John Rumble, A Music Historian Vanderbilt R.J.P

929 words - 4 pages

John Rumble, a historian with the Country Music Hall of Fame, spoke with our class on January 15 about the history of American popular music from the late nineteenth century until 1960. Using the production of culture view of the media and popular arts, he explained the growth and evolution of the music industry over the 80+ years in which it was formed and cultivated as a dominant part of American culture and commerce. Dr. Rumble described the key players who made the past 100 years the "century of American music." From the song-pluggers of Tin Pan Alley to the vaudevillian performers of the early part of the 20th century to the radio programmers, the American music industry has been ...view middle of the document...

) After the Civil War the trade of song plugging was used to publicize music. Song pluggers were instrumental for publishers as if they themselves were not playing for customers in department stores to sell the sheet music that publishers printed, they were busy convincing performers to use their music in their shows. There was a healthy dose of payola involved; as performers would receive gifts and oftentimes co-writing credits on songs they did nothing more to than perform.With the actually recording industry beginning to take off, combined with the Copyright Act of 1909, the landscape of the music industry was changing. By 1920 radio was introduced and within 20 years 85% of American households owned radios. The radio networks opened up the position of gatekeeper to a new group of people, the radio producer. Additionally, payola became even more prevalent. With ASCAP (and later, BMI) different people were still plugging music to the producers, trying to get their songs on the radio, and as a result, become hitmakers. The problem was that ASCAP promoted their current hitmakers, not fresh talent. After all, in order to get into ASCAP, you had to have five published hits. Thus, writers were faced with a catch-22. Radio began to have a major impact on the music landscape worldwide in the ensuing decades. With the introduction of the Armed Force Radio Network during WWII, American music was broadcasted throughout the world. American music became the world's music. The corruption seemed to heat up in these years, as BMI entered the scene and shook ASCAP up. Eventually, both were sued by the Justice Department for...

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