Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back

Robert Levine. Doubleday, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-53376-8
With penetrating analysis and insight, Levine, a former executive editor of Billboard magazine, dissects the current economic climate of the struggling American media companies caught in the powerful fiscal grip of the digital industry. The author argues that newspaper, music, and film industries presently record weak revenues and ad support, while customers turn to the music and information of the Internet's iTunes, Rhapsody, Netflix, Google, and others, assisted by strong government aid in funding and legislation. Levine aptly points out a critical conflict: "Most online companies that have built businesses based on giving away information and entertainment aren't funding the content they're distributing." He is most convincing in his belief that the declining quality of information in the print business results from decreasing investment, adding that the consumer is the victim of the emphasis on profits and greed. One intriguing section of the book is the excellent comparison of the domestic market and the European digital industry, with robust regulations and willingness to protect copyrights and privacy. Maybe Levine has not gone far enough in spelling out how the media can get its mojo back, but this incisive book is a start at an informed dialogue. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 305 pages - 978-1-84792-148-2
Open Ebook - 235 pages - 978-0-385-53377-5
Paperback - 307 pages - 978-0-307-73977-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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