History > FAC 229! Music Week Factorial

FAC 229! The Music Week Factorial; front cover detail
FAC229! The Music Week Factorial; front cover detail
FAC 229! The Music Week Factorial; inside back cover detail
FAC229! The Music Week Factorial; inside back cover detail

FAC229! The Music Week Factorial; special supplement to the music industry paper on the 10th anniversary dated 15th July 1989; includes biographies of all key Factory staff, chronology of the label and adverts placed by industry players congratulating Factory; "24 January 1978 - Tony Wilson partners with Alan Erasmus for the first time under the name of the Movement of the 24th January, to manage The Durutti Column."


Tony Wilson | Alan Erasmus | Peter Saville | Tina Simmons | Gary McCausland | Tracey Donelly and Alison Panchett | Chronology

Tony Wilson

'Ubiquitous Granada TV talking head, pop cultural conceptualist, entrepreneur and bullshitter,' was The Cut magazine's recent description of Anthony Wilson. "Yes, very accurate," the Factory Records supremo agreed when I put it to him. "Although the one thing left out was the academic side," Wilson ponders. "Maybe 'bullshitter' is where the word 'intellectual' comes in, because I fundamentally regard myself as an academic, which could of course be determined as a bullshitter."

Whatever your conception of Wilson, the Manchester-based independent label he founded 10 years ago this January has built a unique and fascinating place for itself in Britain's post-punk music scenario. Wilson, the man who started at Granada in 1973, was galvanised by punk in 1976 to such an extent he swept it onto prime-time TV by fronting the controversial So It Goes music show, formed Factory Communications and opened Factory's doors with A Factory Sample in January 1979, paid for with his own money. He's had little reason to look back since, but enough reason to celebrate.

His choice of label name and emphasis on the word 'product' points to Wilson's personal and uncompromising view of the music industry; his love of the music, the culture and, it has to be said, the game plan. As he admits, not mincing words, "an awful lot to do with the music industry for me is the intellectual and artistic theory of it. I see my involvement with Factory somewhat as a laboratory experiment in popular art. When I talk about the conceptual crap theory of it, that's what I mean by the bullshit, as opposed to the bullshit level of the pop industry, which is people being all sweety and honey with each other and being very insincere. I don't think we've in any way been involved in that part of the entertainment business."

Factory has always kept in touch and on top of what Wilson calls "live youth culture" which in the UK seems to have gone hand-in-hand with Manchester's undeniable impact and influence following the blast of energy that was punk. Two songs on A Factory Sample were by Joy Division, who, after singer Ian Curtis' sad death, were transformed into New Order; both groups combined have arguably been the most enduring and endearing in post-punk times, with the latter also crossing over into the white dance arena. Only The Smiths - another Manchester phenomenon - have exceeded New Order's shrine-like popularity. Factory's run of credible but financially discouraging dance singles in the early eighties with Quando Quango, 52nd Street, Kalima and Marcel King meant the company decided against starting a dance label right at the time that Mute's Rhythm King was honing it's masterplan, but the signs are there that Factory is well prepared for the future. Wilson's pleasure on this tenth anniversary isn't solely the satisfaction of the survivor.

My joy at this particular moment is the moment we're poised at now, with New Order's new album Technique about to become a very significant world force - to actually fulfil, in terms of sales and power, for what I've always thought was the best group around," Wilson told me back in January. "I used to say two years ago that when the next revolution happened, my big question would be whether we would go platinum, or double or triple platinum, and whether we were going to know that the revolution was happening and were we going to be involved with it with groups on Factory?"

The revolution turned out to be the dance explosion, spearheaded by 'house music' and coloured by the 'acid house' phenomena, aided by the rocketing success of Manchester's Hacienda club, owned by New Order, where Mike Pickering's Friday 'Nude' night first popularised the sounds in the UK. And yes, New Order are still very much involved in the rhythm-king wars, as are Factory's new stars-in-grooming, music press angels and acid-hooligans Happy Mondays.

"If there was a group like Happy Mondays in Britain and they were on another label, then I'd be terribly upset," remarks Wilson, who feels that 'acid house', "has certainly been the most vibrant thing since punk. When there is a live youth culture, it will produce bands of genius, and Happy Mondays are the continuing proof of that basic reality of life."

Factory and The Smiths never joined forces for a number of different reasons (Wilson's comment is that the label was "too busy" launching James and The Stockholm Monsters, while Factory's notorious lack of promotion didn't suit The Smiths' ambitions) and so never took part ' in Britain's guitar-band boom but with Happy Mondays, the eccentric folk trio To Hell With Burgundy and the ultrapromising Cath Carroll (of Miaow fame) recording her debut album in Brazil, Wilson can justify Factory's unique style of operation. Verbal agreements in place of contracts, that absence of promotion, the attention to aesthetics over commerce in the name, logo and packaging areas, all this has made Factory not only a talking point but also contributed to New Order strengthening their grassroots credibility and substantially increasing their popularity.

"This is where the bullshit and the artistic theories come in, but the mode of production determines the mode of consciousness, being the great Marxist theory," Wilson explains, "so if you change the mode of production, you aren't producing and marketing a pure product. Martin Jackson of Swing Out Sister said to me at the weekend, 'you don't know how lucky you are, and how packaged and fucked up everything is, but you can have a different relationship and allow the musicians to flourish a little longer and have a longer organic life'.

"How many groups that started in 1979 are in a rising sales curve? Only New Order, and Depeche Mode, who have a similar organic relationship with Daniel Miller and Mute. The usual theory is that a group's creativity will die away but you're not going to kill the creativity or the excitement by the structure."

It would be easier to keep principles and structures intact if the marketplace was on your side, but times have changed over the last 10 years. Life without New Order was once conceivable because the independent scene was vital and records sold, says Wilson "but with the decline of the vinyl single and the excitement of the independent scene and the overproduction of records in the independent record area, all of these things combined would have made life without the group hard. Mute always had two groups. We've always wanted a second major group, which is why Happy Mondays makes us feel very good and a lot healthier and stronger."

It was New Order's potential transfer to CBS that forced Factory to reassess its practices. "It began about two years ago, at dinner with Rob Gretton and Alan Erasmus, Rob (New Order's manager) said to me, 'well, maybe we'll go to CBS, we'll sell more records', and Alan started arguing with him, and I looked at my dinner and thought, of course they will, they'll take singles off albums, etc., and I thought, to hell with it, there's no reason not to do this now."

Although the group weren't seriously anxious to sell more records (they'd tour a lot more if they did), they were under pressure from their taxman, and demanding far more accountability from the label. Wilson's answer was a serious restructuring.

Having lost James, Orchestral Manoeuvres and The Railway Children to the majors in the early promising stages of development, "which hasn't always been good for the groups as we all know", contracts are now being issued, a flexible roster of roughly 15 acts bands, mavericks and conceptualists has been cut down to a manageable five, and regular PR and promotion will make their presence guaranteed in the marketplace rather than courtesy of the media's clairvoyant powers. But the most significant change is that after eight and a half years of working without a retail strike force which Wilson referred to as "cheating" the first time we met in 1987, and he once made a 'World In Action' on the subject Factory have employed first Bullet and now Platinum (which helped The Smiths go all the way). "And we're very happy with them," Wilson admits.

"It was our Perestroika," says Wilson, ever the ideologist. "It was the biggest problem for me because I do see it as cheating, but we got bored with the old way. The decision was very much Chinese influenced. As we were doing it, I kept thinking of Deng Xiao Ping's pragmatic phrase which is 'it doesn't matter if the cat is black or white, what matters is if it catches the mouse.'

"A strikeforce is to do with taking a professional attitude at a point in time, and they're adding to our general team. If you don't change, you become a dinosaur. I'm more than happy about the way we've changed. We've moved with the times and not been hidebound by ideals."

But Wilson still fervently believes in independent distribution. "In this year where, tragically, the independent single has kind of gone and it's very tough to put out singles by very weird little groups, nevertheless if you have a major group on an independent label, then historically the problem was having hits with independent distribution but the best and most efficient distributors in this country are The Cartel and Pinnacle. Which distributors have the highest proportion of top five hits? I like The House Of Love and their manager Alan McGhee, but when they say they left independent distribution because they wanted to sell more records, they're nuts! The problem is with daytime radio play, not distribution."

Factory may have got over it's own problems, but it was and touch-and-go for a while. When lan Curtis committed suicide at the beginning of the decade, Wilson wondered, "when somebody that talented dies, why we didn't give up? Maybe we should have, but I'm glad we didn't. You also have to realise how clever joy Division's manager Rob Gretton was, waiting six months to see what happened before bringing in the girlfriend (Gillian, paramour of drummer Steven Morris) and not disrupting the family."

Then, 1984 was another potentially hazardous year; Factory's Hacienda Club was getting into serious financial difficulties (with only New Order's snowballing success managing to plug the leak), musicians were, "constantly wingeing," and to cap it all, joy Division / New Order producer and Factory partner Martin Hannett instigated a lawsuit against Factory over overseas royalties. "Martin was still getting his share of royalties here, even when he wasn't producing," Wilson points out. "I think his real gripe was that we built the Hacienda instead of a recording studio."

Eighteen months later, the "deeply unpleasant" lawsuit was settled out of court and Hannett left the board. A depressed Wilson went to China for his holiday which made him feel a lot better. The label survived too. Five years on, Wilson is buoyant and ambitious, even if, first, his choice of New Order single, Round & Round didn't make top five, and second, he had to resign as chairman, losing the bet with Rob Gretton that it would. Otherwise, the road to 1990 looks fascinating.

Cath Carroll, sublime and photogenic pop-dancer is the hot property, but first on the agenda is a classical label for new British composers, no doubt looking toward the CD generation and those disaffected by pop's inability to deliver. But with all the changes, did Wilson still see Factory adhering to its original principles, shaped by punk and anarchy and the growth of the independent sector?

"To me, the word 'independent' sums up the situation where the entrepreneur and the manager are all personally involved with each other. That to me is what the independents have been and what the ones who still survive are." And to prove the do-it-yourself principle, Wilson talks about the day they invited New Order to the campaign meeting for their Technique album. "Last year was the first time we ever had a structured release campaign. We invited Rob along, who hated it, so we thought we'd ask the group this time to see if they'd hate it.

"To be honest, out of the 10 interesting things to come out of the meeting, eight came from the group. We decided to do a national billboard campaign which no-one's ever done before. There was a great debate about whether to put New Order's name on the billboards or to leave them completely blank except for 'Advertising Technique'. But we didn't do any press advertising in the end because we find it boring. So we're still a little bit snooty. Factory is still about freedom and the profit motive well down the line."

FAC 229! The Music Week Factorial; ; inside detail [1]
FAC229! The Music Week Factorial; inside detail [1]

Alan Erasmus

"You're quite lucky that Tina hadn't warned me you were calling because I would've said no," admits Factory co-founder and 'director general' Alan Erasmus. "I've always let others put forward their views, whether I agree with them or not." Erasmus' surprise means he talks all the time through a Budweiser beer can: "I picked up the nearest phone which was in the bathroom, which is this beercan, so every now and then, it slips round my car and I can't hear you," he says halfway through.

Erasmus was an actor in rep and then film when he met Anthony Wilson at a party and struck up a lasting friendship. After, "jumping in at the deep end," with a young band called Flashback, he managed The Durutti Column - then including two sacked Flashbacks and Vini Reilly - and found them some shows at Manchester's Russell Club. The shows were so successful that Erasmus started booking more nights, with bands that had appeared on Wilson's So It Goes show on Granada, while joy Division's manager Rob Gretton started acting as unofficial A&R scout.

It was Erasmus who thought up the label's name, although it was initially for another purpose. "I was driving down a road and there was a big sign saying 'Factory For Sale' standing out in neon, and I thought, 'Factory, that's the name,' because a factory was a place where people work and create things, and I thought to myself, these are workers who are also musicians and they'll be creative. 'Factory' was nothing to do with Andy Warhol because I didn't know at the time that Warhol had this building in New York called the Factory. 'Friday Night Is Factory Night' - so the poster read.

Factory the label only came about after the Russell Club's owners Roger and Pete, started discussing a double twelve-inch single of two groups from Manchester and Liverpool, which Erasmus and Wilson adapted to the more manageable double seven-inch format. A Factory Sample eventually starred Joy Division, The Durutti Column - now just Reilly - John Dowie and Sheffield's Cabaret Voltaire. "That was the start of it. There are lots of frills to the story but you're not getting those."

Erasmus also takes the unofficial title of special projects director. As usual, titles mean little. "I may have met Quincy Jones, had a meeting with New Order about the new album, and done a deal that will bring us in 250,000 over that month," says Erasmus, describing 'a day in the life.'

"I do whatever needs doing. At the moment, I'm looking at the fact that Factory needs an audio-visual side (the Ikon production company which previously made all Factory band videos now works out of a separate office). Then there's DAT too. We released the first Digital Audio Cassette in the UK in 1988, with Durutti Column's Guitar & Other Machines and then New Order's Substance a few months later. Everything from that point on has been on DAT. I do believe that DAT will be launched and marketed by the majors in the future. It's far too good a technology to be abandoned. All studios have DAT now."

Factory's adventurism and idealism was reflected by Erasmus' plan to establish a classical label, starting in 1984 with a quest to find young Soviet and Eastern bloc musicians. "It was at the time that Thatcher and Reagan were putting across the view that the Soviet people were animals, or sub-human, which was out of order," reckons Erasmus. "I went across to Russia and worked very hard trying to organise some deals but the main thing that happened was that the two guys I was dealing with in London, the head cultural guy and the one who ran the record and arts company, got expelled for supposedly being KGB, so I was back to square one. I just wanted to show that people worked the same as us. Glasnost has happened since and there's a greater understanding of people.

"It's been very difficult to get it off the ground, but we have got a classical label together which is establishing itself by using young English musicians. It's a new area for us so we have to get people in who know the ground and can help us to launch it." Erasmus is determined to see Eastern Bloc musicians on Factory, "but a little bit further down the road." He admits his determination lost Factory time, but that's the price you pay for being an innovator.

Keeping up with the artists is another concern. Erasmus feels he has more or less scaled New Order's Barney Sumner's solo album (in conjunction with Johnny Marr). There was a time when Barney was a bit wary of putting it through Factory because he thought he'd see what it did through a major, but at the moment, the pair of them want the album to go with us. When New Order come back from America, I'll be working on that as a project to make sure it gets from A to B, regardless of whether it goes out on Factory or not. If they want a deal because they've been offered 'x' amount, a major can't really top any deal we can offer because of the other points involved. If the deal was for straight cash, then that's up to them. We wouldn't be overly offended by that, but I'd be in touch anyway to make sure it goes through."

Is Factory such an attractive proposition then? "Very," says Erasmus. "These days, we do encourage bands to tour because it does help sales, but at the end of the day, they're not pushed around the same way as they would be by a major, like over what singles to release. We give them our advice but it's up to them. A major will offer 15 to 16 points, whereas with New Order and most of the other bands, the deal is still 50% of profits, after mechanicals and royalties. We now do deals, because in the past, bands like The Railway Children and James have left us, and I always wonder why? Unfortunately for all the bands who've left us, except OMD who we knew would leave before they recorded with us, it's been the kiss of death. We'll see what happens with A Certain Ratio, but The Distractions fell apart after Factory too. I hope they all make it. Someone's on our side, I think."

FAC 229! The Music Week Factorial; ; inside detail [2]
FAC229! The Music Week Factorial; inside detail [2]

Peter Saville

Designer Peter Saville first met Alan Erasmus and Tony Wilson in Manchester in 1978 during his final term of college studying graphic design. "I wanted to do music-related work an album cover or poster. My closest friend at college was Malcolm Garrett who'd started working with the Buzzcocks. I pestered, their manager, Richard Boon, who eventually told me that Tony Wilson was opening a club. I did the first posters for The Factory, it followed on from there."

From 1979 through to 1986, Saville shaped the perception of Factory as much as Joy Division or New Order. His reputation as an extraordinary designer grew on the back of sometimes enigmatic, other times painstakingly luxurious, but always individual and innovative album sleeves. Saville also free-lanced - with Ultravox, OMD and Roxy Music being among his clients, "but since then, I've run that side down, from 10 to maybe two or three albums a year. This year, we've done New Order's Technique and the Paul McCartney album. I don't think you can be a record cover designer at 30 and certainly not at 40 (he's 34) because I don't want to be condescending - it's impossible to sit down in a studio and think what a teenager will want - it has to be what I would want. I design for myself for me, because that's the only way that I can work.

"The relationship with Factory and New Order is different - it's not like working in the music business at all. They give me carte blanche to do what I want - a vehicle for ideas, experiments and concepts, while the other areas we work in now are not so open or free. We design identities for art galleries and companies, ... that's more the reality of graphic design, solving problems for people rather than making personal statements on white paper."

Saville's dedicated approach has landed him the blame for Factory's notoriously unpredictable release schedule. "It's only in the last year that Factory have had the pressure on them to perform in the marketplace. Before, records were released when they were released. But as New Order have sold more, the more they're involved in the system. Stores want to know when the records will be in. Any artist, whether a designer or musician, is pressured by a manager or client. Factory rarely apply the same level of pressure as, say, Virgin, (Peter Gabriel's SO), or Polydor (Roxy Music's Flesh And Blood).

"I'm not automatic - designs evolve. Usually, there are discussions with management, the record company and the band as to what a sleeve is going to be, and a decision is taken. With New Order, I have to decide what it's going to be, and the band leave us to get on with it. I express something that I'm interested in. This year, designing Technique, I was interested in shopping - for antiques."

The band of course can add to the delay; 1986's Low-life concept of, "no concept -just photos of them," was initially rejected, leading to another six-week delay ("I've made a cross for my own back with New Order album covers"). Nineteen eighty-nine's antique theme was only finalised after exploring other avenues - "more pop, like dollar bills, pineapples, bananas, sixties art images. In the end, we came up with a pop art antique. For the last two to three years we've been developing a process that's like photographic silk-screening. We bought the antiques and put them through the process. We make it up as we go along. Even if I have a concept, it takes weeks to get there."

Peter Saville Associates current project, a New Order magazine, initially for their American tour and thereafter for retail, still wasn't finished a week before the group were to leave. Factory's new classical label is an important project. With a specialist market, the budget is lower, so the sleeves will have a practical house style, "like a 'Deutsche-Grammophon'. It has to shape itself in people's minds . The idea is different to our pop records. We are giving the musicians an identity. Our pop records were designed in an abstract way and now we're going to do classical records in a pop way. All the musicians are young, living, working and playing, and traditionally, classical music doesn't have that personal identity. It's ironic really because when I was doing pop sleeves in my mid-twenties, I wanted to do them like classical sleeves."

It's been 10 years of excitement, experimentation and rows... "Tony and I have had incredible rows, mainly about things being late... but we've never wanted to stop working with each other."

Could Saville identify what was the most special aspect of Factory? "One of the quotes we thought of putting in the New Order magazine is Rob saying he's always believed in the punk ideal, that if you want to do something, then you do it. Basically, that principle that brought us together has continued to apply over 10 years to everybody at the core of Factory. If you want a classical label, or a club, let's have one. It's believing in what you do. The Hacienda was an outrageous idea when it started, and it took years for it to prove itself, but it's done so now. There isn't a club like it here in London, but it only happened because some people actually cared enough to open the kind of club that they themselves would like to go to.

"Sometimes there are problems because of what the music business is like - the pressure is there for you to just produce. It means so much more when you can believe in the product."

Tina Simmons

General manager Tina Simmons was originally at Pinnacle when she first worked with Factory back in 1979, becoming its label representative in her capacity as label and production manager. Sensing correctly that Pinnacle was overreaching and over-spending, she bailed out and went to Carrere, but she kept in touch with her existing contacts.

Out of the blue, Factory asked Simmons to run its international licensing, but only confirmed that she had the job two months after the interview and only two days before she was about to sell her flat and go on an extended trip to Australia. She sold anyway but moved up to Manchester instead. "Typical Factory," she laughs.

Like at Pinnacle, Simmons has, "many titles" at Factory; after two months, she added production to international and now liaises with PR manager Tracey Donnelly, studios, producers, and handles all the legal matters just call it running the Factory office. "I'm the one who's here all the time," as Simmons says.

Some things haven't changed since she moved to the other side of the fence. "Factory still manufacture their own product and supply it finished to Pinnacle. It's down to the fact that we have more control over, in particular, our sleeves and design side, and the type of material used, which can be really expensive. Anybody who took that on would probably get a little bit worried, like our licensees occasionally do.

"I used to find it a little frustrating at times when, and it still happens, Factory would name a release date and then two months later, it still hadn't arrived, but I can understand more now how that problem occurs. We have a design consultant, Peter Saville, who is an integral part of Factory and who comes up with incredible designs and materials. But he will sometimes change his mind at the last minute, so occasionally there is a question mark around the release schedule with regards to Peter. But we do supply Pinnacle with proofs now - back then, you were lucky if you got the track titles. You certainly didn't see a sleeve or get a white label. The first one I ever saw was for Blue Monday, and Alan still took it away with him, because he was going to give it to John Peel in person. The first white label I could keep was New Order's Confusion, in 1985. But times have changed, because Factory realises that these are good things to have for pre-selling."

Simmons was made a director in 1986, but is not yet a shareholder. "That's typical Factory too - they say, 'we're going to make you a shareholder and we'll discuss it at the next meeting', but they don't get round to the next meeting." When meetings do take place though, they sometimes "go round in circles, with every aspect covered. But also flying off on tangents. That's part of allowing creativity, and a lot is achieved. It just takes longer. There isn't any red tape, like there is with a major - once a decision is taken, you can move forward.

"It's a healthy environment here. If you have an idea, then you're encouraged to pursue it, without anyone telling you it's a waste of time, just as long as we don't break down the original philosophy."

FAC 229! The Music Week Factorial; ; inside detail [3]
FAC229! The Music Week Factorial; inside detail [3]

Gary McCausland

Belfast-born Gary McCausland was writing his paper on the economic structure of independent record companies for his post-graduate degree in Industrial Economics at Manchester University when he went to interview Factory Impressed by his knowledge and enthusiasm, the label took note of McCausland's hint that he wanted to work for them and in November 1988, made him production manager.

"Because we're situated in Manchester, I think it's important to have a regional identity. Also, as far as I'm concerned, I want the manufacturing in the UK and not abroad. If I can get a reasonable service here, why go abroad and give away foreign earnings? We use Lambourne and Lintone. There are some pressing plants with different capacities. We like to diversify, but we do use Nimbus almost exclusively for CD's. We use James Upton in Birmingham for our sleeves a regional identity again. They're used to our complicated make-ups."

Having tied up production, McCausland has also taken on the export drive. He admits that breaking new bands overseas is always hard, but the New Order and Joy Division catalogues "carry the Factory flag. People buy new releases just because they're on Factory. We get requests for everything we've released".

McCausland is still researching his paper on independent label economics, which he hopes to have published in September. "Not many people have done academic work on the record industry I'm interested from both the academic and personal sides. Basically, I want to get my oar in."

Tracey Donnelly and Alison Panchett

PR Manager Tracey Donnelly and office clerk Alison Panchett both lacked academic qualifications and relevant work experience for their respective jobs, but that didn't stop Factory from giving them the opportunity. Panchett was temping in London before deciding to move back up north, not to her native Halifax, but to Manchester - "the best city in the north"; Donnelly meanwhile, had various jobs before becoming receptionist at The Hacienda club's 'culty' basement hairdressers. "I put my name forward when the PR job became open," recalls Donnelly "and then went for the strangest interview I've ever had. There was me and a few other girls on the shortlist, and when we met up at The Hacienda, Tony Wilson sat me down with the others and then told them that I'd got the job, and then proceeded to talk to them about their Hacienda jobs and not a word to me about my new job! They'd already decided. Tony bought me a drink after and then said, 'see you in the office on Monday'."

Panchett's interview, was pretty straightforward in comparison. But does she find Factory a weird bunch to work for? "They're not straight people but not totally eccentric either," she reckons. "It's just very relaxed here, and people know what they have to do. They're very straight about work though."

Donnelly agrees. "I don't know any different because I've always worked for weird people. I think I've become as weird as them, so it seems normal."

What was weird about her job? "Well, you might sort out an interview and then one of the group gets arrested, like with Happy Mondays, and you have to sort out bail money, which I don't think you'd find with other labels. A lot depends on court appearances, fixing interviews around that. You become immune to it and join in with the rest of them!"

FAC 229! The Music Week Factorial; inside detail [4]
FAC229! The Music Week Factorial; inside detail [4]



January Tony Wilson partners with Alan Erasmus for the first time, trading under the name Movement of the 24th January, to manage The Durutti Column.

May Opening of The Russell Club.

June Peter Saville completes poster artwork for The Factory opening night at the Russell Club. "Late as usual," quips Wilson.

September Wilson, Erasmus and Saville decide to release sampler single of Manchester bands who've played at the Factory Club.

October Martin Hannett becomes fourth partner.

December 24th The first white labels arrive.


January A Factory Sample released, with two tracks each from Joy Division, The Durutti Column, John Dowie and Cabaret Voltaire. Factory set up offices in Alan Erasmus' flat at 86, Palatine Road, Manchester, sharing with Charlie Sturridge, who starts directing Brideshead Revisited at same time.

May Rob Gretton and Joy Division decide not to release their first album Unknown Pleasures through Radar/Warners but through Factory. "Why go to London if Factory in Manchester can work?," is the general reaction. A Certain Ratio release debut single All Night Party; Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark release debut single Electricity. OMD subsequently leave Factory to sign to DinDisc/Virgin, as agreed.

August Open air pop concert in Leigh attended by 300; A Certain Ratio, OMD, Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrops Explodes all play. "They gave a party and no-one came," wrote Sounds. Months later, every group had broken.

September Rob Gretton becomes the fifth Factory partner.

October Joy Division release debut single Transmission. No independent charts yet.

November Factory Benelux opens in Brussels with ACR's Shack Up, in partnership with Les Disques de Crepescule, run by Michel Duval.


April Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart released. Gets to number 13.

May With Werner Herzog's Strojek on the video and Iggy Pop's The Idiot on the hi-fi, Joy Division's lead singer Ian Curtis hangs himself. American tour cancelled at 24 hours notice.

July Joy Division's second album Closer is released. Reaches number 6.

September In conjunction with Rough Trade America, Joy Division's Atmosphere single is released in the USA. Huge demand forces UK release. Joy Division become New Order. Play first concert at Manchester's Beach Club before flying to America. Play second show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey.

November Factory Records becomes a limited company, trading under Factory Communications Ltd.

December The Durutti Column lose all their members except Vini Reilly who releases solo album Return Of The Durutti Column, produced by Martin Hannett. Gillian Gilbert joins New Order.


January New Order release debut single Ceremony. Reaches number 34.

May Factory New York opens. Run by Michael Shamberg, later to take charge of the label's video division in the USA.

August Joy Division's retrospective double album Still released. Reaches number 5.

September Factory decides to build The Hacienda Club in Manchester. New Order release Procession / Everything's Gone Green single. Reaches number 36.

November Fact 50: New Order release debut album Movement. Reaches number 30.


April Martin Hannett instigates lawsuit concerning overseas royalties.

May The Hacienda Club opens on the 21st. New Order release 12-inch only single Temptation. Reaches number 29.

July A Certain Ratio release debut album Sextet.


Factory enjoy fame as hot dance label in America, with releases from Quando Quango, Marcel King, Section 25, Cabaret Voltaire, ACR, and 52nd Street. "Everyone in the UK was still talking about long raincoats," Wilson says.

March New Order release 12-inch only single Blue Monday. First charts at number 12 and again at number 9 in August. Becomes the biggest selling 12-inch single of all time, totalling over three-million copies.

April Peter Saville establishes Peter Saville Associates in London with colleague Brett Wickens.

May New Order release second album Power, Corruption & Lies. Reaches number 4.

June James release debut single Jim One.

August New Order release single Confusion. Reaches number 12.

October Hairdressing salon Swing opens in basement of Hacienda. Love Will Tear Us Apart re-appears in charts. Reaches number 19.


January Factory settles out-of-court with Martin Hannett. Hannett resigns as Factory director.

April Alan Erasmus goes to Moscow to open negotiations for recordings of young Russian classical musicians for the proposed new classical label.

May New Order release Thieves Like Us single. Reaches number 18.

July Riverside Studios In Hammersmith holds Factory Records week, with concerts, films, videos.


May Fact 100: New Order release third album Low-life. Reaches number 7. New order release Perfect Kiss single. Reaches number 46.

July Factory Australasia opens, run by expatriate Andrew Penhallow. Distribution is through CBS. Soon becomes very successful offshoot.

September Happy Mondays release debut single Delightful.

October New Order release Subculture single. Reaches number 63. Channel 4's The Tube films at The Hacienda.


February Mike Pickering signs The Railway Children and Happy Mondays to Factory. Becomes head of A&R. Also starts DJ-ing 'Nude' night on Fridays at The Hacienda, playing house music from America - the first DJ in the UK to do. New Order play benefit concert in Liverpool in support of Militant Tendency, titled From Manchester With Love.

March New Order release Shellshock single. Reached number 28.

May The Railway Children release debut single A Gentle Sound.

June Festival of the Tenth Summer , a ten-event week-long extravaganza held to celebrate 10 years of punk, culminating in G-Mex concert headlined by New Order and The Smiths.

August New Order release State of The Nation single. Reaches number 30.

September The Durutti Column release Domo Arigato, Factory's first CD only release.

October Fact 150: New Order release fourth album Brotherhood. Reached number 9.

November New Order release Bizarre Love Triangle. Reaches number 56. The Durutti Column's Vini Reilly album is Factory's first DAT release. All subsequent Factory releases follow suit.


July New Order release True Faith single. Becomes their first top-five hit, peaking at number 4. Factory starts filming Mad Fuckers, a car chase / exploitation film, directed by The Bailey Brothers, and still in production.

September Happy Mondays release debut album, Squirrel and G-Man, 24 Hour, Party People, Plastic Face, Can't Smile, White Out. New Order release singles compilation Substance. Reaches number 3.

October A Certain Ratio leave Factory for A&M.

November The Railway Children release debut album Reunion Wilderness. Reaches number 1 in the independent charts. They sign to Virgin six months later. New Order release Touched By The Hand Of God single. Reaches number 20. Factory buys premises in Oldham Street, Manchester, for a massive new bar. "It will be to bars what The Hacienda is to clubs," says Wilson.


March Factory Benelux and Factory New York are closed because they're "unnecessary money pits."

April New Order release Blue Monday '88, a remix by John Potoker and Quincy Jones. Reaches number 5.

July Fact 250: A Joy Division compilation is released, also titled Substance. Reaches number 5.

September The first Factory contracts are drawn up. Cath Carroll is the first to sign, followed by Happy Mondays. New Order have a written agreement that they only have to give six months notice if they want to leave. Factory buys new premises on Princes Street, Manchester. They subsequently decorate it on the outside with Happy Mondays and New Order posters. They have still to move in.

October Happy Mondays release second album Bummed.

November New Order release Fine Time single. Reaches number 11.


January New Order release fifth album Technique. Becomes their first chart number 1.

February New Order release Round & Round single. Reaches number 21. Tony Wilson resigns as Factory Chairman over a bet with Rob Gretton that it would go top-five.

May Happy Mondays release Lazyitis single. Reaches number 85.

July Music Week publish Factory's 1Oth Anniversary edition in time for the New Music Seminar in New York. Rob Gretton says he "can't be bothered" talking about the label because he's too busy organising New Order's American tour. "That's typical Gretton," says Tony, "I love it." Factory's new classical records to be released, and new bar Dry to open.

Interviews and text by Martin Aston.

Designed by Peter Saville Associates for Music Week.

Printed by Pensord Press, Newport, Gwent.

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Thanks to Steven Hankinson for photography