- Tyler Bickford
The history of producing and marketing commercial music recordings to children can be characterized by a tension between goals of education and entertainment, with record companies, parents, and educators playing important roles as gatekeepers and curators of “appropriate” music for children. From the beginning, commercial music for children has been notable for its integration with visual, narrative, and material media in toys, books, film, and, later, in television shows and multimedia.
From 1905 through the 1920s, the early recording industry marketed directly to children with products including musical toys, dolls, and toy phonographs such as the Bing-Wolf Company’s “Pigmyphone,” for which various labels produced 5 to 7-inch recordings of nursery rhymes. Music recordings for children expanded in parallel with the children’s book publishing industry, and many elaborately packaged children’s book series were paired with miniature discs that included musical accompaniment, narration, and sound effects complimenting the stories and illustrations. These recordings used mostly male classically trained singers delivering Mother Goose nursery rhymes....