After RCA and Columbia and their subsidiaries, the shares would fall to smaller numbers. USA Decca
would probably be fourth in there, but I'm not positive about that. But my impression (not based on
actual sales figures) is that there was a second tier of "major independents" by the late 50's. This
included Capitol (which soon sold to EMI), Mercury (which soon sold to Philips), and there may have
been enough early-rock hits to Chess and Sun into this tier if we're talking sales dollars or actual
I'm sure you know this, but many if not most Billboard issues are searchable and readable via Google
Books. You could also contact NARAS, since this cannot be considered "sensitive industry data" by
the wildest imagination, given that we're talking 50+ years ago.
You could also check European business press from the time of EMI acquiring Capitol and Philips
acquiring Mercury and see if any details about the US market were provided either in corporate
filings or in news articles of the time.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Pekka Gronow" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 5:26 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] US record business in the 1950s
>I have been looking for data on record company market shares in the USA in
> the 1950s, but I am still puzzled. There is RIAA data on total sales, and a
> lot of (mostly anecdotal) detail on specific companies. Sanjek's books on
> the music business are helpful, but do not follow the development
> systematically. If I had access to all issues of Billboard from this
> period, that might be the solution, but I do not have them
> It seems likely that the three biggest companies in the USA during this
> decade were CBS, RCA Victor and Decca. There were hundreds of other
> companies, of various sizes. But which were the ten, or twenty, biggest
> ones? I am not speaking of shares of hits in the charts (this has been
> studied), but market shares - real or at least estimated?
> All suggestions would be useful.
> Pekka Gronow