National Jukebox attracts a million visitors in first two days

Posted on: May 26, 2011

In Thursday’s (5/26) Wall Street Journal, Will Friedwald writes, “The older a recording is, the historian Tim Brooks has shown, the less likely it is to be commercially available. ‘Less than 4% of historically important recordings made before 1925 are available from the rights holders,’ he found in 2005. But the Library of Congress has now taken a serious step toward making historical recordings available online—for listening only, though, not for downloading—with the National Jukebox, introduced earlier this month. Upon launch, about 10,300 tracks originally released by the Victor Talking Machine Co. between 1900 and 1925 became available as streaming audio at www.loc.gov/jukebox . According to Gene DeAnna, head of the recorded-sound collection, in the first two days more than a million people logged on; within a week, visitors had racked up 600,000 plays. Listeners can play individual tracks or precompiled playlists, or assemble their own. No wonder people are so interested: The first 25 years of the 20th century represent the birth of jazz, the blues, the Broadway musical, the big band, country music, pop singing and the Great American Songbook, not to mention a golden age of opera and a flowering of ethnic music. Superstars from the era still loom large: Enrico Caruso, Al Jolson, Bessie Smith.”

Posted May 26, 2011