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ARSCLIST  February 2007

ARSCLIST February 2007

Subject:

Re: offlist archival question from ARSC list member

From:

"Steven C. Barr(x)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 28 Feb 2007 21:40:23 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (140 lines)

see end...
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Andes, Donald" <[log in to unmask]>
> This email came to me directly, but on the behalf of others that may
> gleam something from this discussion, I figured I'd answer to the list.
>  
> Hello Chris,
>  
> I think a company interest is in making a profit, and they would like
> re-issue everything they believe will bring them one. Understanding
> really what that means, answers tons of questions like" Why don't they
> release ___?" "Why don't they just ___?" When you factor the costs of
> transferring, production, marketing, AND overhead, some things just
> don't add up. For example the music I really enjoy doesn't even exist on
> major labels. There's just not enough interested in it, so it remains on
> the (very) indie (often personal) labels, just like OOP music, you need
> to dig to find.
>  
> Another major factor with re-releasing materials, is legal issues.
> Sometime an artist or estate can't agree on terms. Sometimes elements
> are lost, or a photographer cannot be located. If we proceed without
> crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's the whole project can be
> pulled, or worse; we can lose all profits by being sued.
>  
> That said, there are some great things on every label that never made it
> to the stores in the first place (as well as things that should have
> NEVER seen the light of day). Who knows, maybe the band broke up, maybe
> the label changed direction, maybe marketing wasn't on board???? At any
> rate, that's what makes Archives such magical places.
>  
>  
> On the topic of becoming a "certified" archivist, I should mention I
> really don't know what that means, and don't know if I would want to be
> one. I myself had a deep interest in music AND audio, so I pursued a
> degree in Music Production, luckily at a time when they were teaching
> both analog and digital classes. During my schooling, I worked at 2
> different places, one creating 10,000's of digital files for sample
> libraries, which taught me the importance of metadata structures and
> standards, and the second was as a transfer engineer at a restoration
> facility called Vidipax, which was started by Jim Lindner, who is easily
> recognized as a leader in the field, but not necessarily a "Certified
> Archivist".
>  
> At any rate, after working under Jim for a short while, (he left to
> start Media Matters) I became Audio Production manager. I had hands on
> experience working with almost every obsolete format of Audio, but I got
> to understand the "business" side of archiving by creating Archival
> strategies for clients such as the Met Opera, Alan Lomax, and Major
> League Baseball. This balance between technology and business sense is
> what I feel some "archivists" lose sight of. No one, including labels
> such as EMI have multi-million dollar budgets for archiving, so you have
> to understand how to prioritize assets, set achievable goals, monetize
> some assets to fund the rest, and maximize the whole production without
> cutting quality. Otherwise your thought of in the organization as "the
> dreamer" who wants to save everything, running around screaming the sky
> is falling. It's just not practical in a business world.
> (Remember: "NO!" is the easiest response to the request of large sums of
> cash.)
>  
> I started in my current role with EMI at a time when the archives had
> been ignored for some time, so I had to straighten up (physical items,
> data, etc.) and it took my staff and I about a year. This was all in
> preparation for a facility move to a more suitable (central) location,
> which included a complete re-scan. That took about another year. As it
> stands now, I am the gatekeeper, things are under my control, and I'm
> working on more core aspects of my job, such as devolving standards for
> the ingestation of things like Pro Tools Sessions, LTO tapes, etc. I
> also work with departments like Capitol Studios to develop Archiving
> initiatives. I still do the occasion asset search when it can't be found
> by my staff, but for the most part, my job is elsewhere.
>  
> Another major role I play is during the consolidation of company assets.
> My staff is constantly ingesting materials from outside vaults, as well
> as dealing with the myriad of materials being submitted to the archives
> by various departments in the company. I need to understand and
> distinguish, which parts are vital, redundant, unique, and endangered.
> Also, developing metadata exchange/capture systems isn't outside my
> scope, but required $$ to make initiatives come to life.
>  
>  
> I want to note that I do not mean in any way to put down other
> archivist, or any/all certification process. My personal means to an end
> was more hands on practice, and less ideals and principles. I personally
> find that developing your own principles far outweighs adopting the
> principles and ideals of others. You results may differ. My current
> position is less "archival" and more business practical. In large
> corporations it's less about whether your ideas are good, and more about
> knowing how to get them done.
>  
> I'd be interested to hear from those in other (maybe non-corporate)
> institutions, about the philosophies in practice there. No need to get
> detailed or give away guarded secrets, just an overview of what goes on
> in your archive.
>  
Since I more or less started this thread (by asking DA what the term
"archives" meant as he used it)...I'll add my comments.

Unlike most of the people on this list...many of whom are professional
archivists, in the sense of maintaining library collection and other
actual, concrete "archives" as their position(s) and hold appropriate
graduate degrees in connected fields and/or belong to associations
other than ARSC...I am more or less an "amateur archivist."

I have a collection of over 40,000 78rpm records, which I am currently
attempting to list in several identical digital databases (differing
only in content, but using the same data record formats). One of the
primary reason I have collected these (other than enjoying their
contents...) is to collect and analyze the discographic information
which can be derived from the discs. I have some experience and
knowledge in...and a great love for...database technology, so one
of my "impossible dreams" is to assist in the development of the
ultimate discographic database (78rpm in my own case)...that is,
a digital listing of every sound recording ever issued commercially
(on 78, but others would probably try to duplicate it in other
sound formats).

In fact, another ARSCLIST subscriber, Jon Noring, has considered the
development of the same ultimate collection...except, in his case, he
would prefer the collection be of sound files...digital versions
of the recordings (of course, this latter would involve considerable
legal entanglement, since he is US-based...I'm in Canada!).

My love of discography meeting data has already resulted in a
standard discographic reference work which I compiled/authored...
"The (Almost) Complete 78rpm Record Dating Guide," which allows
record collectors (etc.) to closely estimate the dates their
records were recorded and/or sold.

Actually, that is why my first reaction to DA's original post was
"Boy, I'd like to get access to those ledgers and data with a
notebook in hand...!"

So, my archival activities are NON-professional and NON-accredited...
I suspect there exist those who would like to see me join up with
"Archivists Anonymous"...! (possibly including my long-suffering cat?!).
And, I'm making $0.00/whatever...in fact, when I can afford to BUY
more 78's, that becomes a negative figure...!

Steven C. Barr

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