Music: How to Pick Winners

Once a week at 11 p.m., an odd group gathers in a windowless office above Manhattan's old Palace Theater. Around a spinning turntable sit a former executive of a record company, a young philosophy major, a onetime pressagent, the former owner of a record company who is now getting his M.A. in history, and an ex-Army public-relations officer who has studied music at Juilliard. They form the music staff of The Billboard, 60-year-old amusement weekly (circ. 49,966) that has become the bible of the music trade. By picking pop tunes for listing in the...

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