Most music collectors and chart music fanatics own any number of Joel Whitburn's RECORD RESEARCH books; there are 32 such books on HERC's shelves. Next to them, sits the book pictured above: Pat Downey's Top 40 Music On Compact Disc 1955-1999. It was the 7th Edition and as far as HERC knows there were only ten editions published before Downey took his database online, viewable with an annual subscription.
As a former subscriber, HERC can still login and access the database (which is a classy move on Downey's part) although he cannot view the more than 30,000 updates since he cancelled his subscription. Joel Whitburn later took his database online but he employs a different method of access - users purchase credits to search the database with each different action requiring a credit (not too classy). Of course, the two databases provide different information: Whitburn's info is from Billboard charts whereas Downey determines his own Top 40 criteria using an undisclosed amalgam of charts from several sources. Whereas Whitburn's is all about the charts and rankings, Downey is all about where the music can be found; specifically, on which compact disc(s).
The following is an image from The Disc Collector site taken from the 10th Edition of Downey's book, which covered the years 1955-2003:
HERC primarily uses the book - or more often, the online database - when researching songs to determine Mono or Stereo availability as well as true song length - not the times listed on album jackets or record labels but the actual playing time of a track. Lastly, Downey's database serves as an unofficial index to the many Time-Life collections in the Hideaway's Audio Archives.
You can try Pat Downey's Top 40 Music On CD database for yourself - For a FREE one week trial go to http://www.top40musiconcd.com.
FULL DISCLOSURE: HERC cancelled his subscription after two years due to personal financial issues NOT because of any lacking information within the database itself - it is worth every penny and is a true value among online music databases.
What databases, search engines, books or other tools do you use to find out more about the music you love? Let HERC know in the comments.