Fred Gaisberg. The World’s First A&R man.

Imagine a world where nothing yet has been recorded. 

Almost nobody on the planet has heard sound played back to them. Radio doesn’t exist. Music is played live and exists only for as long as the notes hang in the air.

And imagine then that somebody has developed a technology for recording sound and you have been given the task to go out and make recordings. To gather sounds from the air! Where do you start? What do you record? How do you make a living from it?

Fred Gaisberg is not so well remembered these days but he was the man whose task and privilege it was to be the first to go out and record the world. He was an early employee of Emile Berliner (as the German perfected the recording technology in America) and then he moved to England at the end of the 19th Century and came on board The Gramophone Company (precursor to EMI) as employee number four or five.

Fred was from a musical background and his strength was to spot talent and persuade the musicians to make recordings for his fledgeling company. He was the world’s first A&R man; in fact he invented the role. He set off on lengthy trips to the far corners of the earth to collect and bring back the treasures of the world’s music for all to hear.  

Gaisberg wrote a series of diaries that traced his adventures and we plan to use these writings as a way of highlighting some of the great early recordings that he made and the lengths to which Fred and his colleagues would have to go to obtain them from artists and people suspicious of the new technology.

Because Fred Gaisberg is such an important figure in the history of recorded sound, we have set up a separate page in his honour where we will collect information about the great man,

It’s called Fred Gaisberg’s Progress.


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