Universal Music Group, the largest music conglomerate in the United States, has donated a collection of approximately 200,000 metal, glass and lacquer master discs dating between 1926 and 1948 to the Library of Congress.
The bequest includes a wide range of music recorded during that era, representing jazz, country, blues, spoken word, classical and pre-rock pop music. The collection features major works by greats such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garlard and Bing Crosby. One of the Crosby recordings included in the archive is his version of "White Christmas," which is the top selling single of all time, according to the Guiness Book of World Records.
Universal has struck an agreement in which the Library will be granted ownership of the physical master discs while the company retains copyright for the music itself. The Library of Congress will soon begin the process of digitizing the music directly from the master discs, which Universal may eventually issue as commercial releases.
Library of Congress Gets a Mile of Music [NY Times]