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Big Band Era Jazz History  
The 1942 Recording Ban
And The ASCAP / BMI War
During the American Federation of Musicians record ban, no new commercial instrumentals were waxed and released for public consumption.
The ban ended when Decca agreed to pay the AFM union recording royalties in Sept. of 1943. Capitol acquiesced and signed with the union one month later. Columbia and Victor finally relented in Nov. of 1944.
All big band music stops being recorded today Justice department may step into big band music recording ban fray Press Starts Foaming
    Two further actions of the AFM left the nation's press foaming at the mouth about Petrillo. One, when KSTP, NBC outlet in St. Paul, refused to agree to the local's terms that when a musician fails to work for thirty days, he should be guaranteed work for the rest of the year. As a result, and in an effort to force an agreement, NBC was notified that its two dance band remotes, Richard Himber from the Essex House (NY) at midnight and Teddy Powell from Armonk (NY) at 12:30 were pulled off the air until the KSTP fight was settled.  Petrillo pulled bands off the Blue Network earlier in the week, until he was informed that it was NBC, the former Red Network, that he was after.
     Second source of adjective slinging came with Petrillo's order two weeks ago warning the auditorium in Springfield, Mass. that it would be put on the national unfair list if the Boston Symphony fulfilled a scheduled concert date there. The orchestra is the only non-union group of its size in the country.

          
Peglar Is Exception
    
The disc fight, and the St. Paul, Interlochen, and the Springfield episodes combined to make the name Petrillo a fighting word with a press that has never been very pro-union. The only amazing exception, which musicdom and newsmen are still discussing, was Westbrook Pegler's espousal of the AFM standby policy in his column on July 12th. Pegler, a noted labor baiter, who has attacked Petrillo many times in the past, was all at once all sweetness and light even being seen in the Stork Club (NY) with Petrillo when the latter sat in with Bob Knight's orchestra and played drums.
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James Fly, chairman of the FCC, government radio regulating body, who pointed out that 60 percent of all the country's radio stations depended on records to exist - that without them they would go under, and that "that is a matter in the public interest which demands thorough investigation."

   
At press-time there was a strong possibility that the Department of Justice might sieze on the disc situation as a chance to start a civil suit on the whole question of unions forcing hiring of men upon employers when they are not needed. This was tried in a criminal case, against the hod-carriers two years ago before the Supreme Court, but the court held that the union had the right to so do. The technicalities of presentation prevented the Justice Department from arguing the case in the manner it wished-which, with a suit against the AFM, they don't think will happen now.
   
     
Fly stepped into the battle after Dr. James E. Maddy, director of the National Music Camp at Interlochen, had appealed to FDR the action of AFM head Petrillo banning the camp's orchestra, composed of teenage music students, from NBC on July 11. First of a series of concerts, the program was replaced by an NBC staff  band. Maddy protested to Washington that this action would ruin the development of music study in this country, while Petrillo merely stated that "when amatuer musicians occupy the air, it means less work for professionals." Fly said that he would study both problems and recommend action to the FCC.

      New York -
From today on there will be no recording of music, classical or jazz, in this country by union musicians. Prexy Petrillo has not backed down by his claim that recording was ruining the jobs of 60 percent of the AFM membership and that he meant to do something about it. As a result only Soundies and Hollywood are exempted from the "no mechanical reproduction of any kind" order.
     Petrillo has shifted his position as to the sale of records. He had previously told the companies that they could record for home and Army use, but when it was pointed out to him that the companies would be violating the law if they tried to regulate who bought their records, Petrillo made the edict a complete stoppage.

                                   
Recorders Sizzling
  
The recording firms, transcription firms, radio networks, and even small stations are sizzling. Executives of all pointed out that at no time had the AFM indicated what terms it wanted - merely had casually sent out some carbon copies of a rubber-stamped order putting them out of business. The howls of the small stations were emphasized by

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(Jumped from above right) AFM Membership Divided
tried to work out schedules of releases with big publishing houses, and have had every band under contract in for at least one session. One of the BigThree has over twenty discs by each of it's two top bands, which at normal release rates, should last them over nine months. 
     Then too, as one official pointed out, the companies are way behind on their back orders, Christmas supply, and re-release schedules           
   Further critisism of Petrillo was played up here when a bunch of kids (who did look a trifle subsidized) picketed Petrillo's Hotel Waldorf Astoria suite, carrying signs saying, "Look at the dough he has, and he won't let us have records," and "He can afford to eat and dance here - all we have is a juke-box and a nickel - and now he won't let us have that." 
     Through all the din and fury of the past two weeks Petrillo has made only one statement. That was last week after Chairman Fly of the FCC came out and hinted that an investigation was in order. Petrillo then retorted that an investigation was in order when two thirds of his union were out of work due to the actions of a small minority, who in return for $3,000,000, destroyed $100,000,000 worthn of work for the other members. Other than that, he merely reiterates that he intends to see it through, come what may.           
    Reaction of the AFM membership itself isn't clear. Naturally the big travelling bands are plenty hopped up about losing a badly needed source of revenue now that the road is taking such a terrible walloping. But to counterbalance that is the gleeful reaction of the older members in small locals who feel that it's about time some effort were made to "keep those guys from walking in and taking all the gravy out of a territory, and then sending their records in to complete the job." 
     One shift in the radio field is already evident. Several small coast stations have informed the locals that they had no interest in negotiating new contracts, if they were denied the right to use trancriptions. They pointed out that they agreed to the "extra-men" principal of the 1937 contracts only because it gave them the right to use transcriptions and new records. Now that this is denied them, they see no reason why they should pay a staff band, intending to get along from now with what libraries they have.
     This led one network official to an interesting supposition. Presuming that the AFM's fight with radio extends to other matters than the use of discs and becomes general, he thinks that the CIO will step in. Unlike the dance world, which couldn't possibly go CIO, due to the stranglehold the AFL had on stagehands, projectionmen and other necessary amusement-world trade groups, almost all the unions in the radio field are CIO. Also radio musicians as a group are a very tightly organized little clique. He sees no reason, if things get too tough, why they won't pick up, and walk over to the CIO as a group, rather than lose their radio jobs.
All Willing To Wait
     Most of the firms, radio, transcription, and recording seemed ready to wait for the the effects of public opinion and possible government action, which has already been demanded by Senator Vandenberg. Feeling that they can afford to kill at least six months' time, during which Petrillo's position with his recording members of his union and the public certainly won't be of the best, they are sitting tight.
     As yet the big juke-box operators are talking and taking no action. Some of them think that they have a clear-cut suit for damages against the union, but since unions have long been recognized as free of constraint-of-trade legislation, it is difficult to see how they will be able to get anywhere.
     Typical of the larger independant station was the crack WNEW (NY) made. They said, "With twenty thousand records in our collection, we aren't too worried about the extra twelve a week that are coming out now." They feel that they can ride through for some time on the records already in their library, pointing out that fully half of their mail requests for discs are for sides at least nine months old.       
Builds Up Backlog
   As to what measures will be taken by the radio nets and the record firms is still not yet clear. Most have evinced the desire to sit tight for a while and see what happens. Small stations can continue to buy old records and buy copies of material already recorded.
     It is known that not only do the wax firms have a large back-log, but that in the past month they have been recording at a frantic rate. Ben Selvin, exec for AMP (Muzak), a large transcription firm, told Down Beat that he was ready with all the tunes that will be released through January, while he has a three-year supply of classics! Much of the same holds true for the record companies, who have
While the AFM recording ban may not have been the official end of the Big Band era it was the straw that broke the camel's back. The big bands were already fighting the effects of WWII, which ushered in gas and tire rationing, the draft, and voluntary military enlistment which depleted bands of their personnel and transportation means.

With the advent of the V-Disc or "victory disc" fortunately some recordings of the big bands survive from this period. V-Discs were a means by which bands were recorded as per an agreement between Petrillo and Uncle Sam. The discs were then shipped to outlets around the globe so U.S. troops serving during WWII could hear their favorite bands.

Throughout the recording ban vocalists were still allowed to record, usually with chorus as accompaniment. This accounts for two things; A) a lot of really mediocre vocal recordings during this period and B) a rise in popularity of vocalists who were soon to steal the spotlight once owned by the great big bands of the Swing era.

One more devastating event, that actually predates the AFM ban, also had a tremendously negative impact on big band music and the Big Band era. This was the ASCAP - BMI war of 1941. ASCAP (American Society of Authors, Publishers, and Composers) wanted more money from the radio networks to use their member's songs. The networks refused and for nearly a year all ASCAP songs were banned from airplay and remote usage. At first the music suffered greatly as BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.,) had no-where near the list of talented, and well known, composers like the Gershwins, Mercer, Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Arlen, Kern, Berlin and others, as had ASCAP. In addition the networks imposed a "no ad-libbing" rule on broadcast performances! This required solos be written out and approved by the networks so no parts of ASCAP songs would seep into improvised solos! The loss in song quality, inspiration, and energy on live broadcasts was noticeable to the public. Then, not long after this obstacle was traversed, came the ill timed recording ban mentioned above.
Jazz radio host Jeff Parker with Nipper
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