TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Broadcasting Stations and Music Publishers at Odds

Broadcasting Stations and Music Publishers at Odds

Neal McLain (
Fri, 23 Sep 2005 22:01:30 -0400

A friend recently sent me a photocopy of the following newspaper article:

----- start of quoted article -----

The Sunday Oregonian, Portland Oregon, August 26, 1923


Broadcasters Maintain That Stations Help Musical Composition Rather
Than Prevent Public From Buying -- Contest Will Determine Influence
That Wireless Has Had Upon the Music Purchases of Country

By Saul Emanuel

Does radio broadcasting help to "make" a song or is it really
detrimental to the sale of a new composition in the form of records or
music rolls?

Several months ago the claim was made by the music publishers and
authors that the use of their compositions by the broadcasting
stations was proving disastrous to the welfare of their trade.
According to Arthur A Freistadt, president of United States Music
Company of Chicago, the radio fan who can listen to a musical
composition with an inexpensive radio set has no desire to buy the
sheet music, piano roll, or phonograph record of the selection.
Freistadt is for this reason entirely opposed to the radio
broadcasting of music, especially of the popular variety.

Royalties Are Asked.

To offset this alleged decrease of their business, the publishers now
demand the payment of royalties form the stations and declare that
they will go to court to enforce such payment. One of their legal
advisers recently made the statement that such royalties could also be
extracted from certain receiving sets installed in commercial
establishments for advertising purposes.

The broadcasters contend, according to H. Gernsback, editor of Radio
News, that broadcasting of these compositions could have but one
effect upon them, an increase of popularity with an according increase
in sales. Several instances are cited by Gernsback in which certain
songs making an appreciable headway through the usual methods of
exploitation were almost instantly popularized when they were sung
from several of the large broadcasting stations. The sales of these
compositions immediately jumped into the hundreds of thousands,
declares the editor of Radio News.

Fans Deny Charges.

The controversy is attracting the attention of the radio public, now
counted in the millions. Letters are being constantly written to
different broadcasting stations from listeners who say that they would
never have heard of such and such a song had it not been sung from
that station. In many cases the listener wrote that he or she
purchased a copy of the composition the following day to try it out on
the piano. Others bought records of the song, they wrote.

The broadcasters have no intention of being held up in this bold
manner, according to statements from many of the stations. In fact an
organization is being promoted among the stations to boycott the
compositions of the musical trust and to broadcast only those from
independent authors and publishers.

Contest to Prove Point.

To prove that radio broadcasting is the most powerful advertising
medium for the popularizing of music, the Radio News has stated a
contest for the two best compositions written before October 1 of this
year. These selections, one of which is to be a march and the other a
"jazz" piece, will be chosen in an open competition and promoted
entirely by radio.

Three hundred dollars in prizes will be awarded in the contest, one
half for the best composition in march time and a like amount for the
best composition in "jazz" time. The winning contestants will also be
paid a generous royalty so that two new popular song writers will also
be "made" by radio if the plan of Radio News is successful.

Conditions Are Given.

The conditions of the competition, as mentioned in the September issue
of Radio News, follows:

1. Each composition to be not longer than the usual four pages.
2. Contestants may send in more than one competition. There is no
restriction as to number.
3. All compositions to be executed in ink in the usual manner, using
the usual musical symbols.
4. Compositions to be entitled "Radio March" or "Radio Jazz" as the
case may be.
5. Authors unable to write down music themselves may have a musician
do this for them.
6. All manuscripts to be submitted flat, not rolled.
7. All manuscripts not accepted will be promptly returned to the
owners at the conclusion of the contest, provided that sufficient
postage is enclosed with the manuscripts.
8. All prizes will be paid upon publication.
9. The contest closes in New York on October 1, 1923.
10. Address all compositions to Editor, Radio Music Contest,
Radio News, New York.

Those who will judge the contest will be Hugo Reisenfeld, conductor of
the orchestras of the Rialto, Rivoli, Criterion theaters of New York;
Ted Lewis of the well-known Ted Lewis band and Ted Lewis frolics;
Vincent Lopez, director of the Hotel Pennsylvania orchestra, New York;
Milton J. Cross, announcer of radio broadcasting station AJN, New
York, member of the Institute of Musical Arts and of Paulist
choristers; Leo R. Riggs, musical director of the Hotel Astor bands,
and H. Gernsback, editor of Radio News.

----- end of quoted article -----

The name Milton J. Cross, one of the judges in the Radio News contest,
caught my attention. Perhaps a few other elderly TD readers remember
him as the "Voice of the Met" from 1935 to 1974.

The same page of the Oregonian also contains an article COCKADAY
CIRCUIT GIVES EXTREME TUNING SHARPNESS and even includes a schematic
diagram (one triode) and instructions for winding the coils (excerpt:
"The antenna coil L-4 is wound on another paper tube 3 1/4 inches in
diameter and consists of 43 turns of No. 18 tapped every seventh
turn."). Apparently then, as now, newspapers reported the latest
techno-geek fads.

Neal McLain

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