The Americans colonized our subconscious. -Wim Wenders

Millard 11, 12 & Coyle.

While the bigger companies were cashing of the African-American audience through the promotion of R&B, the independents sought a new flavor to the musical palate. The independent companies dominated the Billboard in the early rock n’ roll period. Millard mentions that “By 1960 there were around 3000 record companies in the United States, of which only 500 were operated by established companies.  (p. 229)” Record production followed an easier pattern than previous years. The profit margin was a great incentive for young entrepreneurs. Millard also noted, a hit on Billboard raked in anywhere from $50,000-$75,000.

At this time race was still a hindrance in the promotion of artists. Radio helped break this barrier through the ease of tuning in to stations featuring music of different races. I thought it was funny that a radio announcer interviewed Elvis Presley to reinsure the audience of his race.

The introduction of television helped in popularizing music, by catering to mass audiences. Television destroyed film companies, but worked to the benefit of artists.

The relationship between R&B and Rock n’ roll was not clear. Millard describes rock n’ roll as overtly sensuous and based on the “…propulsive rhythm of African music…(that) incited movement (p.237).” Were R&B and rock n’ roll one in the same?

In 1943, the rule restricting Negroes from being depicted as anything more than servants, still governed the airwaves of radio. Rock n’ roll had to be “covered” by white artists to gain acceptance in TV or films. Michael Coyle speaks of the tactic of “covering” previous works. He gives the example of Georgia Gibbs and Laverne Baker. In this case, Gibbs copied almost every song she sang. Gibbs “hijacked” Tweedle Dee and Tra La La, both songs by Baker. These songs were not artistically redone, but re-sung in almost exact format as its original. Gibbs version made it to the 24th spot on the Billboard, but Baker’s only reached 94. Coyle translates this as racism by disc jockeys.

Coyle gives the example of Elvis Presley’s covers. Presley covered older music while acknowledging its importance as part of our tradition. Presley did something similar to the Lomax’s, he recorded covers that may have been forgotten as part of culture. The Beatles on the other hand performed covers to gain the acceptance of the American audience.

The record had a huge part in disseminating music. American styles and beats were shipped around the world and influenced singers like the Beatles. The Beatles were impacted by recordings of R&B. Similarly, recordings of Ledbelly and Woody Guthrie inspired a revival in British folk artists.

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3 Responses to “The Americans colonized our subconscious.”

  1.   robert shemanski Says:

    It was interesting that independent companies were the first to target the African American audience during the 1960’s. I never knew there were so many more independent music companies during the 1960’s. Only 500 companies were operated by major record labels. That mean’s there were about 2500 companies operated by the small independent record companies. That is a significance difference. I also think Radio was the biggest reason for breaking the color barrier. You did not know if you were listening to a white or black artists when listening to the radio.

  2.   karina Says:

    Yeah, it was a shocker observing the amount of independents.

    Thanks for commenting =)

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