Publisher's Weekly: "Song and System: The Making of American Pop Music"

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Publisher's Weekly: "Song and System: The Making of American Pop Music"

New book by Professor Harvey Rachlin reviewed

March 12, 2020
published March 12, 2020

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From Publisher's Weekly:

Song and System: The Making of American Pop Music

Harvey Rachlin. Rowman & Littlefield, $33 (306p) ISBN 978-1-5381-1212-0

Rachlin (The Songwriter’s Handbook), coordinator of the music business program at Manhattanville College, expertly lays out the history of pop music by framing “the evolution of the music business with the evolution of the popular song.” From the rise of the Tin Pan Alley music publishing industry in 1880s New York City to the global streaming services of Apple and Spotify, Rachlin traces the “symbiotic relationship” between songs and the music business “as the songs shape the business and the business shapes songs.” He shows, for example, how the careers of thousands of bands and hundreds of composers were helped by the success in the 1930s of coin-operated jukeboxes in nightclubs and bars. He also expertly illustrates how sales of pop songs of the 1960s were boosted when music industry distributors and wholesalers expanded their operations beyond music stores to include large chain department stores. And he is unsparing in his look at the way streaming companies have prospered while cutting into songwriters’ profits, and how, for better or worse, technology is intrinsically linked to the music industry’s future. Rachlin’s informative and highly detailed narrative will resonate with music geeks and industry folks alike.

Pop MusicHarvey Rachlin