Nashville's Unwritten Rules:

Inside the Business of the Country Music Machine

by Dan Daley

When SoundScan, founded in 1991, replaced subjective methods of tracking record sales with computerized UPC barcode data, the effect was immediate. This statistical confirmation of the popularity of country artists changed both perception and marketing budgets.

The country crossover success continues as Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, k.d. lang, Dwight Yoakum and others move to the top of the pop as well as country charts. A handful of producers are responsible for four-fifths of the hits emanating from "the combined Wall Street and Madison Avenue of country," Nashville's Music Row, and producer/songwriter/music journalist Daley takes the reader into the heart of the Nashville music business, particularly the years 1992-94.

His comprehensive guidebook, packed with facts and figures, is divided into four well-researched main sections -- the producers, the songwriters, the music publishers and the musicians -- with quotes taken from Daley's interviews with diverse power players. After a too-brief historical background, Daley moves on to an authoritative look at demo tapes, dance remixes (for hundreds of country dance clubs), recording engineers, session musicians, studios, labels, distribution, music videos and Country Music Television -- ending with a fascinating look at marketing advances since the days when "country was a dirty word."

One is left with new notions of Nashville by the last page, and anyone in tune with country music will find this a valuable visit into the city's inner sanctums.

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