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  • Oral History

Russell Sanjek

May 24, 1979 OH512 64 min.


Music industry executive. Born 1916. Died June 1986. Longtime executive with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), from BMI’s early years into the 1980s. Author of the four-volume work, American Popular Music and its Business: The First Four Hundred Years 3 Vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), a history of the American music industry.

Interview Summary

1979 May 24
(1 hour, 4 minutes)
BMI executive Russell Sanjek recounts the history of the American music industry, focusing on issues facing the industry since the 1940s. Discussion includes examples of BMI’s programming; validating BMI’s existence; country music as an important element of popular music; the importance of “Tennessee Waltz” to the popularity of country music; an overview of past BMI presidents; BMI’s licensing and fee structures; BMI’s work with writers; comments about his current work on a book tracing the history of American popular music; the ASCAP and BMI relationship since the mid-1960s; the efforts for revision of U.S. copyright law; and comments on record companies’ increased costs and prices.

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