Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture


University of Chicago Press
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Timothy D. Taylor |

Timothy D. Taylor is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Global Pop: World Music, World Markets (Routledge, 1997), Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture (Routledge, 2001), Beyond Exoticism: Western Music and the World (Duke, 2007), and numerous articles on various popular musics, classical musics, and social/cultural theory. He is an editor and compiler for Music, Sound, and Technology in America: A Documentary History of Early Phonograph, Cinema, and Radio (Duke, 2012) and is currently writing a book on music in today's capitalism. His interests include globalization, technology, race, ethnicity, consumption, tourism, and gender. He has received a fellowship from the National Humanities Center, as well as a junior fellowship and the Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. His article “The Commodification of Music at the Dawn of the Era of Mechanical Music,’” published in Ethnomusicology in 2007, was awarded the Jaap Kunst Prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2008. He is currently working on a book entitled Capitalism, Music, and Social Theory. Additionally, he is an avid performer of Irish traditional music on the flute, and can be heard regularly at sessions in southern California.

From the early days of radio through the rise of television after World War II to the present, music has been used more and more often to sell goods and establish brand identities. And since at least the 1920s, songs originally written for commercials have become popular songs, and songs written for a popular audience have become irrevocably associated with specific brands and products. Today, musicians move flexibly between the music and advertising worlds, while the line between commercial messages and popular music has become increasingly blurred.

The Sounds of Capitalism is the untold story of this infectious part of our musical culture. Here, Timothy D. Taylor tracks the use of music in American advertising for nearly a century, from variety shows like The Clicquot Club Eskimos to the rise of the jingle, the postwar rise in consumerism and the more complete fusion of popular music and consumption in the 1980s and after.

Taylor contends that today there is no longer a meaningful distinction to be made between music in advertising and advertising music. To make his case, he draws on rare archival materials, the extensive trade press, and hours of interviews with musicians ranging from Barry Manilow to unknown but unforgettable jingle singers. The Sounds of Capitalism is the first book to truly tell the history of music used in advertising in the United States, and an original contribution to this little-studied part of our cultural history.

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Ronald Radano | University of Wisconsin-Madison
“In The Sounds of Capitalism, Timothy D. Taylor presents a rich and compelling story about music’s emergence within the broad fields of US advertising and consumer culture. With great clarity and critical acumen, Taylor charts a complex history of the various ways in which advertisers have relied on music in order to sell consumer goods, employing strategies which, over time, have produced a complex semiotics blurring distinctions between the auditory and the material, between taste in music and desire for purchasable things. Taylor’s book is stunning in its exhaustive accounting of a vast, unexplored territory in US cultural history. And as we read through the tale, we gain something even more: a startling realization of how deeply intertwined our musical values and practices of consumption really are. The book promises to become a major text in the history of consumption as it establishes a new foundation in the study of US popular music.”

Steve Karmen | "King of The Jingle"
“Today, in a business where everyone knows everything, Timothy Taylor has written a scrupulously researched, thoroughly enjoyable history of the wild world of advertising music. The Sounds of Capitalism is the engrossing story of how the musical face of America’s economy has evolved through the generations; told in the words of those who were there. This is a landmark book."

Gary Cross | author of An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America
“This strikingly original work skillfully weaves together the author’s unmatched knowledge of modern music and perceptive reading of previously untapped sources to reveal how popular music and advertising became mutually dependent industries across a century of change. It will force us to rethink what we know about the popular arts and consumer culture.”

Toby Miller | University of California, Riverside
“Timothy D. Taylor is an outstanding presence in cultural studies. Lively, thoroughly researched, rigorously theorized, and filled with both political edge and joyous stylishness, The Sounds of Capitalism is another triumph.”
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