Henry Stone On Distribution and Promotion: “I Came Up With 300 Free On a Thousand Piece Order”
“As far as the DJs here in Miami, and Ft Lauderdale, I felt like, “If they’re gonna play my records they should be compensated somehow.” So I took care of them in a small way. In 1948 Miami was the asshole of the world. And the 1950s was just the beginning of the independent record industry.
So I came up with sort of a little plan. As my Tone Distributing company grew, I saw that I had to get the records on the radio down here in order to get my lines of all the labels I carried bought by the stores.
Florida was basically a small area in the national market. It’s what they called a two or a two and a half percent market. So if a record sold a million around the country, I was supposed to sell 20,000. So even though I had a strong relationship with all the jockeys down here, I needed a little extra to do what I hadda do to take care of em.
So I started ordering 1,000 of a record at a time. And what I’d say to Atlantic or some of the smaller independents was, “Ey, man, if I order 1,000, and you give me 300 extra, it doesn’t cost you nothin’ but pressing. I’ll take the 300, use it for promotion, and the idea spread.
Course like anything else that’s good, it spread to the other distributors. They found out what I was doin, and it spread throughout the whole industry it became almost like, if you order 1,000, you get 300. You order 10,000 you get 3,000 yknow.
So it became like a thing in the industry. I was responsible for that. And I took this 300 on a 1,000 and I turned it into to cash. The 1,000 I needed for my business to run my normal business, to ship out to the record stores, to the jukebox, whateva, and the other 300 I turned into cash cause I had cash customers and I took care of business the way I had to take care of it.
Any little record stores, they used to come in and pay cash. We had like, it built to the point we had 10 or 15 record stores between Miami and Ft Lauderdale, little RnB stores they used to come in and buy 5 of this 10 of this
If I had a record in my hand that they never heard on the radio, they wouldn’t buy it, cause they hadda pay cash for it yaknow, so I used the cash from the cash orders to pay the DJs to play whatever records I needed to get on the air. I’d get it on the radio to where it made sense, the little stores would get calls for it, and then they’d come and see me to buy it.
That’s how I built my distribution.”
©Jacob Katel and Henry Stone Music Inc. All Rights Reserved