The Internet Archive is working with partners to preserve our musical heritage. The music collections started 8 years ago with the etree.org live music recordings and grew when we started hosting netlabels.
Scanning an LP cover
Now through new efforts and partnerships we have begun to expand and explore the music collections further. We are working with researchers, record labels, collectors, internet communities and other archives to gather music media, build tools for preservation and expand metadata for exploration.
We have already made tremendous progress. We have archived millions of tracks, we are working with the Archive of Contemporary Music to digitize portions of their extensive collections of physical media, the MusicBrainz.org community has provided meticulous metadata, and researchers from university programs have begun to analyze the music.
A prototype “listening room” in the Internet Archive’s building in San Francisco is available free to the public to listen to the full musical holdings. Access to these collections will also be provided to select computer science researchers via a secure “virtual reading room” in our data center. As tools and the collections grow, we will offer everyone access to the metadata to help them explore, and then offer links to commercial sites for listening or purchasing.
We invite interested people to participate:
Archives. The Internet Archive and the Archive of Contemporary Music in New York have started digitizing ACM’s holdings with consistent, high quality, standards-based methods to build a scalable workflow. We welcome other archives with similar projects, or who would like to help. “Digitizing our large physical collections is an important step for our archive to allow others to learn from this deep legacy,” said Bob George, Director of the Archive of Contemporary Music, NYC.
Digitizing CDs at the Archive of Contemporary Music
Collectors. Digitize, donate, or lend material for digitization. Improve metadata or provide context to help others understand the depth and cultural relevance of these collections. “Recycled Records is happy to have directed the donation of many thousands of LPs to the Internet Archive to help with their projects and for the love of music,” Bruce Lyall, proprietor of Recycled Records.
Labels. Preserving a complete collection of everything published by a label is best done by or with the record label. We would like to work with labels to get their releases archived and properly cataloged. “The upcoming Music Libraries program continues the very work that enables our label, and the musicians who record for us, to bring the music of earlier times to audiences today. We are proud to participate in a tradition of preservation that has brought joy to so many through music.” said David Fox, Co-founder of Musica Omnia.
Cataloging services. Commercial and non-commercial cataloging services can participate by making sure there are proper links from and to these collections. The musicbrainz.org open, community-created catalog has already been very helpful.
Commercial vendors and streaming services. Links from these collections to commercial services can help users buy and listen to full tracks. These services might have valuable metadata as well that can help users navigate.
Musicians and bands. Please create more great works that libraries can preserve and provide access to. We would like to hear your ideas about making the site useful for both musicians and the general public.
Researchers, historians, and music lovers. Annotate, organize, datamine, and surface music in the collections, and help us preserve those works not yet in the collections. “Access to a comprehensive archive of commercial music audio is the key missing link for research relating signal processing to listener behavior,” said Daniel Ellis, professor at Columbia University. By analyzing the rhythms, keys, instruments, and genres, researchers will help create more complete metadata and aid discovery.
Looking to the future, we hope to expand these shared music collections by uniting the work done by other archives and collectors. By bringing all of this music and its metadata into a shared library, we hope to bring the richness of our musical heritage to people all over the world.
Visit the Listening Room
300 Funston Ave
San Francisco, CA 94118
Hours: Fridays from 1-4pm, or by appointment.
If you would like to participate in any way, please email us.