Cashbox Then and Now – Celebrating 80 years In the Music Business

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Cashbox, also known as Cash Box, debuted as  a music industry trade magazine originally published weekly from July 1942 to November 1996. Ten years after its dissolution, it was revived and now continues as Cashbox Magazine in the US as a print magazine, and here in Canada as Cashbox Canada. 

The history of the name Cash Box was derived from the jukebox business, as the original company  also represented amusement arcades and games.  The name of the magazine was based on the actual box inside the jukebox where the ‘cash’ landed (after you hit for example B17) when you chose the song you wanted to hear. This was also the source of the original charts derived for Cash Box magazine. Hence the name Cash Box. 

The original Cash Box was one of several magazines that published record charts in the United States. It’s most prominent competitors were Billboard and Record World Unlike Billboard, Cashbox combined all currently available recordings of a song into one chart position with artist and label information shown for each version, alphabetized by label. Originally, no indication of which version was the biggest seller was given, but from October 25, 1952, a star was placed next to the names of the most important artists.  Although it would not be politically correct in our current times, the asterisk and saying ‘with a bullet’ also came from Cash Box, meaning the song was speeding up the charts. 

Cashbox as it was known back then ceased to exist in November 1996. Bruce Elrod resurrected it in 2015, and through that endeavor Bruce and his son Chris Elrod have now a combined site, operating as US Music Charts, keeping the legacy of the Cashbox Charts alive. “When I decided to resurrect the original Cashbox in 2015, little did I know it would grow not only to match the past history, but would excel past my expectations,” says Bruce Elrod. “Now with US Music Charts, Cashbox Magazine Newspaper/Magazine in print again, and the work our neighbours in the great white North have accomplished with Cashbox Canada, we can now know Cashbox is back in its rightly glory. Here is too many more years bringing the people the music!”

Randall Wilds and Associates now publish a hard copy print magazine monthly with distribution in the US, still maintaining the chart system along with featured artist stories. Not an easy task to do in these current times, but is gaining momentum in the US market, and plans to do a hard copy of Record World International are in the works for 2023.

Cashbox Canada launched in 2016, and we publish weekly, keeping the concept of being on the cover of Cashbox intact but we do not use charts. It has been an amazing ride ever since, being able to cover our legacy artists we have admired for years, and giving indie music artists a shot at being the first one to give them coverage – the way it used to be when journalists actually cared about music.

For those of you who might wonder how it came to be that I became the owner of Cashbox Canada, the story is truly a remarkable one. I was in a Canadian Tire store in 2015 (how Canadian of me) when I bumped into a music colleague of mine from the past. He said he was on the phone with the newly resurrected Cashbox USA and they wanted to open a magazine branch in Canada. Me being me said, “only if I can own it.” So Bruce Elrod, the owner of Cashbox USA, simply on a phone, granted me the rights to own and operate Cashbox Canada. And right then and there I became a publisher which I had no idea how to do but I figured it. I have always had amazing opportunities and this one was yet another journey in that diversified history of my music career. It has turned into a wonderful experience, and has also now led to opening Record World International, who I have now partnered with my European colleague, Peter Astedt, to do the same thing on a global level. 

It takes a team to run Cashbox Canada, so I need to think our amazing graphic designer, Jain MacMillan for all those brilliant covers you see weekly, Chris Wardman for being the one who keeps us online and current with web design and presentation, our writers, Peter Astedt for his weekly columns of music business insights, Don Graham for his up close and personal interviews, our freelance writers like Iain Patience, Michael Williams and Jo-Anne Beharrell. There would be no Cashbox Canada without them.

And there would be no Cashbox Canada without the genius startup by the late George Albert who created the original Cash Box in July of 1942 and so we celebrate 80 years of history together. 

Check out a few quotes from our friends and supporters of Cashbox:

Eric Alper: “In my 30 years of doing publicity, there is one constant – change. But one thing has remained there, always getting better, bolder, bigger – Cashbox. When you’ve been around for as long as the magazine has, it’s for a very good reason and Sandy Graham is it. She treats the website like it is her own personal site, and the artists are her children: always encouraging with a great deal of support. Canada, and the world are lucky to have them both around, and the music industry is healthier because of it.”

Tom Jackson: “If Van Gogh paintings were never seen he would have never been. Singer/song writers are the same. Cashbox is exposing the Van Gogh of music to the world. For that I thank you.”

David Pomeranz: “Cashbox was key in helping me become known within the Industry when I was first starting out. It is Iconic for good reason. Their writers have always been smart, passionate about music and their purpose has always been to celebrate the Artist – a vital purpose in an aesthetics-hungry world. Bravo, Cashbox and Sandy and Happy Anniversary!” 

Tony Orlando: “Cashbox is the tree where it all grew from the start – the rest of the publications were the leaves and stems that grew from that tree.”

Tommy James (of the Shondells): “Cashbox was and still is ‘required reading’ for me. The pulse of the music business!”

Andy Kim:  I can still remember when ‘How’d We Ever Get This Way’ hit the Cashbox charts. Everyone at the Record Company was excited and said I was now a hit artist & needed to record an album. I was too young to understand the power of Cashbox. Cashbox then and now – still run by music people who love the artists and the music – kudos Sandy Graham for keeping the legacy of all the artists who were along for the ride the first time around and for keeping the music current.”

Myles Goodwyn: “It’s wonderful that Sandy Graham and her team have a strong passion for music, the artists that make the music and the industry. Thank you all for the commitment to keeping Cashbox an important and relevant music publication, well done! Congratulations on it’s 80th anniversary.”

Don Graham: “Cashbox Magazine was the “bible” of the industry when I started making records. And for a Canadian artist to be recognized by the American magazine was a lofty goal. Our first single got a coveted Pick Hit rating. A Pick Hit in Cashbox earned instant credibility. Congratulations Cashbox Magazine Canada on keeping the history alive.”

Marshall Potts: Cashbox Canada is a must have for all artists.  With Sandy Graham at the helm artist’s are in safe, capable, kind hands.  Thanks so much for all you and the team does and congrats on 80 years of Cash Box!!!

Bara Jonson and Free: “We are a Swedish band and had the great pleasure of meeting Sandy Graham in Newfoundland, got screeched, wrote a song Hello Newfoundland and fell in love with Canada and its people. So to be on the cover of such a legendary magazine not just once, but several times, was a dream come true for us. Happy Anniversary to the original Cash Box – here’s to the next 80 years!”

Sandy Graham: As the CEO and Editor in Chief of Cashbox Canada, I am honoured to run this much needed publication, Canada’s premier online music magazine.  So on behalf of the Cashbox family thank you to all of our readers for continuing to help us keep the legacy of the original Cash Box alive!

Happy Anniversary and congratulations of 80 years to the original Cash Box – here is to 80 more!