Two months after the 1929 Wall Street crash, most of America’s businesses huddled together for survival into two large corporations – Arthur Judson’s Columbia (CAMI) and David Sarnoff’s NCAC, with Sol Hurok as its prominent talent agent.
Between them, these musical versions of Hertz and Avis carved up America. If Ohio wanted an artist, it rang one or the other.
The dominant duopoly ran until the 1950s, when NBC lost interest and Ronald Wilford succeeded Judson. From then on, it was all Cami.
After Wilford’s death in 2015 Cami spiralled into decline, losing key players and Lang Lang’s manager.
What happens now?
Musical America needs to rethnk its structures. In a global century, many of its orchestras hire direct from European agencies and many artists manage without an agent altogether. Where is the centre. There is no centre. Even Carnegie Hall is not the destination it was.
The question of how classical music survives in America needs to be addressed right now, and with some urgency. Any ideas?
(For the historical background, see my books The Maestro Myth and Who Killed Classical Music).