Australian Chart History Part I

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Australian Chart History

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Introduction of Television    Beginnings of the Kent Music Report

Introduction of Television

In 1956 an event occurred that changed the way in which Australians received entertainment in the home.  Television was introduced!  One of the results of the introduction of television was a change to the programming format of most radio stations.  Up until that time radio programming consisted of a mix of serials, plays, music, long news broadcasts and the like.  The beginnings of television saw a change in the material that radio stations presented:  they gradually changed to the continuos music programming that we are accustomed today.

In March 1958 radio station 2UE published the first giveaway chart that was distributed in record stores for the purpose of a promotional tool that allowed the radio stations to publicise the new music format they were now using.  By this time rock 'n' roll was also in full swing:  Bill Haley's 'Rock Around the Clock' had been released in 1955 and was followed by the success of artists such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.  Within the year charts were being published by radio stations in each of the capital cities.  Eventually most of the popular radio stations were compiling their own charts:

  • Sydney: 2UE, 2UW, 2SM
  • Melbourne: 3XY, 3DB, 3UZ, 3AK
  • Brisbane: 4BC, 4IP, 4BK
  • Adelaide: 5AD, 5DN, 5KA
  • Perth: 6PR, 6PM, 6KY
  • Hobart: 7HO, 7HT
Retail sales reports from record stores in the capital cities were the main basis of the data used to compile the charts however other factors were also included such as the 'opinions' of the radio stations music directors.  This method of chart research and publication continued throughout the 1960s.

There were a small number of publications that published their own charts separately from the radio stations during this period.  The most prominent at the time was Go Set magazine which heavily targeted the teenage audience and published a top 40 singles chart.  Go Set ran from 1966-74 and their chart claimed to be nationally based (the radio stations charts were specific to the capital city in which they were based).  The Go Set chart was compiled from a combination of sales figures from retails stores as well as using the data from the radio stations charts from around the country. 

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Beginnings of the Kent Music Report

During the early 1970s a man by the name of David Kent starting using the charts he was collecting from radio stations around the country as the basis of calculating a national chart for both singles and albums in a similar fashion to the method used by Go Set magazine.  David was a music enthusiast and had spent a number of years within the music industry working for both EMI and Phonogram records.  After a period of approximately a year-and-a-half of conducting the research and tabulating the data into a work-able chart the Kent Music Report was formally launched as a commercial publication in July of 1974 and available by subscription.  In addition to containing the singles and albums charts the Music Report contained other features (see Content of Kent Music Report) The publication of the report achieved two goals of David's:
  1. there was a commercial opportunity to produce a chart and have the music industry pay for the information
  2. the publication of the chart fulfilled a personal desire to see the information documented as a historical record
The data used to compile the charts was at first solely based on the numerous radio station charts that David was receiving from around the country with a points based system used to calculate the final result.  Funding limitations in the early years (David simply didn't have the money to employ the staff or make the expensive calls to record stores around the country) meant that real sales data were not considered in the calculating of the charts during this period; the radio station charts alone provided the basis of the data. 

Gradually, however, the research base increased and in 1976 David started using sales figures from retail stores to supplement the primary source of data (which continued to be the radio station charts) whilst in later years staff were employed to assist with the research.  Record companies started using the data in the Kent Music Report fairly quickly and within a period of 1-5 years the Kent Music Report had become recognised as the leading national chart publication.  A cross-section of those that subscribed to the Kent Music report is as follows:

  • record retailers
  • radio stations
  • record companies
  • chart enthusiasts (individuals)
  • music industry bodies (such as music publishing companies, promoters etc.)
  • other media groups (television stations, magazines etc.)
  • overseas chart publications
As subscriptions to the Kent Music Report improved, more funds were available and the number of retail stores contributing sales data increased. In 1982 the Kent Music Report stopped using radio station charts as the primary basis and used retail sales figures as the main source of the data in compiling the charts (although the sales data was still supplemented with radio chart information).
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Australian Chart History Part II

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