Ref NoWRPM
TitleWomen’s Revolutions Per Minute (WRPM) archive
DescriptionAdministrative business records of Women’s Revolutions Per Minute 1974-2011 [predominantly 1977-2005]; and a collection of the music sold by the company 1977-2005, comprising 1565 vinyl records, audio cassettes, and CDs of music performed, composed, and produced by women artists.

The Women’s Revolutions Per Minute archive is divided into the following series:

Corporate Management Records 1979-2003 [WRPM/1]. Administrative business records relating to the corporate management of Women’s Revolutions Per Minute. The series is divided into 5 sub-series: Statuary and Legal Records 1979-2001 [WRPM/1/1]; Business Planning Records 1978-2003 [WRPM/1/1]; Handover Records 1979-2003 [WRPM/1/3]; Insurance Records 1980-2002 [WRPM/1/4]; and Employee Records 1983-1993 [WRPM/1/5]. [14 files + 2 items]

Financial Records 1978-2007 [WRPM/2]. Administrative business records relating to the financial management of Women’s Revolutions Per Minute. The series is divided into 4 sub-series: Company Accounts 1980-2006 [WRPM/2/1]; Tax Records c 1981-2001 [WRPM/2/2]; Grant Applications 1978-2001 [WRPM/2/3]; and Financial Correspondence 1980-2007 [WRPM/2/4]. [10 files + 22 items].

Business Correspondence: General 1978-2007 [WRPM/3]. General business correspondence relating to commercial operations of Women’s Revolutions Per Minute and general enquiries received by the company. The files comprise: business correspondence received from suppliers and customers and during the early years of the distribution network under co-founders Nicolle Freni and Tierl Thompson; general research enquires and miscellaneous correspondence received by WRPM under owner Caroline Hutton; and general business correspondence sent/received by potential artists and other individuals under the ownership of Hilary Friend. [5 files].

Procurement Correspondence 1977-2004 [WRPM/4]. Business correspondence between Women’s Revolutions Per Minute and various suppliers (record companies, music distributors, and music artists) relating to the procurement of music for distribution by the company [WRPM/4]. The correspondence files frequently include related business and financial records associated with procurement transactions, such as sales invoices and payment receipts; and/or promotional material about the artists. The series is divided into 2 sub-series. Procurement Correspondence: Record Companies and Music distributors 1977-1996, comprising 35 files arranged alphabetically by organisation name[WRPM/4/1}; and Procurement Correspondence: Artists 1978-2004, comprising 85 files arranged alphabetically by artist name [WRPM/4/2]. [120 files].

Sales Correspondence 1979-2005 [WRPM/5]. Business correspondence between Women’s Revolutions Per Minute (WRPM) and wholesale and direct sale customers, relating to the sale of music by the company. The correspondence includes (among others): circular mailings to customers and correspondence with retail outlets, women’s groups, libraries, and mail order customers. [9 files].

Sales Catalogues: Women’s Revolutions Per Minute 1978-2003 [WRPM/6]. Music sales catalogues produced by Women’s Revolutions Per Minute 1978-2003, along with associated catalogue update sheets. [57 items].

Marketing and Promotion Records 1976-2003 [WRPM/7]. Promotional material, administrative business records, correspondence, and press cuttings relating to the marketing of Women’s Revolutions Per Minute and the promotion of artists sold by the company (including in the press). The series is divided into 3 sub-series: Publicity Materials: Women’s Revolutions Per Minute 1979-2002 [WRPM/7/1]; Correspondence with the Press 1977-1995 [WRPM/7/2]; and Press cuttings 1976-2003 [WRPM/7/3].[26 files].

Events Records 1978-2011 [WRPM/8] Administrative business records, correspondence, and promotional material relating to events attended by Women’s Revolutions Per Minute to sell music records and merchandise. The series is divided into 4 sub-series: General Events 1978-2011 [WRPM/8/1]; Festival 1978-2003 [WRPM/8/2]; Concerts and Tours 1979-1997 [WRPM/8/3]; Conferences, Symposiums, and Book weeks 1984-2002 [WRPM/8/4]. [50 files].

Affiliation Records 1980-1999 [WRPM/9]. Administrative business records and correspondence relating to feminist music organisations to which Women’s Revolutions Per Minute was affiliated. The files cover affiliations to the women’s music distribution networks WILD [Women’s Independent Label Distributors] and Euro-WILD; and the national membership organization Women In Music; as well as a file relating to a visit by WRPM owner, Caroline Hutton, to Borstplaat a Dutch women’s music distributor and fellow Euro-WILD member. [4 files].

Artist Promotional Files c 1977-2011 [WRPM/10]. Promotional material for women music artists collected by Women’s Revolutions Per Minute, predominantly (although not exclusively) relating to artists which were distributed by the company. The files include material such as press releases, promotional artist overviews, biographies, publicity flyers, posters, publicity photographs, song lyrics, record sleeves, and copies of press reviews about artists. Files cover individual women musical artists and all-women bands artists from the UK, USA, Europe, and elsewhere. Artists include (among others) figures from the US women’s music movement, including Margie Adam,, Meg Christian, Alix Dobkin, Therese Edell, Kay Gardner, Woody Simmons, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Linda Tillery, Teresa Trull, Mary Watkins, and Cris Williamson; as well as UK-based artists such as Frankie Armstrong, The Fabulous Dirt Sisters, The Guest Stars, Hi-Jinx, Jam Today, The Mistakes, Ova, and The Siren Theatre Company. [173 files].

Posters 1974-1997 [WRPM/11] Publicity posters for Women’s Revolutions Per Minute and posters collected by WRPM relating to women musical artists, women’s music concerts, women’s music festivals; and educational resources relating to women and music The series includes (among others): general publicity posters for the WRPM; posters for US women’s music performers, including Margie Adam, Meg Christian, Alix Dobkin, Holly Near, Cris Williamson; posters for British bands, including Ova, The Guest Stars, and Tour De Force; and informational posters relating to women and music history. [78 items].

Postcards 1980s-1990s [WRPM/12]. Promotional postcards for women musical artists, record labels, and women’s music events. Series includes (among others) postcards for Sheila Chandra; Chard Festival of Women in Music; and Rosetta Records. [4 files + 2 items].

Songbooks 1983-2000 [WRPM/13]. Printed songbooks (some with related musical audio recordings) containing song lyrics and associated musical notation for women’s music and music by women. The series includes songbooks for News from Babel; Alison Burns; Libana; Sandra Kerr; and Making Music on the Line. [5 items].

Sales Catalogues: Other Organisations 1977-2000 [WRPM/14]. Music sales catalogues and associated promotional information, produced by other organisations, collected by Women’s Revolutions Per Minute. The series includes sales catalogues issued by music record labels and women’s music distributors, including (among others): catalogues for Ladyslipper Music (USA), Olivia Records (USA), Redwood Records (USA), Borstplaat (Netherlands); and Troubadisc (Germany). [12 files].

Periodicals: Other Organisations 1974-2003 [WRPM/15]. Print publications by other organisations collected by Women’s Revolutions Per Minute. Includes: newsletters, magazines, and bulletins issued women’s music organisations (including Women In Music) and all-women record labels (Olivia Records); women’s music journals (including ‘Hot Wire’ and ‘cling/Klong’); as well as general feminist journals and music magazines containing articles or special issues relating to Women’s Music / Women and Music. [197 items]

Clothing 1970s-1980s [WRPM/16]. T-shirts and other merchandise clothing relating to women’s music artists, women’s music festivals, and feminist music organisations. Artists include: Margie Adam, The Fabulous Dirt Sisters, The Guest Stars, Holly Near, Ova, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Cris Williamson. Festivals include: Chard Festival of Women in Music and Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. [15 items]

Music Recordings c 1977-2005 [WRPM/AUDIO]. 1565 vinyl records, audio cassettes, and compact discs of music performed, composed and produced by women, which was sold by Women’s Revolutions Per Minute. The series includes recordings of women’s music, folk, jazz, rock, world music, traditional singers, a cappella song, classical composers, and educational resources. It is organised into two sub-series: Music Recordings: Caroline Hutton WRPM/AUDIO/CH], comprising records collected and sold by Caroline Hutton during her ownership (1979-1999) of the company [1132 items]; and Music Recordings: Hilary Friend [WRPM/AUDIO/HF], comprising records collected and sold during Hilary Friend’s ownership (1999-2005) of Women’s Revolutions Per Minute [433 items]. [1565 items].
AdminHistoryWomen’s Revolutions Per Minute (WRPM) was a women’s music distribution company trading between 1978 and 2005.

Women’s Revolutions Per Minute was an independent, feminist music distribution network. It purchased music recordings from record companies, music distributors, and artists; and sold this stock on wholesale to independent and corporate retail outlets (including women’s centres, bookshops, and music shops) and by direct sale to customers via its mail order service and at record stalls at concerts and other events. Women’s Revolutions Per Minute distributed music by women, for women, and about women, typically (although not exclusively) from artists with a feminist or lesbian feminist standpoint. It represented the main distribution company in the UK for the woman-identified performers of the international women’s music movement. The company also bought and sold songbooks and educational resource materials related to women in music.

Women’s Revolutions Per Minute was founded as a non-commercial, feminist music distribution network in January 1978 under the name ‘Olivia Records Collective’ by Nicolle Freni and Tierl Thompson, members of the London-based Women’s Liberation Music Group. The collective was named after Olivia Records, a US all-women record company, whose feminist and lesbian identified music the collective first imported and distributed (including records by Meg Christian and Cris Williamson). The formation of the distribution collective followed on from Freni’s experience as the Music Coordinator of the Women’s Festival ‘77 at the Action Space Drill Hall, London. This event had featured performances by folk singer-songwriters and Olivia Records artists, Meg Christian and Teresa Trull, and Freni had organised a stall selling women’s music to accompany the artists’ performances. In founding the all-women collective, Freni and Thompson aimed to ‘found a durable and successful feminist distribution of women’s music that is nationwide, encourages and eventually even produce women’s music’ in the UK [1].

Olivia Records Collective was renamed as Women’s Revolutions Per Minute in the summer of 1978, as Freni and Thompson began to import and sell records from a wider range of US record companies, including artists on Redwood Records (e.g. Holly Near and Sweet Honey in the Rock) and Wise Women Enterprise (e.g. Kay Gardner). Freni and Thompson operated the network out of an office in a converted spare room in Freni’s residence in Hackney, London, with a contact address at Women’s Arts Alliance arts-space in Regents Park, London. They sold music to women’s centres and organisations (e.g. A Women’s’ Place), women’s and lesbian organisations (e.g. Sappho magazine), radical bookshops (e.g. Compendium Books), and independent record shops (e.g. Collets Record Shop) mainly in London and a small number of other cities, including Liverpool (News from Nowhere) and Manchester (Grass Roots Bookstore). However, customers were able to make use of mail-order services at London retail stockists to buy records nationwide.

Women’s Revolutions Per Minute was sold by Freni and Thompson to Caroline Hutton for £1456 in September 1979. Hutton, a member of the Birmingham-based Gay Centre Committee and the grass-roots lesbian singing group Rubyfruit, had been a music organiser at the 1978 National Women’s Liberation Movement Conference and attendee at The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Hutton transferred the operations of Women’s Revolutions Per Minute to her home in Moseley, Birmingham, regularly traveling to London in person to supply the distributor’s retail stockists.

Women’s Revolutions Per Minute became a member of Women’s Independent Label Distributors (WILD) in 1980, a US-based coordinating network of music distributors working in the women’s music industry. Women’s Revolutions Per Minute participated in the founding in Copenhagen in December 1980 of a parallel European network, Euro-WILD, alongside other European distributors Borstplaat (Netherlands), Troubadisc (Germany), and Face the Music (Denmark).

Hutton established a regularised in-house mail order service for customers, with a regularly issued sales catalogue. The company expanded its network of wholesale stockists in London and cities around the country. WRPM supplied stock was available via alternative bookstores such as Sisterwrite and Gay is the Word, alongside flagship Oxford Street stores of Virgin Megastores and HMV. Women’s Revolutions Per Minute continued to organise regular stalls selling music at women’s events, concerts, music festivals, and conferences. Hutton also sometimes acted as an organiser and promoter for UK tours and concerts by international women’s music artists during the 1980s, including Meg Christian and Australian singer-songwriter Judy Small.

During the 1980s, Women’s Revolutions Per Minute expanded the quantity and breadth of music it procured and sold. Women’s Revolutions Per Minute continued to import women’s music from the United States of America (including Margie Adam, Alix Dobkin, Therese Edell,, Woody Simmons, Linda Tillery, Teresa Trull, Mary Watkins) but the company increasingly also carried music by British women artists and all-women bands (such as Frankie Armstrong, Sandra Kerr, Shelia Chandra, Ova, Jam Today, The Mistakes, Fabulous Dirt Sisters, Proper Little Madams, Hi-Jinx, and The Guest Stars). Musically, the company’s offering expanded as well. Alongside folk singer-songwriters, Women’s Revolutions Per Minute increasingly bought and sold records by women artists performing in jazz, blues, rock, classical, new age, and world-music.

Women’s Revolutions Per Minute marketed itself through mail outs and advertisements, and actively promoted the women artists the company sold via the mainstream, feminist, lesbian and gay, and music presses; as well as seeking air play for records on commercial and independent radio stations.

Hutton operated the company largely as a sole trader, apart from a short period from 1983, when she was joined by Wendy Hurst, a keyboard player and former teacher, who worked with Hutton on artist promotion and music procurement; and Claire Relf, a member of the Siren Theatre Company, who acted as the company’s London representative. Hutton was involved in a number of discussions about the founding of a UK women’s music label during the 1980s (including being briefly involved in management meetings at Stroppy Cow Records).

The decline in the number of women’s centres, radical bookshops, and independent record stores across the UK in the late 1980s, and resulting fall in wholesale trade for Women’s Revolutions Per Minute, meant that the company increasingly (but not solely) operated as a direct sale mail order business during the 1990s. Hutton continued to operate regular sale stalls at women’s events, festivals (including the yearly Chard Festival of Women in Music in Somerset), and conferences on women in music.

In August 1999, Women’s Revolutions Per Minute was purchased from Hutton by musician Hilary Friend for £700. Friend relaunched Women’s Revolutions Per Minute as a not-for-profit Private Limited Company (Company House No. 3829091) in November 1999. The company’s office was transferred to Friend’s home in Chorlton, Manchester.

Friend oversaw a redesign of the company’s logo and branding in 2000 by graphic design firm Annamtional Design. In 2001, a Women’s Revolutions Per Minute website was launched [www.wrpm.org.uk], designed by all-women web designers Labrys Multimedia. The website incorporated an online sales catalogue for customers (generating some international sales for the company) and a discussion forum (added to the site in 2002).

Women’s Revolutions Per Minute, under Friend’s ownership, continued to stock a wide range of women’s music and music by women. The company in particular expanded its sales offerings in areas of classical music (for example, music by contemporize composers Judith Weir and Chen Yi ); as well as music performed by women artists from the Global South (including Angélique Kidjo , Busi Mhlongo, Oumou Sangaré, and Sibongile Khumalo).

Women’s Revolutions Per Minute ceased trading in 2005. The company was formally struck from the Companies House Register and officially dissolved in 2010.

[1] Freni, N. and T. Thompson, ‘Women’s Music and Olivia Records’, July 1978, in WRPM/7/2/1, ‘Promo Stuff (Ours): T.V., Articles, Letters’, Women’s Revolutions Per Minute archive, Special Collections & Archives, Goldsmiths, University of London
Date1974-2011
Extent27 boxes of business records + 1565 audio recordings
LevelFonds
AccessConditionsAccess by appointment. Please contact special.collections@gold.ac.uk

Administrative business records less than 30 years old are subject to additional checks for privacy and data protection issues before being made available.

Three files have been temporarily closed under the Data Protection Act 1988. These comprise: 'Potential and Temporary Employees', 1983-1986 [closed until 01/01/2070]; 'Potential and Temporary Employees' 1988-1993 [closed until 01/01/2077]; and one correspondence file [file name withheld to protect identity of data subject] [closed until 01/01/2075]. 6 letters have been removed from Correspondence File: 'Olivia Records' (II) [WRPM/4/1/17] due to data protection or privacy issues. Closed until 01/01/2063
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Creator NameWomen’s Revolutions Per Minute; music distribution company
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