The Encyclopedia of American Record Companies and Producers, 1888 – 1950 • Coming in 2018

I’m happy to announce that work on The Encyclopedia of American Record Company and Producers, 1888-1950 is approximately 80% complete, with a target date of early-to-mid 2018 for launch.

There are currently 839 completed company entries, comprising approximately 900 text pages, with an additional 160 pages of mainly primary-source citations. A little over one-thousand total entries are anticipated by the time of completion. (The number of individual labels covered in those entries hasn’t been tabulated yet, but it will of course be in the many thousands.)

For those of you not yet familiar with the project, it covers all known American producers of commercial recordings (individuals  and companies) — from the start of the wax-cylinder era through the advent of the LP; and from the behemoths like Victor, Columbia, Decca, and Capitol, to the tiniest, shortest-lived storefront and mom-and/or-pop operations of the 1940s.

(Not covered: Children’s, school, and instructional records; one-off personal or promotional labels; radio transcriptions, instantaneous recording, and special-use recordings not intended for the retail market, etc. — although the producers of those materials, like Muzak and other for-hire studios, will be covered in conjunction with any work they did for commercial labels.)

Entries will be posted individually and will be linked in a way that makes it easy to follow interconnected and often-complex chains of events, mergers and acquisitions, successions, personnel changes, master sales and licensing, legal actions, etc., from one entry to another.

Plans are to publish the work only online (a potential host is on board) for the obvious economic reasons, with manufacturing and shipping costs on the rise as book sales continue to decline. But more importantly, doing so will allow for on-the-fly additions and revisions, which are inevitable with a work of this size and scope. Users will be encouraged to submit additions and revisions based upon reliable primary-source documentation, which will be incorporated subject to source verification, fact-checking, and editorial approval. (Wikipedia believers need not apply.)

— Allan Sutton