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THE GRAMOPHONE Incorporating V 0 X. THE RA 0 I 0 C RI TIC and B R 0 A 0 CAS T REV JEW

london OllIe.: ,Oa Soho Square London. W.1

Telephone:

Edited by

Gerrard 2136. 2137

Tele"ams:

COMPTON MACKENZIE and CHRISTOPHER STONE Parmaxto. Rath london

Vol. XVI

JANUARY 1939

No. 188

EDITORIAL

THE steady upward tendency over many months in the sale of records is causing a certain amount of perplexity. When at first sales began to go up we were all afraid to say too much about i t in case i t was a mirage of fresh prosperity; but now that this improvement has been steadily maintained i t is worth while asking what is the significance of it. We may recognize that the companies took advantage of the first sign of a change in the situation to follow i t up with an intensive advertising campaign the beneficial results of which are agreeably apparent. I do not believe, however, and I do not fancy that the recording companies believe that advertisement by itself is enough to explain the new state of affairs. I t is a common delusion of the public that advertising will create success. That is only true when the article advertised is from every point of view worth advertising. As a literary critic I could secure with a good notice of a book the attention of the public for that book, but if the book was a bad one or if i t was capable of appealing only to a limited number of. readers my praise of i t could not help i t a thousand copies on its way to best-sellerdom. So with the gramophone record. No amount of intensive advertising could have effected this steady improvement in the sales of records unless there had been a predisposition on the part of the .public to buy records again. All that advertising could do was to take advantage of that predisposition and prod i t into more active expression.

I believe that there are several contributory causes to this encouraging-I will not yet say boom-but let us say to this clearly audible pop in the sales of records. Some of those causes I believe I know, but I shall not mention them because I am anxious to obtain the opinions of our readers all over the world, and so I propose to award a prize for the best essay of not more than 800 words on "Why records are selling better and better." There is no reason to take up 800 words if a competitor can say what he has to say in 200. I shall judge the essays personally, but I shall not rely entirely on my ·own judgment. I shall ask the recording companies to nominate a co-judge with myself, because I want this competition to have a practical value. The prize will be five guineas' worth of records, and there will be two consolation prizes of one guinea's worth each. Furthermore, we will award a I2 in. record to every original single explanation suggested, that is to say, for every sensible explanation which is not found in any other competitor's essay.

Entries should reach this office not later than April 5th, I939, and should be marked" Excelsior" on the outside of the envelopes.

The coupon which will be found on page xviii. must accompany each entry.

I regard this as an extremely important competition, and I do hope that readers whatever their l i terary abilities will have a shot at it. There is no reader of the paper who might not win two or three records by spotting causes other competitors have failed to note. I hope that dealers will not stand aside and, as I suppose that offers of records to a dealer are sending coals to Newcastle, or in the more picturesque Greek phrase, olives to Athens, I will send a signed copy of one of my books for every original suggestion from a dealer. I do hope that readers will help us in this enquiry. On several occasions in the past I have made a special appeal to which I have always received a generous response.

To everybody-readers, contributors, staff, and advertisers of TaE GRAMOPHONE- I wish for the fifteenth time a very happy and a very fortunate and a very prosperous New Year.

COMPTON MACKENZIE.