Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music

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Harvard University Press, May 31, 2009 - Business & Economics - 356 pages
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From Tin Pan Alley to grand opera, player-pianos to phonograph records, David Suisman‚e(tm)s Selling Sounds explores the rise of music as big business and the creation of a radically new musical culture. Around the turn of the twentieth century, music entrepreneurs laid the foundation for today‚e(tm)s vast industry, with new products, technologies, and commercial strategies to incorporate music into the daily rhythm of modern life. Popular songs filled the air with a new kind of musical pleasure, phonographs brought opera into the parlor, and celebrity performers like Enrico Caruso captivated the imagination of consumers from coast to coast.

Selling Sounds uncovers the origins of the culture industry in music and chronicles how music ignited an auditory explosion that penetrated all aspects of society. It maps the growth of the music business across the social landscape‚e"in homes, theaters, department stores, schools‚e"and analyzes the effect of this development on everything from copyright law to the sensory environment. While music came to resemble other consumer goods, its distinct properties as sound ensured that its commercial growth and social impact would remain unique.

Today, the music that surrounds us‚e"from iPods to ring tones to Muzak‚e"accompanies us everywhere from airports to grocery stores. The roots of this modern culture lie in the business of popular song, player-pianos, and phonographs of a century ago. Provocative, original, and lucidly written, Selling Sounds reveals the commercial architecture of America‚e(tm)s musical life.

 

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User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

This is a truly excellent book, seamlessly melding technological, social, and marketing histories, tracing the path that the music industry followed in the twentieth century, marking both the dynamism ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
When Songs Became a Business
18
Making Hits
56
Music without Musicians
90
The Traffic in Voices
125
Musical Properties
150
Perfect Pitch
178
The Black Swan
204
The Musical Soundscape of Modernity
240
Abbreviations in Notes
287
Acknowledgments
339
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

David Suisman is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Delaware.

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