Week 1 Lecture: Industry, Institution and History

 This week we were studying about the main concepts of radio & music industries through its institutions and history.

We explored how the radio and music industry started. In the lecture and related readings we have explored the contrast between music-as-expression and music-as-commodity and how it defines the 20th century pop experience. We made an overview of the UK radio & popular music industries, gave an overview of the role of institutions in it, explored histories of radio and popular music considering historiography as a method.

During the lecture we were describing the progress of radio improvement stages through it historical chronology. By the 1920s there were, in both Britain and the USA, numerous phonograph manufacturers, competing for sales – the most famous is Edison’s phonograph. At this stage, record companies were simply part of the electrical goods industry. They were owned and run by engineers, inventors and stock market speculators. Their managers did not seem much interested in music (Frith, 1998).The lecture also explored some of the ideas of how songs and singers are fetishized and made “magical”. Through the readings I found out how the industrialization of music describes a process in which music itself is made, fuses capital, technical and musical arguments. Twentieth century popular music is a form of communication, which determines what songs, singers and performances are and can be. The pop business by itself is a constant state of crisis (Frith, 1998).

We have defined the differences between different types of radio such as:

  • Public Service Broadcasting (Radio)
  • Commercial Radio
  • Community Radio
  • Unlicensed

I found out who owns and controls the radio stations, how is it funded and regulated. Through the lecture there was exposed how the licensing is made and was described different types of it:

  • Short term (special event) 28 days
  • Long term (hospital, University  etc) up to 5 years (renewable)
  • Audio distribution (sports or conference centres) up to 5 years

The reading I have acquire for this week explores some of the ideas of how we can analyse the music industry through its history focusing on three issues:

  1. The effects of technological change: The history of the record industry is an aspect of the history of the electrical goods industry
  2. The economics of pop: boom (1920s), slump (1930s) and boom (1940s). By the 1950s the record business was clearly divided into the ‘major’ companies and the ‘independents’.
  3. A new musical culture. The development of a large-scale record industry. The rise of new sorts of musical consumption and use.

Studio-made music need no longer bear any relationship to anything that can be performed live. It was pop producers using technology to cheat audiences, who, in the 1950s and 1960s, developed recording as an art form and developed recording as a new form of communication. (Frith, 1998)

To understand the subject, it is necessary to determine the audiences that are interested in particular broadcasted media. Determining the main consumer of this type of commodity Shingler and Weringa definition of the audience suitably highlights the inherent characterization of the audience profile as the main consumer from the prospective of its general profile image. In terms of defining the targeted audiences of the program, besides the more specific group of genre lovers “the important point here is that in the history of electric media, the initial ‘mass market’ is the relatively affluent middle-class household.” (Shingler, Weringa, p.16) From here we can be more specific and by applying other characteristics imagine the audiences profile more precisely.

Frith, S, (1988). “The industrialisation of Music”. In: (ed), Music for Pleasure: Essays in the Sociology of Pop. 1st ed. e.g. England: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Incorporated. pp.(11-23).

Shingler, M & Wieringa, C, (1998). “Radio time-line: History at a glance”. In: Martin Shingler & Cindy Wieringa (ed), On Air: Methods & Meanings of Radio. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. pp.(1-29).


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