In Britain and in continental Europe, military bands of the various army regiments and some naval establishments formed the backbones of many record catalogues, from the earliest days of the industry until the end of World War I. Their repertoires, which covered a great range of popular and light classical material in addition to marches, was later undertaken by studio orchestras and then by established symphony and concert orchestras. The popularity of military bands in the U.S. during the latter 19th and early 20th centuries was immense.
Such bands flourished in communities across the nation, playing all categories of popular music in addition to marches. The early record companies, cylinder and disc, gave high priority to band music. An Edison recording session of June 1889 brought forth six numbers by Duffy and Imgrund's Fifth Regiment Band, an ensemble that returned about 20 times to the Edison studio by 1892. The 12-piece band of Patrick S. Gilmore was recorded by Edison on 17 Dec 1891, doing 19 numbers of various types, some featuring cornetist Tom Clark. Voss' First Regiment Band was another Edison group of the period. The first Edison Diamond Discs made by military bands were done in 1913, by the National Promenade Band and the New York Military Band; later by the Edison Concert Band (the material recorded was dance and pop as well as march). Columbia signed John Philip Sousa and his United States Marine Band to an exclusive contract as soon as the firm began to make entertainment records in 1889.