Audio Preservation Fund's Mission Statement:
To pass on the past and current musical heritage and recorded sound history of the world to future generations by expanding sound collections of public libraries, archives, universities and museums around the world.
Why are we doing this?
It was not that long ago that the ability to play back recorded sound changed the world. In 1877 Thomas A. Edison was the first to succeed in recording a human voice, his own voice reciting, "Mary had a little lamb." These one hundred thirty-three years since this achievement, compared with the thousands of years of recorded history that came before, are but a blink of the eye. The usefulness and popularity of this technology is undeniable, though. Consider the volumes and volumes of recorded sound the human race has produced in the last century and imagine what could have and would have been recorded in centuries previous. We could listen to Socrates argue his case before the Greeks, Omar Khayyam recite his poetry, or Mozart conduct a symphony in Vienna.
Or could we?
Even if these historical and cultural moments were recorded, they could only remain if someone took care enough to preserve them for
us. It is fortunate that many literary documents survived the ages, but how many were lost to neglect? Is that the fate of many of the sound recordings from the last century?
We hope not. That is why we, The Audio Preservation Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, are working hard to preserve the recorded sound heritage still in existence. We partner with public archives, libraries, museums and research centers to preserve the music and sound recordings comprising the aural history of our world. Our mission is to find these recordings, acquire them, and then donate them to one of these institutions for preservation and access by the public.
From tin-foil to wax cylinders, rubber to shellac to vinyl discs, reel-to-reel tapes to cassettes, CDs to MP3s, the format and culture of recorded sound is constantly on the move. And seemingly always speeding up. Business, with its eye on the prize, will always move faster than those concerned with documenting and preserving it. Therefore, it is inevitable that certain recordings will be discarded when deemed non-commercial. This also brings up the apparent inconsistency between business and the vinyl record with its large size and high cost of manufacture compared to the CD and MP3.
A lot has been said about the vinyl record. If you find yourself on this site, you have probably heard much of it already. The dawn of the eight-track, cassette, CD, MP3 and emerging technologies threatened and continue to threaten the big black disc's style, popularity, and necessity. Through it all, the album persevered. Some suggest it is the large format artwork; some suggest the playback quality of the recordings. Whatever the reason, vinyl not only showed lasting power, it showed comeback power as well. The last decade saw a rise in high-quality vinyl reissues of popular and "lost" recordings on vinyl as well as thousands of new releases in the format as well.
The current popularity of the vinyl record assures the preservation of certain recordings through reissue and distribution, but what about all of those recordings that aren't commercially viable for re-release? That's where we come in. Our mission is to locate those endangered jazz, rock, blues, polka, ragtime, organ, vocal, spoken word, and whatever else we can find recordings that will be lost to the ages once the last copy has rotted away in a damp basement. We will locate them, catalog them, and preserve them by giving you access to the information, renewing interest in these forgotten recordings, digital transfer, and physical preservation in a public archive. Along the way, we will find good homes for other relevant artifacts we find. The recordings, on any format, are an important piece of the puzzle, but the technology used to manufacture them help complete that puzzle.
But we don't want to stop there. We aren't the only ones working to preserve the recorded sounds of the last century and beyond. We want to help spread the word about all of the record stores, organizations, archives, libraries, and museums working toward our shared goal. That is we why collect and provide information on these businesses and organizations here on our website, so you too can learn more about preserving our aural heritage.