A Bird in a Gilded Cage
by Arthur Lamb & Harry Von Tilzer
published in cylinder format in 1900,
Edison Record #7587
(STREAM 1900 CYLINDER RECORDING)
A Bird in a Gilded Cage was a best-seller in 1900, with published claims of over 2 million copies of sheet music sold.
If you listen to either version of A Bird in a Gilded Cage, it's easy to date the song itself. The fact that anyone would even think to claim that A Bird in a Gilded Cage sold a million copies is evidence that the United States possessed a large Audience for popular music circa 1900. After The Ball allegedly sold five million copies as early as 1892, so that would push back the formation of this Audience a decade or even more.
Even though the record player was invented in the 1870's, the technology wasn't really perfected until the turn of the century, thus, sheet music still selling in the millions during the 1890s, 1900s. Now, the first million selling sound recording was Enrico Caruso's 1904 rendition of Vesti la giubba from Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci. That's two decades after After The Ball had already sold five million copies of sheet music. And you know with that kind of volume there were plenty of songs that sold fewer then five million copies, but still sold a significant amount.
FIRST MILLION SELLING RECORDING