How Much Musical History has been Lost?

by Rachel Baker on October 1, 2013

The National Recording Preservation Foundation and Jack White are trying to stop the loss of original recordings and rare tapes that over the years have been lost for one reason or another. The Atlantic has a cool article about their efforts.

In this era where cultural products seem to live forever digitally, the fear of music becoming lost to time may seem distinctly outdated. But efforts to preserve America’s audio history have never been more active than they are right now. Jack White has become the public face of these efforts, recently donating $200,000 to the National Recording Preservation Foundation, affiliated with the Library of Congress. He sits on the board with producer T. Bone Burnett, Sub Pop label founder Jonathan Poneman, legendary engineer George Massenburg and other music luminaries. What, exactly, are they trying to save? Turns out, a lot: Their ambitions are nothing smaller than protecting the entirety of America’s sonic history.

Concerns about preservation arise whenever the music industry transitions from one audio format to another.

The National Recording Preservation Foundation is mandated by an act of Congress to help find, preserve and make accessible the recorded history of the United States. The NRPF is an independent, non-profit charitable corporation that, with your help and that of other donors, offers grants and assistance to the nation’s archives, libraries, cultural institutions and others who are committed to preserving… The Sound of America.

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