This article explores how two groups of American popular musicians have engaged with sound reproduction technologies—country artists and radio in the 1920s–40s and hip-hop DJs and video since 2000—to create an unintended but lasting cultural heritage for their musical traditions. Neither the radio broadcasts made by country artists nor the amateur videos of DJs were intended to be permanent. We argue that the practitioners of these traditions have acted as accidental archivists—shaping the development of their respective genres in the process of preserving them—and suggest how these archives may be of use to public historians.

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