Pioneers of the Sound Industry

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The beginnings of trade, distribution, and dissemination of the oldest sound carriers before the First World War, in Czech lands

Michal Studničný, Martin Mejzr, Vít Holeček

National Museum, Czech Republic

This project aims for systematic interdisciplinary research and comprehensive mapping of the wax cylinder and shellac record markets before 1914, focusing mainly on Prague in the context of the sound industry’s expansion in Central European capitals.

The project intends to focus on the practically unknown and uncharted pioneering period of distribution and dissemination of the oldest sound carriers in Czech lands before the First World War, namely the commercial practices and strategies of individual sellers, their personal or corporate portfolio, the range of products and their links to foreign suppliers.

Considering the scope of the available collections in the National Museum (especially in the Czech Museum of Music), the research aims to focus on the Prague metropolis as a center of audio media sales in Czech lands.

However, the nature of the sources also calls for an examination of the whole phenomenon of distribution of the oldest audio media and its dissemination from a Central European perspective, particularly in connection with the spread of phonograph recordings as technological advances from several progressive cities, in particular Berlin and Vienna.

The main task of this project will be data collection and interpretation, including all traceable information regarding the sale and distribution of the oldest audio media (names, addresses, index and biographical data, statistics, multimedia, etc.


  • Research paper published in the journal Musicalia, Czech Museum of Music. The article will be designed as a pilot study focused on specific Prague sellers, companies and stores, their portfolio and assortment, business practices and marketing strategies.
  • Joint conference paper at the IAML 2020 conference in Prague, in which will be presented the main results of the project, its timeline, sources, and methods, as well as their future research plans regarding this topic.
  • Whole research will deal with the topic of the oldest music media industry in the context of economic, cultural and social transformations of modern society in Czech lands within the multiethnic space of Central Europe (Berlin, Prague, Vienna).
Michal Studničný
Michal Studničný
Martin Mejzr
Martin Mejzr
Vít Holeček
Vít Holeček