Music is a fundamental form of human communication, and it has existed in some form or another in every culture and in every period of human history. Unfortunately, the formats used to record music are deteriorating, and culturally and historically valuable musical recordings are being lost forever. There is, however, no way of knowing how many recordings have been lost or at what rate they are disappearing.
New digital technologies represent the best hope for preserving the largest number of musical recordings, but public awareness of the importance of digitization and preservation efforts must be raised, and new ways to fund these activities must be secured. Digitizing analog musical recordings is the best way to preserve our musical heritage for current and future generations, and through cooperation and collaboration among librarians, archivists, curators, record labels, private collectors, and federal, state, and local agencies, public awareness of the need for preserving musical recordings can be raised.
Image: The Edison Talking Phonograph, originally published in Popular Science Monthly, Vol. XII, Nov. 1877 – April 1878.