And More Again...

No photographs, no recordings, no celebrity goss. Apart from the odd theatrical poster it would have been a career built more or less on word of mouth, and the word of mouth would have stemmed from minor factors like vocal talent, stage presence and performance skills.

Moving slightly up-market in the same era you'd imagine that the latest Gilbert and Sullivan musical would have been marketed in the same way. Some posters, a couple of newspaper reviews (which I'm guessing weren't an issue with the music hall stuff) and a lot of word of mouth about Mr Gilbert's latest witty wordplay or Mr Sullivan's most recent catchy airs.

Head into the early years of the jazz era and I'm guessing we're still operating in the territory of talent, performance and word of mouth with the latest addition to the mix being danceability.

Then, at some indeterminate point everything changed. 

Up till that point, in Hughesy's hypothesis, the entertainment industry was a relatively low-key business where turnover was based on talent, presentation and quite a bit of being able to spot what the market would accept.

That means record labels would have been run by people who were interested in, and knew something about, music. Contrast that situation with recent times. Evidence suggests that nowadays record labels tend to be run people who don't know much about music but know plenty when it comes to how to make a good deal.

Most importantly, up till that indeterminate point when everything changed, the market was something the business reacted to. These days the market is something the business reckons it has created.

Occasionally, of course, the business either gets it wrong or something slips under their guard. You can pick any number of examples of the first of those two categories.


B© Ian Hughes 2012