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Cliff Bolling's studio

The Wired Blog points to the Herculean effort of one Cliff Bolling who has been digitising his collection of 78s and uploading them for the world to listen.

The thousands of files are at 128kbps (though Cliff has been saving the source WAV files to DVD) and the ID3 metadata tags are just begging to be reworked so that artist and title display properly in iTunes, etc. – but what a heroic and selfless act. The man deserves a medal.

Listening to the music itself is like a window into a time not so far gone in history, but it’s largely been buried because it’s simply not economically viable to release this stuff in large quantities on CD. This is, I’d argue, what the internet is best at – and why we need to change copyright.

Please go and download some of your heritage. Listen to it. Learn from it. Then rip, mix, cut up, sample, rework, mash, reinterpret, innovate and make more culture from it.

How we can help
There are ways in which these recordings could be even more useful to music fans and historians. Contributing to the metadata would be a really great way forward.

Now, Cliff has also provided an Access database of the music [.mdb file], so I imagine it would be possible to automate the process whereby the mp3 could be correctly tagged by importing the respective fields from the database.

Is there someone in the New Music Strategies readership that would know how to do this and volunteer? I, for one, would certainly appreciate it.

Secondly, would there also be someone who could retrofit an RSS feed to Cliff’s blog where he posts the latest uploads? At present, there’s no feed. I’d subscribe just so as not to miss any of the tunes.

Third, wouldn’t it be great to turn these songs into a podcast with a companion blog that had some extra information about the artists, the recording and the context eg: film soundtrack, first jazz recording ever (yes, that’s in there), first recorded appearance by Bing Crosby, etc…

Finally – I’d love to see somebody work some of this material up into online ‘album’ releases – complete with artwork, researched information, essays and photography.

There are lots of things that could be done that would build on Cliff’s wonderful work. A torrent file to distribute the music far and wide without crippling his bandwidth. Mix CDs. Derivative works. Directories and discographies. DJ sets and public performances.

Let’s thank the man properly
I’ve made a small donation via PayPal for his effort. He hasn’t asked for money or hinted that it would be appreciated, but I wanted to reward him for all his work. It was a meagre contribution, but I reckon if even 10% of all the readers of New Music Strategies did that, it’d be a couple of thousand dollars, which I think is a nice way to say thanks.

Would you join me?

His email address is published on his website. Just go to your PayPal account, enter his address, think of an amount, and click ‘Send Money’.

I hope the man won’t be offended by this gesture. It’s meant as genuine thanks for a selfless act that contributes such a wealth of value. This, my friends, is why we have a public domain.