Rock ‘n’ Labels: Tracking the Australian recording industry in ‘The Vinyl Age’: Part Two: 1970–1995, and after

Clinton J. Walker, Trevor Hogan, Peter Beilharz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past 50 years, rock music has been the prime mover of an emergent national recording industry in Australia. This is a story in turn of increasing size, complexity, diversity, and sophistication, before its ultimate decline into the 21st century. This story has not been told in full previously and this article is a first step to make good this gap in the historical and cultural sociology of popular music. In this study, which has two parts, we survey record labels, recording techniques and forms, and the music that was bought and sold. In Part One (published in Thesis Eleven 109, 2012: 71–88) we chronicled the emergence of modern record production, the rise of rock music, and the development of a local recording industry in Australia between 1945 and 1970. In Part Two we narrate the rise and fall of Australian local, regional and national rock music cultures and the ebb and flow of independent labels and their labyrinthine relations to the transatlantic centre of the world-system of rock music industry. In particular we focus on four aspects: 1) technological change: the dominance of the vinyl album in the 1970s but its eventual usurpation by cassettes and then compact discs before the ultimate decline of all formats in the rise of the internet and the i-pod; 2) infrastructure: the development of the recording industry as a system of recording studios and record factories; as a system of impresarios and musician management; and also as a system that integrates performance circuits, radio, television, film, and eventually computer, product placement, advertising, and promotion through the cultivation and manipulation of taste markets in consumer culture etc.; 3) business logistics and markets: the tracking of the record labels, their struggles for markets and copyright control, local and global; and 4) musical production and repertoire. Since the digital revolution started eating away firstly and most conspicuously at the recording industry, the 50 years from 1945 to 1995 can now more clearly be seen as the rise and fall of rock music and its major technological form, the vinyl record. This is why we call it ‘the vinyl age’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-131
Number of pages20
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 1970–1995
  • Americanization
  • Australia
  • popular culture
  • record labels
  • recording industry
  • records
  • rock music


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