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date: 25 January 2020


  • David Buckley


A seven-inch vinyl phonographic disc with a playing speed of 45 r.p.m., later a short-playing tape or CD. In the 1950s the vinyl single became the most important medium for popular music; along with the vinyl LP, it replaced the shellac 78 r.p.m. ten-inch which was the standard up until the late 1940s. Cheaper to manufacture and easier to distribute, in the 1950s it became the format for jukeboxes, the retail business and radio play, and the singles charts in both the USA and the UK became something of a style barometer. Because of cheaper distribution it was also possible for small independent labels to gain a market share and introduce new talent, true both in the 1950s with the rise of labels such as Sun and Stax, and also in the late 1970s, when the UK market was briefly flooded by new wave material from small independent labels such as Stiff. By the late 1950s and early 60s million-selling singles by artists such as Elvis Presley and the Beatles were common on both sides of the Atlantic. Certain labels, most notably Tamla Motown, concentrated almost exclusively on the singles charts. By around ...

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