06 April 2007


The Audio Archive


The Audio Archive is part of the Internet Archive aka Wayback Machine, a bold attempt to preserve online content stretching back to the mid-1990s. It's not just music, as here you will find a huge collection of radio programs, podcasts and spoken word content. But if it's music you are after, there are some sub-collections which will be of massive interest.

The Live Music Archive is a collection of live recordings covering a wide spectrum of music. At the time I write this, there are 38,473 live recordings featuring 2,380 different artists! Depending on the who submitted the recordings, they may be downloadable as MP3s, or they may be available for streaming only. Naturally, the artists here are those who free and easy about sharing their music, so you won't find any Metallica. Some of my favourites in the Live Music Archive include Billy Bragg, Camper Van Beethoven and the Minutemen.

There is a separate strand in the Live Music Archive for the Grateful Dead, with masses of live recordings right up to Jerry Garcia's death in 1995. Generally, the audience recordings are are available for downloading, while the soundboard recordings are strictly for streaming.

Among the MP3 music collections, there is a great sub-collection called NetLabels. These are virtual record labels, mostly with Creative Commons licenses, who are happy to have their music out there for free downloading. Typical genres in NetLabels include electronica, indie rock and ambient noise. There is even a 78 RPM Collection, featuring hundreds of old 78s in MP3 format. Scratchy but very interesting recordings from the early 20th century, from the likes of Sousa, Gershwin and many long forgotten artists.

Best of all, the Internet Audio Archive is searchable. You can choose to search the entire Audio Archive at once, or you can search individual collections. Results can be ranked by relevance, user rating, date or recording and date added to the archive. Date sorting is only possible from most recent to oldest. I would like to see the possibility of ranking from earliest date added to this fantastic site.

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