The Evolution of a "SONG" (and how it got there)
Songs traveled through many different carriers. An early component for the advancement of a popular song was the "Vinyl Donut."
Promotion Executive Phillip Rauls delivers his message of "dialing and smiling" to Radio Disk Jockeys, TV critics and Newspaper journalist. Pictured here during the era of the 45 RPM single, Phillip shamelessly offers his services in an advertisement posted in a industry rag.
Popular songs have evolved over the centuries, many traveling through printed sources and others delivered through human efforts. From the days of Irving Berlin to the era of Isaac Hayes and David Porter, somehow great songs have found their way to the public. In this second of a two part series (see previous posting; "The Evolution of The Promotion Man") we focus on the modernization of song travel during the 20th Century.
Music historians arguably disagree about the birth of Rock & Roll and its origination. As a child coming from that generation, allow me to offer my perspective upon the music deriving from Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. Where it started and when it started is a disputed subject that is well documented, but not a subject for this posting. Instead, let us focus on the evolution of a song's popularity spreading into mainstream society. There were many contributing factors to the passage of a song. Many songs mysteriously traveled through vast carriers but once they were recorded and pressed onto vinyl, they were ultimately sealed in a period of undiscovered notoriety awaiting their destiny.
During the 20th Century, Radio airplay, TV exposure and the benefit of print media were the all-essential components for a song's popularity. Question is: How did a song conveniently arrive at that decorum? Definitive Answer: Songs didn't magically sprout wings and fly from the recording studio and appear on your favorite radio station or upon your TV screen. Did newspaper reviews generate by themselves? Who alerted the Disk Jockeys or journalist on behalf of the recording artist performance? The discovery of a song's artistic merit was channeled through those who approached a sometimes apprehensive broadcast and newsprint system with this message. Several generations of records became successful as a result of the precocious and fundamental development produced through the human labors of promotion people. Musicians from all over the world have experienced career advancement through the tedious lobbying process provided by this standard.
A love for good music was the bond that connected these radio and record counterparts who were at risk by taking a chance promoting or playing an unproven or underdeveloped artist. It may surprise you but there were occupational hazards attached to this seemly risk-free profession. There was a distinctive career gamble at playing or promoting the wrong songs. Radio stood the risk of being the victims of poor ratings by playing music which the public could not embrace. Whereas record promoters might loose their credibility by associating themselves artist with weak material. Poor decisions within the music industry always resulted in being unemployed.
Sheet Music Salesmen, Song Pluggers, Front Men, Promotion Men and Record Promoters were the soldiers who carried the torch by lobbying the front-line media of Disk Jockeys, TV Critics and Media Journalist with an arm full of cutting-edge songs and determined to establish foundation. In other businesses those professional services would be the equivalent of say, an event strategist, a curator, a design coordinator, or an architect. Someone who turned an idea into reality.
However, let it not be misunderstood. Many songs can spearhead their own success by the magical power of their lyrics and harmonic contents. However, these great songs containing this dynamic can propel themselves to even further heights with the guidance and maintenance provided by promotion people. The sequence of promotion, marketing and advertising efforts are all the labors of people skills and not to be confused with the song's mystique.