There’s a figurative dusty file bin for every industry known to man, the repository of great accomplishments bestowed upon all of the relevant players — great and small alike — in each industry. The dusty file bin of the recording industry is actually more like a modern cryogenic chamber, maintained by long-time music fan, Joel Whitburn.
Whitburn’s time machine of recording industry data is simply named “Record Research” and it stores sales, chart and radio information that goes as far back as the nineteenth century. The company’s records cover every genre of music ever sold on a store shelf or an Internet website, and it also categorizes an enormous amount of minutiae that’s either integral or peripheral to every recording that has ever been ranked on an industry sales chart
Whitburn, spurred by his passion for collecting Billboard singles charts, founded Record Research as a youngster in the 1950s. After graduating from college, Whitburn decided to compile a comprehensive number of charts into a statistical report, and after working out a favorable licensing deal with America’s premiere music charts authority, Billboard magazine, he fully launched the company in 1970.
Record Research now publishes dozens of statistical volumes covering historically diverse music chart data of all types. While these works are rather expensive and generally appeal only to a small hardcore market of music statistics geeks, the publications also serve as an outstanding reference resource for people looking to accurately collect entire catalogs of music from their favorite artists or for those seeking accuracy in recording industry data that they’re including in proprietary works.
Although Whitburn turns 70 years old this year, his family is poised to take over his baby when he’s no longer able to run it. With the ever-evolving nature of the recording industry, Record Research is certain to continue its expanding menu of publications for decades to come.