Henry Stone on Starting in The Record Distribution Business: “I Had A Gimmick”
“When I was out in California starting in the music business after WWII, I had a gimmick when I was trying to get the records around out there. I made a thing called the Indie Index.
I was out selling records and people would say, “Well who the hell is so and so anyway? Who are these people? Where do we get the records?”
And I would give them the Indie Index which listed the artists and the labels. People didn’t know anything back then. It was so new. There was no radio for independent black music. It was all done through the jukeboxes.
So when I moved down to Miami, I brought the indie index with me, took it to a print shop and figured I’d continue my venture like that.
But as I went down to get my driver’s license at the courthouse on Flagler, I was walking up the steps and I heard someone screaming my name,
“Henry Stone, hey, Henry Stone!”
I turned around and this was an old buddy of mine from California that I knew very well.
He said, “Look I got about 10,000 records I shipped down here by train,”
In those days you either shipped by train or by boat, that was the mode of transportation
He said, “I just got beat on a deal. But if you pick up these records and sell em for me, I know you’re gonna pay me cause I know your reputation.”
I said, “Great!”
So I picked up the 10,000 records and thats how i started in the distribution business here in Florida
Now in those 10,000 records there was several thousand copies of one called “Open The Door Richard, ” by Jack McVea, and I ended up with a hit record on my hands in 1948, and I sold em.
There were no record stores in Miami in 1948. No record stores.
You ever hear of Philpitt’s. That was music store that had a little section where they sold a few records yknow? But they weren’t gonna buy 10,000 off me. They probably sold a few a week.
So I sold most of those records to Juke Box operators, they put the boxes in the black whorehouses and stuff like that
That’s how I really started in the distribution business”
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