It was back in 1884, when copies of “Wait For The Wagon” found themselves being distributed to people to play at home on their pianos, guitars or banjos (as was the prominent venue for music publishing sales at that time.) Sure, there were lots of pieces of sheet music at the time but how many of them came with the message “Compliments of the Studebaker Bros. Manufacturing Co” and contained a line about a product?
“It’s ev’ry Sunday morning when I am by your side
We’ll jump into the Wagon and all take a ride
Wait for the Wagon, Wait for the Wagon
Studebaker’s Wagon and we’ll take a ride”
“Wait For The Wagon” was first written in 1850 (so says Wikipedia) and a few versions of the song on YouTube have no mention of Studebaker. We dug a bit. According to this nugget from “The Life Of Clement Studebaker” (written in 1901 and published in 2009):
“A little girl wrote him a letter telling him that she could play the music of “Wait For The Wagon” which had been set to words advertising the Studebaker wagon.”
So, Studebaker commissioned the new version of the song with new words to promote their product. This beats by about 20 years what we had previously thought was the first example of Music Branding – the 1905 sheet music for “In My Merry Oldsmobile.”
What was it about car companies in those days (and today) breaking ground with music?