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Rock's Backpages

Academic library, public library and group subscriptions

An essential resource for modern and contemporary music libraries and for cultural studies collections.” Library Journal, April 2014

About Rock's Backpages

Rock's Backpages is the biggest online database of pop music writing in the world. It is a unique resource unavailable elsewhere online. The database contains an ever-expanding collection of primary-source, full-text music writing. Sourced from the pages of the music and mainstream press, it is a library of articles (reviews, interviews, features and more) from the '50s up to present day and includes a growing collection of exclusive audio interviews.

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Details of the database

  • There are over 33,000 primary source articles on the site and over 530 audio interviews. These feature over five thousand artists and range from 500-word album (or concert) reviews to 15,000-word interviews and features.
  • The articles are full text and fully searchable (by artist, date, genre, keyword etc.) including a sophisticated "faceted search" option.
  • Written by over 670 of the biggest names in music journalism, they are taken from the widest possible range of publications in the US and UK: from Creem and Trouser Press to Rolling Stone, and from New Musical Express and Melody Maker to MOJO.
  • The archive covers all types of popular music from the 1950s to the present: from Abba to Zappa, the Stones to the Stone Roses and from Elvis to Eminem. There are, for example, 160 articles on the Beach Boys and 250 on the Rolling Stones.
  • The library includes previously unpublished pieces about the Beatles (by Michael Lydon in 1966), the Doors (by Lester Bangs in 1975), and seminal interviews with major artists from Bob Dylan to Radiohead.
  • The library is currently increasing in size by over 50 new text articles and one audio interview per week.
  • All the material in the database is presented with the full agreement and permission of the copyright holders – freelance writers and journalists – or of their estates, and the vast majority of this material is exclusive to Rock’s Backpages for online distribution.


“A highly affordable product with unique content.” Gail Golderman & Bruce Connolly, Library Journal, April 2017

“Rock's Backpages is a valuable resource, because it's the only one of its kind that focuses on music journalism across all pop music genres from the past 50 years. It benefits not only music students and faculty, but those studying and researching journalism, history, English and pop culture. The inclusion of underground and street publications in addition to mainstream journals like Rolling Stone and MOJO make it unique.” Lori Widzinski, Head of Multimedia and Music Collections and Services for the University of Buffalo Libraries, May 2017

“For the record, let me reiterate that this is an indispensable research tool in the study of popular music. I use it all the time, and assign it regularly to students at all levels.” – Robert Fink, Department of Musicology, Chair of Music Industry Program, Vice-Chair of the Faculty, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, August 2016

“RBP is an essential acquisition for large public and academic libraries serving serious students a wide range of music, from blues and country to jazz, reggae, and, of course, rock and roll.” – Library Journal, April 2014

“No student of popular music interested in doing substantive research can afford to be without Rock's Backpages. It's an invaluable tool and above all else a great treasure trove of sophisticated writing.” – Jason King, New York University

“We have found Rock's Backpages useful for those researching popular music for educational purposes as well as for leisure. With classic and contemporary articles featuring a range of artists from different genres, RBP is full of nostalgia for our older users and a valuable source of rock history for the younger ones.” – Rosemary O'Hare, Principal Librarian, Glasgow Life/Glasgow

“Rock’s Backpages is a well put together, reasonably priced and easy to use resource for music fans of all ages. It’s proved to be a hit with our customers and we are pleased with the usage statistics.” – Pete Aldridge, Events and Programme Officer, Peterborough Central Library

“Manchester Libraries have subscribed to Rock’s Backpages for nearly 4 years and we find the content to be informative and accurate. The site is user friendly, offers remote access and maintains good coverage. Current awareness is catered for by weekly alerts about recent updates. Manchester users have spread the word by leaving favourable comments on our Facebook page.” – Joanne Kettlety, Service Development Manager, Manchester City Council

“Rock’s Backpages has been an invaluable addition to the Syracuse University library. I frequently search its holdings for my own research. Beyond that, we teach a number of classes - ranging from the History of Rock survey to the Popular Music Studies seminar - where students have used Rock's Backpages to aid with paper projects and presentations. In addition, our numerous Arts Journalism students have found the site to be an amazing resource and introduction to the history of rock music criticism. I highly recommend this database.”– Theo Cateforis
Author of The Rock History Reader (Routledge, 2007)
Assistant Professor of Music History and Cultures
Department of Fine Arts, Syracuse University

To read more testimonials please visit our Librarians’ info page.

About the subscription service

Rock's Backpages is provided as an unlimited access subscription, meaning that all staff, students and patrons (all end users) will have unrestricted access to every one of the text and audio files available in the database.

A summary of the terms of use can be found here.

They can also receive a weekly email informing them of the latest additions to the library.

Access to the site is usually arranged via a specific IP address which enables users to access the library through the group intranet without the need for a specific site password.

We also provide access via Shibboleth and Library Card. Remote access is included by default and the database can be used on any device with an internet connection.

Please refer to our Librarians' info page for the full access options.

How to subscribe

If you are interested in subscribing to this invaluable resource, please click here and complete the form. We will then provide you with free access to the site for a limited period so that you can find out how valuable it could be for your staff and students.

We will also propose a subscription charge at a substantial discount to individual subscription charges.

Should you decide to subscribe you will be required to sign our standard Licence Agreement, an overview of the Licence is available here.


Subscribe via Consortia

Rock's Backpages can currently also be subscribed to via the following consortia:





  • CAUL (Council of Australian University Librarians)

If you are a consortium or distributor and are interested in working with Rock's Backpages please contact

Current Subscribers











  • East Norfolk Sixth Form College - UK
  • Haringey 6th Form Centre - UK
    King Alfred School - UK
    Latymer Upper School - UK
    Park High School, Stanmore - UK
    Roundhay School - UK
  • Rugby School - UK
  • St. Aiden's Church of England High School - UK
    St. Catherine's School - USA
  • Grand View High School - USA
  • Monta Vista High School - USA
  • Phillips Academy - USA
  • The Hotchkiss School - USA
  • Whitehall HIgh School - USA
  • Epson College, Malaysia