Music award, platinum record, 'Parallel Lines' by Blondie, acrylic / board / metal / paper, made and used by Festival Records, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1978-1981
This award has significance as an illustration of Festival Records' success in generating sales of locally manufactured recordings of overseas artists whose labels it represented in Australia. When Fred Marks took charge of Festival Records in 1960, he realised that the company's future lay not just with local talent but in obtaining the rights to release more overseas recordings. By the mid 1960s Festival had obtained the rights for material from dozens of American independent labels including market leaders Atlantic, A&M, Liberty and United Artists. Festival continued to represent many overseas labels for the next 25 years. These labels contracted and recorded the artists while Festival manufactured the records and handled their distribution, promotion and marketing in Australia. International artists were the backbone of Festival's sales. This resulted in many gold and platinum record awards.
The New York band Blondie recorded for Chrysalis Records, a progressive British label which was represented by Festival Records from 1972. Its artists included Procol Harum, Steeleye Span, Jethro Tull and Leo Sayer. With artists like Generation X, Blondie and Ultravox, Chrysalis was one of the overseas labels which made Festival a leader in bringing punk rock and new wave to Australia. The Chrysalis offshoot 2-Tone was home to the ska revival with the Specials, the Selecter, Madness and the British Beat. Blondie achieved their first significant commercial success in Australia in 1977 after Ian Meldrum played the video clip for their B-side 'In the Flesh' on the ABC television program 'Countdown'. Released in 1978, 'Parallel Lines' contained the single 'Heart of Glass' which reached number one in the US.
Festival Records manufactured vinyl discs in Sydney for 40 years. At the height of production in the 1980s Festival's factory was buzzing with 26 record presses pumping out 25,000 records per day. In addition there was a cassette duplicating plant, an art department, a printing department for album covers, plus a huge warehouse for packing and distribution.
Festival Records provided a home to a vast array of musical styles and many independent labels, not readily identified with the Festival brand. For over fifty years its existence as a major independent record company, competing with the multinationals, helped to create a healthy environment for Australian music.
The first gold record awards were presented by American record companies to their artists to acknowledge sales of 1,000,000 records. Various measurements have been used at different times around the world for album and single awards. Some were based on the value of retail sales and others on units sold. The Recording Industry Association of America established a standard for an official gold record in 1958. This was based on wholesale shipments to retail outlets, rather than actual retail sales. Australia follows a similar system. In Australia ARIA awards gold records for 35 000 sales and platinum records for 70 000 sales.
Made by Festival Records at their factory in Miller St Pyrmont.
When Festival Records prepared gold and platinum awards to present to its recording artists, the company sometimes made duplicates to display in the board room and the reception area of its premises. This award was also displayed in the Museum's exhibition 'Spinning Around: 50 Years of Festival Records', from 2001 to 2003.