cover image A Friend in the Music Business: The ASCAP Story

A Friend in the Music Business: The ASCAP Story

Bruce Pollock. Hal Leonard, $29.99 (264pp) ISBN 978-1-42349-221-4

At a time when nearly every part of the music industry is struggling to adapt to the digital landscape, prolific music writer Pollock, who has written a number of books (By the Time We Got to Woodstock) investigates the history of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Founded in 1914 by a group of songwriters who included Irving Berlin, the organization battled with nearly every major media technology of the 20th century: "the talking pictures", radio, jukeboxes, rock and roll, and the internet. Near the beginning of the book, Pollock notes in this ultimately one-sided retelling that, "ASCAP has truly become, for every type of songwriter and composer, %E2%80%98a friend in the music business.'%C2%A0" At the end, he quotes a lyricist who refers to ASCAP as a combination of "the Magna Carta of the author," "the Declaration of Independence of the creative mind," and "the Social Security of the free spirit." Pages are full of large block quotes and lists of important songwriters who joined ASCAP. This organization's role in popular music's past, present, and future is worth exploring, but the book reads like a lengthy promotional brochure. (Mar.)