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Single Record Sales, 1950-1962

Record Sales, 1950-1962
Year Sales (in millions of units)
1950 189
1951 199
1952 214
1953 219
1954 213
1955 277
1956 377
1957 460
1958 511
1959 603
1960 600
1961 640
1962 687
Source: Harvey Rachlin, The Encyclopedia of the Music Business, 316.

The volume of records sold climbed from 277 million in 1955 to 511 million in 1958. Moreover, the majors lost control of the market. Whereas fifty-one (78%) of the Billboard top ten records in 1955 were released by the majors, only thirty-eight (49%) came from the majors in 1958.

Market Share of Top Ten Billboard Hits
Year 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
N % N % N % N % N %
Majors 40 78 36 65.5 30 43 38 49 30 34
Indies 11 22 19 34.5 40 57 39 51 59 66
TOTAL 51 100 55 100 70 100 77 100 89 100
Source: Charlie Gillett, Sounds of the City, 472.