A dose of audio nostalgia for early netizens: much of IUMA, back online
November 10, 2014 10:33 AM   Subscribe

"If you want to hear music, you know what you do - you turn on the radio, put on a CD, or even go to a concert. But as the age of the info superhighway inches forward, you can even get music from your own home computer." That's the intro to a short CNN segment on IUMA, the Internet Underground Music Archive, which opened in 1992 as an effort for unsigned bands to share their music on the world-wide web, for free. Unfortunately, it fell the way of many early 1990s online entities: it was bought out, then the new owners couldn't keep up with changing times, and the site went dark. Except before IUMA disappeared, John Gilmore grabbed much of the material and backed it up on tapes, and turned to (MeFi's Own) Jason Scott and Archive.org to bring back IUMA. They did, and you can now browse through over 45,000 bands and artists, and more than 680,000 tracks of music.
posted by filthy light thief (36 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you want to read more, Jon Luini, the founder of IUMA, looked back in an interview in 2013. But for a more vintage view, Jeff Patterson and Ryan Melcher put together a book & CD-Rom in 1998, titled Audio on the Web: The Official IUMA Guide.

And for a reminder of what the internet landscape looked like in the early 1990s, IUMA is mentioned in the article Remembering Netscape: The Birth Of The Web
I started playing with the browser at H&Q--we were trying to find every website that was being created. One of the most popular was the Internet Underground Music Archive, which is pretty funny, given what's happened with Kazaa and Napster and iTunes. It took about 2½ hours to download a song, but it was cool.
Danny Rimer, an analyst at Hambrecht & Quist (H&Q), a San Francisco investment bank, looking back on first playing around with Mosaic, when you could actually find every website that had been created.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


For clarification, that CNN clip is from 1994; and this isn't a new announcement from Archive.org - this was news back in May 2012.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:40 AM on November 10, 2014


It must have been somewhere around Thanksgiving break 20 years ago, a few friends and I had just brought a regional internet provider in a mid-sized Southern city on-line, signing up for on the order of $3.5k/month for a 128k fractional T1, with a rack full of power strips and v.32bis modems and a couple of 386 (and maybe even a whopping 486) machines for servers.

We had an open house, and there was a guy who went to school in Michigan back for the holiday break. He'd helped us learn TCP/IP, and he maxed out the T1 that evening downloading NiN from IUMA.

In the land of country and southern rock and generally Baptist morals about what music was and wasn't acceptable, we thought this was pretty much the most amazing thing ever: no longer would we have to discover music by what the record stores carried (or if we were adventurous, what we could order from the back of music magazines or some such). This was the cool cultural stuff that Wired was talking about, delivered directly to our computers, without the watchful eye of judgemental clerks!

Of course less than a year later I bailed on that scene and headed to California...
posted by straw at 10:43 AM on November 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


This was the cool cultural stuff that Wired was talking about, delivered directly to our computers, without the watchful eye of judgemental clerks!

I was thinking about this, when looking at the current landscape of blogs, Archive.org and Bandcamp, not to mention iTunes, Amazon and other 'net shops for digital music. Kids of today probably don't realize how much the world has opened up for them in the last few decades, in ways that people from prior generations couldn't imagine.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:57 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I'm pretty sure I sent an email to IUMA suggesting they start offering mp3 instead of mp2. I should dig around for that email and their reply.
posted by ODiV at 11:00 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


You had me at "information superhighway"
posted by greenhornet at 11:02 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I sent an email to IUMA suggesting they start offering mp3 instead of mp2.

Interesting! From jscott's blog post, they allowed artists and bands to upload .AIFF, .MP2, RealAudio and MP3 formats (because it wasn’t clear which of those would be dominant).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:03 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dude, I am soooo starting a Jason Scott fan club.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:07 AM on November 10, 2014


How many Iumas happened from that baby naming contest?
posted by asockpuppet at 11:11 AM on November 10, 2014


Imagine trying to tell a kid today how long these used to take to download.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:12 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is anyone having any luck searching for track names on the Internet Archive? When I search for audio files it seems to just be looking at the name of the band and the description.

The memories are coming back and I'm trying to find tracks I listened to based on half-remembered lyrics and possible names. No idea what the band names were though.
posted by ODiV at 11:14 AM on November 10, 2014


IUMA! I've gotten to the point where I've forgotten more than I remember.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Imagine trying to tell a kid today how long these used to take to download.

Or about ratio FTP sites, mis-labeled files, and modems in general. For some reason, I remember having to "uncook" some MP3s.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Imagine trying to tell a kid today how long these used to take to download.

AT&T did...
posted by JoeXIII007 at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2014


In 2014 I can sit on my sofa and with a bit of tapping and swiping on my cell phone, inside 10 minutes I can be watching almost any video content you can think of on my flatscreen TV.

Yeah, 20 years ago was a very different time.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:22 AM on November 10, 2014


Aw man, I had some music uploaded to IUMA as a teenager but I don't think it's in this set. Sadly I didn't really have a system for as they say, "backing stuff up" until my 20s. If I find any of it maybe I'll upload it to MeMu and everyone can have a laugh.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:03 PM on November 10, 2014


Most of my stuff was actually on ampcast.net (lol at how early 00s that sounds now), which sadly I think there's no trace of these days.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:08 PM on November 10, 2014


Archive.org caught some of ampcast.net, and it looks like the domain was bought by Pool.com, a buyer and seller of domains, including those that have gone idle.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:13 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]




The very first thing I clicked was this African drumming sample. Bad ass.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:06 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


well, there's my shame

I am so glad my college and broke up before the internet really took off. JK we're all over soundcloud and we're fantastically garbage.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:09 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This isn't my band. But it just like this.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:09 PM on November 10, 2014


Recommended for fans of Mallory Ortberg: Beef Magnet.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:14 PM on November 10, 2014


Patent Pending
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:16 PM on November 10, 2014


I'm not going to link to it, but there was apparently a band on there called Child Pornography. Great job guys, worst name ever prize.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:27 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, bad name, fun band. I felt awkward while rocking out to them. (To confirm that it's the same group, I searched for "child" to feel less skeezy about it, and they mentioned Rose For Bohdan, so they are indeed the group.)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:49 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


blue t-shirt: well, there's my shame
“Before you may have sucked locally. Now you can suck globally.”
— Unofficial tagline of the Internet Underground Music Archive
posted by filthy light thief at 1:50 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to link to it, but there was apparently a band on there called Child Pornography. Great job guys, worst name ever prize.

Best anti-piracy technique ever!

Seriously, I was convinced the movie "XXX" was entitled such as an anti-piracy technique.
posted by el io at 2:50 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Haven't heard this in at least 10 years: Bus Driver-Asbestos Removal Crew
1 at IUMA's new home
2 at an archive of The Clanging Verbosity of Heaving in Tongues (90's San Francisco spoken-work label)
posted by morganw at 3:01 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stink locally
Crap globally
Happy Earth Day from everyone here at Fat Wreck Chords
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:53 PM on November 10, 2014


Somehow I missed the Internet Underground Music Archive completely back in the day.

Which is a good thing.
I'd have maxed out that 20MB per month cap.
posted by Mezentian at 12:24 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Strange this was posted today, but woooooo. For extra fun, one of the founders aimed the original IUMA domain name at our collection.

My two favorite bits of having this collection up:
  • People review them like the bands made the music recently, not 10-20 years ago. "Sounds great... can't wait to hear what they come up with next," writes someone reviewing an album uploaded in 1996.
  • Tearful letters from people who thought their albums had been lost and none of their own copies had survived, and in one case, a musician whose partner had died and the family wanted nothing to do with their relative's history or friends, and had thrown out all the music... he was beyond joyful in his letter that his friend and partner's work lived again.
But yeah, did this a couple years ago. Still proud of it, though!
posted by jscott at 12:36 AM on November 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


Wow, memories...
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on November 11, 2014


Aww, man, when I was a high schooler, I used to find the open computers at the local U's undergrad library and stay until all hours of the night listening to stuff from IUMA and printing out as much of Ubuweb as I could. I barely had the internet at home at all, but they had a T1 line!
posted by klangklangston at 1:52 PM on November 11, 2014


Am I searching this site wrong? I search for mediatype:(audio) AND genre:(rock) and get 30 songs. I'd really like to hear jazz or similar. Does IUMA defy classification, man!?
posted by xtian at 2:44 PM on November 11, 2014


Wow, memories...
Muddy ... buffering ... 52 kbps memories?
posted by Mezentian at 2:18 AM on November 16, 2014


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