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Library of Congress to launch National Jukebox

January 11, 2011

UPDATE: May 8, 2011 LA Times: Library of Congress builds the record collection of the century. The sounds of everybody from Duke Ellington to Jelly Roll Morton to obscure surfer dudes are preserved at a Library of Congress facility in Virginia. Access is limited, but that is about to change. Read article, click here


NPR reported yesterday a great story that is close to my heart – the preservation of music, and not any music, but original masters. Here is an excerpt. You can read or listen to the entire story by clicking here.

The Library of Congress today announced the largest donation of audio recordings it’s ever received. The donation came from Universal Music Group and is made up of master recordings — the final metal discs used to press commercial releases; lacquer discs that were cut in the studio to capture full takes of tunes; and reel-to-reel tapes from the late 1940s. The material dates from around 1930 to around 1950 and marks the first time the Library has received commercial masters from a major label.

The majority of the [Universal] collection are the metal masters — about 200,000. Then there are going to be another 8 to 10,000 tape reels and probably twice that, maybe 15,000 lacquer discs,” says DeAnna.

“There’s so much possibility here of discovery of recordings that really have just been off the sonic landscape of America for so long and important recordings, familiar sounds but long gone. It’s just gonna be a treasure to mine for many years for the archive.”

Universal retains the copyright to the recordings and, as is the case in most donations of this kind, will get digital copies of the Library’s preservation work. The label’s agreement with the Library of Congress allows for non-commercial streaming on the Library’s website — a site the Library hopes to launch this spring. It’s a collaboration with another major label — Sony-BMG — a project to be called the National Jukebox.


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