Digital Audio Collection

Digital Audio Collection

The Digital Audio Collection aims to preserve a broad spectrum of sounds to reflect the UK’s audio publishing industry.

Published date:

Background

Until recently, published sound has been acquired by the British Library as physical objects, via voluntary deposit agreements with record labels. However, the transition to file-based distribution, coupled with the emergence of many different platforms and services offering sound recordings, requires a different approach. 

Part of the Save our Sounds programme, the Digital Audio Collection project is designed to address this. Its primary aim is to acquire, for long term preservation and access, a broad coverage of audio to create a representative document of the UK’s audio publishing, underpinned by widespread voluntary deposit arrangements. 

The project

To achieve this, the project has the following objectives:

  1. Developing an integrated digital music acquisition system. This will deliver a largely automated service for high-volume file-based releases from the traditional industry’s digital supply chain, as well as a manual submission mechanism for smaller-scale file-based published output. 
  2. Developing models for engaging with record and audio industry bodies, companies, labels, producers and artists to increase reach for voluntary deposit.
  3. Engaging with external stakeholders for exchange of knowledge and experience in relation to metadata.

While the project focuses on file-based output, it recognises the need to continue acquiring physical items. For example, CDs, vinyl and compact cassettes continue to be released in the file-based context and many of these physical releases offer added value through detailed notes and special packaging.

Furthermore, while the project concerns the UK audio industry and ‘published’ output, it recognises that the Library will continue to acquire international publications, as well as acquiring and creating file-based unique or ‘unpublished’ recordings. Collection overviews are available on our Sound subject page.

The project began officially in October 2015 with an analysis of the UK’s recording industry landscape.

Projects

Save our Sounds

Save our Sounds is our programme to preserve the nation’s sound heritage.

National Radio Archive

We aim to create a digital radio archive which will preserve a representative proportion of ongoing UK radio output.

Directory of UK Sound Collections

The British Library has created a directory of UK sound collections

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

Unlocking our Sound Heritage is a UK-wide project that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone.

All projects

Blog posts

Recording of the week: Kagura - dancing for the Gods

Monday, December 2, 2019

This week's selection comes from Giulia Baldorilli, Reference Specialist. The origin of dance in Japan can be traced back to the age of the gods and the Japanese kagura can be considered a prototype of all Japanese rituals. Kagura combines...

A tribute to Stephen Cleobury by Jessica Duchen

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Jessica Duchen pays tribute to Sir Stephen Cleobury who she interviewed for National Life Stories at the British Library.

Recording of the week: 'Power' by Adrienne Rich

Monday, November 25, 2019

This week's selection comes from Dr Eva del Rey, Curator of Drama and Literature Recordings and Digital Performance. This week’s recording of the week features American poet Adrienne Rich reading her poem ‘Power’. Rich is performing at the 1st International...

Hollywood Fights Back

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Written by Delaina Sepko, Sound Collections Researcher. Hollywood Fights Back is a two part radio programme made and financed by the Committee for the First Amendment and broadcast on the American network ABC. The episodes aired on 26 October 1947...

More blog posts