Digital Recordings Published via Cloud-based Music Sharing Platforms

 

 Vulnerable small

Music licensed and playable through corporate platforms protected by rights management and subscription revenues and presented as compressed single-track recordings.

Group: Sound and Vision

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Trend to greater risk

Previous category: Vulnerable

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 or reduce losses in this group, possibly requiring the development of new preservation tools or techniques.

Examples

Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, SoundCloud

‘Crtically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of preservation capability within corporate systems; conflating backup with preservation; loss of original multi-track recordings; lack of preservation voice at executive level; poor planning and roadmap for corporate infrastructure; slapdash procurement or migration to new systems; mergers and acquisitions; profusion of corporate systems; complex intellectual property rights; single point of failure; technical protection measures that inhibit preservation actions; encryption.

‘Vulnerable’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Strong backup and documentation; use of open formats and open source software; data management planning for preservation; licencing that enables preservation; corporate preservation capability; resilient to hacking; authenticity and integrity managed; recognition of preservation functions at executive level; technology watch; regular preservation audits; accreditation and participation in the professional preservation community.

2021 Review

This entry was previously under the 2017 ‘Digital Music Production and Sharing,’ split by the 2019 Jury into four subsets, recognizing the different challenges faced. This entry is particularly concerned with the music industry at scale and the services that connect the vast majority of artists to their audiences. These are typically large and well-funded, and typically recognize the value of the content they publish. But this is not without risks. It is perhaps surprising that the music industry does not yet have any equivalent to the non-print legal deposit regime that applies to other types of publication, including sheet music in some jurisdictions. The 2021 Jury noted a large amount of vulnerable material on user-driven platforms where material can be very ephemeral (removals resulting from, e.g., account deletion, space limitations, copyright claim), and the issue of license and licensing with the instability of the business model. For this reason, the scope is widened to include ad hoc sharing so that this entry broadly includes all platforms such as SoundCloud, Bandcamp which are more community-driven, as well as Spotify, resulting in a raised classification and trend towards greater risk.

Additional Jury Comments

The preservation of recorded music is one of our generation's most important jobs, but it is unclear where responsibility lies. There are commercial incentives to do so, but there are also incentives to reduce costs. Whilst public archives are permitted to keep this material in some jurisdictions they typically do not have the resources to do so. Consequently, there is an expectation that rights holders will maintain their own archival copies but may not do so. National collecting organizations may need to develop a role to address this.

If managed well, there is hope. It may not be an issue in the cases where the production company would hold master recordings and, if a streaming service lost a track (e.g., Spotify), they would go to the production company and ask for a copy. However, it is an issue for those outside of production companies and platforms such as SoundCloud and Bandcamp, which are more community-driven.


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