The National Gramophonic Society was typical of the ferment of experimentation which characterised the 1920s industry. Founded in 1924 by the novelist Compton Mackenzie, soon after the launch of his influential review the Gramophone, the NGS aimed to supplement the commercial companies' output with recordings then thought to be uncommercial: complete works of chamber music, early and new music. Mackenzie adopted a business model from publishing - subscription - and took the radical step of allowing subscribers to vote on the proposed programme. The Society's fragile finances and lack of marketing and management expertise left it exposed to the ruthless competitiveness of the majors, who may have used the NGS as free market research and certainly exploited its subscription model more successfully, even in the difficult years of the Depression. The NGS ceased production in 1931 but its activities, vividly chronicled in the Gramophone, provide a rare window into the tastes of the period's record-buyers, many of whose names and occupations are known and who aired their views and concerns in the Gramophone; while the Society's releases preserve the playing of some artists, who otherwise recorded little or not at all, and of others (such as John Barbirolli), who went on to win international fame. Comparison with the methods, marketing and output of the commercial companies may shed light on how artists and repertoire were judged and received by professionals and public at this crucial time.

This National Gramophonic Society is the subject of ongoing doctoral research by Nicholas Morgan.