Soundcloud is having a spot of rather notable trouble, with layoffs of 173 of their employees and full closure of their San Francisco and London offices. The audio platform launched in Berlin in 2008, and it’s seen phenomenal growth, on and off, ever since. While it is most often hailed as an online hub for rappers and indie rock, the site has also established itself quite firmly in the classical music world, where young artists post their tracks, show off their stylistic flexibility, and use the powerful API to embed those tracks into their websites for a quick and manageable web feature that can actually get them work.
This is all well and good, and the downsizing moves planned by Soundcloud may indeed be in self-defense, with an eye toward streamlining and a more solid future. But it raises the specter of a common blind spot among self-promoting artists who are establishing their brand online:
What would happen to your audio files if Soundcloud (or any other site) fails?
The smart ones
Many of you, undoubtedly, have already backed up your files and have copies of them stashed in “the cloud”, on a portable drive under the mattress, on CDs in a file drawer, on a flash drive attached to your dog’s collar, in a fire safe in your darkest dungeon, and the like. You know that these valuable artifacts of your artistic work cannot be replicated once truly lost, and have taken precautions.
But you may be stunned, as I have been, at how many people blithely upload their files and then delete their original files, with the assumption that your cloud-based archive will always be there for you. After all, why would you need more than one copy? This is especially difficult for those who have fully decluttered, KonMari‘d and downsized their existence, where duplication is a serious no-no. But there is a flaw in their logic.
Pay attention, folks: Do not put your precious files in only one place. No matter how important it is for you to downsize, no matter how awesome a platform may be, no matter how many tech bloggers refer to it as “the YouTube for audio”, you need backup. We all need backup. Don’t put your past in the hands of venture capitalists who don’t care about the 75th birthday retrospective you had planned for 2062. It’s honestly not their problem if they shut down the business and you haven’t retrieved your tracks.
The good news is that Soundcloud isn’t going away today, and probably not in the near future. But the constant evolution of the tech world should keep us on our guard, and remind us that to upload is savvy — to back up, divine.
Need backup options? Try one of these:
- “Backup and Archive Solutions For Musicians” (article — Impact Soundworks)
- “5 Cloud Storage Options for Musicians” (article — Music Think Tank)
- Seagate 2TB portable drive — (My favorite): fast, highly rated, and a great deal at about $86 for the drive plus a protective case. (DO buy some sort of case, so you can protect your investment.) Yes, there is a choice of colors. You might even consider getting two, so you can backup your computer and have archives on a separate drive.