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The First Illustrated Song: Precursor of the Music Video (1894)


In 1894 sheet music publishers Edward B. Marks and Joe Stern hired electrician George Thomas and various performers to promote sales of their song "The Little Lost Child." Using a magic lantern, Thomas projected a series of still images on a screen during live performances of the song. As a result of the illustrated song performances, "The Little Lost Child" became a nationwide hit, selling more than two million copies of its sheet music. The illustrated song became a popular form of entertainment, and is considered the first step toward music video

"The Edward B. Marks Music Company was founded in 1894 by Mr. E. B. Marks, a traveling salesman of hooks, eyes, and whalebones who teamed up with a necktie salesman, Joseph W. Stern. Originally called Joseph W. Stern & Co., because Marks did not want to risk losing his regular job, it was among the first firms to usher in the modern era in pop music, which it did from a 100-square-foot basement space at 304 E. 14th Street near Second Avenue in Manhattan. Their success was launched with a song they penned themselves (Marks as lyricist and Stern as composer), a tear jerker in the popular current of the day called “The Lost Child.” This was followed up with their own first publication, another  “weeper” called “Mother Was a Lady.” (Among the many firsts accredited to Marks is the first-ever music video, when he accompanied performances of “The Lost Child” with graphic colored-lantern slides which were screened opposite the performer.)" (http://www.ebmarks.com/about/, accessed 01-23-2014).