Why 1948 might have been the most important year in music

Liberated by a strike: John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Bill Evans recording in 1958.

From The Wall Street Journal:

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, as 1947 gave way to 1948, unionized musicians in the U.S. were ordered to stop making records. For nearly a year, recording studios were largely silent as the American Federation of Musicians demanded that record companies pay a percentage of sales to a union fund set up to help support unemployed musicians.

When the recording ban ended in December 1948, the union won—but the recording industry had undergone a transformation. During the dispute, a new longer-playing record for the adult market was introduced, followed by a second one that became popular with teens. Both record formats ushered in a new era in jazz and R&B and led to the rise of rock ‘n’ roll.

Today, in the digital age, it’s hard to imagine a time when professional musicians could collectively bring the recording industry to its knees. But back in the 1940s, music and the movies dominated American culture, and the union that represented musicians ruled with an iron fist.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Wall Street Journal