The Sound of the Hound – a new podcast series about the birth of recorded sound

The Sound of the Hound today announced the launch of a new historical podcast series sharing the adventures, stories and lives of the entrepreneurs, artists and eccentrics who invented the music industry and brought recorded music to the masses at the tail end of the nineteenth century.

The series is presented by music industry veteran Dave Holley, who ran the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, now CEO of Wise Music Group, and music aficionado James Hall, an author and music writer for The Daily Telegraph, whose camaraderie and humour brings the era to life, as they share the origin story of recorded sound.

Dave Holley (left) and James Hall, the hosts of the podcast, with their very tiny gramophone.

Focusing on the exploits of one man in particular — Fred Gaisberg of The Gramophone Company, a precursor to EMI — the podcast features music and tales of derring-do from an era when “capturing sound” was eyed with suspicion. But we all know how it ended. Today we can listen to any song ever written at the touch of a button on a smartphone. And it was 21-year-old Gaisberg and his friends who helped make this possible when they opened a grimy backstreet studio in London’s Covent Garden in 1898. Their equipment may have been rudimentary to modern eyes (and without electricity), but their taste for adventure and steely ambition was limitless.

From Gaisberg travelling to Italy to record the last castrato or opera singer Enrico Caruso, to the inside story of the UK’s first female recording artist, to Gaisberg and his colleague William Sinker Darby attempting to record the Tsar in Russia, the series is bursting with vivid tales. Gaisberg was essentially the world’s first A&R man and more; a Victorian amalgam of Steve Jobs, Indiana Jones and Simon Cowell. His company, The Gramophone Company, became EMI. Just 33 years after opening his studio in Covent Garden, Gaisberg helped EMI open Abbey Road. So, you can draw a direct line between him and The Beatles. His importance to the music industry is impossible to overstate. The series is peppered with extracts from Gaisberg’s own diaries, anchoring Holley and Hall’s storytelling and discussions in historical fact.

The  Studio of Fred Gaisberg’s Gramophone Company - 1898
The Studio of Fred Gaisberg’s Gramophone Company – 1898
Part of the EMI Archive Trust collection.

The first series of The Sound of the Hound ends with an interview with legendary Nick Drake and Pink Floyd producer Joe Boyd, who talks about his fascinating career and tells Holley and Hall how music production techniques have changed over the decades.

The Sound of the Hound is available on Spotify, Apple Music and all good podcast platforms. Each episode focuses on a different song or recording session from this extraordinary era, the first ten years of recorded music. Look out for a new episode each Wednesday. Links to podcasts on: Spotify Apple  Acast

The podcast is made with the backing of the EMI Archive Trust, one of the foremost sound and technology archives. The Trust holds Gaisberg and Darby’s diaries, as well as myriad photographs and other documents from the era. They are custodians of the world’s most complete collection of over 305,000 rare shellacs, as well as 16,500 7” discs made from 1895 onwards and 67,000 metal master stampers. Rare artefacts include Captain Scott’s gramophone retrieved from his South Pole expedition of 1910, and the papers, workings and patents from the inventor of stereo recording and television pioneer, Alan Dower Blumlein. The Trust is wholly supported by Universal Music Group (UMG).

And why is it called The Sound of the Hound? Because we decided to name it after Nipper, the dog in the HMV logo. We enjoyed making it. We hope you enjoy listening.


James and Dave can be reached by email at: