Download! chronicles of the making of the new record industry, from the boom years of the CD revolution of the late 1980s to the crisis of the present day, with particular stress on the last decade.
It follows the actions and reactions of the major international record companies, five at the beginning of the story, now four, as they ploughed their way through the digital slough of despond, bewildered by the fleet-of-foot digital innovators far more responsive to the changing marketing conditions through which (recorded) music was consumed and valued.
These all have their significant place in Download! but the real story is the structural change that has, almost surreptitiously, taken place, within the music business. This change, for reasons author Phil Hardy explains in detail, has left the captains of the record industry as unable to act as they were unwilling to act. In effect they became little but very well paid observers of the shrinking of their domains.