Welsh music is No.1 on Commons

Welsh Record company releases seven thousand sound clips to Wikimedia Commons on an open licence.

Article by Jason Evans, Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales

Wales, or ‘The land of song’ as it has been coined, is a country famous for its love of music. This tiny nation has given us some of the world’s greatest musicians. From Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey to bands like Catatonia, Stereophonics and the Manic Street Preachers, Wales has a long tradition of producing musical megastars.

Now the Welsh Music industry are also open access trailblazers after Sain Records, Wales’ largest record producer, agreed to release thousands of sound clips to Wikimedia Commons on a CC-BY-SA licence.

Just a few of the many albums included in the release.

The project saw the record label partner with Wicipedia Cymraeg editors, Wikimedia UK, the Welsh Government and the National Library of Wales to bring Welsh music to Wikipedia’s audience of 500 million readers. Over 7000 thirty second audio clips and 498 album covers are now available on the Wikimedia Commons website.

This is an exciting venture, and places Sain (Records) at the forefront of open access to free knowledge.

It now means that worldwide editors will be able to use these files to create and update Wikipedia articles on singers, songs, music bands, groups and choirs including household names such as Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins and Mary Hopkin‎ as well as works by composers such as Karl Jenkins.

Lona Mason, Head of The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales said: “The National Library of Wales is delighted to work in partnership with the Welsh Government, the Apton website and Sain (Records) on this important project. This is great news for Welsh music collectors and enthusiasts all over the world, and will be an important platform to enable people to share and enjoy the variety of Sain (Records) audio and album covers from years gone by.”

Robin Owain, from Wikimedia UK, said, “No other record company has shared as many songs with the world as Sain Records. The Wikimedia community will now be able to add these sound-clips on Wikipedia articles in over 295 languages – showing the world that we are not only a ‘musical nation’, but also at the cutting edge of information technology.”

Wikipedia is rich with photographs and artworks but there are desperately few clips of the world’s rich and diverse music back catalogue. For now Wales is top of the charts in terms of providing free access to its musical archive. It is hoped that this unparalleled open access release will act as a catalyst for similar releases around the world.