Prompted by a continuous demand for what has been called “Easy Listening” music, in 1978 an initial mail-order venture was created in Van Nuys CA known as Disc-Location. It was a venture started by Linda and Jim Schlichting. Those seeking recordings of “Easy Listening” music made inquiries through the mail or on what was then called an “IN-WATS” telephone line to the spare bedroom of a small home. The caller was greeted with a friendly:
“Hello, thank you for calling Disc-Location.
May I have the artist’s name and the song title you’re looking for?”
Most of the then-popular radio music programming in the United States was from recordings not sold in the majority of the record departments and dedicated stores selling vinyl records. Not many stores stocked what was known as “catalog recordings” which most “Easy Listening” was considered. Fewer stores even attempted to carry the imported recordings from which much more of the popular programming was being created.
Disc-Location provided a satisfying and dedicated specialized source for folks who desired Percy Faith Orchestra recordings but, in local record stores, were often shown where the Blind Faith recordings were stocked. The Disc-Location service was an oddity for sure but was successful enough to grow into a retail record store in Sherman Oaks CA.
The store, known as “The East Listening Den”, was a peaceful spot along busy Van Nuys Boulevard with a good sound system that played music samples of “Easy Listening” at a customers’ request. The Grand Opening of “The Den” was highlighted by an autograph session with local resident and popular recording artist pianist Roger Williams. It was likely the only record store grand opening that featured an “Easy Listening” artist.
Growing in demand on the phones and in the store were requests for what were termed “custom recordings” that radio station programmers were producing and including in their programming. The nature of the “custom recordings” included exclusivity for some programmers and little to no chance that the public would be able to buy a record for personal enjoyment. As a result a lower and lower percentage of music inquiries to Disc-Location would result in a sale. What could be done? In answer, Starborne Productions was created as an “Easy Listening” music production company.
With an initial six instrumental recordings supervised by Music Director Frank Chacksfield, Starborne owner Jim Schlichting networked with the majority of “Easy Listening” radio programmers to license and include in their programming the new “Starborne Productions”.
Very soon after Chacksfield began the music supervision of Starborne Productions in London, England another creative force was included in the growing creative effort, Sven Libaek. Sven offered an entirely different and a more contemporary flair to the Starborne Productions that were assigned to him. Sven recorded his work in Sydney, Australia.
With Starborne beginning to make its impression on Easy Listening radio programming, an unexpected request was made to have an immediate meeting with Jack Kent Cooke, then Chairman of the TelePrompTer Corporation. Within 48 hours of the initial call, Jim Schlichting was face-to-face with Cooke and negotiating for the production of a new music library for the Muzak™ division of TelePrompTer Corporation. More than $1.5-million of Starborne Productions recordings were added to the world-wide Muzak™ library.
In the middle 1980’s the radio programming interest in “Easy Listening” music began to wane. Listeners lost their radio source of “Easy Listening” music. The overall music industry began to shrink and interest in this genre of music was lost.
With the start of the 21st Century the concept of on-line radio stations ushered forth a new way that fans of the “Easy Listening” sounds could share their favorite music. Satellite delivered television services provided music channels with “Easy Listening” as one of the choices of programming. Satellite radio grew up with an “Easy Listening” channel one of the popular choices.
The reach, capability and influence of the world-wide web began to again stir an expanded interest in “Easy Listening” music. It’s now reasonable to offer individual recordings upon demand! And Starborne Productions survives again as a leader in serving the interests of folks who enjoy the laid-back and relaxing “Easy Listening” sound.
Thanks to all of you.
Enjoy the music!
Linda and Jim Schlichting