Related to This Book

Other Sites

The Song Machine

Inside the Hit Factory

John Seabrook (Author)


"An utterly satisfying examination of the business of popular music." —Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic

There’s a reason today’s ubiquitous pop hits are so hard to ignore—they’re designed that way. The Song Machine goes behind the scenes to offer an insider’s look at the global hit factories manufacturing the songs that have everyone hooked. Full of vivid, unexpected characters—alongside industry heavy-hitters like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Max Martin, and Ester Dean—this fascinating journey into the strange world of pop music reveals how a new approach to crafting smash hits is transforming marketing, technology, and even listeners’ brains. You’ll never think about music the same way again.

A Wall Street Journal Best Business Book

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • October 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35328-0
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 368 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Through immersive anecdotes and witty observations…we learn it’s not just the ‘song machine’ that’s brilliant but also the people churning the gears.” — Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly

“Well researched…[Seabrook] takes us inside the troubled modern music business.” — Touré, New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating…lively, entertaining and often insightful, of interest both to pop mavens and to those who couldn’t imagine caring about the latest hits.” — Christopher Carroll, Wall Street Journal

“Copy editors will rejoice at Seabrook’s well-written and deeply researched book. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and his book fits into that magazine’s penchant for telling very detailed stories about things you might not notice about pop culture” — Charles R. Cross, Seattle Times

“A fascinating history, one that encompasses everything from the Brill Building and Phil Spector to Afrika Bambaataa to American Idol. Running underneath the human stories like a bassline is the inexorable flow of technology.” — Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

“Invaluable.” — Louis Bayard, Washington Post

“Brilliant.” — Michael Hann, The Guardian

“A fascinating look at how the catchiest pop hits are manufactured…You’ll never hear Katy Perry the same way again.” — People

“Revelatory. This thorough dissection of the anatomy of a hit belongs on any listener’s bookshelf.” — FADER

All Subjects