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The men who made music free

Radical technological change has damaged the record industry but given listeners more choice than ever

By Richard Beck   July 2015

© Christian Holmér

How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt (Bodley Head, £20)

Depending on the definition you use, the internet is now between 33 and 45 years old. Despite the fact that most popular writing on the topic is still pitched in tones of breathless futurity, the digital network that now structures much of our social and economic lives is well past adolescence, comfortably situated in adulthood, and creeping towards middle age. It has a history, in other words—or it is beginning to have one. Stephen…

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