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Nov 17, 2021 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM(America/Chicago)
20211117T0900 20211117T1030 America/Chicago “Radio Enchains Music”: The 1940 ASCAP Radio War and Music Festival (AMS/Library of Congress Lecture)

In September 1940, a bitter conflict between American radio networks and songwriters was well underway. Previously, the 25 year-old American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) had contracted with major broadcast networks but now the society wanted to renegotiate in order to license their members' music with individual stations. After a meeting in San Francisco, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) decided to boycott ASCAP members' music and created a rival organization, BMI. In retaliation for the boycott, ASCAP chose to assemble its most illustrious members and present a concert series in the final weeks of the two bi-coastal 1940 world fairs in New York and San Francisco. Barred from the radio, ASCAP presented a highly publicized musical protest in the form of a two-part concert series at the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) in San Francisco. Drawing on recordings, reviews, photographs, and sheet music held in the Library of Congress and the ASCAP Foundation Collection, this lecture argues that the 1940 ASCAP concert sheds new light on the issues of mass culture and radio, protest, race and gender and the reaffirmation of the American popular music canon in the final years before involvement in WWII.

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org

In September 1940, a bitter conflict between American radio networks and songwriters was well underway. Previously, the 25 year-old American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) had contracted with major broadcast networks but now the society wanted to renegotiate in order to license their members' music with individual stations. After a meeting in San Francisco, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) decided to boycott ASCAP members' music and created a rival organization, BMI. In retaliation for the boycott, ASCAP chose to assemble its most illustrious members and present a concert series in the final weeks of the two bi-coastal 1940 world fairs in New York and San Francisco. Barred from the radio, ASCAP presented a highly publicized musical protest in the form of a two-part concert series at the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) in San Francisco. Drawing on recordings, reviews, photographs, and sheet music held in the Library of Congress and the ASCAP Foundation Collection, this lecture argues that the 1940 ASCAP concert sheds new light on the issues of mass culture and radio, protest, race and gender and the reaffirmation of the American popular music canon in the final years before involvement in WWII.

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