The Pequod Review:
Stephen Witt goes both broad and deep in this first-rate analysis of how the digitization of music upended the record industry. Witt starts with the crucial and fascinating creation of the MP3 file format by German engineers, who figured out that many recorded sounds are not audible to the human ear and therefore a data compression algorithm could radically shrink the file size of songs. He moves on to the extraordinary story of Dell Glover, a plant manager at a compact disc factory who in the late 1990s would smuggle CDs pre-release and leak them to the internet. (Much of this story is available online in this 2015 New Yorker article by Witt.) Finally, Witt weaves in a profile of Doug Morris, the CEO of Universal Music Group from 1995 to 2011, whose experience illustrates the impact of digital changes on record labels overall. It is all brought together into a superb work of narrative non-fiction.