Pop Records: Moguls, Money & Monsters

LIFE, metaphysicians of the record industry will tell you, is a super-monster smash; dig it. It is performed in an illogical world that is both flat and round, where 33⅓ r.p.m. exerts a fearful centrifugal force. The U.S., particularly that extensive tribe of its citizenry under 30, is electronically in thrall to the thrumming, incessant sound of music, a phenomenon that has handed the record business a supremely marketable mania. Every week, hundreds of records are poured into radio stations by promoters trying to crack the crucial list of Top 40 hits that get saturation air play. Every year, 5,000 new...

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