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ARSCLIST  August 2008

ARSCLIST August 2008

Subject:

Re: Question: sources for record compannies between 1890-1950

From:

"Steven C. Barr" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 25 Aug 2008 00:53:13 -0400

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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yue, Joseph" <[log in to unmask]>
>I am writing to this list at the suggestion of the music librarian here at 
>UCLA.  I am helping a faculty to locate basic business  information (when 
>company started and dissolved (if), record labels the company managed, 
>number of employees and amount of camptial) for around 100 record companies 
>between 1890-1950.  The faculty member has a list of company names. 
>However, after consulting with a few colleagues on campus, I was not still 
>able to come up with possible sources that would provide this kind of 
>company history as many of these company are small, private and 
>short-lived.  Any suggestions any of you may have will be highly 
>appreciated.
>
And all I can give you is BAD news! Basically, the data you seek is NOT 
available in any
convenient form...either via "the Web" or in printed form...! I spent about 
twenty (?!)
years compiling pre-1942 data for my "Dating Guide"...and I suspect I STILL 
missed
any number of labels...!!

There were a handful of attempts to cash in on the "phonograph boom" in the 
"teens"
by pressing and selling vertical-cut discs (which were NOT banned by the 
Victor-
Columbia-held patents covering lateral-cut records...!). These increased in 
number
until 1919, when the patents expired...and various "indie" labels started 
issuing
lateral-cut discs! There is an outside possibility that a page-by-page 
search of
relevant journals (i.e. "Talking Machine World," et al...?!) would turn up 
MOST
(but not ALL) record companies/labels...but this would still necessitate 
further
research as to the "business information" you seek...?!

After 1940, the picture becomes MUCH more complicated! Should one wish
to start a "record label," one could arrange the recording, mastering, and
pressing of one's "next big hit" through companies who provided such 
services...!
This means that anyone/everyone who thought there was a market for their
musical (in)competence could make the necessary arrangements to foist it
off on "music lovers" via their own "record label"...!

One simply went down to "Acme Studios"...cut a master of one's "Magnum
Opi" (well, you needed a "B side"...right?!)...took the resulting 
tape/acetates
down the road a piece to "Hooflungdung Mastering Works," who would
provide (for a fee, of course...?!) master recordings, which one took
FURTHER down the street to the "International Phonograph Record
Manufactory," who would, for so-much per hundred, stamp you out
as many phonograph records as you requested (and THOUGHT you
could sell...?!).

For example...I have a 78 on the "Okie" label...which was most likely
aimed at homesick "okies" who had moved north to get well-paying
jobs in the steel mills of Gary (IN) and vicinity ! Musically, it is an
amateurish country & western tune. The label cites a Whiting (or
East Chicago), Indiana address; I doubt if more than a hundred
or so phonorecords EVER appeared on this label...and I may well
own the ONLY surviving example of the label...?!

Steven C. Barr 

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