Do You Like American Music?
April 2, 2008 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Sounds of America is a new monthly streaming audio program, a collaboration between the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Global Sound. Up now are 3 episodes: African-American music in New Orleans, Women in American Music, and Freedom Songs of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
posted by Miko (12 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Cool! Thanks -- listening right now to African-American music in New Orleans.
posted by nnk at 8:40 AM on April 2, 2008

Will they be playing any Violent Femmes?
posted by C.Batt at 9:50 AM on April 2, 2008

This is definitely one of my favorite favorites.
Thank you very much.
posted by nicolin at 10:49 AM on April 2, 2008

posted by YoungAmerican at 10:52 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Darn it, why can't this be a podcast so I can listen when I bike commute? I'd love to get this as an MP3 download.
posted by cccorlew at 11:06 AM on April 2, 2008

Check out some of the WFMU podcasts for vintage mp3s. In particular, try the Antique Phonograph Music Program and the Old Codger.
posted by quartzcity at 12:20 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I like American music. Kudos to the Smithsonian for archiving a dying art form. Let's hope that the next program covers Guantanamo-based 8-bit dutar mashups.
posted by billtron at 4:59 PM on April 2, 2008

I wish this were a podcast too.

A great podcast is The Folkways Collections, a 24 episode history of Folkways Records (which is now Smithsonian Folkways).
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:55 PM on April 2, 2008

Thank you so much for the Smithsonian Global Sound Link Miko, I love it!
posted by hadjiboy at 2:12 AM on April 3, 2008

Smithsonian Global Sound doesn't pay royalties to many of the "traditional" musicians whose recordings it sells. I know because I am involved in changing this. An effort was made to bring Folkways into some kind of ethical compliance in the 80s and 90s, but there are miles to go.

Just saying. Be aware that when you buy from the Smithsonian, you're paying for the director's limo, not the musicians' dinner.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:21 AM on April 3, 2008

Yeah, I went to a conference at the LoC this year was that issue was talked about, fcm. On the one hand, yes. On the other, the means of reimbursing traditional artists whose unattributed recordings were made years ago can be difficult. I don't mean to excuse that, but our standards have evolved since much music was collected. As I understand it, Global Sound does not just grab tracks and make them available and keep the royalties - they make arrangements with regional/national archives and collections to license the distribution, and the regional groups are the ones on whom the burden of distribution of royalties to individual musicians is supposed to fall. In other words, the music is already available for use without royalty elsewhere, and SGS' contribution is to centralize the distribution and make it available. I'm sure you may know more about this from experiences at ground level, but it's not completely cut and dried. It's as grey an area as most intellectual property practice where traditional music is concerned, it would seem.

Some of the scholars involved also counter that the broad education and awareness created by the availability of the music is, in the long run, a boon to traditional artists and their cultures of origin, because people may become interested enough to more deeply explore, protect, and support those artists within their milieus.

I'm one of those who doesn't advocate long royalties for professional musicians, so I wouldn't for traditional musicians either. I would like to see proceeds from subsequent uses going not to line pockets, but to a worthy cause. I think the Smithsonian and its partner libraries and archives are fairly worthy causes. I agree that the Smithsonian secretary's salary is very high for the field - I think it's over half a million - but on the other hand, a high salary is reasonable given the headaches and politics of running that messy behemoth of a government hybrid.

Anyway - I'm not suggesting the wholesale exploitation of traditional musicians is good, but it's a complicated issue.
posted by Miko at 8:16 PM on April 3, 2008

conference at the LoC this year

Duh, it was not this year. It was 2006 - Lomax archives conference.
posted by Miko at 8:16 PM on April 3, 2008

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