• Author Alan B Krueger
  • Narrator Fred Berman
  • Publisher John Murray Press
  • Run Time 9 hours and 7 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre Popular economics.

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What to expect

‘An entertaining guide to economics by a former adviser to Barack Obama that uses the lessons of the music business to explain what is happening in the rest of the world’ The Times, Books of the Year

Alan Krueger, the former chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, uses the music industry, from rock artists to music executives, from managers to promoters, as a way in to explain the principles of economics, and the forces shaping our economic lives.

As economists recognize, the music industry is often a leading indicator of today’s economy; it is among the first to be disrupted by the latest wave of technology, and examining the ins and outs of how musicians create and sell new songs and plan concert tours offers valuable lessons for what is in store for businesses and employees in other industries that are struggling to adapt.

Drawing on interviews with leading band members, music executives, managers, promoters, and using the latest data on revenues, royalties, tour dates, and merchandise, Rockonomicstakes readers backstage to show how the music industry really works–who makes money and how much, and how the economics of the music industry has undergone a radical transformation during the last twenty years.

Before digitalization and the ability to stream music over the Internet, rock musicians made the bulk of their income from record sales. Today, income from selling songs has plummeted, even for superstars like Taylor Swift; the real money nowadays is derived from concert sales. In 2016, for example, Billy Joel earned $212.4 million from his live performances, and less than $1 million from record sales and streaming. Even Paul McCartney, who has written and recorded more number one songs than anyone in music history, today, earns 93 percent of his income from live concerts. Krueger tackles common questions: How does a song become popular? And how does a new artist break out in today’s winner-take-all economy?

(P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Critics Review

  • A key voice on a vast array of economic issues for more than two decades

    Barack Obama
  • Does what Krueger did best – brings economics to life, and life to economics

    The Times
  • The music business keeps re-inventing itself (from records, to tape, to CDs to streaming) and Alan Krueger covers all the bases. As one former LSE student once sang: ‘its only rock and roll but I like it, like it, yes I do.’ That applies to this book too

    Richard Thaler, author of 'Nudge'
  • An eye-opening and entertaining read

    The Economist
  • An absolutely brilliant mind. The definition of left and right brain balance

    Quincy Jones
  • An intriguing read for those who want to understand how their favourite bands are – or aren’t, as the case may be – staying afloat in the streaming era


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