ABSTRACT

By 1980, the motion picture soundtrack album was a material manifestation of the growing connections between entertainment and media industries, a distillation of the increasingly prominent logics of media synergy and corporate conglomeration. The soundtrack albums for Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1978) were not only lucrative examples of Hollywood’s deep ties to popular music; they established producer Robert Stigwood’s cross-promotional reach tying music, theater, dance, and film into a new standard for multi-tiered success, transforming movie music into a cultural phenomenon in the process.1 At the same time, at the end of the 1970s, cable television ran through fewer than 25 percent of American homes,2 the Music Television (MTV) network had yet to launch, the Reagan administration’s muscular deregulation of media and communication industries was still on the horizon, and home video formats went to war for a place in the household. Thus, the technological changes, policies, and facets of cross-industrial media convergence that would ground the most prominent productions of film-music synergy in the 1980s—from Flashdance (1983) to Batman (1989)—had yet to become standardized. As a means for fostering cross-industrial connections and as a consumer product, the soundtrack album was hardly a fixed object during this period.