Suisman in the WSJ

Tue 12 May 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music CoverHoly crap, look at the size of that . . . review! The Wall Street Journal spends some time reading Selling Sounds, David Suisman‘s first book. You might know him from his old radio show on WFMU, or, you might not know him! Selling Sounds is about to come out and David’s got a reading in NYC in a week or two (ok, details: Thursday, May 21, 6 PM, Barnes & Noble, 105 Fifth Ave. @ 18th Street) where you too can be wowed.

We’ll have a little something from David in a week or so. In the meantime, maestro!

Music and Money

From Tin Pan Alley to RCA Victor: shaping musical taste, profiting from it.

In 1888, the music publisher M. Witmark & Sons opened an office near Union Square in New York, not long after the fledgling company had enjoyed success selling sheet music for a song penned by one of the Witmark boys, “President Cleveland’s Wedding March.” Witmark would go on to play a major role in the commodification of music from the late 19th century to the Depression — the subject of David Suisman’s “Selling Sounds.” As the author notes in an epilogue, the Witmark building was just a few doors away from a contemporary bastion of what the commercialization of music wrought: a Virgin Megastore. Now, in an epilogue to his epilogue, Virgin’s music emporium will soon become a thing of the past: Like so many other retail music stores of late, it has announced that it is going out of business. The story of “Selling Sounds,” then, is especially timely.

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  1. Michael Biel on May 13th, 2009 5:13 am

    This looks like it is an interesting book and I an going to try to get to the reading — I hope it doesn’t happen at the same time as the monthly meeting of the NYC chapter of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Did the posting start with “Holy Crap” for a reason? A reason such as the embarrassment of having a picture of a CRAPOPHONE on the front cover of the book?? For those who don’t know, the machine on the cover is a modern fake, made in India with a new case, a new horn, with the motor and tone arm from a cheap portable wind-up. We collectors call them Crapophones. They are very easy to tell from a real antique phonograph, but interior decorators and photographers go ga-ga over them. Harvard Univ Press should make a note to never use that photographer again and to apologize to the author for using a cover that is likely to scare off the expert readers the book was supposed to attract.

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