If you have ever flipped though a stack of records at a thrift store you may have noticed the names of labels like Pickwick, Crown, Royale, Halo, Grand Prix, Design, Custom, or some other label that made very cheap albums. If you haven't notice these records then I will tell you more about them. Budget labels were and still are thought as cheap pieces of junk, however it was budget labels that put the record and LP into people's homes.
Little Wonder was one of the early budget labels that changed the record industry, at that time records (records then at that time played 78 rpm or thereabout) were about 75 cents to a dollar each, or about 20 bucks in today's dollars. Then the machines were also very expensive, so you would have to be pretty well of to have a phonograph in your house! One of the main reasons that the record were so expensive was the fact that Victor and Columbia records held all the patents for the disk phonograph and kept the machines and records at high prices. Then that all changed, a man named Henry Waterson teamed up secretly with Columbia to make a cheap record that measured 5 1/2 inches across between 1914 to 1923. These records played for only 1-1 1/2 minutes and were single sided only. These records made records affordable to more people, while causing the other big labels to lower their prices to compete with them. There is no doubt that Little Wonder was one of the the most important budget labels of all time because of its lasting effects on the whole record industry.
"Back To The Carolina's My Love" (Al Jolson)
After Victor's and Columbia's patents expired, record labels started popping up all over the place, some of them were Grey Gull and the million budget labels that used the Grey Gull masters for their releases. Soon the Great Depression was on and Hit Of The Week records blossomed and died in a matter of a few short years. Then we had big label budget subsidies in the 30's such as Blue Bird and Harmony records. Then World War Two broke out, then budget labels would take on the attributes that made labels such as Pickwick loathed and hated by the record industry. More coming soon.
Hit of The Week records.