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The record industry is a lot like Wall Street

The iconic Capitol Records building in Washington, D.C.

Gareth Murphy

Image of Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry
Author: Gareth Murphy
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (2014)
Binding: Hardcover, 400 pages

Music is a big part of our daily lives. Sometimes, we know too much about the artist than necessary and not enough about the people who discovered their talents.

"I realized there were important distinctions that made up the record industry. There were businessmen and there were execs," says Gareth Murphy, author of "Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry." "But there was a special kind of person who was not only a businessman, but a businessman with ears. People who could really spot talent -- early talent. They're all the ones who made the recording industry what it is."

Murphy defines the two different types of record labels as "cowboys or indies." The two compete, but they need each other for the industry to continue to grow and survive.

"The indies always find the next big thing and the majors, generally speaking, wait around for something to rise to the top," says Murphy. "But there always comes a time when any artist knows he will need a lot of money invested in him; they need mass exposure. And the only people who can afford that are the majors."

While conducting research for his book, Murphy found that not many people knew about the crash of the record or of the CD. He hopes his book reminds the record men and women of tomorrow of the troubles and industry crashes that were faced in the past. Regardless, he is sure that history will one day repeat itself.

"Just like economic crashes happen on Wall Street, the same thing happens in the record industry," says Murphy. "And there will be a renaissance, but we have to get back to the music."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Gareth Murphy

Image of Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry
Author: Gareth Murphy
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (2014)
Binding: Hardcover, 400 pages

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