American Entertainment Evolution

Transformation of the American Entertainment Industry

From the 18th century to the present, the American entertainment industry has experienced a significant transformation. During the second industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century, there was an increase in population, a reduction in working hours, more discretionary income, increasing urbanization, and an expansion of the transportation infrastructure. The desire for entertainment increased as a result. The development of the entertainment business can be traced to this time period. Radios and a few newspapers and magazines served as the only sources of news and amusement in the past, but starting in the 1920s, spending on live entertainment, sports, music, and other social events grew. One of the categories of the entertainment is cinematography. As stated the prosperity in this century led to more income to spend on entertainment. As the prominence of the moving picture increased in this period, movie places that could seat thousands of people came up in big cities. Live shows were also present where the citizens would drown their sorrows away (Hale, 2014). Individuals from all generations attended movies regularly compared to the present day. The silent movies in the 19th century led to the rise of first-generation movie stars.

Influence of Radio and Television

In 1924 for instance, Calvin Coolidge pre-election talk reached over 20 million individuals. Radio was godsend for marketers as they now had a wider audience to sell their products and services. In this early period, radio was seen as a powerful marketing tool however compared to the present day, radio is seen to almost have become obsolete following the advancement of technology hence the availability of many advertising platforms.

The reach of radio also implied that the medium could disregard region disparities and inspire a united sense of American lifestyle. This was very helpful in boosting consumer behavior. Television as well was very influential in driving consumer behavior as well. In the 1950s and 1960s, the gross national product did double as America established itself as a consumer unit with television and radio contributing immensely to the country’s thriving consumer-based economy. Broadcast television was another prevailing media, and together with radio, it controlled over 90 % of the news programs, live events, and sitcoms (Stephens, 2014). Some opponents alleged that television fostered a homogenous conformist culture by supporting ideals about what the normal American lifestyle ought to look like. Television also had added to counterculture of the 1960s. The Vietnam War was the country’s first telecasted military battle and the imagery of war as well as war protestors aided in intensifying the country’s in-house problems.

Transformation of Print Media

Radio and television overtook American imagination in the 20th century that magazine and print media had to find ways to adapt to the new media backdrop. Print media was long-lasting and could be stored, and it offers its consumers flexibility since after they have bought it, they can read it whenever they wanted. Broadcast media, on the other hand, aired programs on a set time forcing people to have to listen to them at that specific time. It is only after the introduction of the digital recorders that record their favorite programs. Additionally, in this 1980s, viewers could rent or watch films on their own at home. Video games also got popular in this decade especially with the youngsters and television previously a place for passive entertainment got to be a complex, moving, computerized game board.

Impact of Cable Television

This period also saw the prevalence of cable television. Previously viewers only had fewer channels to choose from. I 1975, only three networks did account for 93 percent of all television viewership. By 2000s however, it dropped significantly because of the introduction of cable television (Stephens, 2014). Cable providers permitted viewers a broad selection entailing channels designed for individuals who wanted to only watch specific things such as sports, music, films, wildlife among others (Barnouw, 1990). This made television even more entertaining. Looking at the present, even more, channels have been established. Viewers are spoilt for a choice. The broadcast content also has changed significantly. Currently, there is a lot of reality television following the lives of reality stars as well as other participants in other reality shows like the survivors. This was unheard of in the 20th century. The content has changed also exposing more nudity, sexy scenes, promotion of promiscuity and homosexuality. This seems to have corrupted the morals of the society as now youngsters are engaging in sexual acts at a very tender age(Stephens, 2014). Although majority of these programs have censorship, it only serves to encourage an inquisitive youngster. In as much as the audience now has a variety of choices, the many channels showing adult content often corrupt the minds of the young ones.

Evolution of Music

The entertainment music has also evolved significantly. In the 1920s up to the 1960s, the most popular music was the jazz, opera, rock, and rhythm and blues. This was the most popular genres of that time. In the 1800s music was only written and printed in sheets. There was no audio recording, however in 1857, Leon Scott invented a device that could record and play audio. Advancement, however, continued that saw music being recorded in magnetic discs, vinyl long-playing (LP) records through to compact disks (Wikström, 2013). Technology has shaped the music industry as more inventions have taken places. Musicians now sell their music in iTunes or websites like SoundCloud. Although compact disks are still available, streaming currently seems to generate more revenue for the record companies together with the musicians. Music genres have also changed a lot, and some musicians tend to introduce news genres as time goes by.

Positive and Negative Impact

The impact of the evolution of the American entertainment industry can be said to be both positive and negative. The positive side is that it has generated a lot of revenue and opened opportunities to many citizens. The film industry, for instance, is a billion-dollar industry that has grown tremendously and led to movie stars being born. There are other people employed in the background as well. The movie world and the broadcast media apart from entertaining the viewer also help in shaping their perception on things and educating them in some areas. Broadcast media also had an influence on the way people view crucial social matters like race, gender, and class. It also plays an important role in the political process specifically as it shapes the nationwide election campaigns. There are films that have been made to showcase the culture of different countries, and this helps in understanding different people. The black Americans, for instance, were discriminated against, however, when the media began showing positive images of them along with their suffering, their perception changed and also now viewed in a positive light. Television helped in spreading American culture across the world.

The negative side of film and broadcast media together with music is that it has corrupted the morals of the society to an extent. Some of the programs, films, and music videos objectify women, glorify promiscuity and sex. Others promote materialism. The young people end up imitating what their idols are doing.


Barnouw, E. (1990). Tube of plenty: The evolution of American television. Oxford University Press.

Hale, B. (2014). The History of the Hollywood Movie Industry | History Cooperative. History Cooperative. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from

Stephens, M. (2014). History of Television -. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from

Wikström, P. (2013). The music industry: Music in the cloud. Polity.

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