Thursday, May 28, 2015

Music Vendor & Cash Box Mazines

Music Vendor used to be a top tier music industry trade magazine. It existed for only 18 years under that name and then became Record World. It began as Music Guild, which was first published on a steno machine in 1946.  Radio trade magazines have lost a lot of ground since then to online industry websites. The site has a solid Page Rank of 5, for example. But there are a few that hang on in print.

Record World was one of the three main music industry trade magazines, the other two being Billboard and Cash Box. Music Vendor was founded in 1946. Contemporary sources usually referred to Cash Box as "struggling." In reality Music Vendor and Billboard used up all the air in the room. It was a duopoly, Cashbox was the third wheel in those early years. But in the end, Cashbox continued on until 1996. Cashbox was revived as an Internet-only magazine in 2006. Music Vendor re-branded as "Record World" in 1964 and ceased publication completely in 1982. What went wrong?

Cashbox was focused on venues connected to coin-operated machines, jukebox operators primarily. Data from jukebox play was core to early music charts. The recording and collating of that data is where all music charts originate, and by connection the Top 40 format, top 10 count downs etc. By comparison, Billboard was and is pretty stodgy. They are very pop focused and have essentially no ear to the street. Billboard breaks no stories, no bands, and never discovers any new genres, movements or artists. They're retail-focused. Music Vendor by comparison was actually kind of hip. But it was Cash Box who actually innovated the "bulleted" chart indicating the movers on a top 100 chart. Their chart page was actually perforated so it could be easily removed and displayed. That was invented (probably) by Marty Ostrow.

What preserved Cashbox and Music Vendor is that their advertising rates were lower than Billboard. So
they had ad traffic from Independent labels that couldn't afford Billboard. That's how black artists like fats Domino and Brook Benton ended up on the cover. Billboard was still swooning over Pat Boone. Staff moved between Cash Box and Music Vendor often. Sid Parnes, who later was part owner of Record World, was a music editor at Cash Box starting in 1951. Parnes left in 1959 to start his own music form Sidmore Music. He and Bob Austin, another Cash Box alum took over Music Vendor in 1964 and changes the name to Record World.

They made it work for anther 20 years. But as 8-track and cassette sales rose and LP sales fell, personal grievances between Austin and Parnes strained the operation. It didn't collapse, it fizzled. But in early 2013 Bruce Elrod, formerly of Cash Box as well, re-launched Record World with a new mission to serve solely indie artists and labels. How appropriate.