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Chapter 2

MUSIC 2II3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Rockabilly, Alan Freed, Telling Stories

Course Code
Susan Fast

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Chapter 2: The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll
The Rise of Youth Culture in the 1950s
- The first wave of war babies reach adolescence (this is not your father’s pop
End of World War II: pop culture devoted exclusively to teenagers
In part, this phenomenon arose from the country’s relative political
stability and affluence in the post-World War II years: teens had money to
spend on leisure activities and luxury items
Rhythm and blues seemed exotic, dangerous, and sexual in ways that
excited them
Forbidden pleasure to white teens and an act of social rebellion
Radio and Records
- The rise of the disc jockey:
As radios became more available to teenagers, disc jockeys emerged as the
most important tastemakers of early rock and roll
- Aggressive marketing by independent labels
The competitive disadvantage was significant and meant that a successful
indie label had to be aggressive about marketing
To get a record played, it was necessary to develop relationships with DJS,
who could be influenced by gifts ranging from cash and merchandise to
nights on the town and even vacations
The practice of paying disc. Jockeys to play music on the radio was later
called payola
Both independent and major labels used payola, but it was most beneficial
to the independent labels who used this practice more readily in order to
compete with the greater resources shared by major labels
Conventional wisdom held that an indie could not beat a major label in the
pop market, so rhythm and blues and country and western were markets in
which independents could make money
Crossovers and Covers
- Hit records and the charts
Cashbox and Billboard contained slae charts that attempted to predict
trends in record and jukebox sales
Pop charts listed records that would likely be marketed tow hite, middle-
class listeners
Rhythm and blues charts followed music that was directed to black urban
Country and western charts kept track of music directed at low-income
When a record or song holds a prominent position on more than one of the
three types of charts, this is called crossover
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