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What Did Vinyl Records Cost In The 1950’s?

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A phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English), or simply a record, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove.

The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac; starting in the 1940s polyvinyl chloride became common, hence the name vinyl. In the mid-2000s, gradually, records made of any material began to be called vinyl records, or simply vinyl.

So what did vinyl records cost in the 1950’s?

The pricing for records in the 50s would vary depending on the musicians or how popular the song was. Commonly, records and pieces of vinyl cost a mere $0.85 for older records and the latest releases were $1.25.

If you would like to know more about what vinyl records cost in the 50’s you will want to keep reading this article.

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Music Of The 1950’s

Back then, music had a more harmonious tone to it than most music does today. The artists of the ’50s had no effects boards or fun ways of mixing and mastering music. An artist’s success was predicated on one fact. Are they good or have talent?

Many people wanted to know what they could offer the end consumer. Once these questions were answered, the producer would go to the next phase.

Rock and roll dominated popular music in the mid 1950’s and late 1950’s, and quickly spread to much of the rest of the world. Its immediate origins lay in a mixing together of various black musical genres of the time, including rhythm and blues and gospel music; with country and western and pop.

In 1951, Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey Alan Freed began playing rhythm and blues music for a multi-racial audience, and is credited with first using the phrase “rock and roll” to describe the music.

The 1950’s saw the growth in popularity of the big boom electric guitar (developed and popularized by Les Paul). Paul’s hit records like “How High the Moon”, and “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise”, helped lead to the development of a specifically rock and roll style of playing of such complicated exponents as Chuck Berry, Link Wray, and Scotty Moore. 

Chuck Berry, who is considered to be one of the pioneers of Rock and roll music, refined and developed the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, focusing on teen life and introducing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.

Finding Talent In The 50s

Most musicians would seek out the producers. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have to work for it though. In the ’50s everyone wanted to be the next Elvis Pressley!

There can only be one King! He reigns supreme to this day still. Elvis inspired many artists to believe that anything is possible if they want it and work hard enough for it.

The Process Of Recording In The 50s

Once the producer and music executive had both agreed that their new hire was talented, they would then seek out a sound engineer that could help them in the recording process. In the ‘50s, it took 3 steps to produce a great Lp.

Unlike today, one person couldn’t do it all on their own. The music would take months to mix and master.

Mono Is The Tone Of The 50’s

In the ‘50s, there was only one channel, mono. We will briefly go into what this term means. Mono meant that speaker A and speaker B would be playing the same sound regardless. There was no technology yet to separate or to create depth within a recording.

In other words, no progression, or interesting backtracks and you can forget about odd time signatures being featured in the final edit. 

Even though the sound produced in the final edit was limited, it took a very long time to get one single ready for purchase. To be a recording artist was one of the most difficult professions to break into, and once you were in, you had to fight to stay in.

The Final Edit Of A Recording

Once all the previous steps had been taken, you then needed to master and mix the final edit. The final edit is the master copy that would have been purchased. This process was long and involved.

First, every person that had a role to play in the making of the single/album had to agree. If one of these key players disagreed, it was back to the drawing board, which again was a lengthy and expensive process.

Recording The Music In the 50s

Before the master copy is produced, first it must be recorded. If the artist was serious about their craft, they would have had many pre written songs ready to be tested. There were many ways to test the audience.

This normally involved the new artist releasing a single to see how well the consumers responded.

If there was little to no response, the studio would not go any further with that artist. Harsh, but music is all about the money, there is no time for time wasters, that could not draw in those big crowds.

This was how things worked back in the 1950’s, but also how things still work today in the music industry. It doesn’t matter if it is 1950 or the year 2021, if you have no marketability, you have no chance of making it.

If you are wanting to get into the music industry, the best way is to work, learn and improve. You will need to look at what is popular and try and mimic it with your style. Music is deeply personal and if you have something worth saying you should take the leap of faith. Your message may just save a life.

Changing The Music Industry Of The 50’s

Music is subjective, even though the industry has changed. The way it functions today is polarized compared to the 1950’s. You have the choice to let it terrify you or embrace it.

The 1950’s paved the way and allowed the breakthroughs to happen. 

Every modern artist should go through the process of recording in the way they did in the 1950’s. It was a different era, and it would more than likely breed great appreciation for how quick and easy it has become.

We have these amazing tools and tracks that we can add to our songs that are mixed in our bedrooms. We take a lot for granted. We don’t have to be humiliated by producing one single and then getting cut because we are not drawing in the numbers.

We have so much at our disposal. 

The 1950’s figured out the formula to create certified artists and we still use the same blueprint today. It is quite incredible, that in a time of lack and not much joy, a time that was still trying to recover from the war, the people still found hope in music.

Ordinary people just wanted to give their best parts to their audiences, so that they would know they are not alone in the struggle, whatever that may be. 

Music is a document of the human spirit. Through this, we can encourage and inspire others and that is the point of life. Trying to create awareness of self and let others know we get it too.

Music and the industry can sometimes get a bad rep, and it is hardly deserved! Music has always been there as a source of comfort or strength! We know this to be true from all the years of documented musical progress. 

There is a decade for every mood and a genre for any occasion. Music and the industry have changed so many lives and it continues to do so.


The ’50s were tough times but the people were resilient. One way that the people of that decade would blow off steam is through music. It was quite common to see people lining up to purchase new records.

Records and pieces of vinyl cost a mere $0.85 for older records and the latest releases were only $1.25.