Saving and Tossing

Interesting article from way back on 2/27 over at the music issue blog. It has a very dry title, Archive of Macedonian Music. What drew my attention was the brief discussion of music archiving. The internet has called forth a mind-boggling informal effort to serve up personal archives. Where this is really earth-shaking is when recordings that have been hidden away in darkness, again see the light of day. At the same time, dedicated specialists finally have a forum where their efforts might earn some recognition.

This presents a fascinating paradox: this cornucopia has helped lower archival standards, and, at the same time, the wasteful attitudes of the past have been mitigated to some extent. To say the internet and its free-wheeling and free-archiving constitutes the world’s biggest record store, (or, for that matter, library,) doesn’t describe the actual status of the various collections come to be based on the net. Many of which are labors of love, even if these various outlets for what used to be, for example, the impossibly rare, reside in the wild west.

This, overall, has grievously harmed the old record business. Yet, at the same time, all the archiving and sharing has built resources the old vertical record business never had any interest in constructing. Obviously, the argument based in one-to-one lost sales is bogus, but the declining sales numbers speak for themselves. At the same time the actual reach promoted by networked interest and archival fanaticism obtains a different order of magnitude. This is a scale of enthusiasm the old record business never could even dream about. In fact, it was unthinkable a record could sell 1,000 copies and yet be heard by 10,000 (or 100,000) people.

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