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Music and the New Global CultureFrom the Great Exhibitions to the Jazz Age$
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Harry Liebersohn

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226621265

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226649306.001.0001

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Americans Abroad: Innocents and Transnationals

Americans Abroad: Innocents and Transnationals

(p.195) 8 Americans Abroad: Innocents and Transnationals
Music and the New Global Culture

Harry Liebersohn

University of Chicago Press

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and planned a global business – which he launched with mediocre success; his provinciality contrasts with the collaborative skills and transatlantic success of Emile Berliner. Edison monitored his recordings with the mentality of a sound engineer; he and his associates in the National Phonograph Company dithered while their rivals at the Victor Talking Machine Company snapped up the top talent. Edison’s company tried on markets like the Chinese and other immigrant record markets, but with limited commitment to marketing. They got off to a slow start in Russia, India was a disaster, and they faltered in Mexico. By 1908 their failure at communications was manifest. By contrast, Berliner was a transatlantic networker. Born in Hanover, Germany, he emigrated to the United States and was launched as an inventor by the Bell Company. With his brother, Joseph Berliner, he built a transatlantic business that included Deutsche Grammophon. In the United States, his protégé Eldridge Johnson built up Victor with a genius for middle-class marketing, while their British partner, the Gramophone Company, became a springboard for worldwide recording.

Keywords:   Thomas Edison, Eldridge Johnson, Gramophone Company, Deutsche Grammophon, Victor Talking Machine Company, Emile Berliner, National Phonograph Company

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