You can find opportunity in the hardest situations. But how?
To answer that out, we take lessons from one of the most fascinating changes in cultural history — when the record player was invented. Many people loved it, but musicians hated it. They tried to stop it. But their anti-recorded-music campaign did not go as planned.
This is a story about what it takes — for us all! — to let go of the past and embrace the future.
Mark Katz, Professor of Music at the UNC Chapel Hill
Matthew Thibeault, Associate Professor of Cultural & Creative Arts at The Education University of Hong Kong
Jim Ramsburg, former radio historian (1935-2021)
Viola Smith, former musician (1912-2020)
Jason Feifer: This is Build for Tomorrow, a podcast about the smartest solutions to our most misunderstood problems. I'm Jason Feifer, and in each episode I take something that seems concerning or confusing today and figure out where it came from, what important things we're missing, and how we can create more opportunity tomorrow. Right now, you are listening to music. It was recorded at some earlier time by people you've never met, but of course you never paused to appreciate that because it's so commonplace. And yet, consider just for a moment how absolutely mind blowing this all would've been if you were alive at the beginning of recorded music.
Jason Feifer: The phonograph was introduced in the late 1800s, and it was the first version of what we now call a record player. This changed something fundamental about the human experience. Consider it. For all of human history, up until the late 1800s, for all of human history, the only way that someone could hear music being performed is if another human being was standing in front of them playing an instrument. That was it. And then out of nowhere, the human experience changed. A machine could capture sound and play it back whenever you wanted, and it would sound like this.
Audio Clip (Sing, Smile, Slumber): Cornet solo, Sing Smile Slumber, played by Bohumir Kryl, Edison Records.
Jason Feifer: That music is from somewhere between 1904 and 1908, back when music was recorded on cylinders, and each cylinder generally began with an announcement as if it was the start of a show. This was new and captivating and people loved it. But also as phonographs entered the home and everyone could play music whenever they wanted, the worrying class of the early 1900s became very worried. Here is a report from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 1st, 1916.
Audio Clip (Brooklyn Daily Eagle): Does not the frequent use of the phonograph, especially in continual repetitions of a number, produce inattention in the hearer? The music is so easily obtainable by the listener who sits back and is fed with sweet sounds.
Jason Feifer: And here's a critic named Alice Clark Cook in a publication called Musical America from around the same time.
Audio Clip (Musical America): Mental muscles become flabby through a constant flow of recorded popular music.
Jason Feifer: But critics weren't the only ones complaining. You know who also really hated this new technology? Who just absolutely despised the idea of being able to record music and play it back on a machine? Well, it was musicians. The world's most famous musicians started to rebel. They worried for their jobs, they worried about being replaced, and they were worried that this wasn't just the end of musicians, it was the end of music, and maybe the end of humanity. For example, one of the most famous musicians of the time argued that music machines would tear us apart. How's that? Well consider dance parties. So dance parties used to have live bands and live bands needed to take a break.
Audio Clip (Sousa): And the resulted interruption afforded the opportunity for general sociability and rest among the entire company.
Jason Feifer: But as this very famous musician explained, machines don't actually need to take a rest.
Audio Clip (Sousa): A tireless mechanism can keep everlastingly at it. And much of what made a dance a wholesome recreation is eliminated.
Jason Feifer: No breaks, no socialization, no wholesome recreation, no happy couples meeting on the dance floor, and then getting to know each other during a break in the music. The social fabric of our lives unraveling. Now, who made this crazy argument? I will tell you more about him later, along with many more of his colorful arguments. But for now, consider this. When we look back at the fury over recorded music, we can easily dismiss it as a silly moral crisis. But I think it's more than that. It is an important lesson about how to manage change today, both as individuals and as a collective society. Because let's be honest, even though we might laugh at people's reactions to recorded music, we make mistakes exactly like this. We see change coming for us, and we're so busy trying to stop it that we miss the biggest opportunities ahead.
Jason Feifer: In my book Build For Tomorrow which, yes, has the same name as this podcast, I write about why change is so difficult for people and how to overcome that. And here's what I found, change is hard because we equate change with loss. We see something new come along and immediately think about how it will impact or replace something we already have, and that feels like loss. And then because we want to know what will happen next, we start extrapolating the loss. We say, "If I lose this, then I'll lose that. And if I lose that, then I'll lose that other thing." And soon it starts to feel like we've lost everything. But what if we did something else instead? What if we focused on gain? Yes, gain is a lot harder to see than loss because gain isn't often immediately obvious. Gain is something we must anticipate.
Jason Feifer: And this is why I want to tell you the story of recorded music. I actually first aired a version of this episode in 2017, but I have completely updated and reworked it because it could not be more relevant to all the personal changes and big societal changes that we are experiencing today. This is a story about our complicated relationship with loss and gain and about what it takes to really find that gain. It's not easy, but it's there. It's always there. So how do we find it? All coming up after the break. All right, we're back. So like I said, the story of recorded music is a story of loss and gain. And before we can appreciate the gain, we must understand the loss, which means we must start at the beginning before anything was lost at all. So our story begins with Thomas Edison, who was a busy guy.
Mark Katz: Thomas Edison in his lab introduced the photograph in 1877, and it really didn't go anywhere for a while because he actually set it aside to work on the light bulb.
Jason Feifer: That is Mark Katz, a professor of music and of humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the author of a book about how technology changed music called Capturing Sound.
Mark Katz: It wasn't until the 1890s that it really became of much interest, or known well beyond just being a kind of novelty.
Jason Feifer: And that's because at first the phonograph was so new and revolutionary that people barely understood it. They thought it was a trick, like maybe a band was playing behind a wall somewhere. A bishop once met Thomas Edison and even demanded a test to prove that the machine works. So Edison set the phonograph up to record the bishop's voice. And here's from an article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in 1931 looking back on that moment.
Audio Clip (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette): The bishop recited haphazard a long list of obscure biblical names. When the phonograph recited them right back to him, he was convinced because he could not conceive that any hidden ventriloquist could remember them.
Jason Feifer: But of course, just because something is impressive, that doesn't mean it's useful. And at first, the phonograph was not useful at all. The recording quality was low, and there was no means of mass producing records. But over time, it evolved. The gramophone used a flat record, which people liked a lot more than the original cylinders that music was recorded on. And as the technology got better, it attracted better musicians. A big breakthrough moment came when the Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso began recording in 1902.
Audio Clip (Enrico Caruso): (singing).
Jason Feifer: In 1906, the Victor Talking Machine Company introduced its own innovation called the Victrola, which was basically a big cabinet with a record player inside. Because you know how we always picture those old machines with a giant horn? People didn't actually like that horn. It was easy to knock over, and kids kept putting stuff in it. So the Victrola was a game changer. But even as people bought these new machines and marveled their abilities...
Mark Katz: There was a lot of anxiety about recorded sound.
Jason Feifer: Recorded music forced people to reconsider the very experience of music. I mean, music had always been something people saw live, which meant it was almost always experienced in a group. But now someone could listen to music alone, and that was weird. For example, here's a question that would've made sense only back then. How do you listen to music by yourself? In the past, you would've watched the musicians perform, your eyes would've been on them. But if you're in the comfort of your own home, what do you do with your body and mind while the music is playing?
Jason Feifer: To answer this question, the Edison Company created the Edison Realism Test. It was a six step method of listening to a record which salespeople would use to walk potential customers through. In short, the process went like this. Okay, to start, pick the kind of music you want. Then sit with your back towards the machine, which isn't going to be playing anything yet. Then spend two minutes looking through a scrapbook where you'll read some words about music and imagine some music. Then say the words, "I am ready." As you begin to listen to the music, well, here are the instructions word for word from the actual test.
Audio Clip (Edison Realism Test): About 45 seconds after the music begins, close your eyes slowly and keep them closed for a minute or more. Then open your eyes for 15 seconds, but do not gaze at your surroundings. After this, close your eyes again and keep them closed until the end of the selection. You should get the same emotional reaction experienced when you last hear the same kind of voice or instrument.
Jason Feifer: If you don't feel those emotions, the test says, then you should do the whole thing over again, so that's how to listen to music alone. Now, here's another question that would've only made sense back then. What do you do if you find someone else listening to music alone? The writer, Orlo Williams wondered that in 1923 and wrote-
Audio Clip (Orlo Williams): You would think it odd, would you not? You would endeavor to disassemble your surprise, you would look twice to see whether some person were not hidden in some corner of the room and if you found no such one would painfully blush, as if you had discovered your friend sniffing cocaine, emptying a bottle of whiskey, or plaiting straws in his hair.
Jason Feifer: Awkward. So that's what the average music consumer grappled with. But the average musician had a larger set of concerns. They saw themselves being replaced. The record player was an existential threat to their existence, and they wanted it stopped. The leader of the resistance was a guy named John Philip Sousa. You may not know his name, but you definitely know his music. He wrote the military marches that we still know today, like this one.
Matthew Thibeault: He really did make as bold an argument as you can make about disliking recordings, and that came from the fact that he deeply understood what live music could be.
Jason Feifer: This is Matthew Thibeault, who has studied Sousa's opposition to recorded music and is an associate professor of cultural and creative arts at the Education University of Hong Kong.
Matthew Thibeault: In fact, if you went back and you looked at a Sousa concert, it was an experience that was deeply attuned to things that only live music could do.
Jason Feifer: For example, when he put on a concert, the guy would only list four pieces on his program, but then he'd go on to perform about 12 based on what he felt that particular audience was into. He'd do two or three encores, and he demanded the audience's full attention. He would stop mid song if he thought people had drifted off. Over 40 years, Sousa gave more than 15,000 concerts, which comes out to more than one a day. So when recorded music technology came out, you can imagine how Sousa felt about it. In 1906, he wrote an essay called The Menace of Mechanical Music in a literary journal called Appleton's Magazine, which was reprinted in hundreds of newspapers and magazines across the country. Remember earlier I said that people often equate change with loss, and then we extrapolate the loss thinking that because we've lost one thing, we'll lose another and then another until everything feels lost?
Jason Feifer: Well, if you want to see what that looks like, then this Sousa document has it all. It's a catalog of sad, alarming predictions about how recorded music would drain our lives of meaning and joy, and it would stop people from meeting each other at dances because yes, we have reached the point where I reveal the musician that you heard at the very beginning of the show saying that because a machine doesn't stop playing music, then nobody will ever stop dancing, John Philip Sousa, which makes this a perfect representation of extrapolating loss, and therefore, his essay is also a perfect way for us to explore the difference between loss and gain. So here's what I want to do with this essay. I'm going to pick three predictions from John Philip Sousa, and then we're going to see how they turned out. And after that, we can try to understand what was really going on here and why someone like Sousa is driven to such extreme fears. All right. Here is fear number one, quoting directly from Sousa's article.
Audio Clip (Sousa): The hope of developing the local music personality is eliminated.
Jason Feifer: Here was Sousa's argument in the past. He said, "A child might hear music and then want to learn how to perform it themselves, so they would start copying other people's performance styles, but eventually they would develop their own style," which is true, of course, that is how many people learn any creative art. But Sousa worried that with recorded music available, that evolution would stop. Maybe instead of being inspired to learn an instrument, people would be inspired to buy a phonograph and never learn to play or they would learn an instrument by copying what they heard on a recording and never develop their own style. Therefore, the local music personality...
Audio Clip (Sousa): Is eliminated.
Jason Feifer: So how did that turn out?
Viola Smith: Oh, well, that's a strange thought to me.
Jason Feifer: This is Viola Smith, though. Here's someone who can introduce her better.
Audio Clip (Viola Smith): I'd like you to meet our very charming little drummer, Viola Smith.
Jason Feifer: That's Viola performing in the 1930s with the group Frances Carroll and her Coquettes. Viola is considered the first female star of jazz drumming, and her performing days overlapped with John Philip Sousa, which means she's very well equipped to say how recorded music technology impacted her. And when I spoke with her at the age of 104, her answer was, "Eh, not that much."
Viola Smith: We listed the records and then we incorporated into our style. Each musician has it own style of playing, and when you listed the records, you tend to pick up ideas, extra ideas, but you cannot change your whole way of playing just because you heard another style of playing on the record.
Jason Feifer: Which is what any musician will tell you today. Records did not destroy the development of the local music personality as John Philip Sousa predicted. If anything, records accelerated this development by giving aspiring musicians more influences to choose from, to mix and match from, to absorb into their own personal development. Now, let's go on to John Philip Sousa fear number two, which was..
Audio Clip (Sousa): It will simply be a question of time when the amateur disappears entirely, and with him, a host of vocal and instrumental teachers who will be without field or calling.
Jason Feifer: Sousa's logic went like this, in the past, people needed to practice in order to create great music, but practicing is hard, and why would anyone bother to do that when the machine can just play a record whenever they'd like? Therefore, when record players are available, the amateur musician will disappear and so will all their teachers. But of course...
Mark Katz: That's really not why people make music. It's not a chore that if given an alternative, you would take it.
Jason Feifer: Mark Katz actually researched this claim, and he found the exact opposite of what Sousa predicted during their early years of recorded music, the number of music teachers and the number of amateur musicians both went up because of course, people were never inspired by live music. They were inspired by music. And now that they heard recordings of music, well, they just heard more music to be inspired by too, and they were probably inspired to learn an instrument so that they too could be recorded. Now finally, here is my absolute favorite argument of Sousa's. It is Sousa fear number three.
Audio Clip (Sousa): Will they not sing? If they sing at all in imitation and finally become simply human phonographs without soul or expression.
Jason Feifer: Sousa painted a dark picture. He wrote that when recorded music enters the home, all forms of live music will cease, because of course, why would anyone perform live when a machine can do it for them? And then because there's no longer going to be live music in the home, mothers would no longer sing to their children because again, why would they do that when a machine can do it for them? And because children imitate their mothers, the children will now imitate the machines instead. And as he said, they will become simply human phonographs. We will raise a generation of machine babies to which I can only offer this.
Audio Clip (Fenn Boots): (singing). Yeah. (singing).
Jason Feifer: That is my son who was complaining about having to walk down a sidewalk and who then really did not want to hear me singing about walking. He'd rather listen to Kids Bop on Spotify. So I guess score one for Sousa, but nah, not really, because when I sing my kids lullabies at night, they are really into it. And they are definitely not machine babies because although John Philip Sousa believed we live in a world of either/or, we actually get to live in a world of and, a world of both, a world of more options where being able to do a new thing does not by its very nature, eliminate the value of an old thing, gain, not loss. But look, I am not here just to dump on Sousa. His entire world was being shaken and he was afraid. That's why I see this as an important cautionary tale, because we all right now do this exact thing in our heads whenever we're faced with a big change.
Jason Feifer: For example, if one thing changes at our job, we feel like everything will change, and then we fear that we'll become useless and unable to keep up and will be fired and we'll never have another job again. This may be our natural way of thinking, but it is not the only way of thinking we can push ourselves to find gain too, and then to extrapolate that gain instead of extrapolating loss. That's why whenever we're faced with a big change, I think we should ask ourselves three questions. Number one, what are we doing differently because of this new thing? Number two, what new skill or habit are we learning as a result? And number three, how could that be put to good use? Think of how Sousa might have answered those. I mean, number one, what are we doing different because of this new thing? Well, we're now recording music and people are now listening to music in the privacy of their home.
Jason Feifer: Number two, what new skill or habit are we learning as a result? Well, consumers are learning that they have more control over the music they listen to. They can listen to whoever they want whenever they want. And now number three, how could that be put to good use? Well, holy cow, if I'm a musician, I can reach so many more people than I ever could have before. I once could only reach people I could physically travel to, but now I can record something today and people who rather world can listen to it tomorrow. That's amazing. When you look at it like that, you realize that John Philip Sousa was actually protecting a system that limited his own economic opportunity. Recorded music did not shrink his ability to work. It actually exponentially expanded it and think of all the new music jobs it created too. Studio musicians, engineers, promoters, DJs.
Jason Feifer: There are more ways to make money on music now than ever before. But I want to acknowledge something. Change is not an easy process. It is rarely as straightforward as simply asking yourself three questions, even if there are useful questions, and then coming away with some new life philosophy. Loss can be real and difficult to manage. Some changes will come easier than others. And to be fair, recorded music technology did threaten a lot of jobs. Up until the late 1920s, for example, movies were always accompanied by a live band, but then recorded music could sync up with the film, and an estimated third of musicians were out of work. In 1928, the head of the American Federation of Musicians framed the change as an existential threat to everyone, writing that, "Musical machines constitute a serious menace to cultural growth." So what does a messy transition look like and how can we make it through not just the panic of change, but the real genuine challenges of it?
Jason Feifer: Again, the history of recorded music has a lot to tell us, so we will dig into that coming up after the break. All right, we're back. So we've covered some of the sillier ways that people reacted to recorded music, but let's now talk about the tangible impact too. By the late 1920s, an estimated third of working musicians were out of work as their jobs and movie theaters and other places were replaced by machines and musicians wondered if they would be replaced entirely. So in turn, they tried to attack the machines. First, musicians went on the offensive. In the 1930s, they transformed an economic issue into a moral one and claimed that the very nature of music and humanity were at stake. Fun fact, this is actually where the phrase live music comes from. Here again is Matthew Thibeault.
Matthew Thibeault: The whole term live music was actually introduced by the Musicians Union as a rhetorical attempt to oppose live versus dead. They wanted consumers to think of recordings as dead and them as alive and who would choose death over life?
Jason Feifer: The union also ran an enormous anti-recorded music ad campaign, much of which came in the form of cartoons printed in newspapers. In one of them, for example, there's this robot with a guitar, and it's serenading a woman who looks pained by the experience. There's a headline that says, "The robot sings of love." And then the text goes on to say...
Audio Clip (“The Robot Sings of Love”): But the robot has no soul and having no soul, it cannot love. Small wonder the lady spurns its suit. Music is an emotional art, by means of it feeling maybe translated into all tongues. The robot having no capacity for feeling cannot produce music in a true sense.
Jason Feifer: Over time, the nature of the fight evolved. Musicians started to record their music, but were demanding increased royalties from record labels. In the 1940s, a guy named James Petrillo took over the Musicians Union and led two strikes. From 1942 to 1944, and again, in 1948, no union musician could go into a studio and record. This earned some short term victories, including a few more dollars for musicians. But it also had many unintended consequences because here's the thing, yes, like I said, transitions can be hard, but they also create new opportunities for others. The only big question is who can recognize those new opportunities and who is willing to move towards them? You can get a little taste of how this played out in a diddy called Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart by Jo Stafford and Gordon Macrae. It came out in 1948 during that second musician strike.
Audio Clip, Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart: (Singing) At no time during this number do you hear a musical instrument (singing).
Jason Feifer: You catch that? Because while the strike forbid union musicians from recording, it did not cover singers or musicians who played odd instruments or who weren't under union contract. So what happened? Well, the world didn't sit silently waiting for one set of musicians to get back into the studio. Music got experimental, small record labels opened, and radio stations imported new albums from other countries. And also, singers started to take center stage. Before the 1940s, singers were often an afterthought, and the big band in its band leader were the stars of any show. But by the time the strikes were over, singers became the stars, and pop music was on its way to replacing big bands.
Jim Ramsburg: I miss it. I'm really a fan of the big bands, which sounds funny, coming from an ex-top 40 jock, but I miss him.
Jason Feifer: That is Jim Ramsburg. He took his first job in radio in 1954 as all these changes were playing out, I asked him if looking back, he thought we lost anything in the change.
Jim Ramsburg: Well, who are we to say, quite frankly, because I was one of the guys to help kill it. Our studios in Minneapolis are right down the street from WCCO, which was an old line CBS operation, and just one of America's finest radio stations and we were out to kill it. And every time we saw a funeral precession go down the street, we said, "There goes another CCO listener." And that's the way it was in those days. It was a dying art, the big bands, and it really is unfortunate. But that was just the trend of pop culture in those days, and it continues today.
Jason Feifer: Okay, so now let's step back and look at the fullness of this story. For most of human history, music could only be performed live. Therefore, the music business evolved as a live business. But then a machine came along and it could play music too. And the musicians of the turn of the century saw that as loss, they imagined being replaced by the machines. And to be fair, in some circumstances, they were replaced by machines. So the musicians dug in anticipating that their slice of the pie would only get smaller and that they needed to defend it at all costs. Economists actually have a term for what the musicians were thinking, at least as it relates to big economic questions. It's something I stumbled upon a few years ago when listening to the podcast, Planet Money, when they discussed something called the lump of labor fallacy.
Audio Clip (Planet Money): The lump of labor fallacy is the notion that there's a kind of finite amount of work to do, and so that if more work is done by machines or potentially by immigrants or by workers overseas, then we will run out of work at home.
Jason Feifer: This is David Autor, a professor of economics at MIT speaking to Planet Money's Jacob Goldstein and Otter said, "Look, here's why this is a fallacy. Consider that a hundred years ago, Americans used to spend 70% of every dollar on the absolute basics of life, food, clothing, housing. But then thanks to machines or poor labor or immigrants, all of our things became cheaper. As a result, yes, some jobs were lost, but consumers suddenly had a lot more money to spend because now thanks to all these cheap goods, only 40% of every dollar was going to the basics of life. So what did people do with the rest of that money? Well, they didn't just put it in a savings account. They started to spend it on restaurants and entertainment and adventures, therefore fueling new jobs in new industries. Here's Jacob Goldstein from that Planet Money episode.
Audio Clip (Planet Money): So the lump of labor fallacy is telling us here that there is not some fixed amount, some lump of labor to be done in the world, right? It's like we are just going to keep coming up with new jobs that we could not have imagined would exist.
Jason Feifer: Now, that's not to say everything is easy and hunky dory, it's not. On Planet Money, for example, they also spoke about how this transition can be difficult and not everyone wins.
Audio Clip (Planet Money): So there's no evidence to think that we're running out of jabs, but that doesn't mean that everybody's getting a better job.
Jason Feifer: Which is to say loss is real. So what do you do? Well, if you're looking at large economic systems like an economist, then you start to talk about job training programs and other means of fostering new markets and transitioning older workforces. But if you're just an individual person trying to navigate a change yourself, well then you have a choice. You can spend your energy focused on protecting what you've lost, or you can focus it on identifying the gain that will be there. But that might not be easy to see, and that might require putting yourself into uncomfortable positions, but that truly is the only pathway forward, which is how we get to this.
Audio Clip (Sousa): This is John Phillip Sousa and I'm very glad to be here with my band representing my own country America. I hope you'll enjoy hearing me again as much as I always enjoy playing for you.
Jason Feifer: That is a recording of John Phillip Sousa's orchestra. There he is, the man who told us that recorded music would destroy babies. The man who refused to ever perform near a microphone. In September of 1929, Sousa gave all that up and tentatively embraced the radio. At first, he performed live on the radio, but later he even did recordings. Before this, Sousa always stressed the importance of a live audience to him, that was a core part of what made music, well, music. But then he went into this radio studio, which contained just a few people, his wife, three children, manager, secretary, a few guests. He wrote about the experience later in the New York Times describing having a mix of curiosity and anxiety, and then afterwards discovering, to his great delight, that he still got the audience reaction that he craved. It just happened in a different way.
Audio Clip (Sousa): Before the concert was over, I received several telegrams from almost every state in the union, and they were uniformly superlative in utterance and complimentary in character.
Jason Feifer: That is what he wrote. And then he wished that somebody would invent yet another piece of technology. This time it would allow a performer to hear the applause from people far and wide. So why did Sousa do it? Why did he drop the objections and start recording? Well, here's the thing.
Mark Katz: He realized he could make a lot of money off his recordings.
Jason Feifer: That's Mark Katz again, because here's the thing. Before recorded music, there were really two big ways that a composer like Sousa made money. He could perform, yes, but he could also sell the sheet music of his compositions. Sousa did both. And he worried that record players would destroy both those markets. But then he realized, wait a second. I can make a lot more money off these records than I could ever do by selling sheet music. Sousa ultimately discovered that gain follows loss. It is simply the thing that happens. Change sparks a panic, and then we adapt, and then we find a new normal, and then we get to something so new and valuable that we say, I wouldn't want to go back to a time before I had it. That's the cycle. Easier for some, harder for others. It is not always clean or clear, and it can create hardship along the way.
Jason Feifer: And I am not here to dismiss the very real struggles of anyone who's going through it. But instead, I'm just here to ask this question, how much time and energy do you want to devote to protecting the past before figuring out the future? That to me, is the real story of recorded music. Nobody won in this story by looking backwards, but some of them, like John Philip Sousa, eventually thrived by doing what we all must do. They learned to change their tune. And that's our episode. But hey, remember that clip I played of Viola Smith, the 104 year old drummer? There's a really funny backstory to it, which she shared with me. So I'll tell you that in a minute.
Jason Feifer: But first, if you love Build For Tomorrow the podcast, then you will totally love Build For Tomorrow, the book. I wrote it for anyone facing a big change in their work or lives, and it is full of stories and lessons and practical exercises, including some of the stuff that you heard today to help you find your next big thing. And yes, podcast lovers, it is available in audio format too, find Build for Tomorrow, the book or the audio book or the ebook available wherever you find books or at jasonfeifer.com/book. And if you want even more advice and encouragement on how to adapt fast, sign up for my newsletter. Find it by going to jasonfeifer.com/newsletter. You can also get in touch with me directly at my website, Jason Feifer, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram. I am @heyfeifer.
Jason Feifer: And as I said before, this episode is adapted from an earlier episode that I did in 2017, that one had help from Jennifer Ritter. And this updated version had research and production help from Emily Holmes and Adam Soccolich. The John Philip Sousa quotes you heard were read originally in 2017 by Tim Hatrick. He's now a morning host at KNIX Country, 102.5 in Phoenix, and all other archival materials were read more recently by Gia Mora. You can learn more about her at giamora.com. Sound editing by Alec Balas. Our theme music is by Casper Babypants. Learn more at babypantsmusic.com. Since the first version of this episode aired, unfortunately, Viola Smith passed away in 2020 and Jim Ramsburg passed away in 2021.
Jason Feifer: This show is supported in part by the Stand Together Trust. Stand together Trust believes that advances in technology have transformed society for the better, and is looking to support scholars, policy experts, and other projects and creators who focus on embracing innovation, creating a society that fosters innovation and encouraging people to engineer the next great idea. If that's you, then get in touch with them. Proposals for projects in law, economics, history, political science and philosophy are encouraged. To learn more about their partnership criteria, visit standtogethertrust.org. All right. Now, as promised, a closing story from Viola. When I introduced her before I played this little clip. And I said this was a clip from the band Frances Carroll and her Coquettes, which I guess made Viola one of the coquettes. But Viola says, the backstory here is kind of crazy.
Viola Smith: It was my orchestra, my sisters and my orchestra.
Jason Feifer: At first, it was actually an orchestra with Viola's whole family, but then everyone dropped out except her sister who played saxophone. So Viola and her sister were performing with this orchestra, and then Warner Brothers wanted to do a recording with them, and it was going to be billed as their orchestra, as the sisters would be the stars. But the booker at Warner Brothers was dating a band leader named Frances Carroll. And then Frances Carroll got assigned to lead Viola's orchestra.
Viola Smith: And she went out with him and all of a sudden we see ourselves as Warner Brothers present Frances Carroll and her Coquettes. In other words, this girl went with a booker, became her orchestra. That's not the Smith Sister's orchestra or The Coquettes. We called ourselves The Coquettes.
Jason Feifer: How's that for abrupt change? But hey, loss and gain. Viola wasn't too bothered. She was ready to leave the orchestra anyway and move to New York City, which is what she did, and became known as much more than just one of Frances Carroll's Coquettes. Thanks for listening to me on this, a recording that contains recorded music, scandalous as that might have once been. My name is Jason Feifer, and let's keep building for tomorrow.
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