Incorporating VOX, THE RADIO CRITIC and BROADCAST REVIEW
1.o...... Olfiu 10A Sobo Square
CO~1 PTON MACKENZIE
Telephon" Gerrard 6098, 6"9
T"I"~'4"" Parmaxlo, Rath, London
FROM time to t ime I have raised the topic ~ of circulating libraries for gramophone records, and 1 have expressed myself against their introduction partly because of the harm I think circulating libraries have done to l i terature, and partly because I was unable to see how a circulating l ibrary for gramophone records could possibly pay i ts way. The latter objection seems to be disposed of by the success of the Recorded Music Library, from the organisers of which I hear that there has been a steady increase of clients since i t was started last August. An annual subscription of four guineas entitles every member to take out ten discs a month without regard to individual size or price, so that if a subscriber always takes out ten six-shilling discs he would have the use of £36 worth of records for a ninth of what i t would have cost him had he bought them himself. Within a ten-mile radius of Charing Cross delivery is free to the subscriber. Anywhere outside that radius carriage is paid to the member's residence, but the cost of returning the records must be paid by the member. Apart from a few minor rules there is only one rule of outstanding importance, which is that a subscriber shall never play Library discs with any needle except an Electrocolor, a Burmese Colour, or a fibre. Gramophiles being by nature a much more honest class than bibliophiles, we may assume that the pledge given by the subscribers will be strictly honoured. The rapid extension of wireless coupled with the severe financial strain which has naturally hit the sale of the best music first has made me reconsider my opposition to circulating libraries of records, and if I had needed anything to confirm this change of attitude I should have found i t in the initial difficulties which were experienced by His Master's Voice in getting the Hugo Wolf Society securely started. I t was clear to me from the letters that I was receiving that many who would willingly have joined such a society could not afford to do so. The Hugo Wolf Society is being followed, as I have already announced, by a Beethoven Sonata Society, and though I am not at l iberty to give particulars yet I may say that definite steps are being taken to form other societies, and I fancy that we shall hear of great developments in this direction during the next year or two. On top of many letters about the difficulty of finding money for such wanted records, I received the following from one of our oldest readers :-
Having read The Working Lad's letters I would l ike to add my l i t t le bit. I do not know whether he is married. I hope not, for then his chances of satisfying his musical inclination are rendered very slender indeed.
I hope he can keep the records he has acquired and enjoy his selection.
This would -appear to be my addio to things gramophonic (and let me add, I do not want any more records). Trade depression, short t ime, and the increasing difficulty of keeping a home going for a wife and two children has cured me of any further desire for music via the gramo.
A miner, or most working men, may be musical, but they won't get much of i t . I had the Trout (H.M.V.) and lots of stuff (for a pitman). My collection would no doubt look meagre to some people, this last ought to have been in the past tense, there is nothing to appear meagre now. All gone bit by bit, can anyone wonder at i t? I gave her the great sum of 29s. last week to keep us on, well, how she does i t I don't know. I'm not begging or moaning, I only want you to understand how many of us struggle.
When I find a customer to buy the gramophone, then we shall have a radio, and then even if i t is distorted i t will be better than no music at all.
Cheerioh! old friend, I shall look forward to hearing yom broadcasts and may I hope you have a bright and happy New Year. Thank you for all your kindness to me.
I have not printed this letter with any idea of playing on readers' soft hearts, but because I think we all of us want reminding .": sometimes what life means in these days for people who have been granted a brief glimpse of beauty's domain, but who have been pushed out of i t and now find the gate locked against them. I am glad to think that our friend will derive a certain amount of consolation from music over the wireless, but music over the wireless never means as much to the lover of music as music on a gramophone record, and letters like this make me feel that i t is impossible for me to oppose anything that will help in any way to give gramophone owners a chance to keep in touch with recorded music during these bad times. And I shall try not to believe that when times are good those who have bought gramophone records in the past will not buy them again. But will times improve within the next decade? I confess I rather doubt it, and i t looks)o me as if the circulating l ibrary of records will have to become an institution in every town or suburh of any size.