Digital Music and Ephemera Shared on Social Media

   Endangered large

Digital materials created by musicians and fans as a by-product of performance or recording, shared on websites and other social media platforms.

Digital Species: Sound and Vision, Social Media

Trend in 2022:

No change No Change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Trend in 2023:

No change No Change

Previously: Endangered

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 | Inevitability

It would require a major effort to address losses in this group, possibly requiring the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


Fan sites; private or illicit recordings of concerts; informal music sharing between networks such as TikTok, MySpace and Facebook.

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Dependence on social media provider; lack of offline equivalent; infringing intellectual property right; unstable or small community of interest; encryption.

Vulnerable in the Presence of Good Practice

Offline equivalent; intellectual property rights conducive to preservation; partnership with collecting institutions; availability to web archiving.

2023 Review

In 2019, this entry was created as a subset of a previous 2017 entry, ‘Digital Music Production and Sharing,’ which was split to draw attention to the different challenges faced by the different forms. This entry overlaps with other entries relating to social media as well as those relating to community-generated content but is a separate entry to emphasize the context in which music is shared and enjoyed. This context could be lost if our attention were on products controlled by studios or artists.

The 2021 Jury discussed content increasingly being shared across multiple platforms, which is both good and bad for risk. A multi-platform nature provides an element of protection against total loss, but the role and type of interaction with the content on each platform are also important and expanding with limited attempts at preservation. For these reasons, the 2021 trend moved towards greater risk with the need for selective approaches based on the increasing volume of material. The 2022 Taskforce noted no change to the trend (they agreed these risks remain on the same basis as before).

The 2023 Council agreed with the Endangered classification with the overall risks remaining on the same basis as before (no change to the trend).

Additional Comments

The ephemera ais increasingly stored on websites that themselves are fragile and are removed, and nothing held on these services can be relied on in archival timeframes.

Web archiving and social media archiving have matured, so a representative sample is probably readily available for particular countries which are more mature in their digital preservation activities as opposed to other countries which are not.

This entry also connects to other entries ‘Consumer Social Media Free at the Point of Use,’ ‘Data Posted to Defunct or Little-used Social Media Platforms’. There are similarities in regard to increased uncertainty around major social media sites, such as X (previously Twitter), and the preservation risks associated with underlying social media preservation which has an impact on the digital objects that fall under this entry, however this entry draws attention to additional risks associated with preservation of the digital forms and contexts in which these materials are shared and enjoyed.

Case Studies or Examples:

  • The case of MySpace’s removal of MP3s demonstrates a big loss of shared digital recordings through the platform and subsequent recovery efforts by an academic group and Internet Archive. See Kleinman, Z. (2019) ‘MySpace admits losing 12 years’ worth of music uploads’, BBC New Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023] and Sketch the Cow (2019) ‘The Myspace Dragon Hoard (2008-2010’, Internet Archive. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • The case of ‘Yahoo Groups’ closure serves to underline the fragility of community content hosted by third parties. See Brinkmann, M. (2020) ‘Farewell Yahoo Groups! Shutting down on December 15, 2020’, gHacks Technology News. Available at:

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