I’m not much of a fan of Michael Wolff. For those who came in late, Wolff invented the NetGuide series of books in the early ’90s, and “sold” CMP Publications a) the right to start a magazine called NetGuide (which I later edited) and b) his database from his NetGuide book, all for the bargain price of $1 million. The latter was worthless and the former wasn’t his to sell. Then Wolff went on to found an online service that cratered memorably, all of which recounted in his book Burn Rate.
Wolff somehow parlayed all this failure into a gig as the media columnist for New York Magazine. The column impressed me so much that I let my subscription to the magazine lapse, but this column about the music business impressed me mightily.
Wolff argues that the economics and the structure of the music industry have changed to the point that rock stars won’t be able to act like, well, rock stars anymore. Rather, the record businesss is looking more and more like the book business. Provocative and persuasive stuff.