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Today, record companies use music videos to sell CDs. In 1900, CDs didn't exist. But many people played musical instruments for entertainment in their homes. Sheet music publishers used illustrated song performances to sell sheet music to these living-room musicians. The publishers rented or gave song slides to theater owners so they could put on illustrated song shows.

At the end of an illustrated song performance, the words to the song's chorus were projected on the screen. The singer encouraged everybody to sing along. Music publishers knew that people who left the theater singing a tune would probably buy the sheet music. And it worked. Songs like "The Little Lost Child" sold millions of copies of sheet music nationwide.
Millions of glass song slides were produced between 1890 and 1914. Large studios created many of them. Models earned about $3 per day to pose for photos. Artists colored the slides by hand. The results were often stunning. In fact, song slide makers created the first "special effects." They sandwiched two or more slides together to create dazzling shots, such as a couple floating on a cloud, or a person "blooming" from the middle of a flower.


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