The charts … and labels

Pride of place: Philips front page advert: April 1966

Even a whole page advert and bribery couldn’t propel a release into the chart unless it had other merits. The music industry always worked on the basis that if you threw enough manure at a wall, some would stick. Success ratios within releases varied wildly from label to label and from year to year. Even then success can only be measured in chart terms as sales figures aren’t available for comparison. This works against slow builders, and records that sold modestly but steadily over a long period.

Let’s take three years and look at the ratio of Top Thirty successes to releases.

Paul Pelletiere’s Record Information Services booklets

The information comes from the booklets issued by Paul Pelletiere’s Record Information Services on labels, and as not all are currently available, this has selected itself by those volumes that are. The small booklets have more detailed notes, while the A4 booklets are basically just lists, and the percentages weren’t worked out. The three years are chosen randomly.

Success rates from Record Information Services

The first thing that leaps out is that around 5% chart success for a label seems viable and fends off the receivers. The figure to aim for appears to be 15%, a barrier that rarely gets broken. Warner had a high success rate for 1960 at 17.9% but had only 28 releases, compared to London’s 238 releases that year.

Looking at the years missed out in the table, you can see consistency. Between 1955 and 1966 Decca are mainly in the 12% to 15% range over a large number of releases. 1956 was a better year, spiking at 20.8%. From 1967 to 1972, with Decca in decline and with more sub-labels, the range of successes is 5% to 9%. From 1973 it tails off dramatically.

London-American is also way bigger than the others. From 1956 to 1965, they range from 7.2% (1964 was an awful year) to 20% in 1957. 15% is a good average.

Capitol is noticeably less successful, rarely exceeding 19%. Exceptional years being 1960 above at 15.7% and 1963 with 52 releases and not a single chart entry.

Brunswick hits some high figures in 1962 (31.6%) and 1963 (29.4%).

Atlantic was part of London in the 1960 lists, and was consistent at around 3.5% in 1964 and 1968. However, 1965 hit 13% and 1966 hit 10.5%. Then again, 1971 with 84 releases and one chart entry gives 1.2%.

Anyway after all that maths, thankfully done by someone else, we can get an idea of how much of what was chucked, adhered.