Gallery: click to enlarge
In the late 1950s, EMI produced 7” 45 rpm EP album samplers, which were clearly marked “Not for sale: This record is the property of E.M.I. Records Ltd.” The focus was on classical music, and the fact that EMI retained ownership of these samplers mean they were demos. The ones that I’ve seen are all classical music. It would not have been worth producing these for the single classical broadcaster, the BBC Third Programme, even at a copy for every presenter, which suggests these were review copies for newspapers and magazines, and also review copies for buyers in the more important retailers.
Each contains six extracts from current discs, so that the illustrated one covers the HMV and Capitol labels, and back in 1958 was unusual because the record labels had a stronger individual identity within the EMI group.
The concept extended to jazz, but not to popular music. The jazz releases mixed Parlophone, Columbia and Capitol.
Decca and Deram issued promo singles for Middle of The Road albums. as “Single From LP.” These were aimed at Radio Two, and never intended as chart demos, so we have Raymonde’s Magic Organ plugging Hits of The 30s in 1969 with a Deram demo.
By 1982, the focus of rock was on the future … singles purely as trailers for albums, so as to draw in sufficient airplay. It was also the year CD was being launched by Philips (i.e. Phonogram) and Sony, and Phonogram produced 7” four-track album samplers in the UK with their own sleeves, playing at 33 rpm.
They gave DJs a decent four track sampler from Van Morrison’s Beautiful Vision album, and also used the group Phonogram name over the actual label: Mercury.
This leads in the present day in the virtual single, the track issued electronically which DJs are encouraged to play to promote a new album, and downloads without ever releasing the track on CD or vinyl … an example is Van Morrison’s Open The Door (To Your Heart) a mere thirty years on from Beautiful Vision, to promote Born To Sing: No Plan B in 2012. No physical release, but spoken of as a new single on radio, and available for download.
In the 1990s, EMI produced singles samplers, on CD on a monthly basis under the title EMI Channel. These were not for sale.
Straight to consumer …
The covermount CD disc from magazines like The Word (deceased), Q (deceased), Replay (deceased), Tracks (deceased) then Uncut and Mojo, promising fifteen tracks of this month’s new releases took over aiming directly at the consumer, though these relate to sell-through compilation samplers (see later) rather than demo samplers. At some points, artists had to pay to be included on covermount discs.
Small labels like Proper and Navigator Records produced low price CD album samplers as a matter of course.
Island followed the EP route with six track demo EPs, While these are marked, Promo – not for resale, they are promoting six LPs with leading tracks, and the gatefold EP sleeve illustrated all six albums.