Recorded Music Datasets

Recorded music is a rich source of data, with a wide variety of record guides, recording catalogues, and online databases. Also in this category are the increasing number of repositories of recorded music.

Most of the historical sources are only available in book form (often easy to find second hand), and not online due to copyright restrictions.

Dataset Comments
Decca Classical Discography (1929–2009) 5,820 entries
Gramophone Shop (1936 & 1942)1 About 10,000 works listed in each. Previously available at archive.org but seems to have been removed.
World’s Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (1952)1 20,000 works. Available from CHARM
Penguin Record Guides (1960 onwards) Recommended recordings by a very stable editorial team of Edward Greenfield et al. Thousands of works included in each. Various editions, readily available second hand
Gramophone Catalogue (1979 onwards)2 Recordings available in UK 10,000 works (1979), 15,000 by 1990. Readily available second hand.
Music Master (1974 onwards)3 Popular music records from British companies – about 80,000 in 1988. Can be found second hand.
Guinness British Hit Singles 4 Popular hits from UK charts since 1952. 23,000 singles listed in 2000 edition. Can be found second hand.
Gramophone CD Guide 5 Recommended recordings (as opposed to Gramophone catalogue). 6,500 works in 2004. Readily available second hand.
Rare Record Price Guide (2014)6 Over 100,000 popular recordings.
MusicBrainz Metadata on over 15 million tracks of recorded music (all genres).
Piano Rolls Catalogue Listing of over 11,000 piano rolls
British Library Sound Archive 3.5 million recordings
Classical Archives Large collection of Recordings (800,000+ tracks). Subscription required for some features.
Lomax Geo Archive Recordings of 5,400 folksongs from Alan Lomax’s ‘Cantometrics’ fieldwork
Naxos Music Library Over 2 million tracks. Subscription required
45Cat Online archive dedicated to 7-inch singles, with almost a million records
Old Charts UK and US singles charts from 1940 onwards
Lord’s Jazz Discography Comprehensive database of jazz recordings.  Subscription required for full access, although lists of musicians and tunes are available free.
Historic Discographies Various historical discographies are available in PDF format, free for personal use
Second Hand Songs Database of songs and cover versions – about 500,000 covers of 60,000+ original songs
Cite this article as: Gustar, A.J. 'Recorded Music Datasets' in Statistics in Historical Musicology, 12th July 2017, https://www.musichistorystats.com/resources/datasets/recorded-music/.

 

  1. Clough, F. F. & Cuming, G. J. 1952. The World’s Encyclopedia of Recorded Music. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.
  2. MacDonald, C. 1979. Gramophone Classical Catalogue. London: David & Charles
    Maycock, M. & McSwiney, K., et al. 1990. Gramophone Compact Disc Digital Audio Catalogue. Harrow: General Gramophone Publications Ltd.
  3. Humphries, J. 1988. The Music Master Record Catalogue. Hastings: John Humphries.
  4. Roberts, D. (Ed.), 2000. Guinness British Hit Singles. London: Guinness World Records.
  5. Roberts, D. (Ed.), 2004. The Gramophone Classical Good CD & DVD Guide 2005. Teddington: Gramophone Publications Ltd.
  6. Shirley, I. 2012. Rare Record Price Guide 2014. London: Diamond Publishing Group.