Al's Records, Walthamstow and Islington

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 30 October 2005

As the music industry still struggles to come to terms with the way the internet has smashed through their business model, it is always nice to see something that demonstrates that the business model has not always been set in stone. Instead of trying to legislate and prosecute for the status quo, the industry should be working out how to adjust the model to keep the content publishing companies in business, if they are still to have a place.

Whilst sorting through my stuff I found this example of the way things used to be. I picked it up out of interest because of the fact that I had worked in different record shops in both Walthamstow and Islington, where Al had his two branches.

Al's Record generic 7 inch sleeve from the fifties or sixties

I'm guessing this 7" single sleeve must date from the late fifties or early sixties, but I know nothing about Al's Records apart from the information on the sleeve. However it is a rich source of information. The dominant branding isn't the artist, and isn't the label, it is the retailer. They were participating in a scheme whereby they were an 'accredited dealer' with one of the content producing labels. And their proudest selling point was not the style of music they sold, but whether you needed two speakers to hear the recording in its full glory.

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