ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

UNDO DEL IUMA —

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.

For some people, just bringing up the phrase “The Internet Underground Music Archive”, or “IUMA”, summons memories of all sorts of cool bands who were technically savvy enough to make their music available online for a small but growing audience. Through the IUMA main site, you’d browse hundreds, later thousands of bands, and within those bands would be thousands, later hundreds of thousands, of songs. It was huge, and it was long lived – founded in 1992, we’re talking a site that brought you music through .AIFF, .MP2, RealAudio and MP3 formats because it wasn’t clear which of those would be dominant.

Trust me – IUMA was the place to be, one of the rock-solid sites on the net, as powerful and as well-known a force as Hotwired/Wired, Suck, Drudge, Salon, The Well. A mainstay.

If you want an awesome overview of what the hell IUMA was, please zip on over to this YouTube video of a CNN story on IUMA from 1994 – all the founders are there, the power and strangeness of audio in the 1990s is there, and best of all, the sky is obviously still the limit and clouds have not yet appeared. (There’s a similar story from 1994, but it’s on MTV and even by 1994 MTV news is pretty awful.)

So what happened? Well, 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.

With that initial 2000 buyout came increased resources and bandwidth and reach, no doubt, so a lot of bands signed up with the place, dropping example tracks and then asking you to buy their CDs or come to their concerts. The entity that ate its lunch as a profitable venture was likely Myspace for many bands, with others being sucked directly into things like iTunes and Amazon and so on. IUMA didn’t keep up, and now it’s just a distant memory.

Well, until now.

6 years ago, John Gilmore (yes, That John Gilmore) saw that IUMA was in a zombie state and very unlikely to ever get out of the ICU. So he grabbed a copy of all he could – which wasn’t all of it, of course, but it was a hell of a lot of it. He stored them on some backup tapes, and as the site went down, disappeared, and faded into the mists of memory, he looked for a chance to have someone get a copy up somewhere. I was that person.

What I just spent most of the last week doing was taking some dupes of John’s backup tapes, writing scripts to ingest them into archive.org’s servers, and now I am going to tell you that I put IUMA back up.

Oh, you are in for a treat and a hell of a lot of modern musical history just got saved. This is over 45,000 bands and artists, and over 680,000 tracks of music. That number sounds made up, but I’m not kidding – six hundred and eighty thousand songs are in this collection. I did a back-of-the-google-calculator check and came up with 243 days of music – solid, 24-hour days of songs. You could leave it running now and look up in 2013 as your playlist ran out.

Where possible and where they were grabbed, I added descriptions from the HTML files for the site. Pictures do not appear to have been saved due to a quirk of the download (they kept the photos on a weird server) – but you have enough to go on. Compare, for example, this page from the wayback machine and what I got ingested into the site. Not perfect, but something.

This should all be considered 1.0 – if I find more ways to pull in information properly, I’ll do so. And naturally I’ll ensure the original, before-jason-messed-with-it data is stored safely away so the next set of folks can try better techniques to get it back.

It once was lost, and now it is found.

Let the music play.

 


Categorised as: Archive Team | computer history

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21 Comments

  1. Colin says:

    This looks amazing! Is any of it still available in WAV or AIFF?

  2. Peter says:

    This is smegging awesome! I wonder if there’s an episode of NetCafe over on archive.org talking about this site back when it was new? I’ll have to look.

    (talking about resurrections that some ignore but astound a few, did you know that The Two Guys From Andromeda are making a new sci-fi comedy adventure game? As director of Get Lamp, I thought maybe you’d be interested. I won’t spam their kickstarter here, but we Space Quest fans won’t be upset if you blog about or pass the word along :) )

  3. Chris M says:

    Did you have to remind me of dead music site?

    (still lamenting the loss of the original mp3.com in 2003)

    I heard TruSonic got the music off mp3.com when it folded and started garageband.com, but who knows if the archives still exist.

  4. […] Aber vielleicht ein kleines Zuckerl aus dem Netz… falls jemand von Euch schon länger als die anderen im elektronischen Nirwana hängt, dem könnte mit sehr viel Glück “IUMA – The Internet Underground Music Archive” etwas sagen. Falls nicht, eigentlich auch egal – relevant aber ist, dass der gute Jason drüben bei den Amis mal wieder recht fleißig war und weiter an der Archivierung des Netzes arbeitet. Und deswegen gibt es nun einen Teil der alten Collection wieder online. […]

  5. MeeDee says:

    Hi Jason, I am trying to help Greer Watson, a fan who saw your post on the OTW blog about the FortuneCity files. We’ve downloaded a sample dataset, unpacked it, but are stuck as how to read it. We’re not getting support from the OTW so we’re trying to learn how to do this on our own – and neither of us knows much about WARC. After Googling I gather there is no ‘ready to install WARC ‘reader’. Any help appreciated. I can be reached at: medeefanlore@gmail.com

  6. […] the original Internet Underground Music Archive, also know as IUMA, to the servers of Archive.org. From his blog: “Oh, you are in for a treat and a hell of a lot of modern musical history just got saved. This is […]

  7. […] clássicos documentários sobre os tempos das BBSs e sobre a pré-história dos games de aventura, explica o processo de fazer backup do primeiro arquivo de música livre publicado na internet. 29.05.2012 by eduf […]

  8. […] the original Internet Underground Music Archive, also know as IUMA, to the servers of Archive.org. From his blog: “Oh, you are in for a treat and a hell of a lot of modern musical history just got saved. This is […]

  9. […] is reporting that filmmaker, historian and archivist Jason Scott has restored all of IUMA that was saved (by John Gilmore) and it now lives at Internet Archive. Oh, you are in for a treat and a hell of a […]

  10. […] AUD Those who remember it are surprised to hear that the Internet Underground Music Archive is back on the wire. OK, much of it. With 680,000 tracks of music by 25,000 bands and artists. (The Story.) […]

  11. Greer Watson says:

    I see MeeDee has already commented above. I’d like to add that we at Fanlore Wiki very much appreciate your offer to help us with our project to document FortuneCity fansites. We really *need* your help, because you’ve stored the files in a format we don’t know how to access.

    Also, as the archivist for the Forever Knight Website Archive (http://www.foreverknight.org/archive.html), I’m looking for a number of missing files (pages/images) to complete our collection of FortuneCity sites for our fandom. We want to put the sites back up, and it would be nicer if they were complete.

  12. […] Jason Scott restores Internet Underground Music Archive […]

  13. […] 6 Jahren Backups von allen Teilen des IUMA an, an die er ran kam und lagerte diese ein. Bis er mit Jason Scott jemanden fand, der in der Lage war die Daten des Backups mit einigen Skripten aufzubereiten und unter archive.org […]

  14. […] Jason Scott uploaded the data to the Internet Archive from backup tapes of data scraped by John Gilmore when he realized IUMA was toast. Scott describes the downfall of IUMA: […]

  15. […] Jason Scott uploaded the data to the Internet Archive from backup tapes of data scraped by John Gilmore when he realized IUMA was toast. Scott describes the downfall of IUMA: […]

  16. […] AUD Those who remember it are surprised to hear that the Internet Underground Music Archive is back on the wire. OK, much of it. With 680,000 tracks of music by 25,000 45,000 bands and artists. (The Story.) […]

  17. […] de pépites mésestimées, voire de morceaux inécoutables.  Comme le précise Jason Scott sur son blog, l’IUMA “représente plus de 45 000 groupes et artistes, et plus de 680 000 morceaux. Ce […]

  18. Dock Drumming says:

    You saved my old tracks

    Alot of music from MP3.com was transferred to IUMA when MP3.com was shut down. I will have to look for the old bands/group/acts I used to listen to. This is great

  19. EnterTheRobot says:

    The MTV news video was actually better than CNN IMO.

  20. crownVic1953 says:

    Heard some tracks from one of my old bands for the first time in years…thanks for that!