"purveyors of music presentation"
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Before Broadway shows came into existence, America's musical industry underwent many challenges to forge its own identity. When most parts of the U.S. were still British colonies, wide-scale productions had yet to make an appearance.
Those who sought lively entertainment were directed to taverns and small-time bistros with live performances. It was only when Walter Murray and Thomas Kean started their own theater company in New York did musical productions became the center of the entertainment scene.
The Rise of Ballads and the Opera
While drama actors took to the stage to promote Shakespeare and notable playwrights, composers and singers created their own names in the world of production. Ballad and opera culture, with their European descent, reached U.S. shores and became a favorite form of entertainment among the elite.
To the delight of many, the first fully staged opera finally occurred in 1825. With the elaborate spectacle, powerhouse cast, and endearing musical pieces, the audience became captivated and wanted to see more of this impressive musical performance.
Following such a production, many theater houses welcomed ballads and similar performances into their line-up. Even those who lived outside the state made efforts to see one of these musical shows whenever they could.
For decades, musicals have never wavered in being a public favorite. Production companies continue to recreate classical pieces and add a new twist to make them more interesting. While operas and ballad performances remained a staple in the production industry, a new form of entertainment became part of the music scene: street performances.
Those who have great passion for music but don't have the financial support to set up grand performances in theaters took their talents to the streets. Most of these performances became part of the programs of cultural festivals, while some performers set up their acts in areas with high visibility and large pedestrian traffic.
Unlike in mainstream ballad and opera productions, street performances were a hit or miss event. Performers often collect donations and tips from watchers—the amount they often receive isn’t as big as what professional performers make.
Concerts as a Mainstream Act
Following the footsteps of street performances, many production companies like Pilgrim Productions, LLC, took their acts to more accessible public areas for wider viewership. As the music industry reached its peak, many artists rose to stardom and started to promote their own genres.
Concerts became the main act for celebrities to showcase their talents and entertain the public. Production houses spent months planning tours in different locations across the U.S., while artists took their time in honing their skills.
Unlike in common street performances, companies spent thousands of dollars for concerts. Most production houses partnered with other companies to fund everything for the performance from the elaborate stage lightings down to the minute details of the event.
As the 20th century unfolded, many artists became the highlights of the musical industry. With stage productions and concerts serving as a venue for entertainment, the music scene continues to live on and create unforgettable spectacles.