The wax cylinders produced by Edison's National Phonograph Company contained two-minute snippets of recording and retailed for 50 cents, which is the equivalent of paying like 20 bucks for a single MP3 download today. Additionally, early cylinders had to be inscribed one at a time with a stylus, meaning that "mass production" involved musicians performing continuously until either enough copies had been produced or everyone ran out of opium. In 1901, the company realized cylinders could be produced en masse using a mold, and so began the era of "gold moulding," so named for the golden vapors given off during the process that were almost certainly violently toxic.
We'd make a fart joke, but then we'd be no better than they.
You can absolutely listen to the recordings today, which is like jumping into the world's most specific time machine to experience a snapshot of bygone entertainment designed exclusively for horrible people. You see, in addition to benign genres like brass bands, opera singers, and Spanish lessons, there were also fantastically horrific comedy records which seemingly consisted entirely of bad puns, fat jokes, and infanticide. Here's a typical joke recorded in 1899. If you can't listen to the audio at the link, we've transcribed it for your pleasure: