My, My, What a Jeremiad!

It seems incontrovertible that the Music Industry and in particular
its relation to the Record Industry has run its course. Those of us
who had some relationship to those enterprises find all or part of
what has happened upsetting, perplexing or both. Increasing age and
the richness of one's experiential base seem inevitably to lead to a
decline in the ability to be stimulated by something new. I, however,
prefer to recall O'Shaughnessy's lines: "For each age is a dream that
is dying, Or one that is coming to birth." It seems to me that music
will survive but only if the joy of making music iis widely
encouraged, not only to foster talented performance but also to
nourish the audiences of tthe future. Isaac Stern said that music is
essential to a civilized existence. As long as we believe that it is,
how it will be consumed in the future need not concern us too much.


On 1/19/12, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> There are very strong signs that Western popular music has run its course,
> that all to be said has
> been said and everything "new" is just derivative of something done earlier.
> Interesting article on that topic recently in NYT:
> also:
> There is nothing on the horizon that is very interesting. Yes, some (few)
> albums in recent years by
> some (few) bands have been exciting and gain some traction because they are
> punchy and perhaps
> fresh-sounding and/or well-executed and well-produced compared to everything
> else, but they are not
> original in the sense of something very new and different.
> Jazz got into this dead end decades ago, and blues was there by the third
> generation. Also, both
> genres got picked up as IMPORTANT by academics and would-be taste dictators,
> so the life got
> analized out of them. They were folk musics, but the folks' tastes changed,
> so they died on the
> vines.
> One could also argue that classical got less interesting with each
> generation of conductors farther
> removed from the composers of works that anyone wanted to pay to hear. Yes,
> there is composing going
> on, but nothing is gaining much traction (yes, there are a few exceptions),
> so I stand by that
> statement. One of the reasons people like "golden era" recordings of
> Stravinsky, Copland and even
> late-1800's French composers is that there were men conducting the works who
> knew the composers, had
> discussed how to execute the works and understood the times and contexts of
> the works. It's a
> stretch to think that a 40-something conductor of musician today is going to
> understand the dynamics
> of early 1900's Paris or Shostakovich's Soviet Union, or even 1920's
> America.
> I would suggest that all of this ties into the general ripeness of Western
> culture and intellectual
> discussion/exploration these days. There's been a mass taking the eye off
> the ball, and things may
> either be in permanent decline (glass half empty) or poised for an exciting
> refreshment (glass half
> full).
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Roger Kulp" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 5:45 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] US record business in the 1950s
> The music industry has been dying a slow death for at least the last twenty
> five years.Starting
> around the time Sony acquired Columbia..Now it 's pretty much dead.
> I don't see any vibrant independent companies trying to breathe new life
> into the old beast
> either.That pretty much died with the 1990s.Most things,like Record Store
> Day,are no more than
> worship of the past.
> Roger
> ________________________________
>  From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 8:29 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] US record business in the 1950s
> Hi Pekka:
> What is your research through the Billboards uncovering? Have you found any
> sort of concrete data on
> relative sales? I would assume that RCA and Columbia were far bigger than
> everyone else, but what's
> interesting is how big or small everyone else was. I forgot to mention in my
> previous e-mail that
> the other broadcast network, ABC, had a foot in the record business with
> ABC-Paramount. And movie
> studio MGM had a record business, but it got bigger in the 60s. As someone
> else mentioned, movie
> studio Warner Brothers got into the record business in the late 50's. So
> there were some big players
> dipping their hands into the business.
> Wow, it's depressing to think about how vibrant and competitive the business
> was 50+ years ago.
> Today it's two megaglomerates, two struggling lesser-glomerates (one about
> to be acquired), a small
> collection of mid-sized companies and a bottom tier of tiny, tiny players.
> My educated guess is that
> half of the US's commercially-recorded history is owned by one megaglomerate
> (Sony) and a good bit
> more than another quarter is owned by the other megaglomerate (Universal),
> leaving maybe 15-20%
> spread among everyone else.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Pekka Gronow" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 4:47 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] US record business in the 1950s
>> Lots of useful comment, thanks - especially access to Billboard on the
>> internet (overwhelming). I still prefer browsing paper volumes, but I
>> would
>> have to cross the Atlantic to do that. Thanks!
>> One detail: what was London records in the USA in the 1950s (see below) ?
>> I
>> am not clear on this. A US subsidiary of UK Decca?? The label also existed
>> in the UK. How extensive was their business?
>> Did they produce original US material?
>> Pekka
>> 2012/1/7 Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>> She was talking about the overall LP market in the 50's. Mercury
>>> definitely sold more records in the US than London in that period, as did
>>> Capitol. Classical was a part of the business, a bigger part than today
>>> but
>>> still a part. A couple of pop hits could eclipse the whole classical
>>> catalog sales in any given year, remember this was the time of jukeboxes
>>> and payola-play radio. Classical didn't participate too much in that, but
>>> that business model could generate tremendous sales behind a genuine hit
>>> that caught on due to the paid-for exposure.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Roger Kulp" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 11:02 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] US record business in the 1950s
>>> I definitely see more London,Mercury,and Capitol,in about that order,when
>>> it comes to 50s classical Lps after RCA and Columbia.
>>> Roger
>>> ______________________________**__
>>> From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Sent: Friday, January 6, 2012 4:23 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] US record business in the 1950s
>>> After RCA and Columbia and their subsidiaries, the shares would fall to
>>> smaller numbers. USA Decca would probably be fourth in there, but I'm not
>>> positive about that. But my impression (not based on actual sales
>>> figures)
>>> is that there was a second tier of "major independents" by the late 50's.
>>> This included Capitol (which soon sold to EMI), Mercury (which soon sold
>>> to
>>> Philips), and there may have been enough early-rock hits to Chess and Sun
>>> into this tier if we're talking sales dollars or actual sales volume.
>>> I'm sure you know this, but many if not most Billboard issues are
>>> searchable and readable via Google Books. You could also contact NARAS,
>>> since this cannot be considered "sensitive industry data" by the wildest
>>> imagination, given that we're talking 50+ years ago.
>>> You could also check European business press from the time of EMI
>>> acquiring Capitol and Philips acquiring Mercury and see if any details
>>> about the US market were provided either in corporate filings or in news
>>> articles of the time.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Pekka Gronow" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 5:26 AM
>>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] US record business in the 1950s
>>> I have been looking for data on record company market shares in the USA
>>> in
>>>> the 1950s, but I am still puzzled. There is RIAA data on total sales,
>>>> and
>>>> a
>>>> lot of (mostly anecdotal) detail on specific companies. Sanjek's books
>>>> on
>>>> the music business are helpful, but do not follow the development
>>>> systematically. If I had access to all issues of Billboard from this
>>>> period, that might be the solution, but I do not have them
>>>> It seems likely that the three biggest companies in the USA during this
>>>> decade were CBS, RCA Victor and Decca. There were hundreds of other
>>>> companies, of various sizes. But which were the ten, or twenty, biggest
>>>> ones? I am not speaking of shares of hits in the charts (this has been
>>>> studied), but market shares - real or at least estimated?
>>>> All suggestions would be useful.
>>>> Pekka Gronow
>>>> Helsinki

Dennis D. Rooney
303 W. 66th Street, 9HE
New York, NY 10023