A unique chunk of digital music history is back online. Jason Scott has taken archived data from the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA) and uploaded as much as he could at the Internet Archive. There are over 45,000 bands represented with over 680,000 tracks available for free streaming or download. IUMA was launched in 1992 and faded in the next decade but established a wide range of historical precedents for the emergence of digital music on the web.
The Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA) was founded in 1993 with a focus on giving unsigned artists a place to share their music on the web and interact with fans. It began to change hands in 1998 and was shut down in 2006. The following news report from 1994 gives one a sense of its focus on DIY musicians using free streaming and downloads to promote themselves.
IUMA on CNN (3/9/1994)
This report is interesting for a number of other reasons as well including the idea that "music addiction" would encourage people to get on the web. As we've all seen since then, music has been widely used not only to build social networks, for example, but also to promote mobile services.
Janko Roettgers rightly points out that:
"The resulting archive isn't just a whole lot of interesting music — with many tracks of musicians who later went on to be famous — it's also an early testament of the power of disruption that the Internet would exert on the music industry."
"Like a lot of other such endeavors, it was sold in the dot-com boom years, Y2K edition, where it fell under the retarded purview of multiple owners, and then entered a state of living death through the mid 2000s until undergoing a sad, dull little shutdown around 2006."
Roettgers has a less colorful but more detailed view of the history that's well worth a read in that it also shows IUMA's trailblazing status as a project that couldn't keep up with changing times as various owners passed it around. zZounds has additional historical details.
Honestly, IUMA represents so much history that I don't feel I can really do it justice. As Jason Scott states:
"The best projects cause a lot of people to shrug or go "oh, that's nice" and then a much smaller percentage of people to drop whatever they're carrying and stagger forward in disbelief. Here's one of those."
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.