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Article

Katherine K. Preston and Michael Mauskapf

[music management]

This article addresses the history of individuals and organizations devoted to the management of musical artists and their careers in the United States.

Musicians who toured the United States during the first half of the 19th century relied on individuals to manage their tours. Some of the most important early impresarios included William Brough, max Maretzek , bernard Ullman , and maurice Strakosch . These men travelled the musicians’ routes, sometimes with the performers and sometimes a week or two ahead, and were responsible for renting a performance venue, arranging publicity, and engaging supporting musicians and needed instruments. Managers also made travel arrangements, secured lodging, and negotiated terms with the managers of local theaters or halls. Some of these managers were themselves performers; the pianist Strakosch frequently toured with singers, and Maretzek was the conductor for his opera companies. This style of management essentially replicated the modus operandi of itinerant theatrical stars. (...

Article

Daniele Buccio

(Henry )

(b Canton, OH, Aug 18, 1905; d West Redding, CT, July 31, 1978). American composer, violinist, bandleader, recording engineer, and producer. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he performed as a light classical violinist in the United States and Europe. During the 1930s he studied conducting with Maurice Frigara in Paris. After a near-fatal car accident in 1940, he organized his own dance band, the Light Brigade, which recorded for RCA and Columbia. After he disbanded it at the turn of the decade, Light devoted himself to management, working for several record companies before becoming president of Waldorf Music Hall Records in 1954. He founded his own label, Grand Award, in 1956 and had success with Dixieland and honky-tonk piano albums. In 1959, he founded Command Records on which he released Persuasive Percussion, the first in a successful series of high-fidelity albums that used stereo technology to great advantage. Over the next two decades, he continued to produce hit albums drawing on the latest technological savvy and packaged with covers usually designed by Josef Albers. Musicians who appeared on Light’s albums include the Free Design, Doc Severinsen, Dick Hyman, Bobby Byrne, and Bobby Hackett. In ...

Article

A lyricist writes the text for a song; the term is also applied to those who supply the text to certain other forms of vocal music. As part of the production and performance of a song, the lyricist participates as part of a larger process involving songwriters, arrangers, producers, publishers, and performers. Many notable lyrics worked in fruitful collaboration with a specific ...

Article

NPR  

Timothy M. Crain

NPR, formerly known as National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded nonprofit membership media group. Its primary focus involves the production, syndication, and distribution of news and cultural programming to US public radio stations. Individual NPR stations, however, may broadcast programming from various sources that have no formal affiliation with NPR. NPR also manages the Public Radio Satellite System, which distributes NPR programs and other programming from independent producers and networks.

In 1967 congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting Act established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to provide federal financial support of local radio and television stations, nationally produced programming, and interrelated services. As a result, National Public Radio (NPR) was created in February 1970 to replace the National Educational Radio Network. NPR aired its first broadcast in April 1971 and soon launched national program services. Until 1977 NPR was primarily a production and distribution organization. When it merged with the Association of Public Radio Stations, however, it began to provide affiliated stations with training, promotion, and management, and to lobby Congress for funding. In ...

Article

Albin Zak

A person who plans and oversees the execution of recording projects. Producers’ specific roles vary considerably, depending on musical idiom, historical era, and an individual’s qualifications. A useful breakdown of types is offered by Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler: “documentarian,” “servant of the project,” and “artist.” While Wexler addressed his analysis to the roles of pop producers, the general concept applies to other idioms as well. The documentarian seeks to capture musical events with as little apparent intrusion as possible. The servant of the project takes a more active role, suggesting repertory, pairing performers, and offering aesthetic opinions on performances, arrangements, tempo, balance, and so forth. The producer as artist describes a person whose creative vision and stylistic inclinations exert a decisive influence on the project, an ultimate authority not unlike a film director. However a producer approaches the role, he or she is responsible for overseeing and judging the work of performers and recording engineers, for managing a project’s budget and schedule, and for serving as a record company’s agent on a given project....

Article

Laura B. Schnitker

A type of radio station operating on a college or university campus that is run by students. Although such stations did not achieve prominent status in the music industry until the late 1970s, when they became stages for up-and-coming artists, college radio is one of the older types of broadcasting in the United States.

The first educational station in the United States was probably WHA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which started broadcasting in 1917 as 9XM. After World War I, about 200 broadcasting licenses were granted to educational institutions, which primarily used them as experimental and technical training facilities. Those that later became known as college radio were the stations run mainly by and for students. By this definition, some credit Haverford University with having the first college station because its students built a station in 1923 and by 1926 were broadcasting with nearly 1000 watts.

The rise of national networks in commercial broadcasting, increased competition for frequencies, and the high cost of operations resulted in the loss of all but the most dedicated college stations; by ...

Article

Gillian Turnbull

Radio that is owned by a private, nonprofit organization and publicly funded, usually by donations from citizens or a local community. Community radio differs from public radio, which is government-supported; college radio, which is university-supported; and commercial radio, which is privately owned. As noted by Howley, community radio should not be conflated with alternative media, which strives to overturn or alter prevailing media systems. Rather, community radio is participatory in nature, drawing involvement from the station’s stakeholders and listeners but maintaining the structures and practices common to public and commercial stations. It is assumed that there is a high degree of accountability to listeners, who predominantly run and fund the station. The often limited amount of advertising time allotted to community stations dictates the need for external fundraising through pledge drives, grants, and donations. Community radio can serve a specific geographical region or a particular demographic or special-interest group. Programming includes music that is not mainstream (for example, independent artists or more obscure genres) and local-interest news and shows. It purports to represent marginalized or social and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in commercially oriented media. In its programming, the aim of community radio is to provide analysis of current events and culture that is otherwise absent from the public and corporate arms of broadcasting....

Article

Albin Zak

A person engaged primarily with the technological and acoustic aspects of sound recording. Engineers are charged with rendering musical events in an electronic form according with the event’s musical style and tradition. As such, they contribute a blend of technological and musical knowledge unique among a recording team’s members. As sound waves are converted into electricity and begin their journey along the electrical signal path, arriving finally at the listener’s ear, the engineer’s controlling hand and sensibility guide the way at nearly every step.

Historically speaking, engineers pursued an ideal of transparent representation, seeking to silence artifacts of the recording process and providing listeners with an impression of fidelity to the musical event. There was to be “no intrusion that is apparent on the part of the engineer,” averred Capitol Records engineer Carson Taylor. “He has to be a truly transparent entity.” On one hand, technological developments fed this aspiration to sonic realism with such inventions as the microphone and, later, magnetic tape. On the other, the tools of enhanced fidelity also offered greater potential for artifice and electronic intrusion into the acoustic musical moment, which postwar popular music engineers, in particular, took as a tacit mandate to develop techniques of electronic sound manipulation. As they manage the music-technology interface—whether disguising or displaying their skilled artifice—engineers are inevitably thrust into aesthetic roles, their technical craft tempered by subjective intuition....

Article

[RIAA]

An organization that represents the US recording industry; its members include record labels and distributors that collectively create and distribute the vast majority of recorded music sold in the United States. In addition, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights and the rights of artists through consumer, industry, and technical research, and by monitoring state and federal laws, regulations, and policies.

The RIAA was formed in 1952 primarily to administer technical standards in the industry as applied to frequency response in vinyl records during manufacturing and playback. It has become better known for its sales award program for singles and albums, which uses separate thresholds—gold, silver, platinum, and diamond—to gauge the commercial success of a single or album. In the years since the RIAA recognized the first “gold” singles and albums in 1958, these thresholds have occasionally changed. Certification levels are based on units sold; in the early 21st century the levels were 500,000 (gold), one million (platinum), two million (multi-platinum), and ten million (diamond). In ...

Article

Thomas Lewis

(b Uzlian, province of Minsk, Russia, Feb 27, 1891; d New York, NY, Dec 12, 1971). Broadcasting executive of Russian birth. The son of a housepainter and a seamstress, Sarnoff immigrated to the United States with his mother and brothers in 1900. The family joined their father in a tenement on New York City’s Lower East Side. Within days of his arrival Sarnoff worked in communications, selling newspapers, delivering telegraph cables, and then serving as an office boy, telegraph operator, and chief inspector for the American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. After World War I, the Marconi Company pooled its radio patents with those from ATT, Westinghouse, General Electric, and others to form the Radio Corporation of America. Sarnoff became commercial manager and eventually president, CEO, and chairman of the board. At RCA Sarnoff made four significant contributions to music production and consumption in the 20th century: a proposal for a “radio music box”; the creation of the National Broadcasting Company; the acquisition of the Victor Talking Machine Company; and the creation of the NBC Symphony Orchestra....