Ongoing History Daily: The WWII record shortage

This week, we’ve been talking about vinyl records and how people are interested again. Check this out.

There was a shortage of recorded music during World War II. It wasn’t that all the musicians were sent off to war, but because there was a shortage of material to make records. Up until the end of the 40s, a major raw material of records was shellac, which was a resin secreted by certain types of insects found in trees in Asia. But with the breakout of the Second World War, Japan–one of the Axis powers–controlled a big chunk of Southeast Asia where all these little bugs lived.

No access, no shellac, no records.

At one point in the 40s, the shortage was so great that consumers weren’t allowed to buy new records unless they traded in their old ones. This crisis was a big part of the push to develop a substitute which we ended up calling “vinyl.”

The last post was about our attitude towards music when the economy turns bad.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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