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Earworm: reviews from the music press

'Earworm' is a novel about the music industry that reveals what happens when somebody discovers the perfect song. Here is a selection of reviews from when the book was first published under the title 'University of Death'.

"One of those reads that not only peers behind the curtain of the music industry, but offers up some food for thought too. The plot revolves around Bigg Records who use AI to serve up their releases and so avoid worrying about expensive pop stars. And the fans seem non the wiser... for a while. It's a delightfully cynical glance into the murky workings of a crumbling music industry."

- Electronic Sound Issue 25

"McManus keeps the action moving at a good crack, and the ideas trip out lightly in snappy dialogue. All round, the novel is a great genetic splicing of ideas and action, culminating in an incendiary showdown almost worthy of a Bond movie. Along the way it slips in telling observations about taste and commerce, culture and technology, creativity and consumption."

- David Jennings' blog for his book Net, Blogs and Rock'n'Roll

"Raising a number of surprisingly sophisticated issues, this book is enjoyably cynical about the seemingly cold-hearted and impenetrable nature of the record industry and peppered with a number of highly comical cameos from the cream of rock'n'roll, which ensures that it never feels like heavy going."

- Lewis Heritage, books reviewer, Record Collector magazine issue 350

"A fun novel about the problems faced by musicians in making their mark on a music industry that's falling apart. A bitter satire that works its way up to a memorable finale."

- Metal Hammer magazine

"The novel satirises the music industry and the clichéd types that populate it, the lead character an affable fellow who you can't help but like - his meditations at his monitor screen, desperately trying to sort ideas, will be familiar to most of us who create music either for a living or for love. Amusing and well written."

- MusicTech

I cried 'til I laughed. There are some great ideas in here... and a few I hope the industry never hears about!

- Colin Vearncombe aka Black, multi-million selling songwriter of 'Wonderful Life' among others and independent record label manager.

University of Death is the most enjoyable, imaginative and perceptive insight into the plight and possible future of the music industry, a novel that illuminates as well as entertains. The best thing about it is its insight into how the music industry works, why it is dying and where it may very well be going.

I particularly enjoyed the way it shows how technology is abused by marketers to manipulate our subconscious. This rang true because some of the technology used in the story already exists and has been used in similar, albeit not quite as sinister (yet?), ways.

University of Death has a love-hate relationship with the music business, being cynical and reverential at the same time. The portrayal of the industry is both accurate and funny - it's hard not to identify with many of the characters in there.

The twist at the end fooled me but fitted in perfectly with the themes of the book. When I finished reading, the story made me feel optimistic, that there was an exciting new beginning for the music business.

University of Death is well worth buying if you like pop music itself or if you're interested in the machinations of the music industry.

- Mike Edwards , best known as the singer, songwriter and guitarist in Jesus Jones, whose Top 40 hits include 'Real Real Real', 'International Bright Young Thing' and 'Right Here, Right Now'. Mike has worked extensively as a producer, remixer and songwriter, both for major label acts and for independent artists.

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Visit www.sean.co.uk for free chapters from Sean's coding books (including Mission Python, Scratch Programming in Easy Steps and Coder Academy) and more!

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