Skip to comments.How music became an industry: on 'Selling Sounds'(Book Review)
Posted on 09/15/2009 2:19:48 PM PDT by a fool in paradise
...Subtitled "The Commercial Revolution in American Music," Suisman's book (Harvard University Press) focuses on the 1880s through the mid-1920, a period that saw the growth of sheet-music publishing from a printer's sideline to a wildly profitable New York-based industry... These innovations made professionally composed and performed music available to a wider range of Americans than ever before. At the same time, music increasingly became something to be passively appreciated rather than actively made. (This story could have been different, if Edison's wax cylinders, which allowed convenient home recording as well as playback, had won out over Emile Berliners disc technology.) Suisman also emphasizes the extent to which regional and vernacular sounds were crowded out by the centralized distribution of mass-produced scores (and later records), though he notes that the new technologies would later preserve the folk traditions of players and singers who didnt or couldn't notate their songs.
Even the category of "popular song" was a child of commerce. Though individual songs had become "hits" since the days of American minstrels and the English music halls, it wasnt until the 1910s that the writers and publishers of Tin Pan Alley organized their production and promotion into a consistently profitable enterprise... Suisman cites Irving Berlins dicta that "the songwriter must look upon his work as a business," as well as vaudevillian Bert Williams's assertion that popular melodies "were mostly made up of standard parts, like a motor car."
...music publishers and songwriters led efforts to expand the laws conception of intellectual property. A 1924 photograph depicts Berlin, John Phillip Sousa and operetta composer Victor Herbert preparing to lobby Congress for royalties on radio broadcasts of their music; to this day, their spiritual (and sometimes actual) descendants rally the troops when valuable copyrights are threatened by the Constitution's pesky "limited term" clause...
(Excerpt) Read more at latimesblogs.latimes.com ...
Thank the Beatles. They virtually guaranteed that music would never again be about the music.
Getting airplay is a whole nother story. But all the radio payola will not save the labels when consumers realize they can spend a little time shopping in the Sound House for a mix they really like, instead of some commercial crap that's bought and paid for by talentless hacks.
By the way, the same fate is on the horizon for the movie fascists. Bye bye, Hollywood.
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