Henry Stone On The Birth Of Indie Record Label Distribution: “I Sold 78’s To Train Porters”
“The independent record business really started up in California about 1946 or 47′ when I got out of the Army. During World War II there’d been a shortage on the material called “Shellac” which was used to make 78rpm records because it came mostly from India and Southeast Asia. So throughout the war there really wasn’t any record business.
After the war I moved from my base at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey to Los Angeles and I ended up doing a lot of work with Modern Records, a pioneering indie label.
One of my little gimmicks was I’d go around and pick their records up in the morning and sell em’ out of the back of my car and I ended up going down to the train stations to do business with the guys who rode the rails for work.
The train porters went to St Louis and New York yknow and I’d sell em’ the records and they’d flip em’ to the locals at their stops. That to me was one of the first forms of independent distribution.
The porters would give me a buck for the record and sell it for two bucks when they got to New York or Chicago or Philly or Detroit, or whereva they went….Kansas City, Indianapolis, etc.
Those L.A. indie records weren’t available out there, or around the country cause there was no distribution yet. No nothin’. It was all new at that time.”
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