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Information World In Action - 'The Chart Busters'

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Imani
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Post subject: World In Action - 'The Chart Busters' Reply with quote

Following from a point raised by Trojan on another thread...I recall watching this back in 1980. IMDB description follows:

'Investigating allegations that the pop music charts are controlled not by consumers, but by manipulative tactics of the big record companies, thus not being a true reflection of popularity at all.'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ2x2gbYUgg&t=197s
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Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:15 pm
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Trojan
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Those were the days. People used to have an interest in the charts.

Who would go to that effort nowadays??
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Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:27 pm
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Imani
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From the same time period, last year I read the the memoir of Thomas Dolby, titled 'The Speed of Sound'. I'm not a 'fan' as such, though I like the singles he did, and found his incorporating of cutting-edge technology quite interesting. (He also did one very good Beat/Police inspired instrumental on a B-side.)

There was one anecdote he related that said so much about the music industry, and chimes in with the World In Action documentary.

In brief: Dolby was signed to Capitol Records in the USA, and was set for big things in the early 80s - the same time when there was the so-called 'Second British Invasion' of pop acts. His single 'She Blinded Me With Science' had been a huge hit, and the follow-up 'Hyperactive' set to be even bigger.

Not long after Hyperactive's release, the head of rock radio promotions at Capitol, a guy called Bruce Wendell, was sacked. The story goes, some of his colleagues at Capitol felt he was getting far too much money, despite not doing anywhere near the same amount of work, and there were financial irregularities.

Wendell's role had been to liaise with the independent radio pluggers known in the business as 'The Network'. The Network decided which songs were going to be on radio playlists across the entire country, without which a record would be a guaranteed commercial flop. They would plug songs as long as the record labels paid them enough, or supplied other perks.

After Wendell's sacking, as a show of support, his influential friends in The Network immediately stopped plugging all Capitol releases. This meant that songs which would normally played on dozens of stations would end up only getting aired on fourteen or so. In other words, Hyperactive stalled at the lower reaches of the chart. Duran Duran were on the same label, but because they were considered higher priority, Capitol put all of their energy into plugging them.

All of this was broken down to him by his then manager, Andy Ferguson. A final quote from Dolby: "When Andy spelled it out to me, I felt ill. I was overcome with the realisation that the industry I was part of was so corrupt. I'd seen traces of it before now, in the cosy old-boy collusion of the British music industry, but never anything as blatant as this. My record had been flushed out of the charts out of sheer bloody-mindedness. It felt to me as if a handful of coked-up music execs in satin tour jackets had the power to decide that the public would never hear it." (page 94 of The Speed of Sound)
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Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:42 pm
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Imani
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Trojan wrote:
Those were the days. People used to have an interest in the charts.

Who would go to that effort nowadays??


It may still go on. I know that about five years ago, it was possible to 'buy social media followers'. How sad is that? It's like a comedian having to buy canned laughter.
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Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:51 pm
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bluearmy78
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I used to avidly listen to the top 40, recording it on my cassette player, listening to it back, deciding which singles to buy. Loved the album chart too, l even used to listen to Paul Gambaccini and the American charts occasionally, although for the best part the american charts were crap.
I dont think kids listen like we used to years ago. It was a big thing back then, there is too much other stuff for them nowadays.Music doesnt mean so much, its everywhere, and there is some real rubbish in the charts, its for the most part so forgettable music. What a shame, but so much in life isnt as good as it was. We are meant to be moving forward, but l think we are going backwards in a lot of ways.
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Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:39 am
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Imani
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bluearmy78 wrote:
I used to avidly listen to the top 40, recording it on my cassette player, listening to it back, deciding which singles to buy. Loved the album chart too, l even used to listen to Paul Gambaccini and the American charts occasionally, although for the best part the american charts were crap.
I dont think kids listen like we used to years ago. It was a big thing back then, there is too much other stuff for them nowadays.Music doesnt mean so much, its everywhere, and there is some real rubbish in the charts, its for the most part so forgettable music. What a shame, but so much in life isnt as good as it was. We are meant to be moving forward, but l think we are going backwards in a lot of ways.


It's interesting to hear David Bowie's interview with Jeremy Paxman in 1999, and his take on the state of music. It applied even before the rise of digital music but certainly applies to now. From 6.06.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiK7s_0tGsg
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Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:49 pm
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bluearmy78
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So true what Bowie says. And as you say, even more so nowadays. Its a shame, but its a sad state that music is in.
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Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:12 pm
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Trojan
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Could you imagine anyone wishing to put the time and effort into a 2019 version of The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles ? I just read that the last edition was in 2006. I'm genuinely surprised that it ran for so long. The charts by then were well and truly crap, and interest in them long gone.
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Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:32 pm
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Imani
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bluearmy78 wrote:
So true what Bowie says. And as you say, even more so nowadays. Its a shame, but its a sad state that music is in.


Also as a pioneer of the use of the internet to distribute music back in the 90s, he no doubt could see where the music industry was heading and the effect that would have on the music itself.
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Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:44 pm
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Imani
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Trojan wrote:
Could you imagine anyone wishing to put the time and effort into a 2019 version of The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles ? I just read that the last edition was in 2006. I'm genuinely surprised that it ran for so long. The charts by then were well and truly crap, and interest in them long gone.


Notice that it petered out around about the same time as TOTP. There's been so many new outlets for music and entertainment, so the idea of the BBC having the main chart is over. Also, whereas we'd have to wait a week for the charts to be counted/fixed, you can find out chart positions immediately now (if you want).

Was everything in the UK charts fixed? My hunch is about 50% of it was.
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Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:54 pm
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bluearmy78
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lt may have been fixed, but it was good wasnt it ? l always remember the Smiths, as big as they were, they struggled to reach the top 10, surely that was one of the fixes ? The big labels not really wanting the independents to be as successful ? Might just be me, but lve always wondered why their singles struggled, when there were so many fans.
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Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:09 am
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Imani
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bluearmy78 wrote:
lt may have been fixed, but it was good wasnt it ? l always remember the Smiths, as big as they were, they struggled to reach the top 10, surely that was one of the fixes ? The big labels not really wanting the independents to be as successful ? Might just be me, but lve always wondered why their singles struggled, when there were so many fans.


Similarly, look at the first UB40 album and their first three or so singles on Graduate, an independent label. They were seen as an 'indie band', weird as that now sounds, and they were featured in the indie charts. They did well enough.

I don't believe everything was fixed and again, it wasn't every hyped record that became a hit, or made stars out of the artist - even if they got on TOTP. The public still had to accept it.
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Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:30 pm
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bluearmy78
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True, those first 3 UB40 singles did well, and the album did too. And you are right, the public did still have to buy into them. I always remember Peter Powell playing a band called Rouen to death,but most people have probably never heard of them.It didnt catch on. Although Powell flogged the single(young for a day) until he wore his copy out l would think. l liked it enough to buy the album(still have it in my collection),but they sunk without trace. People werent interested. Mind you, listening to the album years later it is for the most part crap ! l liked the single,l thought it was quite catchy at the time.
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Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:20 am
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Imani
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bluearmy78 wrote:
True, those first 3 UB40 singles did well, and the album did too. And you are right, the public did still have to buy into them. I always remember Peter Powell playing a band called Rouen to death,but most people have probably never heard of them.It didnt catch on. Although Powell flogged the single(young for a day) until he wore his copy out l would think. l liked it enough to buy the album(still have it in my collection),but they sunk without trace. People werent interested. Mind you, listening to the album years later it is for the most part crap ! l liked the single,l thought it was quite catchy at the time.


In those days also lots of reggae that was played at sound systems was selling well, sometimes the biggest sellers were easily on a par with songs getting into the top ten and twenty of the BBC charts. Occasionally songs would cross over, such as Police And Thieves and Silly Games but as with other indie labels, reggae shops weren't registered by the official chart returns.
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Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:59 pm
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