Ranking Edison’s 40 Best-Selling Artists of 1906 – 1908

Ranking Edison’s 40 Best-Selling Artists of 1906 – 1908

Compiled by Allan Sutton
from the Edison Dealers’ Order Sheets

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(From the Raymond R. Wile Research Library)

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The following artists were the top sellers on new releases made during the height of the Gold Moulded cylinder’s popularity, based upon the initial dealer-order reports of 1906 through mid-1908. The leading sellers of the period, by far, were Ada Jones (who captured the top three spots), Len Spencer, and Billy Murray. It’s interesting to note that Murray as a soloist ranked only #12, followed by Spencer at #13; but paired with Jones, they ranked in the top two spots.

Some caveats:

(1) The figures are only for initial dealer orders. Some of these records remained in the catalog for long periods, and final total sales figures have not survived, nor have statistics for dealer returns or scrapped copies. However, most sales to dealers occurred in advance of, or immediately following, the initial release date.

(2) The list covers only artists on new releases of the period. Some top-selling artists, like Cal Stewart, do not appear here because Edison did not issue any new records by them during this period, although many of their earlier releases were still in the catalog. Several other very popular artists, including Billy Golden and Murry K. Hill, are not represented because they made so few Edison recordings during this period that the sample size is too small to establish a reliable ranking. Both made the top-seller list (along with Stewart) during the Amberol and early Blue Amberol periods, which will be covered in a future post.

(3) There is strong evidence to suggest that many record buyers of the period were more interested in a given song than in the artist who recorded it. Artists who made a weak showing might have done so, at least to some degree, because they were assigned less-popular material. Conversely, some artists’ rankings might be inflated because they were consistently assigned current hit tunes.

The poorest-selling artists of the period? Those on the Edison Grand Opera cylinders, with average initial orders in the 1,100–1,250 range.

 

 

Artist(s) Average Initial Order
1 Ada Jones & Len Spencer 44,076
2 Ada Jones & Billy Murray 42,261
3 Ada Jones (solo; see also #1 and #2)
40,384
4 Edison Vaudeville / Minstrel Company 38,767
5 Frank C. Stanley & Byron G. Harlan 38,186
6 Arthur Collins & Byron G. Harlan 37,957
7 Charles D’Almaine 37,831
8 John J. Kimmel, as “John Kimmble” 36,944
9 Steve Porter 36,717
10 Manuel Romain 35,530
11 Haydn Quartet, as “Edison Male Quartet” 35,095
12 Billy Murray (solo; see also #2) 34,794
13 Len Spencer (solo; see also #1) 34,494
14 Frederick H. Potter 34,306
15 Albert Benzler 34,002
16 Helen Trix 33,968
17 John Young & Frederick J. Wheeler, as “Anthony & Harrison” 33,389
18 S. H. Dudley 33,223
19 Byron G. Harlan (solo; see also #5 and #6) 33,161
20 Stella Tobin 32,832
21 Vess L. Ossman 32,761
23 Arthur Collins (solo; see also #6) 32,346
24 Edward Meeker 32,183
25 Edward M. Favor 32,048
26 Bob Roberts 31,889
27 Will F. Denny 31,537
28 James Brockman 31,334
29 Reinald Werrenrath 31,290
30 Harry Macdonough 30,384
31 Reed Miller 30,283
32 Edison studio bands / orchestras 29,865
33 Henry Burr, as “Irving Gillette” 29,078
34 J. W. Myers 28,259
35 Joe Belmont 28,236
36 Will H. Thompson 28,147
37 Frank C. Stanley (solo; see also #5) 27,854
38 Florence Hinkle 27,829
39 John Young, as “Harry Anthony” (solo; see also #17) 27,178
40 Allen Waterous 27,142

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