Twilight of the Gods is a five-part series examining the history of the recording industry that begins on Inside the Music this weekend on Radio 2.
I decided to create Twilight of the Gods a few years back when I realized that, like most music fans, I knew virtually nothing about the record business. Oh, I knew stuff about records. Records were among some of my most prized possessions in the world – from my first 45, Phil Spector's “To Know Him is to Love Him,” to my recordings of Beethoven, Elis Regina, Miles Davis, Rickie Lee Jones, the Coasters, Betty Carter, and so many others. Some of the most moving, most profound moments of my life have been triggered by records. I don't know who I would be without my records. Certainly someone completely different than who I am.
But the record business – the actual collision of talent, money, greed, luck and effort that got those records made and in my hands – I knew nothing about that at all. For most of my life as a music listener, I didn't need to. But today, that business that has provided us all with our music for almost a century, is collapsing. It's disappearing before our eyes.
So before, it disappeared completely, I thought we'd better figure out what value it had for us. We all know the stereotype: The record business as monster sucking the life out of creative artists for financial gain. A vampire in a poorly-fitting suit, a cigar in its mouth, a horrible contract hiding behind its back.
But is that the reality?
Well, actually, no, it isn't. So to find out why, we might as well start at the beginning – with the invention of Edison's Talking Machine and the creation of a brand new way of listening.
-Robert Harris, producer Twilight of the Gods
Listen to Inside the Music on Radio 2 on Sunday 3 p.m. (3:30 NT) and Radio One on Sunday 9 p.m. (9:30 NT)
Twilight of the Gods part one: the dawn of the recording industry
Twilight of the Gods part two: the birth of jazz and country
Twilight of the Gods part three: the '60s and '70s change everything
Thomas Edision National Historical Park
Canadian Historicall Sound Recordings
Eldridge Johnson and the Victor Talking Machine
on Jun 29, 2012