chapter  3
36 Pages

From Collecting to Curating and Reissuing the Recorded Past: Finders Keepers (2004–) and Reissue Record Labels

Aims and Chapter Outline With the development of phonography in the late nineteenth century (and the rapid expansion of the record industry from the early twentieth century onwards), music was increasingly considered as a three-dimensional product which was exchanged and mass-distributed as much as any other capitalist commodity: recordings ‘[gave] listeners opportunities to browse, to sample, to investigate masses of music of all periods [and, one may add, of all parts of the world]’ (Day 2000: 216). Record collectors have long been rummaging through the vast, quasi-instantaneous archive of recorded sound, as they aggregate in second-hand record shops, flea markets and, since the mid-1990s, on digital platforms (Juno and Vale 1993, Taylor 2001). Recorded music objects have been consistently produced throughout the twentieth century (being mostly incorporated to the capitalist structure of production and distribution). As their vestiges inescapably haunt humans spaces, they alternately appear as ‘exhausted commodities’ (Straw 2000), or dead or ‘residual media’ (Acland 2007) which may either be redeemed and re-mediated (Bolter and Grusin 2000) or sink into deeper layers of oblivion, forming strata of cultural ‘waste’. It is partly because of their (if not aural, at least visual) presence that music objects are likely to be ‘saved’ and to enter new life-cycles, through marginal and sometimes informal networks of distribution (a form of shadow capitalism, realized in second-hand markets or the economy of giving or swapping).