Greg Kot is joining Chuck Klosterman and Nathan Rabin at the DePaul Barnes and Nobel next week to talk about the role of music in their work and lives. I’m planning on attending for a number of reasons. Music is a topic I’m very interested in. Klosterman is an author I’ve come to enjoy a great deal over the past several years. And most coincidentally, Greg Kot is the music columnist for the Chicago Tribune where I work. But that’s not all. Kot’s latest book, Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, chronicles the massive changes roiling through the music industry in the past fifteen years. Much of the book discusses the ways the Internet has changed music. But before that, Kot spends several chapters discussing the transformative effects of radio consolidation that gripped the industry in the 1990s: for example, the second chapter of Ripped details the practices of Clear Channel under the direction of Randy Michaels. Randy Michaels is now the current Chief Operating Officer of Tribune Company. Several other key Clear Channel executives were recruited to Tribune eighteen months ago when Tribune Company went private. Meet the new boss, indeed.
So we have a fascinating constellation of topics — personal, professional and accidental — that have come together in a book that has landed almost literally on my doorstep. And much of that, while interesting to me, says very little about the quality of research and attention Kot pays to the subject at hand. Still, I found this quote in a review of Ripped by David Thigpen, former Time music writer, particularly poignant:
Kot’s insider access and the chops honed as a music critic give this book a richness that makes it an indispensable survey of the turbulent turn-of-the-century music scene. Ironically, with the digital revolution also putting newspapers on notice, it’s unlikely the “wired” generation of legions of bedroom bloggers and earnest but unprofessional amateurs will soon produce a writer with the broad perspective and access it took to achieve this book.