The ARChive of Contemporary Music
New York City archive, music library, and research founded in 1985 that collects, preserves, and provides information on the popular music of all cultures and races throughout the world from 1950 to the present.
"The ARChive of Contemporary Music is a not-for-profit archive, music library and research center located in New York City. The ARChive collects, preserves and provides information on the popular music of all cultures and races throughout the world from 1950 to the present. Since the ARChive's founding in 1985 our holdings have grown to over 2 million sound recordings, making the ARChive the largest popular music collection in the United States. And we are growing daily as hundreds of record companies, publishers, distributors and artists from around the world donate new materials to the ARChive. In addition to sound recordings and publications, the ARChive actively collects all books, magazines, videos, films, photographs, press kits, newspapers clippings, memorabilia and ephemera relating to the history of popular music--over three million items. We also maintain an electronic database of 35,000 people working in the music industry and 500,000 sound recordings catalogued at the ARChive.
In early 2009 ARC forged a partnership with Columbia University in New York City to create innovative academic initiatives and online content to help with the study, understanding and enjoyment of popular music from all over the world.
For the past four years, the ARChive has concentrated on collecting, cataloging and documenting the history of popular music from the non-Western world, available as an encyclopedia of world music to be published by Pantheon/Random House. The permanent, non-circulating collection is currently available through telephone searches, to research members comprised of the press and music industry, and to individuals for special projects. The goal of the ARChive is to one day allow students, educators, historians, musicians, authors, journalists, and the general public access to the rich musical heritage of the past 40 years.
The ARChive was established because for decades the record industry has done little to preserve its own heritage, and over the years many irreplaceable recordings and artifacts have been misplaced or destroyed. Even as the new medium of CDs has placed many out of print recordings back in circulation, many re-issues have different or truncated material, and many CDs themselves are already out of print. The record industry has yet to act to preserve its own heritage, as the film industry recently did after realising that nearly half of all films produced before 1950 have been lost.
American libraries and sound archives, including the Library of Congress, have also been slow or resistant to preserving emerging popular music. Most consider popular music "commercial" and therefore less worthy of saving--or more able to survive on its own. The ARChive is America's only non-affiliated (University or Federal) broad based music archive. We believe that all forms of popular music--jazz, be-bop, bluegrass, country, rock, rap, blues, enka, reggae, calypso, zydeco, zouk and countless others--are important culturally. Not only do they entertain, they reveal to the world a great deal about a people and their values." (Quoted from the ARC's Web site, 9/11/09).