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: New Entry

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

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 preserve materials in this group, including the development of new tools or techniques.


Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, SoundCloud

‘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.

‘Lower Risk’ 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 professional preservation community.

2019 Review

The 2017 BitList included an entry for Digital Music Production and Sharing which included this entry.  In 2019 the Jury decided to split this initial nomination into four, recognising 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 recognise the value of the content they publish.  But this is not without risks and 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.

Additional Jury Comments

The preservation of recorded music is one of our generations most important jobs but it’s unclear where responsibility lies. There are commercial incentives to do so but there are also incentives to reduce costs. National collecting organizations may need to develop a role to address this. 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 which they may not be able to do.

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