Second Edition of iTake-Over Published!

This weekend I received a big surprise in the mail. I received my copies of iTake-Over: The recording industry in the streaming era. Notice the change in title from recording era to streaming era. The changes that I made emphasize the dominant role streaming has taken in the recording industry. This is also the first book published in the new Lexington book series I edit, Critical Perspectives on Music and Society.

From the Lexington Books page:

The second edition of iTake-Over: The Recording Industry in the Streaming Era sheds light on the way large corporations appropriate new technology to maintain their market dominance in a capitalist system. To date, scholars have erroneously argued that digital music has diminished the power of major record labels. In iTake-Over, sociologist David Arditi suggests otherwise, adopting a broader perspective on the entire issue by examining how the recording industry strengthened copyright laws for their private ends at the expense of the broader public good. Arditi also challenges the dominant discourse on digital music distribution, which assumes that the recording industry has a legitimate claim to profitability at the expense of a shared culture.

Arditi specifically surveys the actual material effects that digital distribution has had on the industry. Most notable among these is how major record labels find themselves in a stronger financial position today in the music industry than they were before the launch of Napster, largely because of reduced production and distribution costs and the steady gain in digital music sales. Moreover, instead of merely trying to counteract the phenomenon of digital distribution, the RIAA and the major record labels embraced and then altered the distribution system.


In the first edition of iTake-Over, Arditi mapped the myriad ways that the music industry, claiming to be the victim of piracy, sought legal protection against file-sharing and bent the digital transformation to its bottom line. Six years on—a virtual lifetime in the digital world—he has updated his compelling analysis, adding new players to the debates over copyright and -left, and assessing the impact of streaming and subscription services on both the production and consumption of music. The result is critical reading for anyone with an interest in how the music industry has adapted to the digital ‘revolution’; restructured the ways in which we produce, find, and listen to music; and expanded its market dominance.
Nancy Weiss Hanrahan, George Mason University

David Arditi has done musicians and listeners as well as scholars of culture industries a real service by updating iTake-Over. In the past five years, streaming has come to dominate our experiences and analyses of the business of music, yet Arditi’s cogent account of the “piracy panic narrative” remains an authoritative critique of the record industry’s initial response to digitization. And while the bogey of file-sharing has come and gone, in this second edition, Arditi adds a detailed consideration of the political-economic stakes of music consumption’s reorganization from acquisition to access in the streaming era.
Michael Palm, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Second Edition of iTake-Over coming 2020

I’m very happy to announce that I am working on a second edition of iTake-Over to be Streaming Erapublished by Lexington Books. This will be the first book in the new series that I am editing for Lexington called Critical Perspectives on Music and Society. The title will be changed a bit to iTake-Over: The Recording Industry in the Streaming Era.

When I completed the first edition of iTake-Over, we were on the cusp of the music streaming era. While the argument remains accurate, the discussion about iTunes needs to be situated in terms of the evolution towards streaming. My overall goal of undertaking a second edition to the book is to emphasize the importance of streaming, but with the continued critique of the recording industry’s rhetorical strategies. In the streaming era, the major record labels and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) continue to use rhetoric of decline to change both the policy and perception of the music industry.

Approximately 2 months after the release of the book, what I called the “piracy panic narrative” took an interesting twist at the 2015 GRAMMYs. At that GRAMMYs awards show, then-President of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow contended that Spotify pays too little for people to continue to want to record music. The moral panic shifted to streaming, specifically ad-supported streaming. In 2016, the scourge shifted to YouTube. I will update the concept of the piracy panic narrative to include these shifts. The newest piracy panic narrative revolves around what the RIAA and the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) label the “value gap.” The value gap is the amount that the recording industry argues that YouTube and ad-supported streaming services underpay recording artists.

These and other topics will help to situate iTake-Over in the streaming era!

How record companies induce panic about music piracy to increase their profits and exploit artists

vp-bogeymanFrom UTA Inquiry, Fall 2015:

On May 2, 2000, Lars Ulrich, drummer for the band Metallica, announced that his group was suing Napster, a free file-sharing service that let fans download music online. During the press conference outside Napster’s headquarters, Ulrich presented the company with a giant stack of papers listing the names of 300,000 Napster users. His assertion: Napster was enabling these people to steal music. Continue reading

Copyright Rewrite: In the name of Musicians, in the pocket of Big Business

As the US Copyright Office pushes forward with plans for the largest overhaul of copyright in decades, it is important not to fall back to the same patterns that have eviscerated musicians and other creative producers. These copyright rewrites always end-up making powerful copyright interests more powerful. Continue reading