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78s Are Being Digitized and You Can Now Download Them for Free

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If you love to add to your music collection via downloading, you love The Great 78 Project. Some 25,000 songs which were originally recorded onto 78RPM discs in the early part of the 20th century have recently been digitized and released online, available for free download. They’re part of an estimated 400,000-piece record collection which the Internet Archive is making available, including gospel, opera, jazz, and even novelty songs by Spike Jones. Yes, there’s still something to be said for actually collecting 78s, and there are a number of places in Spring, DFW, and Harlingen, Texas, however, if you prefer to have digital, this will now be a viable option.

78s Are Being Digitized and You Can Now Download Them for Free

Photo: Facebook/SPUN Records

George Blood Audio LP is working on the task of digitizing all of the old records in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. A professional audio preservation company, their work is being completed one 78 at a time. Considering they’re preserving America’s musical heritage, it’s a task they’re not taking lightly. With its grooves cut into hard shellac, a 78 is so named because it spun at 78 rotations per minute on a player. Although many companies made them, one of the largest was out of Camden, NJ, called Victor Records, but amongst them all, there was no real industry standard. Each company would record their 78s at a slight variance of speed, and cut their grooves fatter or skinnier, depending on each particular company’s style. Hence, turntables were often proprietary to these 78 manufacturers for the purpose of playing their particular records.

78s Are Being Digitized and You Can Now Download Them for Free
Photo: Pixabay

George Blood Audio LP is completing this work through funding from the Internet Archive, which is a San Francisco-based digital library managed by Brewster Kahle – also in the process of archiving many millions of web pages and hundreds of thousands of books. According to Blood, “The whole project is intended to be a community effort. Brewster is putting forth the funds through the Internet Archive to create this reference collection to have critical mass — to have enough that everyone wants to join in. So far there are 75,000 sides that have been contributed, outside of what we have done.” All of the current and growing collection of tens of thousands of songs, are available at The Great 78 for your listening and downloading pleasure!

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