The Live Music Archive Lets You Stream/Download More Than 250,000 Concert Recordings–for Free

The Inter­net Archive main­tains an enor­mous Live Music Archive of con­cert record­ings, not all of them by the Grate­ful Dead. There are more than 17,000 such record­ings in its Grate­ful Dead col­lec­tion — 2,000 more than when last we fea­tured it here on Open Cul­ture — but one must com­pare that fig­ure to the 250,000 items now in the whole of the LMA. “It would be a great sto­ry to have the first item as part of the col­lec­tion to be some rare Grate­ful Dead record­ing from 1968,” says a post at the Inter­net Archive blog reflect­ing on the twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of the LMA last year, “but it is actu­al­ly an unas­sum­ing Rust­ed Root audi­ence record­ing from August 24, 2001.”

In addi­tion to Rust­ed Root and the Grate­ful Dead, you can stream or down­load a wealth of record­ed live shows from bands like Lit­tle Feat, Blues Trav­el­er, My Morn­ing Jack­et, Los Lobos, and the Smash­ing Pump­kins, as well as singer-song­writ­ers like War­ren Zevon, Elliott Smith, Jack John­son, Robyn Hitch­cock, and John May­er.

How wide or nar­row a vari­ety of musi­cal expe­ri­ences these names con­jure up will, of course, depend on your per­spec­tive. But if they do share a major char­ac­ter­is­tic in com­mon, it’s the fact, to their true fans, their live per­for­mances count for as much as — or, often, more than — their stu­dio record­ings. The truest (or at least most tech­ni­cal­ly adept) such fans have donat­ed their time and skills to make these live per­for­mances freely acces­si­ble and end­less­ly reliv­able on the LMA.

“For years, con­cert-goers record­ed and trad­ed tapes, but in 2002, the Inter­net Archive offered a reli­able infra­struc­ture to pre­serve per­for­mances files,” writes the Inter­net Archive’s Car­alee Adams in a blog post mark­ing the upload­ing of 250,000 record­ings. “Part­ner­ing with the etree music com­mu­ni­ty, the Live Music Archive was estab­lished to pro­vide ongo­ing, free access to loss­less and MP3-encod­ed audio record­ings.” Over the past 21 years, “more than 8,000 artists have giv­en per­mis­sion to have record­ings of their shows archived on the Live Music Archive, and users from around the world have lis­tened to files more than 600 mil­lion times.” Whether or not you’re into jam bands, if you’ve ever enjoyed live music, have a look through the LMA’s 250 ter­abytes of record­ings made in venues from sta­di­ums to neigh­bor­hood cof­fee shops. There’ll be a con­cert for you, no charge for admis­sion.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Jam­Base Launch­es a New Video Archive of 100,000 Stream­ing Con­certs: Phish, Wilco, the Avett Broth­ers, Grate­ful Dead & Much More

Stream 385,000 Vin­tage 78 RPM Records at the Inter­net Archive: Louis Arm­strong, Glenn Miller, Bil­lie Hol­i­day & More

Stream a Mas­sive Archive of Grate­ful Dead Con­certs from 1965–1995

Down­load 10,000 of the First Record­ings of Music Ever Made, Cour­tesy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-San­ta Bar­bara

BBC Launch­es World Music Archive

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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