-pressing plant, and a groundbreaking invention on the other side of the globe. Then pans from the multi-million-dollar deals of the music industry to the secret recesses of the web; from German audio laboratories to a tiny Polynesian radio station.

This is how one manâe(tm)s crime snowballs into an explosive moment in history. How suddenly all the tracks ever recorded could be accessed by anyone, for free. And life became forever entwined with the world online.

It is also the story of the music industry âe" the rise of rap, the death of the album, and how much can rest on the flip of a coin. How an industry ate itself. And how the most successful music release group in history is one youâe(tm)ve probably never heard of.

How Music Got Free is a thrilling, addictive masterpiece of reportage from Stephen Witt. Itâe(tm)s a story thatâe(tm)s never been told âe" but thatâe(tm)s written all over your hard drive.


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One accidental mastermind, one king-pin, two geniuses, and what happens when an entire generation commits the same crime.

"Enthralling... A terrific, timely, informative book... Witt is an authoritative, enthusiastic, sure-footed guide, and his research and his storytelling are exemplary... How Music Got Free stands comparison to The Social Network" -- Nick Hornby Sunday Times "Incredible, possibly canonical... A story that's too bizarre to make up, but needed to be told... Even if you're not a music geek, How Music Got Free is one of the most gripping investigative books of the year." Vice "Like Bond meets 28 Days Later... Witt tells a thrilling tale, with a cast of music biz bigwigs, painstaking German boffins, and pirates and petty thieves. Witt's writing reminded me of all my favourite modern essayists: Remnick, Franzen and John Jeremiah Sullivan. I loved it" -- Colin Greenwood, Radiohead "Brilliant... Like many great works of investigative journalism it makes it clear that this is one of those stories you think you know until you realise you don't" -- John Niven The Spectator "A fantastic book and a scintillating achievement" -- Felix Martin, author of Money: the unauthorised biography

A member of what he calls the 'pirate generation', Stephen Witt has been bootlegging music since the mid-1990s. While amassing an archive of hundreds of thousands of pirated mp3s, he became obsessed with the subject of digital piracy, and eventually changed careers to write this thrilling investigative history. He was born in New Hampshire in 1979, raised in the Midwest and graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in mathematics. He spent the next six years working for hedge funds in Chicago and New York. Following a spell in East Africa working in economic development, he graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 2011. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. How Music Got Free is his first book.

General Fields

  • : 9780099590071
  • : Random House UK Limited
  • : Vintage
  • : April 2016
  • : United Kingdom
  • : May 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Stephen Witt
  • : Paperback
  • : 1605
  • : en
  • : 338.4778
  • : 320