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A dedicated home for music memorabilia, exploring the past, present and future of music archives. Find your own piece of the story.

Janis Joplin & Tina Turner on January 21, 1969 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Looking into one of the deepest digital music archives of historical photography

We step behind the scenes of the stock photo behemoth with Julian Ridgway, Managing Editor – Archive at Getty Images.

Moving the world with images since 1995, Getty Images’ collection of creative and editorial audio-visual content is second to none. With hundreds of millions of assets, they have built the world’s deepest digital archive of historic photography. Offline, Getty has an exhaustive physical archive, a history that is now shaping future opportunities for the company. We spoke to Ridgway to tell us more…

Another change I’m seeing is developing still imagery out of video and vice versa. With our archive we’re obviously at the mercy of what was commercially viable forty to sixty years ago – often just stills and sometimes only in black and white. This new trend is therefore interesting for us.

Compilation video of stills from Prince concert

Who are your biggest clients?

For music, editorial is still our bread and butter but that can include a huge range of outlets – newspapers, websites, magazines, books, and documentaries for example. On the commercial side record companies use our images for reissues, box sets and streaming services which increasingly require images to be added to the artwork. In fact, new opportunities appear all the time. Different types of websites for example and also for social channels where a corporate client might want to create an advertorial although endorsing products can create its own issues with the musician or estate.

Is there anything missing that you’re keen to acquire for the archive?

There are lots of gaps that we’re keen to fill! You see from the ‘80s the archive moved from being one which was wholly owned to a more contributor based one. The music industry itself became much more fragmented, splitting into a myriad of different music genres, all with their own specialist magazines and photographers. Having such comprehensive coverage like we had with David Redfern’s archive for example – who shot everything from TV programmes to every possible type of genre – was much more difficult from the ‘80s. Particularly from the ‘90s you needed to work with a load more people embedded in each genre. We have a lot of conversations now, and we sign new photographers all the time.