Billboard vs. Cashbox

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Brian W., Oct 23, 2003.

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  1. Brian W.

    Brian W. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Los Angeles
    I've been reading a bit about this topic lately. According to Randy Price, who runs the Cash Box charts "fan site," Cash Box was strictly a sales-based chart until the late seventies, whereas Billboard combined sales and airplay from late 1958 on.

    I can't help but wonder if this makes Cashbox more accurate for this period. They're almost identical from week to week, but there are songs that were number one in Cashbox and not in Billboard, and vice versa. In fact, if you go by Cashbox's sales-based chart, then Elvis, The Beatles and The Supremes each had one extra #1 hit than they had on Billboard's Hot 100:

    Supremes - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
    Beatles - Twist and Shout, Yellow Submarine (subtracting Nowhere Man, which did not hit #1 in Cashbox)
    Elvis - Return to Sender, In the Ghetto, Burning Love (subtracting Hard-Headed Woman and I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, which each peaked at #2)

    I've heard that in the sixties, at least, Cashbox was at least as widely read and respected as Billboard was.
  2. d.r.cook

    d.r.cook Forum Resident


    Ineresting topic. I've been using Cashbox charts a lot lately, since discovering a site where the Cashbox charts, week by week, are available free.

    I have the Billboard Hot 100 book, but having week to week is really interesting; haven't really done any comparing.

    Does anyone know much about Cashbox's methodology of tracking sales? Since it was pre-Soundscan, I assume it would've had to be sampling of retailers, and reliance of "honest" record clerks/managers.

    There was always an assumption that, given the opportunity, record store employees would jerrymander the numbers to boost favorite artists in the charts; generally, assumed to articially downgrade country and certain other genres, and bump up "indie" darlings, critical faves, etc.

  3. mudbone

    mudbone Gort Annaologist

    Canada, O!
    Hi Doug, can you share the link, please?

  4. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

  5. mudbone

    mudbone Gort Annaologist

    Canada, O!
    Bradley, thanks!

  6. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    You're welcome
  7. Brian W.

    Brian W. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Los Angeles
    Yeah, Randy Price has done an incredible job on that site -- transcribing every Cashbox chart, week-by-week, from 1950 till the end of the magazine in 1996. There actually were a lot MORE #1 hits in Cashbox than in Billboard, and just a few that didn't hit #1 in Billboard. Which would make sense on a sales-based chart, because the same is true if you compare Billboard's Hot 100 with Billboard's Singles Sales chart beginning in 1985 -- quite a few more #1 hits each year... and some that never hit #1 in sales.

    For example, the George Michael/Elton John "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," which is a perfect example since it was ONLY available as a single at the time, so the theory that people weren't buying the single because they were buying the album doesn't come into play. The song peaked at #4 in BOTH sales and airplay in Billboard... yet it was #1 on the Hot 100 because of their "points system." I don't know if I like that at all.

    I emailed Randy Price and he's unsure of the exact date that Cashbox began using airplay data in their charts... he thinks it was sometime in '77 or '78. I may trek down to the library in downtown L.A. soon (when the subways are up and running again!) and see if there's any mention in the magazine. They have every issue on microfilm from 1969 through 1996.

    A few random singles that were #1 in Cashbox pre-1977 but not in Billboard:

    Spirit in the Sky - Norman Greenbaum
    Hair - The Cowsills
    Patches - Clarence Carter
    Lookin' Out My Backdoor - Creedence (they never had a #1 in Billboard)
    Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel
    Outa-Space - Billy Preston
    Goodbye Yellow-Brick Road, Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, and Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton John
    How Long - Ace
    The Entertainer - Marvin Hamlisch
    Lowdown - Boz Scaggs
  8. syogusr

    syogusr New Member

    Brian: Yes, this is indeed true. I happen to run a record store (yes, I said record) store in the mid-late 60's during my high school days in a college town. We always used Cash Box as our guide, and I had access to Billboard so I read both. I must say that even today, if I had a choice, I would choose CB in a heartbeat over Billboard. I think they were more accurate, but I really can't put my finger on why.
    I also remember several things, like the current hit albums were displayed on a slat on the wall, and Ogden's Nut Gone Flake album would always roll around:laugh: Also, when Abbey Road's pricing was announced, I believe going from $4.95 list to $6.98 list, everyone thought that was insane. But, of course; it didn't hurt sales one bit!
  9. Wie Gehts?

    Wie Gehts? New Member

  10. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    I don't buy into the notion that Cashbox used sales only to tabulate their charts. On the contrary, the lower chart positions of soul and R&B records--which always did better in sales than mainstream AM airplay, by and large--on both charts suggests both used airplay info heavily, to the detriment of soul and country records.

    The Lp charts, on the other hand, were sales-only, but due to the strange way sales were adapted for the charts, we can't really be sure what to trust, except that Billboard's use in the past ten years of SoundScan, while flawed, is the most accurate representation yet of actual sales in a given time frame. The old charts from the '60s are generally accurate, but not totally trustworthy, as albums that sold big in their first weeks seldom debuted very high, but would jump tons the next week. Made no sense then; today's charts are better at gauging initial week figures and chart positions.

  11. Brian W.

    Brian W. Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Los Angeles
    It's funny you should mention that, Ed, because Randy Price told me that he was told that Cashbox did use airplay to rank some of the lower chart positions. Still, it appears to have been primarily sales-based... much more so than Billboard, anyway.

    But you're right, today's charts are much, much more accurate sales-wise. Unfortunately, they hardly make singles anymore, so that only applies to the album charts.
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