Free Ride

  • by Robert Levine
  • Narrated by Byron Wagner
  • 9 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

How did the newspaper, music, and film industries go from raking in big bucks to scooping up digital dimes? Their customers were lured away by the free ride of technology. Now, business journalist Robert Levine shows how they can get back on track.
On the Internet, “information wants to be free.” This memorable phrase shaped the online business model, but it is now driving the media companies on whom the digital industry feeds out of business. Today, newspaper stocks have fallen to all-time lows as papers are pressured to give away content, music sales have fallen by more than half since file sharing became common, TV ratings are plum­meting as viewership migrates online, and publishers face off against Amazon over the price of digital books.
In Free Ride, Robert Levine narrates an epic tale of value destruction that moves from the corridors of Congress, where the law was passed that legalized YouTube, to the dorm room of Shawn Fanning, the founder of Napster; from the bargain-pricing dramas involving iTunes and Kindle to Google’s fateful decision to digitize first and ask questions later. Levine charts how the media industry lost control of its destiny and suggests innovative ways it can resist the pull of zero.
Fearless in its reporting and analysis, Free Ride is the busi­ness history of the decade and a much-needed call to action.


What the Critics Say

“Brilliant…A crash course in the existential problems facing the [media].” (Richard Morrison, The Times)
"The most convincing defense of the current predicament of the creative industries that I have read.” (James Crabtree, Financial Times)
“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…. This incisive book is a start at an informed dialogue.” (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

misleading subtitle

This book provides a very well researched history of "how digital parasites are destroying the culture business" but has zero to say about "how the culture business can fight back".

After a long, detailed history of digital piracy and the many attempts to deal with it, from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to Larry Lessing telling creators to just suck it up and "adapt or die", then he wraps it all up in the final chapter with the usual platitudes - the internet is a wonderful economic engine, we need to balance the freedom of information with the need to protect intellectual property ...blah, blah, blah. Gee, thanks for re-stating the obvious. Very disappointing.
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- Dave

Intersection of Business and Culture

Great book for lovers of either business or contemporary culture books. This book is as much about the evolution of the internet as it is about media in the digital age. I think Mr. Levine's point about internet business models being built on "free content" that in reality is not free is right to the point. The culturee seems to be changing as businesses have discoved that free content is not self sustaining by the advertising model. Will customer attitudes toward "free content" evolve as well?

It is a really easy listen and keeps moving without getting bogged down in legislation and bureaucracy. Good narration. Not sure what problem that guy was having with an echo. May be his device...
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- StevoDude

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-25-2011
  • Publisher: Random House Audio