Stage to Studio: Musicians and the Sound Revolution, 1890-1950

Overview

Between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century, technology transformed the entertainment industry as much as it did such heavy industries as coal and steel. Among those most directly affected were musicians, who had to adapt to successive inventions and refinements in audio technology—from wax cylinders and gramophones to radio and sound films. In this groundbreaking study, James P. Kraft explores the intersection of sound technology, corporate power, and artistic labor ...

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Overview

Between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century, technology transformed the entertainment industry as much as it did such heavy industries as coal and steel. Among those most directly affected were musicians, who had to adapt to successive inventions and refinements in audio technology—from wax cylinders and gramophones to radio and sound films. In this groundbreaking study, James P. Kraft explores the intersection of sound technology, corporate power, and artistic labor during this disruptive period.

Kraft begins in the late nineteenth century's "golden age" of musicians, when demand for skilled instrumentalists often exceeded supply, analyzing the conflicts in concert halls, nightclubs, recording studios, radio stations, and Hollywood studios as musicians began to compete not only against their local counterparts but also against highly skilled workers in national "entertainment factories." Kraft offers an illuminating case study in the impact of technology on industry and society—and a provocative chapter in the cultural history of America.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review - André Millard

Historians might not have answers to the questions of technology displacing and deskilling workers, but they can lay out the facts and be sympathetic to the victims. This Kraft has done. He writes clearly and without bias, [and] has an understanding of his subjects that comes from his own background as a musician.

Technology and Culture - Emily Thompson

In Stage to Studio, James Kraft presents a concise, well-researched, and well-written historical account of the actions and reactions of unionized musicians as they faced new technologies and changing conditions of labor in early twentieth-century America... an important contribution to the literature on organized workers in America.

Antenna - Harris M. Berger

Combining techniques from social history, labor history, and the history of technology, Kraft weaves together archival material, oral history data, and secondary sources to produce an accessible narrative and a rich analysis.

Booknews
An addendum to American entertainment history tracing the 19th century boom of musicians and their decline as the recording and film industries began to expand into the 20th century. Kraft (history, U. of Hawaii) likens professional musicians to the artisans of the 1800s facing big recording studios and Hollywood stages and the "entertainment factories" which they engendered, often leaving local performers out in the cold. Thus, their history becomes a case study of the impact of technology on industry and society. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801877421
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Series: Studies in Industry and Society Series, #9
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

James P. Kraft is associate professor of history at the University of Hawaii.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Working Scales in Industrial America 7
2 Boom and Bust in Early Movie Theaters 33
3 Encountering Records and Radio 59
4 Playing in Hollywood between the Wars 88
5 Rising Militancy 107
6 Recording Ban 137
7 Balancing Success and Failure 162
Conclusion 193
Appendix: AFM Membership, 1896-1956 203
Notes 205
Essay on Sources 243
Index 249
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