• Add to Collection
  • Tools Used


  • About


    This project maps the entire catalogue of Manchester’s iconic music label Factory Records, spanning 1978 through 2007.
Factory: An Experiment in Human Nature
Data Visualization
This project maps the entire catalogue of Manchester's iconic music label Factory Records, spanning 1978 through 2007.

Factory's founder, Manchester television personality and post-punk impressario Anthony H Wilson, was heavily influenced by Situationism and the events of Paris 1968, and operated Factory more as a Situationist construction than as a viable business. (Neither Wilson nor anyone else at Factory ever seemed remotely interested in making a profit.) Wilson once stated, "we are not a record company...we are an experiment in human nature."

Factory gave a catalogue number to virtually everything it touched, including albums, singles, posters, stationery, events, and miscellaneous other items, many of a distinct Situationist flavour. Some of the more unusual items in the last category include FAC 8 (a menstrual egg timer, whatever that is), FAC 51 (the Haçienda nightclub), FAC 61 (former in-house producer Martin Hannett's lawsuit against Factory for unpaid royalties), FAC 99 (Joy Division/New Order manager Rob Gretton's dental reconstruction, after he had his front teeth punched out by members of A Certain Ratio, another of Factory's bands), and FAC 501 (Tony Wilson's coffin...the final Factory number).

Each mapping point includes release date, FAC number, artist, and title, and is colour-coded according to the type of object. The Factory catalogue extended up to FAC 511 (a celebration of the life of the recently-deceased Rob Gretton), but many of the later numbers were never allocated.
The complete map. This is a large format poster, approximately 30 x 30 inches. Each concentric circle represents 4 years in the life of Factory.
Central detail. There is no 'up' on the map, as it can be oriented in any direction. The colour legend is in the centre, around the title.
Another detail. Many of the FAC numbers were never allocated, particularly in the 400s. Numbers were often assigned out of sequence, & one number, FAC 289, was mistakenly assigned twice.
Detail of centre. Very little was released in the early days, so the area contains much more empty space.
Outer detail. The dotted line represents Factory's bankruptcy in November 1992. FAC numbers, however, continued to be allocated for special projects by London Records, the owner of Factory's assets.
Outer detail. 'N/R' refers to an item that was not released, while 'U/K' refers to an unknown date. Factory's records were not always complete, + numbers were not always assigned consecutively.
Outer detail. Officially released albums + videos/films used the prefix 'FACT', rather than the 'FAC' used by other items (including unreleased albums + videos/films). 'FACD' refers to an album that was released on CD only.
Outer detail. Gold items were released on 'flexi-disc', usually bundled with a normal album or single.
Outer detail. The first catalogue allocation was FAC 1, Peter Saville's iconic yellow modernist poster advertising the first series of shows at 'The Factory', Wilson's original club. According to legend, Saville delivered the poster to the club while the show was in progress.
Far outer detail. The highest number allocated was FAC 511, the memorial service for Joy Division/New Order manager Rob Gretton.
Far outer detail. The final number allocated was FAC 501, Tony Wilson's coffin + funeral. The Factory catalogue was closed after this final allocation.
Far outer detail. Pink items were released on cassette only. 'The Heyday' was an album of interviews with members of the Sex Pistols.