Hey, America! We Just Got a National Jukebox!

05/10/2011 4:11 PM |

How they used to record in the old days.
  • How they used to record in the old days.

This is exciting: The Library of Congress, in conjunction with Sony Music Entertainment announced a gift to the American public today—a national jukebox!

According to the Los Angeles Times, The Library of Congress has been steadily hoarding a century’s worth of audio recordings in a 45-acre vault in Virginia, housing near 6 million rare recordings on wax cylinders, paper piano rolls, vinyl and more. These include works by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, early recordings of jazz and blues masters, and NBC Radio’s entire catalogue of World War II coverage. The archive is also home to the original recordings of the John Philip Sousa Band. But because of outdated copyright law, much of the audio has been protected and unavailable to the public. Unavailable, that is, until today. The Library of Congress has just revealed the National Jukebox project, which will eventually stream 3 million audio recordings that had been kept hidden in its collection, free of charge.

From the LA Times:

Library and Sony officials hope the streaming access will create new audiences for the old recordings. In the event the National Jukebox creates a breakout hit recorded in 1909, DeAnna said, “We have an agreement with Sony that if anything is reissued for the commercial market, we’ll take them down” from streaming on the Jukebox site.

Library of Congress staff and guest programmers will create playlists by genre, time period, artist and other themes, and members of the public will be able to submit their own playlists for consideration for publication on the Jukebox website. Users also will be able to share their playlists and embed the audio player on social media websites such as Facebook and MySpace.

To visit the brand, spanking new national jukebox, head here. There are already 10,000 recordings up, made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. And go here to find out how exactly The Library digitized those 10,000 78 rpm recordings.