Chapter One


Most jazz isn’t really about jazz, at least not in terms of how it is actually consumedKrin Gabbard, Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema (University of Chicago Press, 1996: 1)

Jazz Sells, Mark Laver, Grinnell, Routledge

This chapter introduces the key concepts and theories that undergird the book, Jazz Sells: Music, Marketing, and Meaning. I begin my providing a brief overview of the history of consumer capitalism, focusing on North America and Western Europe, followed by a general discussion of the role of music in advertising and the proliferation of consumer capitalist ideology. I highlight several central theoretical tools that figure prominently in my analysis in the remaining chapters of the book: Louis Althusser’s notions of “interpellation” and “ideological state apparatus,” Guy Debord’s work on “spectacle,” and Thorstein Veblen’s work on “conspicuous consumption.”

The Clicquot Club Eskimos (1923), a musical radio program sponsored by Clicquot Club Ginger Ale featuring a “banjo orchestra” led by banjo player Harry Reser, was one of the most successful early examples of an attempt to imbue a product with “personality.”

“Have You Tried Wheaties” (first aired on radio in 1926) is commonly agreed to be the first example of a jingle.