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Med332 the birth of the rock and roll consumer


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Med332 the birth of the rock and roll consumer

  1. 1. #med332 - @rob_jewitt Rock and roll and the birth of the popular music consumer
  2. 2. Overview: - The ‘baby boom’ and social context (1950s) - Structural forces shaping the music industry - The product (aka the music)
  3. 3. Between 1945 and 1955, youth changed from a taken-for- granted and largely unacknowledged transitional stage between childhood and adulthood to a cultural category marked by particular stylistic trends, tastes in music and accompanying patterns of consumption - Bennett, 2001: 7
  4. 4. Common narrative the youth culture of the 1950s and later could not have happened without teenagers having become a significant market – that is, without their having significant disposable funds. Having that money and an increased independence from family, teenagers began to identify themselves as a group. - Shumway, 1992: 119–20
  5. 5. Socio-economic shifts post-WW2 Boom extended to working class New techniques of mass production
  6. 6. Young folk The young had emerged as a new, major market in the 1950s in Britain and Western Europe, following the United States which had experienced less disruption in the 1940s than war-torn Europe. Young people were employed in relatively well-paid jobs in new industries - Bucock 1993: 28
  7. 7. commodities designed specifically for them
  8. 8. Leisure was no longer simply a moment of rest and recuperation from work, the particular zone of family concerns and private edification. It was widened into a potential life-style made possible by consumerism. To buy a particular record, to choose a jacket or skirt cut to a particular fashion, to mediate carefully on the colour of your shoes is to open a door onto an actively constructed style of living. - Chambers 1985: 16
  9. 9. Popular music as mass production
  10. 10. Cultural industries… employ the characteristic modes of production and organization of industrial corporations to produce and disseminate symbols in the form of cultural goods and services, generally, though not exclusively, as commodities’ - Garnham 1987: 25
  11. 11. Marked by: • Incessant drive for capitalist expansion • Creation of new novel markets • Rapid turn-over of disposable products
  12. 12. Capitalist organisation Cultural/social activity Music industry Creative expression
  13. 13. youth music capital
  14. 14. Demographic shifts 77 million babies born between 1946 and 1964 By 1964, 40 % of the population of the United States was under twenty - Grossberg, 1992: 172
  15. 15. Rejection of parent culture Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953) Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against? Johnny: Whadda you got?
  16. 16. Authenticity Rock’s special place (with and for youth) was enabled by its articulation to an ideology of authenticity […] where they could find some sense of identification and belonging, where they could invest and empower themselves in specific ways - Grossberg 1992: 204–5
  17. 17. Creative geniuses?
  18. 18. Elvis Presley Presley took the song (‘That’s All Right Mama’), and the strong rhythmic element in it, but kicked it out of the heavy almost ponderous groove Crudup (the original artist) used. What Presley succeeded in doing was injecting the blues with an abandoned hillbilly attitude. ... The result was a musical hybrid, destined to prove more exciting than either its blues or country parents, while retaining elements of both. - Welch 1990: 36 (link)
  19. 19. 4 crucial developments 1. the relative importance of particular genres 2. the dominance of certain forms of radio format 3. the role of technology 4. the shifting status of record company majors and independents
  20. 20. Copyright and genres 1909 – sheet music protections 1914 – ASCAP to collect royalties
  21. 21. ‘only ASCAP licensed music could be played in Broadway musicals, performed on the radio and incorporated into movies ... by the 1930s it effectively controlled access to exposing new music to the public’ - Peterson 1990: 99
  22. 22. Technology: 45s vs 33s
  23. 23. ‘The 1950s decade was the golden era for small independents, which embraced blues, gospel, modern jazz, country, R&B, and rock ’n’ roll’. From 1948 to 1954, about one thousand new record labels were formed, and for many of these ‘it came down to what music could be recorded most cheaply’ - Kennedy and McNutt 1999: xvii
  24. 24. the average income of … blacks rose by 192 per cent between 1940 and 1953, when 90 per cent of blacks were in some form of paid employment, and the total value of the black consumer market was $15,000 million. - Brian Ward, 1998: 31
  25. 25. Summary • Broad demographic changes helps go some way to explaining the emergence of rock and roll (but not all the way) • Generational divide in conjunction with economic upturn and expanse of capitalist enterprises saw investment in black musical forms • Explore the music in detail on Monday
  26. 26. Sources: • Andy Bennett (2001) Popular Music Cultures, Maidenhead: Open University Press • Robert Bucock (1993) Consumption, London: Routledge • Iain Chambers (1985) Urban Rhythms: Pop Music and Popular Culture, London: MacMillan • Nicholas Garnham (1987) ‘Concepts of Culture: Public Policy and the Cultural Industries’, in Cultural Studies, 1, 1 (January): 23–7. • Lawrence Grossberg (1992) We Gotta Get Out of This Place: Popular Conservatism and Postmodern Culture, New York: Routledge. • Kennedy and McNutt (1999) Little Labels – Big Sound: Small Record Companies and the Rise of American Music, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press. • Richard A. Peterson (1990) ‘Why 1955? Explaining the Advent of Rock Music’, Popular Music, 9, 1: 97–116. • Sanjek (1988) American Popular Music and Its Business. The First Four Hundred Years. Volume III: From 1900 to 1984, New York: Oxford University Press. • Roy Shuker (2001) Understanding Popular Music, London: Routledge • David R. Shumway (1992) ‘Rock and roll as cultural practice’, in Anthony DeCurtis (ed) Present Tense: Rock and Roll Culture, Durhman, NC: Duke University Press • Brian Ward (1998) Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black consciousness and Race Relations, London University of California Press • Richard Welch (1990) ‘Rock ’n’ Roll And Social Change’, History Today (February): 32–9.