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Summary of Activities, 2014-15

Overview: RILM was conceived in 1965, established in 1966, and began publishing in 1967. To coincide with the IAML/IMS 2015 Congress in RILM’s hometown of New York City, we are celebrating RILM’s 50th anniversary in 2015-16. Celebratory events include a Circle Line boat reception around the island of Manhattan, a special RILM session in honor of the anniversary, and an all-R-Project exhibition at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

At 50 years young, RILM is healthy and thriving. Its core bibliographic work is solid and continues to expand, and its projects to bring new full-text resources to music researchers are all well underway. Indeed, it is an exciting time for RILM and, by extension, for contributors and users alike.

RILM Abstracts

Database growth: As of 30 June 2015, there were 751,315 published main records in the database and 103,242 published review citations. From 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, almost 50,000 new main records and 4500 review records were added.

National committees: The committees have submitted a total of 17,052 bibliographic records (8672 with abstracts) and 699 reviews—approximately the same number of records as the previous 12-month period. Countries that submitted over 1000 records since 1 July 2014 include China (6629), the U.S. (5525), Germany (4245), and Russia (1544).

Author submissions: RILM encourages authors to add bibliographic records and abstracts for their publications directly into the database by using the forms at Through these forms, authors can create new bibliographic citations and add abstracts and reviews to existing records.

In 2014–15, 854 main publication records were submitted by authors, who also added 16 abstracts and 49 reviews to existing RILM records. Authors from the following countries used the submission forms: Germany (107 records); Canada (131); United Kingdom (100); Italy (89); Thailand (83); Poland (66); United States (60); France (48); Spain (27); Brazil (22); Australia (20); Belgium (18). In addition, a handful of authors in each of the following countries used the submission forms: Switzerland; Mexico, Netherlands, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Finland, Serbia, Ireland, Romania, Russia, Turkey, the Vatican, New Zealand, Pakistan, Malaysia, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Austria, Algeria, and Chile.

New journals and coverage of music-related articles in non-music journals: Since 1 July 2014, RILM began to cover 299 new journal titles: 30 are classified as core; 14 are secondary; 20 are tertiary; and 235 are non-music journals.

RILM has always been committed to covering publications on music as broadly as possible. Scholarly articles on music published in non-music journals are a particularly important segment of its database, not least because this material is hard to find for users. We are now making special efforts to expand this coverage area, as the above statistic demonstrates.

Popular music coverage: In the past year RILM has taken steps to further expand its usefulness to popular music scholars. In addition to our ongoing coverage of work published in scholarly journals and monographs on popular music, we are working to advance coverage in other areas. Popular Music Studies is a field defined by its interdisciplinary basis, and thus also an area where much relevant work is published in non-music journals. A new staff member at RILM is focusing her efforts in this very area. Further, at the 2015 national meeting of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, RILM staff took a poll of members’ most favored music-centered websites containing unique, substantive writing on popular music genres, scenes, and general criticism. We have begun the process of entering records from some of these online sources.

Finally, another new project initiated in 2015 is the Zines Initiative. Working with a top collector and specialist in the field, we have created a new document type abbreviated JZ (Journal Zine), zine being the recognized short version of fanzine—referring to the self-published fan magazines that proliferated in the 1980s through the early 2000s (up until the Web made them largely obsolete). Much like the thriving music-journal culture that developed in 19th-century Europe, these low-circulation publications were produced and consumed by key players in the music cultures they took as their subject; in retrospect, they provide valuable insights into the subcultures that shaped the sound of the late 20th century (in the case of punk rock, it was the New York-based zine Punk that provided the name for the nascent musical movement). Serving as valuable primary sources for popular music scholars, we are in the first stages of entering JZ records that give bibliographic information and detailed summaries of key zines in popular music history. A growing number of universities have taken to acquiring collections of these important documents.

Retrospective coverage: Since its launch in June 2013, RILM’s retrospective coverage (that is, coverage of publications appearing before 1967) averages 330–50 new records per month. Retrospective data includes thorough coverage of conference proceedings and Festschriften written in honor of music scholars. For some time there has been a strong interest in these publications among scholars, and we are happy to report this coverage in particular. Also, among the document types added since launch are articles in journals not indexed by RIPM, including: Acta musicologicaMusical quarterlyArchiv für MusikwissenschaftSammelbände der Internationalen MusikgesellschaftJournal of the American Musicological SocietyJahrbuch für VolksliedforschungCanadian music journalBouwsteenenTijdschrift der Vereeniging voor Noord-Nederland’s MuziekgeschiedenisAnuario interamericano de investigacion musical, and Revista musicale chilena. Reviews published in these journals have also been added. Increasingly, RILM’s retrospective coverage will include records in other document types as well.

Indexing matters: Three new indexing headwords were added to the RILM thesaurus in 2014-15: two of them help users to find examples of analyses, and one helps users find choreographers writing about their work.

  • analyses—by composer allows users to locate analyses of specific works
  • analyses—by methodology allows users to locate examples of specific types of analysis (e.g., mathematical models, Schenkerian theory, etc.)
  • choreography allows users to locate writings by choreographers about their works, a category that is on the rise in dance journals. This headword is parallel to our composition headword.

Usage: The number of searches of RILM continues its trend of annual increases. RILM is now searched, on average, 2.5 million times per week, another all-time record, and one that reflects the interests and needs of music scholars worldwide.

A title change is coming in fall 2015: Since RILM Retrospective was launched two years ago, two RILM indexes have been available: RILM Abstracts of Music Literature has included all records from 1967, when RILM began to publish its index, to the present; and RILM Retrospective Abstracts of Music Literature has included all records for publications issued before 1967.

This is going to change to the following:

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature: RILM’s complete bibliography will now be included in this long-familiar name, now with records from the early 19th century to the present.
RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (1967 to present only): This database will serve those institutions that only want the current records; the earlier (the former RILM Retrospectives) file will not be included.

There are three reasons that this will change: For one, for those institutions that have subscribed to both current and retrospective databases, in order to browse both databases together, users have had to purposefully select them both in the list of all databases licensed by their libraries; users don’t always think to do that, in which case they are not accessing the retrospective records even though their library has access to them. With the new combined database, this issue goes away. In addition, when both databases have been selected, the customized search and browse features that EBSCO has enabled for RILM indexes disappeared; in the combined database, all customization will be enabled. And finally, librarians have advised us that it is preferable to be able to subscribe to a single upgraded product, rather than to have to subscribe to two separate databases to get all RILM records.

We are excited to make this change, and you will see it initially this fall.

Coming in 2015: RILM Encyclopedia Collection

The RILM Encyclopedia Collection will contain 41 seminal encyclopedias in full text at launch. Most of the encyclopedias are in English (25); the second strongest language is German (eight), and the remaining encyclopedias are from France, Italy, Greece, and The Netherlands. The collection includes seven of the most important historical music encyclopedias in English and major European languages, including editions of Fétis, Gerber, Grove (1879-1889), and Riemann, and eight important general music encyclopedias in English and major European languages. The remaining encyclopedias have a national or subject-specific focus (more narrowly focused than the general music encyclopedias). Additional titles will be added to the collection each year.

MGG Online

Bärenreiter and J. B. Metzler, the publishers of Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG) have entered into a long-term partnership with RILM to produce MGG Online, which will include the content of the 1994–2008 print edition of MGG (the 2nd edition) as well as updates, revisions, and additions. Regular updates will position MGG Online to be a foremost reference work for music. Bärenreiter and J. B. Metzler will remain responsible for MGG’s content and will ensure that MGG Online continues to offer up-to-date and authoritative articles. RILM will bring its expertise to bear on the design of the online database and the creation of a user-friendly platform that will be fully equipped with the most advanced search and browse capabilities. With its broad international experience, RILM will also be responsible for the worldwide marketing of MGG Online. Work proceeds in data conversion, updating, revisions, and platform building.

RILM and social media

Bibliolore: RILM’s blog, Bibliolore, has been viewed over 260,000 times since it was launched in October 2009. It has 251 followers currently, and almost every day at least 150 visitors read the site from countries around the world. The largest number of viewers is in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Italy, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and India. Other countries accounted for fewer than 1,000 views each during the last year.

The post receiving the highest number of views was Music for cats, followed by Mozart and folk proverbsDebussy and gamelanJames Brown’s Deleuzian idiocyMahler and BeyoncéSearch the Liber usualisRousseau and Aunt RhodyThe Wanamaker organBob Marley’s œuvre, and The Hindenburg piano.

Other social media: RILM’s blog posts are exported to its other social media pages: Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook, where RILM also posts announcements about its publications and upcoming presentations.

Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie