Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Music and Copyright in the Digital Era: DAVID BYRNE in conversation with CHRIS RUEN

December 5, 2012

Viewing videos on requires Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher.

Get the Flash plugin from


Copy the embed code below to add this video to your site, blog, or profile.


In How Music Works, Byrne explores how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and how the advent of recording technology in the twentieth century forever changed our relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music.
Writing as historian, anthropologist, raconteur and social scientist, Byrne searches for patterns and shows how they have affected his own work over the years with Talking Heads and his many collaborations with the likes of Brian Eno and Caetano Veloso. Byrne sees music as part of a larger, almost Darwinian pattern of adaptations and responses to its cultural and physical context. His range is panoptic, taking us from Wagnerian opera houses to African villages, from his earliest high school reel-to-reel recordings to his latest work in a home music studio, with all the big studios in between.
Touching on the joy, the physics, and even the business aspects of music making, How Music Works is an impassioned argument for music’s liberating, life-affirming power.
Chris Ruen is the author of the new book Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Hunger For Free Content Starves Creativity. Including candid interviews with contemporary musicians such as Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, Ira Wolf Tuton of Yeasayer, and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, Freeloading not only dissects the ongoing battles over digital piracy—casting a critical eye on the famous SOPA protests and the attendant rhetoric—but proposes concise, practical solutions that would provide protection to artists and consumers alike. David Byrne calls Freeloading, "A wonderful book that catches an encouraging shift in the zeitgeist."
DAVID BYRNE is the founding member and principle songwriter for the American new wave band Talking Heads, which was active between 1975 and 1991. Since then, he has released his own solo recordings and worked in various other media including film, photography, opera, and non-fiction. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
CHRIS RUEN, a Brooklyn-based freelancer whose work has appeared in The New York Times and Slate, is a former contributing editor for Cool ’Eh magazine. He has covered music culture for Tiny Mix Tapes, a Minneapolis-based online music magazine.



FRIENDS of the NYPL receive discounted tickets and special pre-sales to LIVE events LIVE from the NYPL is made possible with generous support from Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.        




Media Sponsor