FT Business Book of the Year

Best business books

All the books listed for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt

How Music Got Free

He provides only a tentative answer to the ultimate question: could the music industry have saved itself, or was it the inevitable victim of a sudden shift in technology? Perhaps it was uniquely unfortunate that the CD boom was so profitable that no insider felt the need to confront the looming threat — it was about to be sunk by tiny audio files that recording engineers despised. — Read the complete FT review


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. It’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 ground breaking 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 man’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, 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 you’ve probably never heard of.

How Music Got Free is a thrilling, addictive masterpiece of reportage from Stephen Witt. It’s a story that’s never been told, but that’s written all over your hard drive.