Where do music historians go to find the sounds that shape the stories they tell? There are some obvious places, like the Library of Congress in the US or the British Library in the UK but did you know about the Internet Archive – available to all at the touch of a button?
Introducing the Internet Archive: whose mission since 1996 is “universal access to all knowledge.”
Our goal is to build a public library that serves a global audience. This requires collecting information, storing it safely, building an infrastructure that can serve millions of people, and addressing issues of patron privacy and information access.
The Internet Archive
The organization, founded by Brewster Kahle, is a nonprofit, it is not affiliated with any government and serves between 2 and 3 million people every day. The Internet Archive works with many partners, including libraries, museums, archives and individuals, to build their public collections. Anyone can upload media to archive.org for free to preserve it for the future, and the organization encourages contributors to include Creative Commons licenses with their items. Organizational funding comes from many sources, including book digitization, web archiving, donations, grants and foundations.
In 2021 the archive reached its 25th year of activity. Its funding today preserves over 33 million digitized books, 7.3 million videos, 4 million images, 14 million audio files, 773k software and up to 616 billion web pages. Yes, that’s right: billions!
Many projects within the Internet Archive revolve around music, including collaborations with major public archives like the Archive of Contemporary Music and Universities or commercial websites like Discogs. The archive gathers impressive audio collections such as the Live Music Archive – among hundreds of others. In order to preserve not only the music but also the vast array of information and graphic content developed around albums, the I.A. have digitized at high resolution a significant amount of album liner notes, including full CD booklets and the paper labels on the discs themselves.
As streaming services gain popularity, the rich fountain of information found on album covers and CD liner notes is in danger of being lost. The Internet Archive seeks to fill that void by preserving the entire package that makes for a deeper musical experience.
The Internet Archive
The archive, which is full of a host of things as well as music related content, overwhelms with its vast array of material and it is especially rich for live recordings. Its broad and generally unmapped terrain is governed by collectors, hobbyists, fan clubs, and artists themselves, sharing gold that once could only be found through hours of researching in library reading rooms or at record fairs. It takes time to find the areas richest in resources, but the MAG_BTM team did a first scouting round and shares their finds with you here to tickle your curiosity. What musical gems will you pull out of the Internet Archive? Keep us in the loop! Tag #magbtmfinds and share your picks with the community on social media.
From Bristol to Naples
One may be surprised to find a reference to a Neapolitan stadium choir in Massive Attack’s masterpiece Mezzanine. But it is indeed what they will find, typed in tiny characters in the “Fanx” page of the Bristol band’s 1998 CD booklet: «Noi siamo eterni; il nostro giorno non conoscerà mai il tramonto e si colorerà di azzurro. Forza Napoli» states the liner note. [We are eternal; our day will never know the sunset and the sky will colour in blue. Go Naples!]
As the biggest fans will know, Massive Attack’s connection to the Italian city of Naples is closer than many could think, rooted in Robert Del Naja’s father’s origins.
Check out this little odd gem on the Internet Archive’s scan here, and if you’re curious about what RDN loves the most about Naples, check out this video.
Massive Attack, Mezzanine, 1998 – digitised by the Internet Archive
Cute AND reckless
On a hunt for some vintage cuteness and future-forward statements?
Travel back in time with this 1985 issue of Smash Hits magazine and feed your head with Malley the kitten, The Smith’s frontman Morrisey and some in-your-face veganism way before it was cool.
Dive in for Morrisey, but feel free to stay for some extra Bruce Springsteen and Gary Kemp features or a “full page Annie Lennox poster”. The best eighties vibes are served, in colour!
Flick through the Internet Archive’s scan here.
Smash Hits 1985 – digitised by the Internet Archive
Zappa, in a nutshell
This is a 1995 compilation published by Rykodiscs, aiming to collate the best of the almost 60 albums Zappa produced in his career. The album “only scratches the surface of the contributions the composer-guitarist […] made to contemporary music” and its rich booklet is an absolute treasure trove.
It packs an amazing doodled discography of Zappa’s albums, a detailed overview of the work behind the making of the compilation, the hilarious tale of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention’s outrageous 1967 performance at the Royal Albert Hall and – cherry on top! – one of the best shots of Zappa rocking pigtails.
Find the fanciest version of Frank by scrolling down to page 12 of the booklet, here!
Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa, 1995 – digitised by the Internet Archive
The History of Rock was an early 80s British rock music magazine owned by Orbis Publishing. In 2015, the title was adopted by the publishers of Uncut for a new magazine covering key events in rock history by year.
For all you rockers out there, the Internet Archive scanned all the issues dedicated to years 1965 to 1979 (with a sad ‘74 –‘75 gap) and they’re now available for everyone to flick through!
Reproducing contemporary articles that originally appeared in music publications such as Melody Maker and the NME, The History of Rock is a curated press review of the most incredible stories from highest decade of Rock music (so far…).
Who recalls David Bowie’s mugshot souvenir from his short stop in Monroe County’s jail in 1967?
The History Of Rock, Issue 1976 – digitised by the Internet Archive
Folkscanomy: Flyers and Posters for Music Events
Folkscanomy: Flyers and Posters for Music Events is whole collection within the IA hosting over 1,800 scanned artifacts: from paper cuttings like this ( https://archive.org/details/johnny-ramone-2 ) Johnny Ramone’s interview from the early 90s to Nirvana’s 1991 live in Pittsburgh flyer or The Wailers’ gig promo in 1990 , chances are high for you – or your elder mates – to find a piece of your nightlife here!
Did you? Tag #mabgtmfinds and let us know!
Nirvana, Live in Pittsburgh 30 September 1991 flyer – digitised by the Internet Archive