Hit of the Week Records

Hit of the Week Records

From Wikipedia
English: Hit of the Week Records label

English: Hit of the Week Records label (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hit of the Week record featuring the orchestra of Andy Sannella (May 1932).

Hit of the Week Records was a record label based in the United States of America in the early 1930s. Distinctively, “Hit of the Week”s were made not of shellac as was usual for gramophone record of the era, but of a patented blend of paper andresin called Durium. A related label in the United Kingdom was called Durium Records.

“Hit of the Week” was an attempt to produce a product for the tighter budgets of customers during the Great Depression. The label debuted in February 1930. Unlike other records, it was sold at news-stands, not record stores. As the name implied, new records came out at the rate of one each week. Retailing at 15 cents each, “Hit of the Week”s were the cheapest new record available. The unusual Durium material helped set the “Hit of the Week”s apart. Other than a tendency to have a low-frequency rumble, audio fidelity was equal to or better than the usual records of the time. Also unusual, “Hit of the Week”s were pressed with music on only one side of the disc, a practice most other labels had abandoned a generation earlier, and they were issued in very flimsy rice-paper sleeves, few of which have survived. Some editions of “Hit of the Week” contained explanatory text or the artist’s portrait printed on the flat back of the disc.

“Hit of the Week Records” were initially very successful. By the summer of 1930, up to half a million copies of each week’s record were produced to fill demand. However as the Depression became even worse, sales of even the inexpensive “Hit of the Week”s slumped. In March 1931 the company went into receivership. In May of that year they were purchased by theErwin, Wasey & Company advertising agency. New “Hit of the Week” records debuted in August, now with two songs or dance tunes on each single-sided disc, with five minutes of total playing time. However, as the economy continued to contract, the label was unable to turn a profit (the price was raised to 20 cents by April), and the last “Hit of the Week”s were produced in June 1932.

The advertising industry continued to make limited use of “Durium” records, mostly for advertising novelties, through the 1930s (these were 5″ and as small as 3″ advertising records; many specimens are found with a mailing address and postage on the reverse side).

Among popular artists of the time who recorded for “Hit of the Week Records” were Gene AustinDuke Ellington (as Harlem Hot Chocolates), Eddie CantorMorton Downey, andRudy Vallee.


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