Music: This path began at Warner Bros. Records in the publicity department, then quickly led to music journalism (over 250 record reviews and feature stories about popular artists, mostly for national magazines), then to R&D for MTV, and Nickelodeon’s first major televised concert: The Pointer Sisters in Las Vegas. World Music became one of many instructional tools on Carmen Sandiego, and it was also a frequent topic in the the newspaper column (see below). As interest grew, Billboard Books published a book about the best World Music recordings, part of a series that grew to include Jazz, Classical and Blues, too.
The book series led to CDNow, an ambitious dot.com already the largest music site on the internet. In a few short years, we built the largest music journalism enterprise on earth, including the first internet radio stations, massive e-commerce tied to music; the first affiliate systems and recommendation engines; a robust artist relations, label relations and promotion program, and deals with Hard Rock Cafe, General Motors and dozens of major advertisers. The company was acquired by Bertelsmann, which combined aspects of Napster, CDNow and the BMG Record Club into a new enterprise, BeMusic.
Print: This part of the story is more straightforward. It begins with several hundred magazine articles, which leads to about two dozen books, and a syndicated newspaper column, which, in turn, leads to the Digital Insider blog.
The books begin with consumer technology (The Complete Guide to Electronic Games [New American Library in the U.S., and Sphere in the U.K.], Everyone’s Guide to Personal Computers [Ballantine / Random House], The Media Room [Viking/Penguin] and The Electronic Home Advisor [Andrews-McMeel]). The next wave is related to the media business (This Business of Television [Billboard Books / Crown / Random House: three editions written with law professor Oliver Goodenough) and Television: Producing & Directing [HarperCollins].
Several books stand out. A favorite is The Complete Time Traveler: A Tourist’s Guide to the Fourth Dimension, written with Dorothy Curley and Brad Williams [Ten Speed Press]. After years of building brands, a consciousness-raiser: Branded for Life: How Americans Are Brainwashed by the Brands We Love [Emmis], and after years of working with creative people, a business book written for their specific needs: The Creative Professional [Emmis]. Plus seven books about U.S. history [Warner Books], two about careers [Little, Brown], and four about popular music [Billboard Books]. More to come.
The newspaper column was initially distributed by The New York Times Syndicate, and then, by the United Feature Syndicate. At its peak, the Hi-Tech Home was published weekly in over 100 newspapers including The Chicago Sun-Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cincinnati Inquirer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Gannett Westchester (NY) papers, and El Nuevo Día in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The column covered consumer electronics, personal computing, home entertainment, related issues including literacy and emerging personal security, music and interactive learning. It ran for nearly fifteen years.
The follow-on project was, and is, the Digital Insider blog. Now featuring 400 full-length articles, the blog covers digital technology, food, travel, creativity, music, and social change.
Along the way, other print projects include Living with Video, with over 1 million copies in print [RCA]; Club KidSoft Magazine, distributed by Hearst Magazines; and Wiley Sound Business, an audio product line based upon two dozen business books.
Senior Vice President, CDNow, internet’s largest music site (acquired by Bertelsmann)
Senior Vice President, Bertelsmann e-commerce Group
Author, Billboard Guides to World Music, Classical Music, Blues, Jazz
Author, 20+ books about creativity, brand marketing, media business, U.S. history, careers, time travel
Newspaper columnist, New York Times Syndicate, United Features (100+ newspapers including
Chicago Sun-Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Copyright © 2019 by Howard Blumenthal. All rights reserved.