A huge part of online music’s forgotten history went back online this month, thanks to Jason Scott, the man behind Textfiles.com. Scott spent the past week uploading a huge chunk of 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 over 25,000 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.”
IUMA was the Internet’s original hosting service for licensed music downloads. Launched in 1993, it not only predated MP3.com as a service where musicians could upload their own songs, but actually came before the MP3 format and most of the web itself. But the site also struggled to pioneer a business model for online music, and eventually shut down in 2006, with hundreds of thoudsands of songs going offline – until now.
The birth of IUMA
IUMA’s story began in the early nineties with a guy called Jeff Patterson, who was playing with a punk band called The Ugly Mugs in Santa Cruz, California. The band was touring local clubs but wanted to reach a wider audience. One day, Patterson and his friend Rob Lord — who later went on to work for the MP3 software maker Nullsoft — stumbled across the MP2 audio format.
That predecessor of today’s MP3 files offered the ability to compress music files to about a tenth of their original size without sounding too bad, and Patterson and Lord started to upload MP2-compressed Ugly Muggs songs to a public FTP server.
Soon, they started to upload songs of roommates and other local bands as well. Then they decided to make the music more accessible, first through a gopher page and then a website. The Internet Undergroud Music Archive was born.
Continue reading the rest of the story on Gigaom