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Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business [Paperback]

Fredric Dannen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 2 1991 Vintage
Copiously researched and documented, Hit Men is the highly controversial portrait of the pop music industry in all its wild, ruthless glory: the insatiable greed and ambition; the enormous egos; the fierce struggles for profits and power; the vendettas, rivalries, shakedowns, and payoffs. Chronicling the evolution of America's largest music labels from the Tin Pan Alley days to the present day, Fredric Dannen examines in depth the often venal, sometimes illegal dealings among the assorted hustlers and kingpins who rule over this multi-billion-dollar business. 

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Product Description

From Amazon

A nauseatingly honest and therefore controversial expose of the base beings that inhabit the higher levels of the music industry. Filled with horror stories that will confirm your worst suspicions about the toxicity of what my friends and I call "Planet CD Wood."

From Publishers Weekly

English rock group Pink Floyd was one of the hottest bands in 1980, with an LP shooting up the charts and a concert tour that sold out within hours. But the group was unable to get airplay for its latest single, at least not without engaging the services of a nascent breed of freelance promoters whose practices ushered in a new era of payola. These promotors, dubbed "indies," used illegal methods and had suspected mob connections. That the recording industry not only tolerated but embraced the indies is indicative of the questionable tactics now employed in this high-stakes arena, charges Dannen in a sharply critical study. At its center is industry leader CBS records, whose president Walter Yetnikoff is depicted as a bully of Machiavellian proportions whose style set the tone throughout the business in the '80s. Dannen, a reporter for Institutional Investor , mixes the skills of an investigative journalist with the gifts of an expert storyteller in an expose that will intrigue and appall readers with its disclosures. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Vanity Fair; author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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PINK Floyd booked five concert dates at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in February 1980 and sold them out. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars You Will Want to Read the Sequel March 22 2002
If you possess even a passing interest in the music industry or a general fondness for a good character story, you should run out and buy this book!
Dannen tells a story that most of the public wouldn't even imagine is possible in the modern business world. The music business is clearly not for the faint of heart, and Dannen wants to make sure that we know it. This tale of rampant ambition, greed, back-stabbing, and arrogance is gripping from the opening chapter. The real miracle is how captivating the book remains while spending so little time discussing the people we normally associate with those charateristics... THE STARS! The American music buying public could be all wrong about where the entertainment lives...
Everyone who reads the book will be blown away by the amount of research involved. You might find a few quotes or statements that you just won't believe, but you need only flip to the back and search for the page number to find a note regarding the real-life source. Dannen's research is meticulous, and we have to be grateful for all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into producing this work.
I have only one recommendation on improving the book: Illustration! The complex web of companies that own or operate other companies... who works where and when... which lawyer worked at what firm... who waged war against who and their tactics... I wanted to take out sketch paper and start charting the history. A few illustrations for the reader to reference would have made Hit Men an even more incredible read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone in the music industry April 15 2001
What Fredric Dannen has accomplished here is a concise history of the rock music genre that focuses on what the music industry has done. Even though the present industry is slightly different, payola still happens, but it is called consulting. It answers the questions why a band on one album can have a number one hit, and then, when their next album comes out, there are no singles released on radio even though the album is good or better than the initial release.
One part of the book describes how Pink Floyd's single "Another Brick in the Wall" that was number one on the singles charts and played in every city except Los Angeles because CBS Records wouldn't pay the bribe to the local organization to have them play it. The book discusses the quick rise and fall of Casablanca Records which mirrored the rise and fall of disco. The book discusses the politics inside each record company where A&R departments fight with Marketing at the demise of the artist. The rise and fall and rise again of Dick Asher is discussed in detail Presidents are replaced at a whim, only to be rehired years later.
The music industry and the mob connections in this book are entertaining and incredulous. This book should be a movie, it is like Almost Famous from the record industry point of view.
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I enjoyed this book for its witty stories and quips. I'm a musician and I'm almost convinced that the music business is thoroughly hopeless in a madcap way after reading the book. I mean hopeless because it is impossible not to get ripped off as an artist and that you have to deal with this den of snakes to sell your music successfully. I used to have an innocent joy of listening to pop records but now I know how they are promoted and my innocence is dead. I'm also suspicious of artists who moralize in their songs, but will do anything to get their songs on the air. But I suppose that is the only way one can have a career. The book also shows how hard it is to obtain justice, fairness, and decency through personal effort or the judicial system. It also revealed how ego-driven the music and entertainment business is; the ones with the biggest egos and worst ethics often rise to the top. I doubt I would, as a musician, would want to live through any of these sordid, sardonic tales though.-zzz8@msn.com
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Dannen hit such a home run with this thoroughly researched book that he was honored from within the music industry (Ralph J. Gleason award) and without (national bestseller list). The topic here is unwholesome practices within the music industry, but the most passionate subtopic of Dannen's research is the system of independent promotion through which singles are "added" to radio station playlists and then moved through the charts. I almost think HIT MEN should be considered a must read for anyone in the music industry: artist, manager, songwriter or publisher. Since Dannen reports his quotes exactly as they come down, you will not find the dialog exactly suitable for Sunday School. The second edition covers events up to and including 1991 and contains a follow-up chapter not in the original 1990 hardback edition. Now, some years after its original introduction, HIT MEN is still gripping and relevant. Aspects of the described litigation still tend to resurface from time to time, and many of the key players identified and profiled by Dannen are still suited up and swinging on the music-business diamond. Ron Simpson, School of Music, Brigham Young University. Author of MASTERING THE MUSIC BUSINESS.
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By A Customer
This is an extremely well-researched and well-documented look into the popular music business from the days of Alan Freed to the end of Walter Yentikoff's reign at Sony/Columbia. It helps that the subject is so darn entertaining and seedier than you probably would have guessed...otherwise this might have been sluggish reading, but it actually moves rather quickly. Of course the end result is to frighten anyone who might actually believe that pop hits on the radio have much to do with the actual songs themselves. The narrative ends in the early 90's and if I could rate this book 4.5 stars instead of five, I would...because it could use an update chapter in its next edition. Other than that, I'd recommend it heartily to anyone who cares about why their favorite new song never gets played on the radio.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars History of the way the music biz WAS...
Great book - must have for anyone who works or wants to work in the music biz to see how it was - NOT how it is today...
Published 21 days ago by Dennis Garces
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
really scary
Published 1 month ago by Leopold St Pierre
5.0 out of 5 stars HIT BY THE TRUTH
As an experienced music industry professional with over 15 years of experience, I can tell you that this is the unofficial history book of the music industry that can be used to... Read more
Published on March 22 2004 by Gian Fiero
3.0 out of 5 stars Good
Well written and researched, but frankly, why write about men who weren't executives for the best and phenomenons?! Read more
Published on July 17 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific reading as both information and entertainment.
A frightening and enthralling look at the history of the modern music business. Dannen creates a mosaic of life in the industry by tracing the histories and careers of some of its... Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by frumiousb
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but can a little dull in spots
This book offers an interesting look at the music industry from the mid-60s to the early 90's. Many of the characters are fairly unsavory. Read more
Published on July 24 2002 by Ronald Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars TOUR DE FORCE!!!!!!
Powerful Book&even more on Point considering what Michael Jackson is going through with Sony&TOmmy Mottola.this Book takes on many things from the past,present&future. Read more
Published on July 23 2002 by mistermaxxx08
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down until it was finished
If you can't stop reading it, it must be good non-fiction. Well done. If you like this one, I'd recommend "Mansion on the Hill" as a companion. Read more
Published on June 13 2002 by samchar
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Fantastic account of the not so legal practices of those employed in the music biz. It's all here: bribes, schemes, backstabbing execs and fast talkin' thugs all in hot pursuit of... Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2001 by paperbackriter
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Journalisitic Romp Through The Music Industry
Frederic Dannen's book, Hit Men, will be fun for anyone interested in business or crime, or those who do not believe that much difference exists between the two at the best of... Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2001 by Ricky Hunter
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