Smithsonian Folkways and the Associated Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

  • Jeff PlaceEmail author
Part of the Current Research in Systematic Musicology book series (CRSM, volume 5)


Smithsonian Folkways and the associated Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections were created in 1988 as a vehicle to collect world music record labels and disseminate the recordings in a number of ways. In addition to the recordings of the 50 years of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which has included participants from all over the world, the Smithsonian Institution has been collecting the recordings of independent record companies, 13 to date. This includes Folkways, Arhoolie, Paredon, Cook, the Mickey Hart World Music Collection and the UNESCO labels. The plan of collecting record labels allows us to gain all the intellectual property rights. This assures we can legally distribute the recordings and see that the musicians, informants, and communities receive their due royalties. The recordings as distributed as commercial CDs or LPs, streaming audio, or downloads. One can download tracks through our website or services like Itunes. We have created over 400 new recordings since 1988 and have over 4000 recordings in our catalog. Our robotic Micro-Tech machine can create compact discs of the 4000 titles. The roughly 4400 commercial recordings are about 15% of what exists in the Rinzler Archives. The rest consists of festival recordings and outtakes from the recording labels. This paper hopes to share a brief glimpse into our processes.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian InstitutionWashington, D. C.USA

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