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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephen Witt Narrator: Stephen Wit Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention, and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes music store.

Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online—when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. In the page-turning tradition of writers like Michael Lewis and Lawrence Wright, Witt’s deeply-reported first book introduces the unforgettable characters—inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers—who revolutionized an entire art form, and it reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives.

An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-listen history of the Internet itself.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A lucid, mordantly funny account of the rise of digital music piracy.”


  • “The richest explanation to date about how the arrival of the MP3 upended almost everything about how music is distributed, consumed, and stored. It’s a story you may think you know, but Mr. Witt brings fresh reporting to bear and complicates things in terrific ways.”

    New York Times

  • “[W]hip-smart, superbly reported, and indispensable.”

    Washington Post

  • “Witt’s book is more than just a simple history—or defense—of file sharing, a development most people associate with Napster but which, according to Witt, involved a much more wide-ranging—and fascinating—story.”

    Seattle Times

  • “A propulsive and fascinating portrait of the people who helped upend an industry and challenge how music and media are consumed.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Author Stephen Witt does what author-narrators do best, and that’s to bring passion and unassailable subject knowledge to their performances…Worth a listen.”


  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Finalist for the 2015 Financial Times Best Book of the Year
  • A Time Magazine Best Book of the Year So Far
  • Winner of the McKinsey Business Book of the Year
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