Document, 2UE Official Top 40 chart, paper, printed by Tradition Press Pty Ltd, used by Festival Records, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1962
This Top 40 chart has significance as a snapshot of record sales in Sydney in 1962, and as an illustration of how Festival Records monitored the sales of its products. Record sales charts produced for public consumption illustrate the rise of Top 40 radio formats in Australia from the late 1950s. While television had taken over the lounge room, the availability of transistor radios and car radios meant that radio could go anywhere. A new audience had been created and they were hungry for pop music. In 1958 Tony Withers, a disc jockey with 2SM, gave Sydney its first substantial dose of rock 'n' roll airplay with his Sunday afternoon 'Top Thirty Tunes' program. Around the same time Allan Faulkner, the general manager of Sydney's 2UE, visited the USA looking for ways to boost his sagging ratings. He noticed how American stations were dropping the outdated radio serials and adopting a format where they played 40 current hit songs on high rotation. 2UE took up the Top 40 format in March 1958. Faulkner recruited young disc jockeys with personality and teen appeal, including Bob Rogers and John Laws. Top 40-style programming targeted a specific audience of young listeners and proved to be an effective way of competing against television. Soon it was catching on and competition between the radio stations became fierce. Sydney's 2UW responded with a Fabulous Fifty with Alan Toohey. By the early 1960s radio was filling its vacant airtime with endless pop music aimed at teenagers. Some of these radio stations, most notable 2UE, published weekly charts that were available for free at record stores.
As an Australian record company, Festival Records was for over 50 years a significant force in the music recording industry. It financed, recorded, manufactured, promoted, marketed, distributed and published a huge range of local and overseas music, from classical to popular, under an equally vast number of labels. Although a major record company, it was independent of the five multinational companies that dominated the industry worldwide.
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.
Printed for radio station 2UE by Tradition Press Pty Ltd.
Festival Records kept files of documents and publicity material relating to its recording artists. This Top 40 chart remained in Festival Records' collection until donated to the Museum. It was displayed in the Museum's exhibition 'Spinning Around: 50 Years of Festival Records', from 2001 to 2003.