This was a 50 minute session in which the Chicago Tribune’s rock critic interfaced with the Trib’s Managing Editor, Jane Hirt discussing Kot’s recently released book Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music.
The discussion [as well as the book] centered on the evolution of the music industry over the last 15 years, from Napster through the CD boom & bust cycle to mp3s and the resurgence of vinyl as a viable format. Kot reminisced about how he received a copy of a copy of a copy of the debut Metallica EP on cassette and pointed out the irony that were it not for this primitive form of file sharing he wouldn’t have discovered the band in its infancy. According to Kot, history will show that Metallica and drummer Lars Ulrich in particular, will be remembered for how poorly they handled their spat with Napster and will live in infamy for being the first to fight file sharing and coming out looking greedy.
Kot praised Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails for their self-released projects and the direct financial windfall they both netted. When the details of In Rainbows and its method of distribution became public, Kot decided that was where the story would end for this book. It was truly a game changer.
The emergence of the blogosphere was discussed and Kot attributed the rise of Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes and Arcade Fire [not exactly cutting edge] to the proliferation of music blogs like Pitchfork, going as far as to recognize founder Ryan Schreiber by name. [Note: I own Kot’s book, but have yet to read it so more analysis to come, but it looks like he devotes a 28 page chapter to Pitchfork!]
As a caveat, Kot also emphasized the tendency of blogs to build up and tear down acts sometimes prior to the release of the debut album proper. [He cited Vampire Weekend and Black Kids to back this point up.]
Finishing on a more positive note, Kot declared himself not in danger of becoming obsolete, but acknowledged that much like the record industry the print news industry is in a major state of flux. He called it an exciting and defining era in which anyone can be a critic.
In closing, Kot revealed the topic of “the next book.” It will be a collaborative work, a knockdown-dragout battle between Kot & his Sound Opinions co-host & Sun-Times writer Jim DeRogatis. The war to be waged once and for all will be between the two camps picking The Rolling Stones vs. The Beatles. Kot ensured the audience that there will be metaphorical blood on the floor when their opinions have clobbered each other in the ‘ring’ of discourse.
I can only assume Kot is a defender of The Beatles & DeRo a Rolling Stones man based on their written output. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.