Factory Records

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Factory Records is a British independent label from Manchester , founded in 1978, specializing primarily in electronic dance music . It was home to many famous bands, including Joy Division , New Order , A Certain Ratio , The Durutti Column , and Happy Mondays . Like 4AD Records , Factory Records had a creative team (in particular the producer Martin Hannett and the graphic designer Peter Saville ) who gave the label, as well as the artists and their releases, a special sound and a special image. The label used a unique catalog system in which a catalog number was used not only for the musical publications, but also for other items.


Factory Records' headquarters was initially in an apartment on the first floor of that building at 86 Palatine Road in the suburbs of Manchester. In 1990 Factory Records moved out of the building. Today there are living spaces there.

Factory was founded in January 1978 when Tony Wilson , a television host for Granada Television, partnered with Alan Erasmus , an unemployed actor and band manager. On the one hand, the ambiguous name of the label is based on the famous artist collective The Factory by pop art artist Andy Warhol , and on the other hand, on the reputation of the metropolis of Manchester, the label's headquarters, as a gray working-class city. Initially, however, the name Factory was used from May 1978 for a music club that should offer local bands (including The Durutti Column, at the time under the management of Erasmus and Wilson), Cabaret Voltaire and Joy Division a performance opportunity. The advertising posters for the club were designed by Peter Saville. In September, the trio decided to release a record with the bands that performed at the club (The Durutti Column, Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire and comedian John Dowie ). Factory Records was born, with Wilson, Erasmus, Saville and producer Martin Hannett as corporate partners.

The factory label was initially headquartered in Erasmus's house on Palatine Road. The first Factory release was A Factory Sample , a double 7 "single (FAC 2) in the spring of 1979. Singles from A Certain Ratio (which initially stayed with the label) and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (the short time Joy Division's first factory LP, Unknown Pleasures , was released in June, and by the end of the year, Joy Division's manager Rob Gretton became the label's fifth partner and the Factory Club became closed (but opened again at short notice the following year).

In January 1980, The Return of the Durutti Column (FACT 14) was released, the first in a long line of releases by the band (essentially guitarist Vini Reilly ). On May 18, 1980, the day before the planned tour in the USA, Ian Curtis , the singer of Joy Division, committed suicide. The following month, Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart (FAC 23) climbed into the UK Top 20. Her second album Closer (FACT 25) was released in June 1980. The remaining members of Joy Division decided to venture a new beginning under the new band name New Order and to carry on " reorganized ". Factory began to position itself internationally and, together with Les Disques du Crepuscule , founded Factory Benelux as an independent label and Factory US , which initially served as a distribution channel for UK publications in America, but then became increasingly independent.

In 1981, Factory and New Order decided to open a nightclub, and preparations began to convert a Victorian textile factory near central Manchester that served as an abandoned motorboat showroom. Hannett then left the label because he wanted to set up a recording studio with the money and then sued for unpaid royalties (an amicable settlement was reached in 1984, and the process was given catalog number FAC 61). Saville also quit as a partner, also due to payment difficulties due to the expansion of the new club (he continued to work for Factory). Wilson, Erasmus and Gretton then founded Factory Communications Ltd.

The Fac 51 Haçienda finally opened in May 1982. Though it received a lot of praise for Ben Kelly's interior design , the club lost large sums of money in its early years, largely due to low admission and drink prices that were well below those of the nearby pubs, but nonetheless - except for the Weekends - did not lead to a full house. The increase in beverage prices did not solve the problem either, because in the mid-1980s, visitors began to prefer ecstasy instead of alcohol . Partly for this reason, New Order / Factory operating cost of Haçienda about 10,000 pounds Sterling per month.

In 1983, New Order's single Blue Monday (FAC 73) became an international success and marked a turning point in the band's career. New Order recorded another single, Confusion (FAC 93), produced by Arthur Baker , which became a club hit in New York and gave Factory dance label status. This was underlined by the following singles from Quando Quango , Cabaret Voltaire, Section 25 , Marcel King , 52nd Street and A Certain Ratio, all remixes by well-known New York remixers (Mark Kamins, John Robie, John 'Jelly Bean' Benitez) contained. James ' first single , Jimone (FAC 78), was released in September , and with Factory allegedly too busy promoting James' career, The Smiths decided to sign with Rough Trade Records instead of Factory . Oddly enough, James left Factory a year later (after touring with The Smiths) because they should not have received enough support from the label.

In January 1984, Channel 4's "The Tube from the Haçienda" was broadcast. In addition to the so-called “Factory All Stars”, pop star Madonna also performed there . In April, Alan Erasmus flew to Moscow to negotiate with young Russian musicians about releases on the newly founded Factory Classical label. However, efforts were unsuccessful as the London contact was expelled by the British government. In August Factory organized the event “From Factory - A Series Of London Premieres”. For a week concerts, exhibitions, film and video performances took place in London's Riverside Studios.

In 1985 the first single of the Happy Mondays (FAC 129) was released, which became Factory's most successful band alongside New Order. Only the success of both bands made it possible for the label to finance further projects. Factory and the Haçienda became a hub for the emerging styles of techno and acid house and their fusion with post-punk guitar music : the “ Madchester ” wave. In July Factory Australasia was founded as an independent label in Sydney . Factory Australasia quickly became Factory's most successful overseas establishment.

In March 1986, a contract was signed with the London agency Out Promotion, as Wilson and his staff realized that their records no longer sold themselves. In July, Factory held the Festival Of The Tenth Summer to celebrate '10 Years of Punk in Manchester 'with concerts, design exhibitions, fashion shows, films and lectures.

In 1987 the first Happy Mondays album (FACT 170) and the Railway Children's first album (FACT 185) were released. The Railway Children left the label in autumn, as did A Certain Ratio. In the fall of 1987 Factory opened a bar ( Dry Bar , FAC 201) and in December the album The Guitar And Other Machines (FACT 204) by The Durutti Column was also released as DAT , the first commercial release of this new format.

In September 1988, after ten years of verbal agreements with artists and bands, the first official factory contracts with Cath Carroll and Happy Mondays were signed in writing. In the same month Factory acquired a building in the center of Manchester to set up its new headquarters there.

In 1989 Factory opened a memorabilia and merchandising store (The Area, FAC 281) in Affleck's Palace on Oldham Street and across from the Dry Bar. After ten years of non-advertising or anti-advertising, all new Factory releases have now been promoted.

In 1990 the Haçienda officially became the “Hallucienda”, and when a 16-year-old died of an ecstasy overdose, the police threatened to close the club. In May, New Orders World In Motion (FAC 293) was released and was New Order's only UK number 1 hit. In September Factory opened its new headquarters (FAC 251) on Charles Street.

In 1991, Martin Hannett died, who had meanwhile been back in contact with the label and had worked with the Happy Mondays. Saville's association with Factory continued to be limited to designing New Order and her solo projects Electronic , Revenge and The Other Two . The Haçienda had to close at the beginning of the year due to the increasing violence from rival criminal gangs, but reopened its doors several weeks later.

In 1992 the label found itself in serious financial difficulties, caused by the exorbitant cost of recording the Happy Mondays' fourth album Yes Please (FACT 420) in Barbados and the £ 400,000 spent on New Order's new album were. Several record companies, including London Records , have expressed interest in a takeover of Factory, but this failed when it was discovered that New Order were the rightsholders of their tracks, not Factory. Factory Communications Ltd. finally went bankrupt in November. The New Order album Republic was already released on London Records.

The Haçienda closed in 1997 and was demolished in 2001 to be replaced by a modern luxury apartment block in 2003. This was not without a certain irony, since Tony Wilson wanted to convert old warehouses into modern loft apartments as early as 1983 (FAC 101); a project that could not be implemented.

In 1998 Rob Gretton, the longtime manager of New Order, who also ran his own label, Rob's Records, died of a heart attack.

The 2002 feature film 24 Hour Party People portrays the eventful history of the Factory Records record company with a satirical undertone, in which the Haçienda music club also has a place. The résumé of music manager Tony Wilson serves as a common thread within the film story. Many real people who have had any connection with Factory, including Paul Ryder and Rowetta , appear embodied by professional actors. The main character is based on Wilson as the narrator and is played by Steve Coogan .

The Factory Records Catalog

All label releases (both music and videos) were given a catalog number, starting with FAC (singles, objects), or FACT (albums) or FACD (CDs) followed by a number. A C for cassettes and a D for DAT have been placed after them. This numbering was also used on the other “productions” of Factory, for example Poster (FAC 1), the Haçienda (FAC 51), the hairdressing salon in the Haçienda (FAC 98), a TV broadcast by Channel 4s The Tube (FAC 104) , Duct tape (FAC 136), the leaf of a restored water mill (FAC 148), the Haçienda cat (FAC 191), a bet between Wilson and Gretton (FAC 253) and a radio commercial (FAC 294). Peter Saville designed a tombstone for Tony Wilson, who died in August 2007, and his coffin was given catalog number FAC 501. Benelux had a similar cataloging (FAC BN or FBN), but was limited to music-only publications.

The numbers were not assigned in chronological order - for example, the catalog numbers for Factory “Projects” end on 1, for Joy Division and New Order usually on 3, for A Certain Ratio and later Happy Mondays on 2, for The Durutti Column on 4 and for Factory Classical to 6.

Special numbers have also been used for special Factory publications: FACT 25 for Joy Divisions Closer , FACT 50 for New Orders Movement , FACT 75 for New Orders Power, Corruption & Lies , FACT 100 for New Orders Low Life , FACT 200 for New Orders Substance , FACT 250 for Joy Divisions Substance , etc.

Despite the dissolution of Factory Records, the catalog continues to grow. a. the film 24 Hour Party People numbered FAC 401, the corresponding website FAC 433, a sculpture by Peter Saville FAC 473, an exhibition on the Haçienda FAC 491, the latest Happy Mondays album FACT 500, and a memorial for Rob Gretton FAC 511 .

For some publications there are further reasons:

FACT 24, Various Artists: A Factory Quartet (album [x2]): 2 records, 4 artists, therefore 2/4 (in addition, Durutti Column ["4"; see above] are included on this release).

FAC 148, Styal Mill Sponsored Bucket : Factory donated one of 48 watermill blades, hence 1/48.

FAC 289, New Order: Campaign Technique (stationery): An advertising campaign for the New Order album Technique in February 1989, hence 2/89. (In typical Factory fashion, this number was mistakenly assigned two years later to the Wendys single The Sun's Going To Shine For Me Soon . Duplicate number assignments occur more frequently within the catalog.)

Sometimes there are also hidden catalog numbers: FAC 321, Jonathan Demme : The Perfect Kiss (video). This is the upside down number of the single the video was shot for: FAC 123, New Order: The Perfect Kiss . In addition, as noted above, “123” indicates a New Order single and “321” indicates a Factory project.

Factory Classical

Factory Classical was founded in 1989, inspired by the connection with violist John Metcalfe , who played with both The Durutti Column and the Kreisler String Orchestra . This label should give young classical music interpreters and artists the opportunity to publish. Factory Classical initially released five albums by the Kreisler String Orchestra, the oboist Robin Williams, the Duke String Quartet , the pianist Rolf Hind and Steve Martland . The composers included Steve Martland, Benjamin Britten , Paul Hindemith , Francis Poulenc , Shostakovich , Michael Tippett , and György Ligeti , among others .

In 1990 a second series followed, this time with publications by Steve Martland, I Fagiolini , Rolf Hind, the vocal duo Red Byrd , the pianist Graham Fitkin , as well as a contribution from Music Projects / London to the project to publish all of Erik Satie's songs and instrumentals . Other composers include Claudio Monteverdi , Brian Elias and John Paul Jones .

The third and fourth series followed in 1991 and 1992, this time with two more releases by Steve Martland and Piers Adams and Walter Hus . The composers include a. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Georg Friedrich Handel .

Factory Too

In 1994 Tony Wilson and London Records made a new attempt to revitalize Factory Records called Factory Too . The first publication was from The Durutti Column. The other bands were Hopper and The Space Monkeys . Another release, the sampler A Factory Sample Too (as a reference to A Factory Sample , the first Factory release) contains the hitherto unknown bands East West Coast , The Orch , Italian Love Party and K-Track . The label existed until the late 1990s, as did Factory Once , which mainly re-released old material from Factory (including all albums from The Durutti Column). The last incarnation of Factory is F4 Records , founded in 2004 and the artist Raw-T .

Bands (selection)


  • Mick Middles: From Joy Division to New Order: The True Story of Anthony H. Wilson and Factory Records . Virgin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-7535-0638-6 (English)
  • Tony Wilson: 24 Hour Party People . Channel 4 Books, 2002, ISBN 978-07522-2025-3 (English)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Double DVD 24 Hour Party People , Special Edition, 2008. The double DVD comes with a 24-page booklet with background information about the film, written by the editorial team of the German music magazine Intro - Arthaus - Special Films , Leipzig + Kino Home Entertainment GmbH , Leipzig
  2. Double DVD 24 Hour Party People , Special Edition, 2008. The double DVD comes with a 24-page booklet with background information about the film, written by the editorial team of the German music magazine Intro - Arthaus - Special Films , Leipzig + Kino Home Entertainment GmbH , Leipzig
  3. Savilles and Kelly's tombstone for Tony Wilson .