ADDRESSES: Offıce—JM Northern Media, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 864, Hollywood, CA 90028-0893. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Billboard, Los Angeles, CA, former editor; Daily Variety, Los Angeles, former editor; USA Today, McLean, VA, former reporter, beginning 1995; Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ, former music critic; JM Northern Media, Hollywood, CA, founder and chief executive officer, 1999—.
AWARDS, HONORS: Nonfiction book of the year award, Music Journalism Association, 1997, for Beyond the Charts: MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution; nomination, Music Journalist of the Year, 1997.
Off the Charts: Ruthless Days and Reckless Nights inside the Music Industry, Carol Publishing Group (New York, NY), 1996.
Beyond the Charts: MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution, JM Northern Media LLC (Los Angeles, CA), 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Bruce Haring is a former music critic and reporter who now runs JM Northern Media, a company that helps promote independent book, music, and film producers through do-it-yourself (DIY) workshops, festivals, education, and distribution of news through the periodical DIY Reporter. He has also written several books about the music industry. His first, Off the Charts: Ruthless Days and Reckless Nights Inside the Music Industry, gives an inside view of how big business and technological advances have changed the music industry. Haring discusses a shift in the music industry that resulted in only six major companies in control of the entire field. The result of big business's takeover has been a corruption of the business. But this change in the economics of music is not the only development the author discusses; he also comments on how advances in technology, such as compact discs (CDs) and the sales tracking system known as SoundScan, have had a major impact. Rolling Stone critic Charles R. Cross commented that because so many of the music company insiders that Haring interviews do so anonymously, the book suffers from a certain "lack of personalities." However, Cross praised Off the Charts for offering a fresh look at "the machine behind the industry."
With Beyond the Charts: MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution Haring illustrates the impact that the invention of MP3 digital music technology has had on the music industry, as well as on issues such as freedom of speech, ownership, and copyright. He explains that record companies were too slow to head off the rise of MP3 music distribution, having the mindset that most illegal sales were confined to street vendors possessing pirated CDs. Once they realized that the real threat to their profits was skilled computer users sending music files over the Internet, it was already too late to stop the hemorrhagic effect. "Unfortunately," wrote Anna Sophie Christiansen in a review for Computer Music Journal, "Mr. Haring tends to force the legal saga of digital music into the Hollywood mold of bad guys (the record companies) versus good guys (the digitalists). Thus, he avoids discussing the crucial issue of whether free downloads can exist independently of the usual intermediary link of commercial promotion either by a record company or by a dot-com." Haring also has deep sympathy for the artists themselves, who he feels rarely get a fair deal from record companies. As Haring told Cathy Hainer in USA Today, the focus on money as the only valuable product of musicians has deprived fans of a great deal: "A lot of bands don't get the shot they once did. In the business now, if things aren't going well for a group or a musician, [the money men] . . . pull the plug really quickly. A lot of young bands that in the old days may have had long careers, now are finished after their first album."
"Despite Mr. Haring's obvious bias," concluded Christiansen, "Beyond the Charts is an interesting and easy-to-read account of a course of events for which the record industry's reluctance to go digital is inescapably to blame." Reviewing the book for Salon.com, Janelle Brown further noted that Haring does not offer alternative solutions for the problems engendered by the continuing revolution in the music industry, nor does he document the impact of the changes. The result is that Beyond the Charts "doesn't get beyond the frantic pace of the facts and into the more thoughtful realm of ideas." Nevertheless, Brown felt that "the book will at least satisfy the cravings of those who want an account of every twist and turn of the MP3 movement."
Harding wrote King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with Run-DMC with Darryl McDaniels, a member of the rap group Run-DMC. The work is a biography of McDaniels in which he discusses the rise of Run-DMC and tells stories about other artists, including the members of Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, and similar groups. McDaniels talks seriously about Run-DMC's drug and alcohol problems and his own awareness of respect and responsibility. A problem with the work is that it "is neither a biography nor a motivational book," according to Tracy Grant in Black Issues Book Review, "but a combination that lacks clarity." Nevertheless, Grant concluded, "it's hard not to like the story." Other reviewers praised King of Rock for its focus on the importance of maturity, advice that comes from a source many young people will respect. Booklist contributor Mike Tribby, for instance, lauded the book for being "straightforward and full of positive messages." And a Publishers Weekly writer similarly stated that this message "rings true as [McDaniels] discusses his sometimes rough attempts to understand his role as husband and father."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, September, 2001, Tracy Grant, review of King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with Run-DMC, p. 48.
Booklist, March 15, 2001, Mike Tribby, review of King of Rock, p. 1341.
Computer Music Journal, spring, 2001, Anna Sophie Christiansen, review of Beyond the Charts: MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution, p. 64.
Entertainment Weekly, April 6, 2001, Tom Sinclair, "Ancient Rhymes," p. 111.
Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2001, review of King of Rock, p. 70.
Rolling Stone, August 8, 1996, Charles R. Cross, review of Off the Charts: Ruthless Days and Reckless Nights inside the Music Industry, p. 60.
USA Today, April 10, 1996, Cathy Hainer, "How the Music Industry Got out of Tune with Its Artists," p. D4.
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (June 11, 2001), Janelle Brown, review of Beyond the Charts.*