On Sat, 17 Sep 2005, kyle barnett wrote:
> In my research on the transition from the phonograph as a public
> amusement to domestic entertainment device, I've found plenty of
> articles by critics, interior design experts, and etiquette experts
> on how to effectively assimilate it into the home, as well as many
> advertisements from companies eager to dissuade fears about the
> effects of this new device, through camouflaging phonographs in
> cabinets done up in various traditional styles.
Perhaps you have read about this some in the Millard book "America on
I would also advise checking out some texts on the psychology of
advertizing. Much of what I have read suggests that those in marketing try
to address what they see as core values. When marketing a new product, it
is usually tied into a core value. When recordings of classical music
became available, they were marketed, not on their own value, but on snob
appeal...a core value. Of course, such core values may have nothing to do
with anything other than perception, and often lead to short term gains,
but look at marketing of furniture today. Have you ever seen an ad where
the man is the one who is excited about a furniture sale?
Ok, this is a gross generalization...guys like technology and women like
nesting. So, it would seem to me, that a core value in advertizing would
be that a woman probably wouldn't let some "machine" into her living
room unless it "looked nice." That core value would be assumed, even if
there had not been any complaints.
All of that being said, the sales figures for the Victrola would seem to
prove the point that it was a success, even if it didn't have the quality
of sound that could be found in Edison's recordings, and did not sound as
good as earlier Victor models with larger horns.
There were many against the phonograph in general. I believe Sousa is
credited with labelling recorded sound as canned music...many writers of
the time feared it would change music...and indeed it did. The sales of
pianos dropped significantly...music became a "spectator sport." Piano
sales dropped. However, in the late 19th century and to some extent, even
earlier, pianos were marketed as furnitur. You might also want to consult
the Loesser book, "Men Women and Pianos." It would be logical to think
that the phonograph could be marketed on the snob appeal and beautiful
furniture core values which were used to sell pianos, even if women had
On the other hand, I wonder if Victor did any market research/surveys.