Recent and Upcoming Activity

UPCOMING AND RECENT–Talks, lectures, comments, multimedia presentations, publications:

Upcoming talk: “(Almost) Everything You Know About Music in the U.S. War in Vietnam is Wrong,” at the IASPM-US Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in May 2022. Conference details are available here.

Upcoming talk: “The Soldiers’ (Real) Soundtrack: A New History of Music in the US War in Vietnam,” in the Lees Seminar, Rutgers-Camden, April 8, 2022.David interviewed Gus Stadler about his brilliant book Woody Guthrie: An Intimate Life on Thu Jan 13, an event organized by the Center for the Study of the United States at the U of Toronto.

In December, David did a radio show on WFMU. You can listen the show (and all his past shows) here.

Interview: David was a guest on WFMU’s This Is the Modern World, speaking about Tin Pan Alley, phonographs, and the origins of the modern music business. You can hear an archive of the show here.

“The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records,” an audio documentary produced by Radio Diaries (and which aired on NPR’s All Things Considered), features an interview with David. Its release coincides with the 100th anniversary of the first records issued by the first major Black-owned record company. You can read about it and listen here.

“The Vanishing of Harry Pace,” a multi-part podcast series produced by Radiolab about Black Swan Records’ fascinating founder, also features an interview with David. Listen here.

Recent panel discussion: “War and Music”–a conversation about David’s upcoming book with Joey Thompson (Cold War Country: Music Row, the Pentagon, and the Sound of American Patriotism, forthcoming) and Lisa Gilman (My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2016). Part of the Popular Music Books in Process series, sponsored by the Pop Conference, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and IASPM-US. You can watch here.

Recently published: “Between Rapture and Anguish: The Goals of a Book Review Section,” a reflection on the book review section of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, which David has edited since 2010, part of a roundtable, “Reviewing the Book Review,” organized by Lily Hirsch, in the Journal of Musicological Research (Mar 2021).

Recently published: “How Military Music Works,” in Sonologia 2019: Proceedings of the International Conference on Sound Studies, edited by Fernando Iazetta et al., (Sao Paolo: ECA-USP, 2020).

Recently published: “The Political Economy of Copying” (review essay), Reviews in American History 48, no. 1 (March 2020): 152–58.

I am co-editing with Rebecca McKenna “New Approaches to Music and Sound,” a special issue of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Here’s the call.


  • Current book project– Instrument of War: A History of Music in the U.S. Military (under contract with the University of Chicago Press)


  • Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music (Harvard University Press) 

A Choice “Outstanding Academic Titles of 2009
Winner of the Hagley Prize for the best book in business history for 2009.
Winner of the 2011 DeSantis Prize of the Society of Historians of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era.
Honorable mention, 2010 Woody Guthrie Prize, International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), U.S. branch.
Certificate of Merit, 2010 ARSC Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research, Best Research in General History of Recorded Sound Category, Association for Recorded Sound Collections
Reviews: The Wall Street Journal, Washington PostThe Nation, Wilson Quarterly, Washington Times,, Los Angeles Times blog, and others.

There’s also a Chinese edition.



  • Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (University of Pennsylvania Press), co-edited by David Suisman and Susan Strasser, with an introduction by David.

“This collection…is multicultural historical analysis at its best.” — Journal of American History



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