Gambo wrote:The article is indeed a fascinating insight into how things were back then, and what the BMRB were up against in order to get anything like a reasonably-trusted weekly chart out there.
I'd always wondered what the problem was with those chain stores not supplying sales information to the compilers - apparently it seems that they simply didn't want their staff to be bothered with it. I always suspected it was more to do with having their own competing charts that they wanted to focus on, but maybe it really was that they couldn't be arsed. The part of this article that struck me most though was the revelation (well, it is to me at any rate) that BMRB started compiling sales information for labels well-before the established the 'official chart' in February 1969, before they were in cahoots with the other partners to render that a financially-viable prospect. That implies that there was BMRB-compiled music sales data available ahead of the arrival of the improved industry-sponsored chart, possibly dating back to some time in 1968 or even '67? Of course, it's almost certain that none of that info would survive now, given that I read somewhere recently (forget where but on UKMix) that the BMRB were on record as having destroyed all their chart data from the period they were responsible for compiling it, and it feels unlikely that labels would've retained anything from 50-plus years ago. But it's interesting to contemplate that - depending on how widely they surveyed the market - there could've been potentially-better sales data supplied to the industry release-by-release than that which was being gathered by the music papers in order to compile their charts.
I wonder whether Mrs Ailsa Walker is still with us, enjoying retirement?! It'd be very interesting to hear more from her. Allan Smith is the sort of chap who might've tracked her down for an interview about the charts, but then he is more 1960s-focused rather than '70s so maybe it wasn't on his radar.
Adding a correction to my previous post. I had originally posted her name as Ailsa (which is the name given in the Record Mirror article and is the one I actually recalled from back in 1976) but changed it to Alisa Walker which is the name given in the Rock File 4 article. The correct name is Ailsa Walker. As for whether she is still with us - the last trace I can find of her is when she left the BMRB in January 1977 when according to Billboard she moved to Yorkshire as her husband was starting a new job there.
Ailsa's boss, and the chief executive at BMRB who first pitched the idea of BMRB compiling the national charts back in the 1960s, Peter Meneer, left at the same time. Peter Menneer is definitely still with us. He also left BMRB in January 1977 to take up a senior appointment at JICTAR which was the commercial radio audience research unit. He later moved to work as a audience research statistician at the BBC and in 1992 set up RAJAR, the radio audience research unit which survives to this day and which amalgamated JICTAR with the BBC's own audience research unit. He also helped set up BARB, the organisation that measures TV audiences.
As for any pre-1969 charts. BMRB did pitch the idea of a partnership of organisations to compile a national chart which would be based on actual sales rather than a points system. An article in Billboard from the issue dated 16 August 1968 (almost 50 years to the day!) outlines what progress had been made to that pointhttps://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xAo ... 68&f=false
In the Billboard issue dated 19 October 1968 it was nearly all systems go with only EMI not yet behind the plan (interestingly EMI were compiling their own Singles chart at the time though that is not mentioned in the article)https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MEU ... 68&f=false
Presumably for the BMRB to have confidence in what they were proposing they must have carried out some market research involving collating sales information but to what extent isn't clear. I would imagine that in the run up to the launch of the BMRB compiled chart in February 1969 the BMRB would have had to compile test charts simply to make sure the system worked. Presumably Gallup and later Millward Brown must have done so too? I can't imagine "go live day" would be the first day each organistion would start to collect sales data for the first time. It would be leaving too much to chance for something to go wrong.