U.S. Film Industry: Soundies

Figure 1.--

A HBC reader tells us anout an early form of music videos called "soundies". He reports thsat they were briefly popular during the World war II period. We are mnot sure about the chronology. Theu msay have appeared in the lste 1930s. They apparently were modst popilar during the War years (942-45. This was also the Big Band era. in the lste 1930s and World War II era. It involved projecting short film clips pf popular bands. Apparently during the War, people flush with cash and no where to spend it went out a grrat deal. And many bars and dance halls projected these soundies. They quickly disappeared after the War. As consumer products appeared in the stores again, people stopped going out so much and focused on consumrr products, especially home entertsiment items: radios, phonographs, and by the late-40s--televisions.

World War II Film Videos

Soundies were an early form of music videos shown in taverns and restaurants.


Soundies were populatr during the War yeats--the first half of the 1940s. Nightclubs, taverns, and restaurants were booming. People could not buy new radios, appliances, or automobiles as the consumer goods factories were converted to military production of weapons and vehicles of war, so they spent money going out to eat and drink. The Great Depression ended during the late 1930s as orders for war material poured in from Europe. The War industry factories employed great numbers of people, including women replacing traditional mens' jobs as the majority of able-bodied men went off to war.

Soundies Machines

Soundies machines looked something like a 25 inch console TV set of the 1960s, except that instead of picture tubes they used an internal sound movie projector to put images on the screen. The only electronics inside was the amplifier for the large loudspeaker. They were mostly used to show a few minutes of a band playing, people dancing. Possibly newsreels, too.

The Films

Soundies were popular during the big band "swing era". I do not know when Soundies first came out, pozsibly the late-30s.

End of the Soundies

After World War II, Soundies soon were discontinued when the war ecomony ended and attendance at nightclubs, taverns, and restaurants dropped drastically, as people budgeted their finances to buy long-needed appliances, radios and automobiles as factories converted back to producing consumer goods. Also TV sets were a new and expensive item wanted by everyone who lived in a large city in the late 1940s. Often the first place people watched TV was in taverns within range of the small number of TV stations in 1946-47. I do not recall seeing them as a boy in the latte 40s and another reader slightly older does not recall them from the mid-40s.


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Created: 6:28 AM 12/1/2008
Last updated: 6:28 AM 12/1/2008