Critically Endangered small

Digital materials created by musicians and fans as a by-product of performance or recording, not otherwise published or shared

Group: Sound and Vision

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

No change No Change

Previous classification: Critically Endangered


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


Pre-production notes; demo recordings; photography; correspondence.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

fragile or obsolete media for offline content; service provider preservation capability for online content; dependence on proprietary formats or products; lack or loss of documentation; uncertainty over intellectual property rights; lack of version control; lack of policy or mandate

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Replication; clarity of intellectual property rights; preservation agency involved and capable of looking after content

2021 Jury Review

In 2019, this entry was created as a subset of a previous 2017 entry, ‘Digital Music Production and Sharing,’ which was split into to draw attention to the different challenges faced by the different forms. Although it has overlaps with other entries, including ‘Pre-production TV and Movie materials,’ it is a separate entry to emphasize the inherent and value of the archival materials relating to the recording process over and above the recordings themselves. The 2021 Jury agreed with the entry’s assigned risk classification with no noted changes towards increased or reduced risk.

Additional Comments

For imminence of action, it will all depend on the format of the records. Correspondence or photographs may be left for longer, but recordings will need closer attention, especially if it is a bespoke recording format.

This may be less of digital preservation challenge and more of an archive or collecting challenge. This type of material in the past, like most 'unpublished' archives, has survived through luck and is largely out of a GLAM or institution’s control relying on individuals to assess and evaluate if what they have is of significance. When these types of things come to an institution, based on significance on a case-by-case basis, are these digital objects then considered 'worth' the effort to a) bring into the collection and b) care and preserve them? So yes, while Critically Endangered, these types of collections are enormous and quite often not things one would want to keep for the long term; however, sometimes there is the odd gem.

There is the recognized inevitable loss of existing data, but reducing this loss would require major effort to fix in terms of identifying organizations who are preserving this content, and it is not clear that this is being done already.

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