History of Record Labels and the Music Industry: 1910s
by Alex Cosper

Introduction 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

see also American Radio History


- Columbia became an all-disc manufacturer and discontinued to issuing cylinders in 1912. Edison finally dropped the dying cylinder format and introduced the Edison Diamond Disc Player in 1913.

- Billboard began publishing regular monthly music charts in 1913, reflecting the popularity of sheet music and vaudeville songs. The following year another publication called Talking Machine World began its monthly survey of best selling records for each label, based on information supplied by the labels.

- The era of blues began in 1914 when W.C. Handy composed the songs "Memphis Blues" and "St. Louis Blues," which became widely covered songs throughout the early 20th century.

- The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is launched in 1914 as the first musical performance rights organization.

- In 1915 Felix Kahn, an associate of Carl Lindstrom, formed the OKed Record Company in the U.S. to represent Lindstrom's European labels Odeon and Parlophone. It was also the label that introduced the first blues records.

- Emerson Records was formed in 1916 by former Columbia executive Victor Emerson.

- Brunswick was formed in 1916 in America. Brunswick's UK operations were launched by Chappell Pianos seven years later.

- United Artists was formed in 1919 by early film stars Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford more as a movie company but eventually it crossed into the record business by issuing movie soundtracks.

- New independent record labels began to spring up in 1917 as most of the original patents regarding record machine and disc manufacturing had expired. Many of these independent labels issued early blues and jazz recordings, such as the Black Swan label, which first appeared in 1921.

- General Electric and AT&T teamed up in 1919 to form the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) as a radio manufacturer. The following year commercial radio debuted in America at Westinghouse station KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA.

- The top recording artist of the decade, according to music researcher Joel Whitburn, was Peerless Quartet. This vocal group had over 100 hits in the first three decades of the 20th century. They recorded for both Victor and Columbia off and on throughout the group's career. Their most popular hit was "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" in 1911. Their 1915 hit "My Bird of Paradise" appeared on both Victor and Columbia. Prior to the outbreak of World War I, they had a top hit in 1915 called "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier."

Introduction 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

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