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The Dynamics of Mass Communication. Seventh Edition. Joseph R. Dominick. Part 3 Electronic Media. Chapter 8 Sound Recording. . Thomas Edison invents phonograph in 1877 (records on metal cylinder format); earliest uses thought to be for dictation and other business needs.

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the dynamics of mass communication

The Dynamics ofMass Communication


Joseph R. Dominick


Part 3

Electronic Media


Chapter 8

Sound Recording

recording history
. Thomas Edison invents phonograph in 1877 (records on metal cylinder format); earliest uses thought to be for dictation and other business needs.

. Emile Berliner patents gramophone; makes spiral track recordings on a flat disc.

. nickelodeons: 1890s amusement arcade device plays back a two-minute recording for 5 cents; very popular

Recording History
Berliner premiers the Victrola in 1906

Design superiority of Victrola and flat-disc record system ends rival-systems conflict between him, Edison, and the Columbia Record Company

By 1914, record players and collections spur a national boom in sales; trend runs hot through the 1920s

radio s impact on recording industry
Audience’s preference for radio’s “live” music cuts record player sales in half by 1923

Though the recording industry vastly improved their sound system and radio-record player combination devices were promoted, audiences continued to identify radio as the home of “live” music and recorded music as a “canned” sound.

Radio’s Impact on Recording Industry
the depression ww ii and after
The Great Depression

Hard economy imposes big losses on industry, but a new coin-operated record player called a juke box installed in bars and diners helps rescue the industry. Record sales soar 500%.

World War II and After

Shellac, an ingredient used in records, is deemed a vital war commodity by government, and record making plummets.

American Federation of Musicians' strike, 1942-44; they fear losing jobs to canned music.

Capitol records starts sending free records to radio stations to promote certain songs.

The Depression, WW II, and After
battle of the speeds
3M Company introduces magnetic recording tape in 1947, makes music editing and multitrack recording possible.

In 1948 Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 long-playing record (the LP). RCA debuts 45 rpm record. That starts the "Battle of the Speeds" for format dominance. Soon the 33 1/3 becomes preferred format for albums, the 45 the choice for single hits; the older 78 rpm format quietly disappears.

In the 1950s, stereo players debut, which quickly doubles the number of records being sold.

Battle of the Speeds
birth and evolution of rock and roll
Rock and roll, a blend of jazz, rhythm and blues, country-western, and popular music, debuts in 1950s.

R&R, now a very profitable format, takes a more wholesome and commercial track in late 1950s, early 1960s.

In 1964, Beatles spearhead upbeat sound from Britain; later, other sounds such as folk and Motown create more diversity.

Birth and Evolution of Rock and Roll
transitions and trends 1960s 1990s
Always facing roller coaster profitability, the industry gets help from several major trends:

1960s: new music energy reflects social experimentation and freedom of the times

1970s: disco, big name artists, and intro of CDs

1980s: debut of music videos and MTV

1990s: strong new sounds, such as hip hop, rap

Transitions and Trends 1960s-1990s
recording in the digital age
Napster’s big (and lasting) impact on industry:

Napster’s free file-sharing service becomes a new way to find and distribute music.

Industry begins to react with new marketing and distribution strategies, such as unlimited music files by subscription fee and free downloads in return for home page advertising exposure.

“Disintermediation” trend keeps direction of industry and consumers shrouded in uncertainty.

defining features of recording
  • Recordings are cultural forces, characterizing social groups, defining movements, setting social trends and shaping our modern culture.
  • Recording is an international business (one U.S. and four foreign companies dominate the global market).
  • The industry is a unique blend of business and talent.
recording industry organization

The industry can be divided into four areas:

  • talent
  • production
  • distribution (five major types)

direct retail, rack jobbers, one-stops, direct consumer sales, and online sales

  • retail
ownership trends

The recording industry is one of the most concentrated of all media industries, with five companies accounting for more than 85 percent of all sales. These companies are also multinational conglomerates, with interests in many different industries.

producing records departments and staff
PRODUCING RECORDSDepartments and Staff

The seven departments in a typical recording company:

. artists and repertoire (A&R)

. sales and distribution

. advertising and merchandising

. business

. promotion

. publicity

. artist development

making an original cd or tape
Making an Original CD or Tape

Step 1: A group makes a demonstration tape, or demo.

Step 2: An agent introduces the demo to recording studio.

Step 3: The studio then records a master tape, often using up to 48 tracks, in a process called multitracking.

Step 4: The recording is professionally blended together. Using multitracking’s ability to record and edit each sound separately, a band can fine tune each person, instrument, person, and effect

making an original cd or tape con t
Making an Original CD or Tape(Con’t)

Step 5: Next comes the “mix down,” when multiple tracks are blended into a two-track stereo master.

Step 6: Finally, a master is reproduced on tape or disc.

industry and artist economics
  • Subject to up and down profits, the industry is currently enjoying an upswing, with a 20 % profit jump in the last few years on sales of $14.5 billion.
  • CDs account for 83% of sales, singles 9%, tapes 8%.
  • Artists, except for superstars, barely earn enough in royalties to cover the advances made for production expenses.

Feedback is measured by Billboard’s weekly ratings. Its “Hot-100 Chart” is based on two components: sales and exposure.

For sales figures, Billboard measures the top 50 retail markets on a weekly basis, choosing 185 of the most influential music outlets.

Billboard measures exposure by surveying play lists from 240 leading radio stations, each weighted by audience reach (bigger audiences count more than smaller markets).

The magazine then combines those two figures to forge a final composite figure which is reported as that song’s rating.


Since the industry supports itself by music sales rather than ads, there is little demographic data about its audiences.

The data that does exist deals mostly with the number and types of sound equipment, CDs, and tapes in the average household. Sales data, on the other hand, tell us that the over 30 crowd accounts for 55% of all sales, with sliding sales figures for the under 19 crowd.