One man is busy digitizing out-of-print 78s. Cliff Bolling says, "There's a whole world of music that you don't hear anymore, and it's on 78 RPM records." He already has about 4,000 MP3s on his web site.
Bolling's site only received 10-30 hits per day until appearing on reddit and StumbleUpon in July, reaching over 11,000 hits at its peak. "I really didn't know there were so many people in the world interested in this music," said Bolling told wired.com. "A lot of younger people go to the site, and it's amazing that they hear songs today that originally were recorded 75 years ago. It's pretty cool that people get to listen to this stuff. As far as copyrights, apparently I'm okay, because nobody's come to shut me down or anything."
Bolling also points out that "What was considered humor early in the 20th century might today be deemed offensive and politically incorrect. Some of these old songs reflect that."
"I get dozens of emails every day from people telling me how wonderful it is to hear this music, and people post links to my webpage on websites all over the world," Bolling told us. "It's truly amazing." In fact, it is so amazing that his web site was shut down by the hosting service, There were so many visitors that it overloaded the web server that hosts the site. However, the site at http://78records.cdbpdx.com/ is expected to be back operation in a few days.
You can read more on Wired at http://blog.wired.com/music/2008/08/one-mans-quest.html.