Louis Barfe's elegantly written, authoritative and highly entertaining history charts the meteoric rise and slow decline of the popular recording industry. Barfe shows how the 1920s and 1930s saw the departure of Edison from the phonograph business he created and the birth of EMI and CBS. the arrival of Elvis Presley changed popular music (and sales of popular music) overnight. After Presley came the Beatles, when the recording industry became global and record sales reached all time highs. But the 1990s ushered in a period of profound crisis and uncertainty in the industry, encapsulated in one word: Napster. Barfe shows how the almost infinite amounts of free music available online have traumatic and disastrous consequences for an industry that has become cautious and undynamic.