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Reviewed by:
  • The Recording Industry
  • Michael J. Bonnard
The Recording Industry. 2d ed.By Geoffrey P. Hull. New York: Routledge, 2004. [xii, 335 p. ISBN 0-415-96803-8. $85.] Index, bibliography, glossary, tables.

The second edition of Geoffrey Hull's book, The Recording Industry, is a well-organized, in-depth, and thorough overview of the industry. Since Hull's forte is copyright and entertainment law, and he is one of the founders of and professors in the Recording Industry Department at Middle Tennessee State University, he is eminently qualified for such an undertaking. Why a second edition?

Within a year of publication of the first edition ... two significant events altered the landscape of the music business. First, two of the major labels, PolyGram and Universal, merged. That reduced the number of major labels to five and created the largest recording company in the world, Universal Music Group. Second, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Copyright Term Extension Act. These two pieces of legislation, prompted by the growth of the Internet and the increasing importance of copyrights in the international marketplace, marked a new era in the way music and recordings are distributed to consumers. Even as the major record companies and most other segments of the recording industry sought to consolidate to increase market share, there was an explosion of distribution of recordings, both authorized and unauthorized, via the Internet.

(p. viii)

Hull's main goal is to introduce and explain the structure and function of an entire industry to an assumed audience possessing essentially little or no knowledge of it. He achieves this in two ways. First, he approaches the topic from an economic and financial perspective "because the most significant changes have been what would be generally described as economic" (p. ix). By looking at both the economic operation within each major part, or "income stream," of the recording industry and their interrelationships with each other plus the relationship between the recording industry and other media industries, the structural framework becomes clear to the uninitiated audience. Second, he presents many historical facts of interest throughout the text to show how different parts of the industry came into being, developed, and changed over time; it must be said, however, that the chronological focus is always on the industry at present. Although the book is mainly expository in nature, Hull succeeds in keeping the discussion simple but thorough. In addition, certain themes that solidify the picture of the industry at present as well as hint at where it is going are interwoven throughout the book:

  • • The recording industry is now the dominant force in the music business.

  • • Technological advances have enhanced the industry's ability to make profits from recordings and songs and made those recordings and songs more accessible to more people.

  • • Although highly concentrated in four large, multinational firms, the industry continues to serve the public through the development and dissemination of more recordings by more artists than ever before. The public is the beneficiary of this diversity. [End Page 406]

  • • The industry continues to change, with even the legal underpinnings of copyright being driven by largely economic considerations, now on a global scale. (p. ix)

The book begins with an overall examination of the entire industry, the important issues about copyright, and the three main income streams in the economic model: music publishing, live appearances, and the sale of recordings. Following that is an in-depth discussion of the industry functions of production, marketing, retailing, its relationship with other media industries, and concluding with an examination of the recording industry and the Internet.

Hull amplifies and illustrates discussion of specific trends and supports facts through a more than generous use of graphs, tables and charts and, at times, weaves facts that can usually be culled from these illustrations into the text. At first, I found these textual interruptions disconcerting as it seemed that the text would degrade into endless statistical comparisons, but have since reassessed the value of these occasional statistical morasses as necessary to support and document his points. He also amply supports his discussion with bibliographical endnotes and references that give credence to the whole project and are numerous enough to...


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pp. 406-407
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