As someone who follows music that is often produced by small labels with runs under 1000 copies, I have constantly found myself seeking material that is ‘out of print’. I have always appreciated the Smithsonian Jazz collection, but that only scratches the surface. Fortunately the Library of Congress has a massive archive of historical recordings, and have now partnered with Sony to make it available online through a site they call the ‘National Jukebox’. Here is the basic info from the National Jukebox website:
The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives. Recordings in the Jukebox were issued on record labels now owned by Sony Music Entertainment, which has granted the Library of Congress a gratis license to stream acoustical recordings.
At launch, the Jukebox includes more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. Jukebox content will be increased regularly, with additional Victor recordings and acoustically recorded titles made by other Sony-owned U.S. labels, including Columbia, OKeh, and others.
Here are some details from the LA Times
Among the highlights are vintage performances by celebrated classical musicians, including Enrico Caruso and Fritz Kreisler; the first blues recording, “Livery Stable Blues,” made in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band; a comedy skit by the Vaudeville team of Gallagher and Shean; speeches of President Teddy Roosevelt; piano performances by jazz-ragtime pioneer Eubie Blake; and music of the John Philip Sousa Band conducted by its namesake.
“This really blows the top off of a lot of stuff, doesn’t it?” said Chris Sampson, associate dean of USC’s Thornton School of Music. “There are so many angles from the academic perspective of how this would be a resource. Just in my small corner of the universe of teaching songwriting, the ability to be able to go to the source so students can see the tradition of American music and American songwriting, to see this lineage and to be able to draw upon it is going to be enormous…. To me that’s just gold.”
You can head to the ‘National Jukebox’ to check out loads of great classic recordings. My first stop was the great Eubie Blake – the LoC had two 1924 pressings available! You can search the archives, or check Eubie’s stuff out here!