Record World magazine was one of the three main music industry trade magazines in the United States, along with Billboard and Cash Box magazines. It was founded in 1946 under the name Music Vendor, but in 1964 it was changed to Record World, under the ownership of Sid Parnes and Bob Austin. It ceased publication on April 10, 1982. Many music industry personalities, writers and critics began their careers there in the early 1970s to 1980s.
Record World was considered the hipper, faster-moving music industry publication, in contrast to the stodgier Billboard and the perennially struggling Cash Box. A weekly, like its competitors, it was housed in New York City at 1700 Broadway, at 53rd Street, just across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater, and West Coast editorial offices in L.A. on Sunset and Vine. Rock bands frequented Record World's offices as part of their promotional tours, often leaving questionable promo items in their wake. The band Hot Rats, for instance, presented each writer with a freeze-dried and shrink-wrapped rat to remember them by.
Record World showed musical diversity by printing a "Non-Rock" survey, comparable to Billboard's "Easy Listening" chart. This chart appeared 2/4/67 and disappeared essentially 5 years later, 2/5/72, having morphed to the name "The MOR Chart" by 1971. Several titles of interest appeared on this 40-position list without making the Billboard MOR survey.
Record World's peak years coincided with the Studio 54 era, when disco was in full swing. Recording artists tottered through on platform heels, bedecked in rhinestones, often seriously impaired by the then-popular recreational drug cocaine. Young writers labored far into the night writing reviews of records, analyses of sales data and music-related current events. Staffers included Mike Sigman, editor-in-chief (who then went on to become publisher of the LA Weekly); Howie Levitt, managing editor (later of Billboard and BMI, the music royalty service); Pat Baird, who went on to key publicity positions at both RCA and BMI; (Mike Vallone, editor, charts and statistics; associate editor Allen Levy, who went to become a public relations person for United Artists Records, ASCAP and A&M, and who is now a professor of mass communication at Chapman University; art directors Mitchell Kanner, who went on to become Director of Artist Development for Elektra/Asylum Records Records and later Art Director for PolyGram Records, Michael Schanzer, later Stephen Kling and David Ray Skinner; and writers Vince Aletti (later of The New Yorker); Marc Kirkeby (he went on to CBS/Sony Records); Jeffrey Peisch (later of MTV and independent producing); Dave McGee (later of Rolling Stone); Laurie Lennard (later as a talent booker on The Late Show, then wife of comedian Larry David, and producer of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth); columnist Sophia Midas; and chart editor and asst. editor Fred Goodman (later editor of Cash Box and current managing editor of Pro Sound News and a songwriter/music publisher); among many others.
Record World's collapse was the result of discord between the two owners, and a sudden downturn in record sales.
In 2012, it was announced that much of the history of Record World (and its predecessor publication, Music Vendor) would be chronicled in a 1954–1982 volume produced by Joel Whitburn's Record Research, long associated with Billboard presentations. The book was distributed in September 2012. A second volume, featuring the Music Vendor/Record World "Beat Of The Week" charts (similar to Billboard's "Bubbling Under"), spotlighting positions 101–150, was announced in November 2012.
In 2013, Bruce Elrod reactivated Record World as a sister publication of CashBox magazine. The new Record World is geared solely to independent artists and labels. Bruce Elrod and Edward Straiter (CEO of Cash Box) aim to make a difference in the music industry for years to come.