LABOR: The Pied Piper of Chi

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Music in the Air. The canned-music business grew like a tropical plant. In the late '20s, when radio emerged from its crystal-set stage and became a multi-knobbed, multi-tubed wonder, it seemed that the day of the phonograph was done. Actually, the awful slump in the sales of records and machines simply heralded a new era. The phonograph business modernized itself. Electrical pickups, mechanical record changers, radio-phonograph combinations, and cheap, electrically transcribed records of popular bands and singers built it bigger than ever. The radio business burgeoned, too. The sound track brought music to the screen. The three mediums augmented one another; there was an intermingling of interests (RCA-Victor, CBS-Columbia Records, MGM-MGM Records) and a great reciprocal trading in music and performers.

Today the industry pumps such an enormous volume of its product into the homes, automobiles, bars, restaurants, motion picture theaters and streets of the nation that it is next to impossible for anyone to avoid hearing some of it on any given day.

Last year the ever increasing production of records by 771 companies, big & small, reached a new peak: 325 million records were sold in fiscal 1947. The music stemmed from a multitude of sources: Tin Pan Alley, musical comedies, motion pictures, classical archives and the vanished bawdyhouses of New Orleans' Storyville. It was played by symphony orchestras and hillbilly bands, sung by vocalists who ranged from Traubel through Crosby to Jo Stafford. It sold for $243,756,000.

And this was only the beginning of the product's earning power. It was rented to the public through half a million glittering jukeboxes, each of which took in from $10 to $35 a week. Companies like Muzak Corp. wired recorded music into restaurants and bars. Others dispensed it for pennies and nickels from shiny little speakers set up at the edge of soda counters and tavern tables. The nation's 1,800 standard-broadcast radio stations played records too, a majority of them on all-local advertising programs. Radio personalities like Ted Husing, Paul Whiteman, Martin Block and Tommy Dorsey earned enormous salaries as disc jockeys. And still more canned music helped Hollywood earn its profits on talking pictures.

$46,000 per Annum. This was the noisy nest which had hatched Petrillo. Now he sat on its edge making moans like a mourning dove because the industry was getting more & more millions with fewer & fewer musicians.

As the nation's highest paid labor leader (he earns $26,000 a year as head of Chicago's Local No. 10 and $20,000 a year as head of the A.F.M.), he lives a part of his life against luxurious backgrounds. He wears expensive double-breasted suits, expensive shoes, shirts and ties. He has two offices, one in Chicago which boasts a gleaming eight-foot walnut desk ("the biggest damned desk I could find at Marshall Field's") and another at international headquarters in New York's G.E. Building. When in Manhattan he lives at the plush Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He has a summer house (the gift of his grateful union) on Wisconsin's Lake Geneva. Under a clause in the A.F.M. constitution he is provided with an automobile (a black, gleaming, eight-cylinder Chrysler sedan) and a chauffeur.

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