Record Cultures : The Transformation of the U.S. Recording Industry
"The 1920s was a crucial decade for the recording industry. Large record companies existed, but across the nation there were dozens of small, independently owned and regionally-oriented labels like Black Swan, Champion, Paramount, Gennett, Starr, Okeh, and others which catered to specific genres and audiences that were at the time outside the commercial mainstream: jazz, "race records," "old time" or "hillbilly" music, local religious music traditions, and exotica from abroad that the metropolitan record companies did not-yet-see as profitable. Kyle Barnett's book seeks to tell the story of the first big wave of consolidation of the record industry, when larger labels began to take an interest in what the smaller labels were doing, the growing pains that resulted in mainstream companies having to adapt their culture to promoting artists from the margins-poor or working class "hillbillies," African-Americans-and how the coming of the Depression threatened to turn back the clock of the industry's growth. In hindsight, the evolution of the recording industry toward consolidation looks inevitable, but there is no good, synthetic history of this crucial period that gives due credit to the development of the industry, both commercially and culturally"