Cover image for Exploding : the highs, hits, hype, heroes, and hustlers of the Warner Music Group
Exploding : the highs, hits, hype, heroes, and hustlers of the Warner Music Group
Cornyn, Stan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperEntertainment, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 470 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Rolling Stone Press book."--T.p. verso.
Corporate Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3792.W37 C67 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



That's how "Vanity Fair described the record business turmoil of the 1990s, which moved the Warner Music Group -- the world's number one record company -- from the entertainment pages to the front pages. Suddenly, decades of riotous fun and booming business went splat. Top music executives got evicted from their offices, some escorted by company guards. Why? The answers are in "Exploding -- the most insightful and delightful book about the record business ever written.In the rock explosion of the Sixties and Seventies, Warner Bros., Atlantic, and Elektra Records dominated the business as the Warner Music Group. But by the Nineties, the success of WMG was shaken by egos and corporate politics that left the company struggling for identity in a dramatically changing industry. This is the story of that long, strange trip.Your host is the ultimate insider: Stan Cornyn, a key creative force behind the Warner Music Group's stunning rise. During more than thirty years at the company, Cornyn went through what the news media could never uncover. In a freewheeling, vastly entertaining narrative, Cornyn takes us behind the scenes, seats us in the conference rooms, and shows us the interactions between the stars and the suits -- using the same irreverent wit that produced the marketing campaigns that helped put Warner on the map."Exploding is populated by music stars like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Lil' Kim, Dr. Dre, the Grateful Dead, Queen, Mado

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

If anyone knows the whole story of the Warner Music Group, which in its heyday included the high-flying Atlantic, Elektra, and Reprise pop labels, Cornyn does. He started working there in the '50s, stayed, and prospered, writing liner notes before progressing to greater responsibilities and winning more Grammys than the Singing Nun. Of course, this book isn't as much about music as about the corporate machinations anent packaging and merchandising music, so there is way more of David Geffen and Mo Ostin than of Sinatra and Zappa in it. So what? Sleazy business practices in the recording industry have made fun reading before, and they still do. On the other hand, Cornyn includes plenty on what the likes of James Taylor, Led Zeppelin, the Dead, and the Stones are really like, so stargazers can't grouse too much. Meanwhile, Cornyn's deposition will seem absolutely essential to those who still would like to know why grown-ups consistently give such ludicrously lucrative deals to adolescents with guitars. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

When did the money become more important than the music? Cornyn, a veteran of Warner Bros. Records from its birth in the late 1950s, fondly recalls when it was about the music (and the dames and drunken fun didn't hurt), a time before such terms as "units," "product," "industry" entered the vernacular. He's frank about the people and circumstances that have forever changed the business. Also realistic, he knows changes will continue (which is why he urges readers to turn this into a "living book" by contributing their own observations online). Having spent 34 years with the company in its many incarnations, Cornyn could've chosen the route of raunchy expose, but instead he delivers good gossip with high humor and class. He describes the unknowns who stepped in and rescued Warner during down times, like Bob Newhart with his comedy album in 1962, and later Madonna. Snappy stories of artists itching to break contracts Sinatra did so with "laryngitis," the Sex Pistols with urine, Jackson Browne with tears. But even juicier, as the company history unfolds, are the insider takes on the men (and the occasional women) behind the music, the boardroom brawls, midnight calls, hush-hush deals, and talks with Teamsters. Endearingly, he freeze-frames the grander moments, when someone makes the perfect quip or sings a line just right. This music narrative has all the elements drama, mystery, comedy, a course in business (royalties, payola, severance pay), debauchery (Queen's outrageous party in New Orleans) and history. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A creative executive at Warner Bros. Records for 30 years, Cornyn presents a provocative, witty, and engrossing insider's story of that label and the cutthroat machinations of the record industry. Beginning with the takeover of Warner Bros. Pictures by the despicable Jack Warner, he charts the rise of Warner Records in the late 1950s with Mike Maitland, who first brought success to the label. He then moves to the merger of Warner Bros. Records with Frank Sinatra's Reprise label, its absorption of successful independents Atlantic and Elektra, and the buyout of Warner by Steve Ross of Kinney National, who created Warner Communications. Cornyn continues with Warner's assimilation of Asylum Records, its merger with Time, and its eventual union with Ted Turner's communications empire. Giving little emphasis to the artists except as fleeting commodities, the author graphically reveals the transition of Warner from a fledgling record company dedicated to unearthing the newest music trends to a corporate conglomerate obsessed with greater market share and escalating profits. Fans of record mogul tell-alls will enjoy this. Highly recommended for popular music collections. Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.