The Early Years of Music Business in Thailand: History and Development, A.C. 1851-1950


  • Prayut Meenetthip
  • Christopher Schaub


This study focuses on the music business in Thailand: 1851 to 1950. The methodology of this researchis based on historical methodology by collecting information from books, dissertations, historicallyrecorded documents, recorded personal diaries and interviewing musicologists. All collected informationwould be interpreted and analyzed in the conceptual frame of historical, diffusion and home -temple - palace theories. The research is divided into two periods, first-fifty-years “the root and developmentof music business in Thailand (1851-1900),” and second-fifty-years “technological advances andtrades (1901-1950)”, including “music industry, publication and theater.”The first period (1851-1900), it was found out that there are three important parts to the music businessin Thailand; live music performance, publishing and recording. In the first-fifty-years of study, thelive performance was found in three places, home - temple - palace. These three places played a significantrole in training musicians from a basic level up to high performing skills and at the same time theyhad been providing job opportunities to those musicians. Court musicians of palaces occasionally exercisedceremonies by arranging twelve month royal ceremonial music performances. On His and HerMajesty’s, (including royal family’s) remarkable celebrations in a year would be elaborately set with livemusic performance and other entertainments. The palace has been associated with live music performingmanagement ever since, that has made Thais look to the palace as the real model of live performingmanagement. Thereafter, Thailand opened the door to the outside world, foreign cultures gradually influencedThai culture started in the beginning of King Rama IV reign (ruling from 1851 to 1868). Thefirst foreign culture that came to influence palace was a brass band which appeared in the archives.The second period (1901-1950): an increase in western culture influenced Thai culture. The newtechnology and invention was imported to Thailand by foreign educated, foreigners, traders and missionaries.The cultural influence from the outside world has affected Thai society, the economy andpolitics. The number of middle class people is increased, and education was also improved. Trains (1892),telegraph (1881) and radio (1930) were first used in Thailand. The high performance of the gramophonerecord player and the high quality of gramophone disc became popular in Thailand because of pricereductions.The music industry, publishing and theater had flourished in the second period. In particular, manyrecord companies owned by Thais and foreigners were found in Thailand. Publication was largely usedin the music business. In the music business, many posters were popularly used for gramophone records,gramophone record players, musical instruments, concerts and radio etc. Responding to the entertainmentdemand of Thais, theaters were built in many areas of Bangkok and other major cities.


How to Cite

Meenetthip, P., & Schaub, C. (2014). The Early Years of Music Business in Thailand: History and Development, A.C. 1851-1950. Fine Arts Journal: Srinakharinwirot University, 18(1), 97–108. Retrieved from