Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rock On (Book Review)

Rock on: How I Tried to Stop Caring About Music and Learn to Love Corporate Rock by Dan Kennedy.

I had high expectations for this book because it describes the experiences of a middle-management marketing type employed by Atlantic Records during the time internet downloading became prevalent and started affecting the music industry as we know it. The book does describe the corporate culture before the big shock came, and has some interesting anecdotes about what was happening behind the scenes in the post-Napster era.

Nevertheless, Kennedy's book feels like a wasted opportunity. The style is rather annoying, it uses a hipster-smirking tone that would be more at home in a blog (this is rich coming from me, but I digress). Kennedy's use of obscure stereotypes to describe his characters gets old really fast, and is confusing as hell. Was "Suave Older Robert Wagner Character" the same as "Ageing Suburban Classic Rock Guy"?

Having said that, I found some hidden gems in the book. For example, the realisation that people in the music industry were downloading music just like the rest of us; or the fact that executives were as clueless to respond to the new marketplace as we always thought they were. The culture of corporate excess, bloated salaries, and the operation in an irony-free environment were endearing. My favourite part of the book is when Kennedy describes the launch of a Jewel song about not selling out, while at the same time the same song is used to advertise leg-shaving products. Really, no amount of sarcasm conveys the absurdity of such a situation.

On the whole, I enjoyed the book for these little jewels (geddit? jewels, hehe), but Kennedy's style made me struggle through large sections of the book. Self-deprecating humour is OK, but writing an entire expose based on one's shortcomings takes its toll on the reader.

1 comment:

Tor Hershman said...

IMO the 371 million $ deletion of original was even more ill.

Stay on groovin' safari,