This film is part of Free

It’s in the Groove

Witness the rise of the record industry, from its primitive beginnings to the unveiling of the formats that would revolutionise the world of popular music: the LP and the single.

Documentary 1949 18 mins


From the wax cylinder to the jukebox, this film tells the turbulent story of the US recording industry. Social and technological factors - from musicians’ strikes to the rise of electrical recording - played a major role in shaping the industry but March of Time's film doesn’t neglect the music itself, treating the viewer to a heady cocktail of jazz, country, and classical, leaving us poised at the dawn of a new era with the unveiling of Columbia’s 33 rpm LP and RCA Victor’s 45 rpm single.

One of this film’s highlights is the wonderful clip of the world’s first disc jockey, Martin Block. Radio commentator Walter Winchell had coined the term ‘disk jockey’ in 1935 to describe Block and the epithet stuck. Seen here suavely spinning a Guy Lombardo disc on his popular ‘Make Believe Ballroom’ radio show, Block’s conversational style was a world away from the usual stentorian tones of radio announcers, and his smooth tones set the template for all those who came after. The rise of recorded music - and DJs - mean that it was often the musicians who missed out on their share of the profits. James Petrillo, who led the 1942-1944 American Federation of Musicians strike, attempted to redress the balance.