Nothing Good Lasts Forever, So Back Up Your Music
The recent SoundCloud news has sent a ripple of file anxiety through the music community.
Fotografía: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr
There's a nervous tension brewing in the (virtual) air. No, it's not one of the Trump clan allegedly colluding with the Kremlin. It's not even that New York Magazine article about the end of the world. No folks, it's much worse. Following news of layoffs at the company, a recent leak-loaded article from TechCrunch brought to light that SoundCloud may only be funded into Q4, which begins in 50 days.
Though the fate of the streaming service—which over the past eight years, has amassed hundreds of millions of (mostly) free tracks on their service—is still unknown, the news has sent a ripple of file anxiety through the global music community. Of course, founder and CEO Alex Ljung has denied rumors that SoundCloud may be on the verge of closing—or, as some artists have speculated, that users run the risk of their files vanishing into thin air. Still, the events of the past few days underscore an important truth about being a musician in this tumultuous streaming economy: you shouldn't put all your eggs in one digital basket.
Back up your files. Obviously. Don't you remember the shuttering of sprawling torrent site What.CD? Some folks went so far as to compare its sudden closing to the burning of the Library of Alexandria. Like SoundCloud, there was some music on that service that's literally not available anywhere else in the universe. But stories like What.CD's are a fact of life: websites come down, hard drives crash, records get destroyed in floods. Just like your money, you should never rely on one place to store and protect things you love. Use the news about SoundCloud as an excuse to get your shit in order.
The easiest way to assure that if a your music won't disappear if a platform does is to back up your stuff somewhere that only you can control—like, um, a hard drive. Other options include those old round things called CDs, or even a floppy disc. But how does one access the dusty old files they've uploaded to a website?
Luckily, it's pretty easy for most hosting sites. SoundCloud, for example, has a "download" feature that allows you to grab most of the music you've uploaded to your page, unless you are a really bad repeat offender of copyright law. Simply hit edit on your track, then look for the small download button in the top left corner. Click it, then back up the audio to a hard drive or USB. Or explore some other avenues and websites like 'ye olde YouTube. Don't be the person crying in the corner when all is lost.
Beyond backing up your files to devices, there are also a lot of different places where you can upload music. While it's easy to just stick to one platform because it's more to your liking, in the end you'll have better protection of your files if you don't rely on a single way to diversify your bonds.
All in all, whether you use SoundCloud, Mixcloud (a similar service with a slightly less attractive UI that hasn't yet attained the same ubiquity) or Bandcamp, understand that no one digital archive is infallible. Sure, it's easy to just be lazy because trying something new takes time, but I promise it will be worth it in the end. You never know when catastrophe will hit. So walk to the store, purchase a 2TB flash drive, dump the contents of your computer on it, and put it in a safety deposit box, you idiot. Or just make friends with someone like Chance the Rapper.
Update [July 14, 5:52 pm]: This piece has been updated to reflect a post from SoundCloud co-founder and CEO Alex Ljung on the company's blog, stating, "The music you love on SoundCloud isn't going away, the music you shared or uploaded isn't going away, because SoundCloud is not going away."