Exclusivity and Fidelity - At Home or at the Opera
To convince consumers that the recorded voices of Caruso and other opera stars were portrayed with 'absolute fidelity' and worth the premium price of those records, the phonograph industry offered several advertising assurances.
First, said the ads, recording quality had reached a level that could be trusted because the greatest artists of the world wouldn’t make records if they didn’t believe it was true to their artistic interpretation with voices "as clear and true as life itself."
Second, these recordings would be the legacy of the opera stars and prima donnas. Since recordings were going to live forever then no one would ever release a recording that would tarnish their artistic reputations. Victor records, it was advertised, will perpetuate "their art forever" and "immortalize them."
Third, it was in the contract: The Victor Talking Machine Company said any record that did not meet the artists expectations could be rejected by the artist. "Every Victrola Record is approved by the artist who made it Our contract demands it."
Fourth, these were the greatest artists, highly paid with most exclusive to their respective labels. The cost of a record, therefore, was a great value considering the artists' salaries and how much you saved by not going out to the opera or theatre.
Fifth, by hearing the greatest artists in the comfort of your home "you experience the same thrill of delight that comes when attending their actual performances." You are in exclusive company listening to opera records, the "highest class" of entertainment and you can do it right in your own home.
"Practically every great singer and instrumentalist of this generation makes records only for the Victor--thus perpetuating their art for all time. Life, 1918
The Victrola brings the opera and concert "right into your own home, there to be enjoyed as your permanent, pricless possession. The Ladies' Home Journal, May 1919
"Victor Records by Caruso truly constitute the best autobiography which has never been equalled for vividness..." 1922
(Caruso died on August 2, 1921)
The greatest artists "have chosen Victrola Records exclusively to carry their art to all the world and immortalize them for all time," 1918"
Motion Picture Magazine, 1916
"Every rendition as true as life itself -- and it is in acknowledgment of this perfection that these great artists have chosen the Victrola..."
The Ladies' Home Journal, September 1919
"These famous artists---universally acknowledged the greatest, and commanding the highest salaries -- make records only for the Victor because only the Victor brings out their voices as clear and true as life itself" 1911
Will the "master-magicians of music and entertainment", these "great artists sing in your home on Christmas morning?" "The foremost artists of the world make Victrola Records exclusively." Victrola, 1918
This Christmas Message from the World's Greatest Artists pictures those artists inside someone's elegant house. However, the ad doesn't use the words "reality" of performers coming to your house (like many ads did); instead, this ad says that "they cannot be with you on Christmas Day but they can visit you through the Victrola -- their other self." Victrola. 1919
Talking Machine World, 1913
"Many of these are paid several thousand dollars each for singing a single night in Grand Opera... A single evening with the Graphophone represents thousands of dollars in professional services." Columbia Phonograph Co., 1906
"the real thing -- you can't tell it from the actual human voice!" 1909
"Practically every artist worthy to be called "great" in this generation has allied himself with the Victor. This is no mere coincidence, but the result of deliberate choice by those whose genius makes their judgment final. Victrola 1920
"Home is more comfortable than an opera house, and a better place to enjoy the magnificent voices of the greatests opera stars," 1910
For most people, "the soul-stirring arias and concerted numbers...were hidden mysteries." Today, because of the Victor, millions are familiar with "these musical treasures..." Motion Picture Magazine, 1916
Talking Machine World, 1915
At the opera or at home - Montgomery Ward Catalog 1916 (Courtesy of Antique Phonograph Society )
"you hear the greatest artists in your own home on the Victrola, you experience the same thrill of delight that comes when attending their actual performances." Victrola, 1920
"In those homes where good music has its most devoted hearers, you will invariably find the Victrola. Why? Because the highly developed taste in art is satisfied with nothing less than the best which the wide world has to offer." The Ladies' Home Journal, April 1919