Book Reviews

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 U.S. 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.”

Caroline Waight

MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine

“Timothy D. Taylor’s unique contribution is his application of the historical approach to his subject, tracing, through extensive interviews and archival research, the evolution of music in American advertising from the early days of radio to the present. In doing so, he offers both a thorough and detail-rich history of this increasingly ubiquitous part of American life, and a broader meditation on the politics of sound in contemporary culture.”

Evan Kindley


“As the musicologist Timothy D. Taylor shows in The Sounds of Capitalism, the links between American popular music and advertising are longstanding. While he briefly covers the “prehistory” of the phenomenon in the cries of 13thcentury street hawkers recorded in the Montpellier Codex, Taylor’s real starting place is radio, which, he argues, is where the marriage between music and advertising was first truly consummated.”


“Taylor is to be commended for his organization of the text (which is exhaustively researched and annotated) and accessible writing style, which invite readers into his narrative personably, effortlessly, and enjoyably. His examples ably illustrate his points, and while he competently nods to the scholarly community through his implementation of cultural theory (especially in the last chapter), the clear, jargon-free language in which he has couched his analyses will appeal to a broad audience.”

Journal of the Societey for American Music

“For anyone interested in how music interacts with consumer desire and conceptions of self within consumer society, Taylor’s work is essential. It makes a compelling case that all of us interested in discussing music or U.S. culture in the last century must account for advertising as part of the story.”