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NPR Arts & Life

12 Essential Archives For Internet-Era Music Historians

A quick guide to some of the best musical archives on the Internet.

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, whose National Jukebox offers more than ten thousand songs from the dawn of the modern age, or the , which overwhelms with its vast array of material and is especially rich for live recordings. Scholars also use the same sites casual fans employ — YouTube and Spotify and good old Google can yield riches to those who know how to focus a search.

Beyond these well-traveled areas lies a vast and generally unmapped terrain governed by collectors, hobbyists, fan clubs, and artists themselves, sharing gold that once could only be found through hours of prospecting in library reading rooms or at record fairs. It takes time to find the islands richest in resources. In conjunction with our overview of the state of archival music online, we asked some of our favorite writers, all of whom have recently published books on a wide range of historical subjects, to share their favorite spots for pleasurable and informative archival listening.

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