Through attending and presenting at various conferences, both academic and music industry related, I’ve started building up a network of individuals, organisations and institutions who are creating or researching the relationships and practices of music, archiving and heritage. With Sarah Baker from Griffith University, Australia, we’ve created a database logging all the examples of music archives that we currently know about that we hope in time will highlight the huge amount of work going on in this area.
These cover a fairly extensive range of musics and approaches to music archives, collections, heritage and history but can perhaps best be understood as two distinct types of practice.
Firstly there are the physical collections, housed in physical locations.
Some of the collections could be classed as authorised collections, housed in purpose built or adapted buildings, staffed through a paid workforce and with multiple income streams that aid revenue generation.Examples here might be the EMP in Seattle or the BME in London.
Others might be classed as DIY collections, housed in physical locations that are often ‘make do and mend’ buildings which are run by volunteers. Such archives are often in a continual struggle for sustainability whether that be for financial or human resources. Examples of this practice might be the South Australian Jazz Archive or the British Archive of Country Music
Secondly there are digital and online collections.
Broadly these also fall into two categories.
Institutional collections and archive holdings that organisations are seeking to digitise in order to make them more accessible to their users and also to attract new audiences. Issues here surround funding, copyright and the purpose of digitisation. Examples of this practice might be Sound and Music and their British Music Collection of some 40,000 items relating to new British music or the English Folk and Dance Society‘s extensive collection.
We then have community archives, driven by activist archivists who seek to preserve popular music culture. These are often ad-hoc and either seek to digitise and make available material they collect or come across, or they deal only in digital items. Here examples might be my own Birmingham Music Archive or the Tanzania Heritage Project and they are also often characterised by issues of sustainability through lack of finance and human resources and issues of ownership and copyright.
The above is merely to indicate, albeit briefly, that there is a burgeoning field within music archive and heritage practices and as a way of introducing the newly formed Music Archive Network.
The Music Archive Network has been set up by Sound and Music, Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool and the BCMCR.
Initially our purpose will be to create and invite people to a mailing list of those individuals, communities, institutions and organisations who have an interest in this subject matter. It is clear that there are many different approaches and practices in music archiving and therefore we are actively seeking to create a multi disciplinary group of people who can share their insights, passions, experience and ideas and ultimately for the Music Archive Network to foster relationships and partnerships that undertake project work together across the range of archives represented.
To sign up to the Music Archive Network list follow click here or paste this link into your browser: https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=MUSICARCHIVENETWORK
I’m really excited by the possibilities of the Music Archive Network and the potential for my archive to work with say, the Contemporary Music Centre in Ireland and the Klaus-Kuhnke-Archiv für Populäre Musik and I hope you will be too!