New York Telephone Operated A Proto-Music Blog In 1978


Well, not exactly—it was a hotline, “Musicline,” and those people starved for music news could call it for 10 cents a pop. (For that price back then, you could also mail a postcard or go in on 40% of a Hershey bar.) But it wasn’t a dead-in-the-water phone line that would go unupdated for days at a time; instead, it claimed to have an almost-hourly schedule—early in the morning would bring news of upcoming concerts; at 11 a.m. the recording would be given over to album reviews with “bits from the hits” (just like MP3s, except with much lower fidelity!); then there’d be a bit of news; 3 p.m. would bring a test on music knowledge; 4 p.m. would feature “Rock Star Rap—an interview wth a superstar”; and the day would close out with “Back Track: facts about the great acts.” That’s so organized! Ad below.

You know, that dime-a-phone-call price meant that the service had a revenue model, which means it’s a step ahead of quite a few current internet darlings of the moment. It kind of makes me want to start a “read this blog aloud” service! I could read posts, maybe hold my phone up to my laptop’s speaker when something really good comes on…

(Seriously, though, if you called this—or worked for the service—get in touch! I’m always fascinated by the way music news got out into the world in the pre-internet, pre-MTV, pre-lots of other things days.)

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