August 23, 2023

Ever Hear of the “Pocket Record?” Me, Neither–But It Was Almost a Thing

The first time anyone could put music in their pocket came with the 8-track in the middle 1960s. Yeah, it was a bit bulky, but if you forced it, you could one tape into your jeans. Cassettes were much easier to pocket but CDs seemed too sharp and angular for pockets smaller than you’d find in a jacket or coat.

But believe it or not, there was a scheme to market records–vinyl records–that could fit those same places. And out of all my study and writing about various music storage formats, I’d never heard of the “Hip Pocket Record.” Yes, a 4-inch record you could slide into the back pocket of your jeans because it was flexible.

It was 1967. From The Vinyl Factory.

With Atlantic, Mercury and Roulette on board, the one-sided Hip Pocket Records contained two Top 40 tracks and cost 69 cent at Woolworth from the likes of Otis Redding, Van Morrison and Aretha Franklin. They were marketed as more durable than regular 45s, but unsurprisingly this was not the case, with a typical Pocket Record deteriorating in quality after a dozen or so plays. This wasn’t the only problem for the Hip Pocket brand, with rival manufacturer the Americom Company’s Pocket Disc series offering a cheaper, more accessible alternative (available at vending machines around the country). They also managed to strike a deal with Apple Records’ to get a number of Beatles hits pressed to Pocket Disc. For Beatles fanatics, these Pocket Discs are now potentially worth upwards of £200.

This was, in part, due to the fleeting nature of their popularity. By 1969, the development of the compact cassette and ultimately the Sony Walkman put pay to the pocket-sized flexi-disc and its short-lived dream of a portable vinyl for the world.

Like I said, this is a new one on me. But it happened.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 36935 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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