We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Song Machine Audiobook

Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory

Regular Price:$24.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Over the last two decades, a new type of song has emerged. Today's hits bristle with "hooks", musical burrs designed to snag your ear every seven seconds. Painstakingly crafted to tweak the brain's delight in melody, rhythm, and repetition, these songs are industrial-strength products made for malls, casinos, the gym, and the Super Bowl halftime show. The tracks are so catchy and so potent that you can't not listen to them.

Traveling from New York to Los Angeles, Stockholm to Korea, John Seabrook visits specialized teams composing songs in digital labs with novel techniques, and he traces the growth of these contagious hits from their origins in early '90s Sweden to their ubiquity on today's charts. Featuring the stories of artists like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Rihanna as well as expert songsmiths like Max Martin, Ester Dean, and Dr. Luke, The Song Machine will change the way you listen to music.

©2015 John Seabrook. Recorded by arrangement with W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. (P)2015 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

"This is a fascinating tale about an amazing phenomenon: how hits get made. John Seabrook combines a love of music and an appreciation for personalities to take us on a starry journey from Stockholm and London to New York and Orlando showing how creativity gets discovered, polished, and packaged. His book is a triumph of great writing and reporting, and the lessons reverberate far beyond the world of music." (Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs)

"Beneath the surface of today's pop music lies an industrial process as rigorous and bizarre as the one perfected by McDonald's. Seabrook shows what it takes to make a hit in a book that's beautifully written, revelatory, funny, and full of almost unbelievable details." (Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Command and Control)

"Anyone who wants to understand how the clash of cultures has shaped what we listen to should read this important book. John Seabrook has a marvelous ear for language - and perfect pitch when it comes to music journalism." (Bob Spitz, author of The Beatles: The Biography)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (397 )
5 star
 (240)
4 star
 (116)
3 star
 (34)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
4.4 (365 )
5 star
 (214)
4 star
 (109)
3 star
 (33)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.5 (368 )
5 star
 (232)
4 star
 (97)
3 star
 (29)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    true britty Minnesota 10-08-15
    true britty Minnesota 10-08-15 Member Since 2016

    just one more book lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    177
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    302
    78
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    7
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Want your music canned or in a box?"

    This is a lively history of pop music since 1989. If you think Katy Perry is great or you hate the Backstreet Boys, you will find out why in this book.

    Or so the featured music producers like Denniz PoP and Max Martin would like you to think. This is a story about that segment of pop music where the artist is usually a pretty girl or boy whose sound and look are a creation of the producer and his team.

    This is a story about songwriting simplified to a formula, where words are units of melody and melody is married to the beat.

    The writer looks at sound factories in Sweden, America and Korea. He follows the careers of the major Svengali producers and the acts whose hits they have manufactured, including Kelly Clarkson (who fought against the constraints), Rihanna, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry and a more recent Taylor Swift.

    Spotify, the streaming music company, also gets a chapter.

    You might become cynical about the music industry after this. You might get inspiration for your Ableton compositions. You might run out to see a real loose garage band or singer-songwriter just to prove to yourself that other kinds of music are out there.

    But you won't look at today's music hits the same after reading this book.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tamara Field Austin, TX United States 10-20-15
    Tamara Field Austin, TX United States 10-20-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awesome."

    Best book on the music indistry ever. It was so interesting to hear how stars are made and I will probably even reread this future.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon 11-04-15
    Shannon 11-04-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Insightful"

    The author did an amazing job of creating a timeline of music taste-makers over the past 2 decades. As a songwriter myself, it was inspiring to get a glimpse into the studio sessions of Max Martin, Ester Dean and Stargate, to name a few. I would recommend this book to anyone who aspires to be in the business of making music or anyone who is just curious about how one man, Max Martin, has continued to lead the industry in production and songwriting for TWO decades.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    b 01-07-16
    b 01-07-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Engaging and packed full of fun facts!"

    Dion Graham reads this perfectly, with just enough change in his voice to give character to the many personalities in the book.
    I learned a lot about the pop songs that have shaped my generation and had fun doing it!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. 07-11-16
    M. 07-11-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Rare Combo of Fun, Fascinating & Elucidating"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Song Machine to be better than the print version?

    Yes and No
    Yes: I don't have time to read every book, and this was a well-read book with a coherent narrative that was chronological. So it was a solid listening choice.
    No: There is no information from the footnotes or acknowledgements which is particularly key for narrative non-fiction.


    What other book might you compare Song Machine to and why?

    Gods & Kings (on audible, which I read in print) about fashion. It's an enjoyable read but also academically underpinned in a subject that so often is over "fluffed".


    What does Dion Graham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Enthusiasm. And--also underrated--tone. Serious when it needs to be, sly or fun when the occasion called for it.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Plot twists--where someone "irrelevant" showed up again as a significant figure.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine 01-10-16
    Elaine 01-10-16 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    308
    28
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining & enlightening"

    An entertaining and enlightening look at the making of popular music. One can hardly call it "composing", rather picking and choosing pre-fabricated tracks, auto-tuning a singer's voice and synthesizing random sounds. Oh, yeah, and a woman standing in a booth reading words from her phone to help write the lyrics.

    The narrator does a nice job of reading the text, with an occasional foray almost singing the lyrics.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin 10-12-16
    Justin 10-12-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "very ingesting"

    it was good. learned a lot about the music industry that i didn't know. great performance and an easy thing to listen to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Baraka 08-29-16
    Paul Baraka 08-29-16 Member Since 2014

    Musique Composer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Glimpse Behind The Curtain"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Song Machine to be better than the print version?

    I really enjoyed the audio better than the print


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Song Machine?

    Actually what I found it hilarious was the last page. Can't say too much because I don't want to spoil it, but all I can say is: sweet irony.


    Have you listened to any of Dion Graham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Nope


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I really enjoyed it because it is like a mentor that tell you his life stories and point of view.


    Any additional comments?

    It will not tell you how to succeed in the field but it will give you a glimpse of the way the industry is run.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay J 08-19-16
    Jay J 08-19-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of the most inspirational books on the music business"

    The jewels of this book are in the details of the background stories of such hit makers as Dennis Pop, Dr. Luke, and Max Martin.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dream Music USA 06-07-16
    Dream Music USA 06-07-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Music history in a nutshell"

    Lots of great info here told in a journalistic way. I am an artist/songwriter and I found the information here very enlightening in confirming my own beliefs and experiences in the music industry. Although some parts lagged, there are some truly engaging parts in the book such as the anecdotes about the rise of boy bands and the Swedish pop takeover.

    I would highly recommend it as a good resource for up and coming songwriters to get them familiar with the history of the industry they are about to embark upon. It is also a good read for the casual music fan, but might be a lacking in excitement for the non-technical music lay person.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.