About the Book
On the Internet, “information wants to be free.” This memorable phrase shaped the online business model, but it is now driving the media companies on which the digital industry feeds out of business. Today, newspaper stocks have fallen to all-time lows as publications are pressured to give away content; music sales have fallen by more than half since file-sharing became common; movies that are still in theaters are available for free online; and publishers have been forced to take a stand on the price of digital books. And as profits tumble, declines in investment and quality become inevitable.

Free Ride moves from the corridors of Congress, which passed the law that unwittingly legalized YouTube, to the dorm room of Shawn Fanning, who founded Napster; from bargain-pricing dramas involving iTunes and Kindle to Google’s fateful decision to digitize first and ask questions later. Levine charts how the media industry was taken for a ride and suggests innovative ways it can resist the pull of zero. Fearless in its reporting and analysis, Free Ride is the business history of the decade and a compelling call to action.

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Photo by Jo Bayer

About the Author
Robert Levine has been covering pop culture, technology, and the awkward dance between them for 15 years. Most recently, he was the executive editor of Billboard, charged with running the influential music business trade magazine. He has also been a features editor at New York magazine and Wired. His first job was at, the Web publication of Wired, where he was hired several months after it sold the first banner ad on the Internet.

His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Fortune, Rolling Stone, and the arts and business sections of the New York Times. He has offered commentary on the media business for CNN, CNBC, and VH-1, and spoken at the CMJ music conference and the World Copyright Summit in Brussels. He holds a B.A. in politics from Brandeis and an M.S.J.  from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

His first book, Free Ride: How the Internet is Destroying the Culture Business and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back (Doubleday), was called “brilliant if depressing” by the Times (U.K.) and garnered praise from the Guardian and the Financial Times. He now covers the culture business from New York and Berlin.

Interviews with the Author
The Register
Buzzin’ Fly Comment
Los Angeles Times
The Wrap
Los Angeles Times
The Reykjavik Grapevine
Future of Copyright
The Register

Audio and Video
Music Technology Policy – Creators Conference keynote
The Creators Conference – keynote speech
TVO: The Agenda with Steve Paikin
To the Point on KCRW
Vanderbilt University
Digital Village on KPFK-Radio
Studio 360
TechCrunch TV – video interview with Andrew Keen
WNYC – The Leonard Lopate Show

Other Press
Music Technology Policy – review
The Wrap – featured as commentator
Financial Post – excerpt
The New York Times – quoted in op-ed
Music Ally – panel coverage
Bloomberg Businessweek – editorial on Megaupload shutdown
Wall Street Journal – review by Robert
Copyright and Technology – review – featured as commentator
New York Magazine – featured as commentator
New York Post – excerpt
New York Times – review
CNN – review
BusinessWeek – review
Billboard – excerpt
Wall Street Journal
Bloomberg Businessweek – bylined feature