Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)

The ARSC Award for Independent Initiatives is presented to individuals who are advancing the field of recorded sound on their own time and their own dime. Awards of up to $10,000 are given annually with no strings attached. The award supports the work of the individual, advances the field by publicizing their work, and seeks to inspire others to independently undertake their own initiatives in recorded sound.

Recorded sound can elicit such passion among individuals that, through their self-directed and self-financed pursuits of knowledge and know-how, they become innovators and experts in the field. They are collectors assembling specialized private libraries; inventors developing technologies to better protect and preserve our audio heritage; scholars illuminating recorded sound’s technological history and cultural impacts; enthusiasts educating the public about historical recordings. The lessons these individuals can offer the field are potentially significant. Yet too often their innovations and expertise go unrecognized and unutilized.

The ARSC Award for Independent Initiatives celebrates such initiatives, independently undertaken by individuals outside of their professional duties, which are yielding exemplary outcomes and promising to yield more. The award materially supports such initiatives and elevates them as exemplars. It acknowledges these innovators and disseminates their expertise for the benefit of all.


Any individual who is materially and avocationally contributing to the preservation, availability, and appreciation of sound recordings can be considered for the award. Individuals who are employed in a profession dealing with sound recordings can be considered on the merits of personal initiatives uncompensated by their employers.


The committee assesses independent initiatives based on their contributions to the field of recorded sound preservation, management, and study. Current initiatives are important, but so are a history of meaningful outcomes and the individual's potential to accomplish even more. Candidates may be:

  1. Sharing knowledge and expertise gained from extensive experience with sound carriers.
  2. Developing technologies to facilitate the safe and effective transfer of audio recordings.
  3. Conserving primary source materials and research libraries related to sound recording.
  4. Advancing awareness of our audio heritage and the cultural benefits of preserving it.
  5. Contributing to audio-related STEM education both in and outside of the classroom.
  6. Advancing best conservation and preservation practices among private collectors.
  7. Managing websites that materially enhance the availability of historical audio.
  8. Documenting the historical outputs and activities of record companies.
  9. Correcting and augmenting historical accounts of sound recording.
  10. Building systems to play recordings unplayable by existing means.
  11. Preserving significant audio recordings.
  12. Rescuing audio from damaged carriers.
  13. Undertaking discographical research.
  14. Curating collections of significance.

Awards are not limited to these initiatives; they are provided as examples only.


Anyone can nominate one or more individuals for the award. Nominations should introduce the individual and their accomplishments, enumerate their contributions to the field, and explain how the award may support their ongoing initiatives.

Individuals may not apply for the award on their own behalf. However, ARSC wants to hear from those who believe their personal initiatives are worthy of consideration. ARSC’s awareness of such work may lead to future nominations.

Nominations are received throughout the calendar year. Recipients are notified early the following year and announced at ARSC’s annual conference in the spring.