Rock Music Business

Archive Report

Economics of Popular Music

Rock's Dominance for a Quarter-Century

From Its Beginnings in the early 1950s, rock music was a commercial product. Rock began as a hybrid form of American popular music called rock ’n’ roll—a brash, loud music which found immediate disfavor among adults. But record company executives were quick to see rock ’n’ roll's economic potential. Rock ’n’ roll records were extremely popular in a segment of society that was emerging as a distinct force for the first time in the early 1950s, the teenager. The record companies brought out songs and performers aimed specifically at this new market. At first, the only record companies that embraced rock ’n’ roll were the small, independent labels that existed in various cities around the country. When ...

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