Music Business in the Civil War Era


Despite the difficulty and hindrances which would naturally accompany printing and publishing during a major war, more than 10,000 songs were published during the Civil War years (Sanjek, 225). This incredible number was achieved despite the fact that the intense restrictions put in place by the Union, drastically impaired the South’s ability to publish and print. In the South , the very cities that were home to the music business were also home to significant battles and were under Northern occupation.
Meanwhile the Northern music business enjoyed unrestricted materials (paper, ink, etc.). Additionally 95 percent of the nation’s paper mills were above the Mason-Dixon line, and the main piano manufactories were northern. Thus, the South's music business could not be fully functioning without supplies from the North(Sanjek, 225) .

Even in the North, however, the publishing and printing processes were far from easy. Due to inflation, the price of paper rose 300 percent; ink and paper qualities were sacrificed in order to produce a product. These restrictions affected the sheet covers as well as the music. Only the most popular best-selling songs would have printed with a cover illustration during the war (Sanjek, 229).
Regardless of the hardships in printing and the effects of inflation, musicians continued to write with in abundance, and publishers, so far as they were able, were as ready as ever to print what the public wanted to hear.