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Re: [ARSCLIST] Billboard Charts
The history of "charts" is rather convoluted--they sort of evolved over time.
Variety published best selling SONGS lists throughout most of the 1920s,
sometimes adding best selling RECORDS by label as well. For example during
1921-1922 Victor and Columbia submitted their monthly six best sellers (unranked).
Later Brunswick and Okeh joined in, and QRS listed their best selling piano
rolls too. These lists, which lasted until 1924, are all suspect because they
were provided by the labels and seem to change every month. They appear to
really be "plug lists" of new releases.
In 1929 Variety restarted monthly best selling records lists, this time
ranked, for Brunswick, Columbia and Brunswick, showing their New York, Chicago and
Los Angeles "six best sellers" separately. Same caveats as above (in October
1929 Victor listed its New York best seller as "Patriotic March Medley" by the
Victor Symphony Band." Really?) This lasted until 1932, by which time "#1"
probably meant three-and-a-half copies sold.
Even earlier, in the 1910s, Talking Machine World's Chicago chatter column
had a regular listing of major label best sellers, by label, provided by the
distributors there. There are occasional mentions of "best selling records" in
various trade publications as far back as the 1890s.
Billboard had columns discussing best selling (or most played) records in the
late 1930s, but the first regular independent ranking of best selling records
that I know of was the Billboard chart that began in 1940 and has run ever
since. I researched all this once. Ought to write it up some day!
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 15:05:22 -0500
From: Andrew Brown <brown135@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: Billboard Charts
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
Billboard magazine began "charting the hits" starting with the October 12,
1935 issue. This was planned as a feature within a new section entitled
"Weekly Music Notes." Below the headline "10 Best Records," the explanation
was given that these charts represented "ten 'best sellers' for automatic
phonograph operators reported this week by record firms. These weekly
reports enable the operator to check on the very latest hits. Due to the
rush in starting the music department, the list is naturally incomplete this
week." The lists were grouped by label (10 best sellers for Bluebird, 10
best on Brunswick, etc) and divided under separate "Chicago List" and "New
My question is: was this the earliest known attempt to "chart" the best
selling records, or do earlier examples exist, e.g. in magazines like
Talking Machine World?