Your Music is Lost Forever


You cannot listen to the song you most want to hear. As a matter of fact, you’ll never hear it again. Sure, you recall the chorus. You can half-way remember how the guitar riffs sound. You know there was probably a brilliant verse lyric. But it’s gone forever and the internet won’t save you.

We live in the golden age of media consumption. My mind is regularly blown by the vast library of film and music I can access with the dozens streaming platforms available to me. If there’s a movie I just need to watch RIGHT NOW, I can almost certainly access it from one of my many apps, rental services, or with an unsavory site just a few savvy Google queries away. It’s all on demand immediately, from the biggest blockbuster to halfway-remembered childhood favorites. Likewise, every album ever recorded is saved on innumerable hard drives, connected to a dizzying array of servers, all waiting for your internet connection to deliver the goods to your monitor.

It wasn’t always like this. At the risk of robbing Andy Rooney’s corpse, you youngsters have no idea how hard it used to be. When I was a music-obsessed child, actually tracking down the music I loved from hearing half a song through a restaurant’s stereo or a fuzzy late-night indie radio program took tenacity. I had notebooks filled with all the lyrics I could decipher so that maybe, possibly, I could find it later on a physical album. Later, the Ask Jeeves, and Lycos, and, eventually, Googles of the world could help me put the pieces together and either point me to the right direction the record store that may or may not have the album I need that I may or may not have twenty dollars to purchase. More likely, I would risk the health of my parent’s hard drive with a Bear Share or Limewire download. Maybe you would get what you were looking for! But most likely, you’d spend days downloading mislabeled bullshit or noise troll mp3s through a 56K modem. And yes, your folks were paying for internet by the minute and fuckin’ pissed that you were tying up the phone line with your computer bullshit.

But here we are now, in 2017, with the entire world at our fingertips. If I wanna watch a local car dealership commercial from 1992, it’s there on YouTube. If I just GOTTA hear the soundtrack to every season of The OC, Spotify has my back. And yet a song I loved is gone and I don’t think it’s coming back.

A few years ago, Noisey ran an extremely fun post in which the site’s editors briefly reviewed whatever their Twitter followers submitted. Included among the piles of cringeworthy rap videos was a hazy pop punk tune with a surprisingly slick video of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater interspersed with footage of a kid righteously skating through the suburbs while carrying a lit torch. The song was called “Orange Krush” by a band called X Boyfriends and it was an undeniable earworm. Every couple of months I’d find myself navigating over to YouTube to give it a re-listen and find myself humming along, briefly consumed by teenage nostalgia. A few weeks ago I went back to the video and found that it had been removed. This was a problem. X Boyfriends didn’t have a social media presence. They didn’t have any physical media. As far as I could tell, they didn’t have any other songs. And with their video removed from YouTube, even the shady Belarusian torrent sites didn’t have it available for download. “Orange Krush”, a song that briefly made me happy while slogging through boring office jobs, is gone and I’ll never hear it again.

The big news in digital media last week forewarned of Soundcloud’s imminent failure. Though Soundcloud CEO Alex Ljung has since downplayed these concerns, bear in mind that it’s kinda his job to assure the public that his company isn’t irredeemably fucked even if it totally is. Soundcloud users have been warned that they might lose their data within 50 days. Losing Soundcloud would be a massive blow to independent musicians and their fans.

At the moment, Soundcloud hosts, by my estimation, roughly ten billion scratch practice tracks, rap albums, podcasts, and metal premieres that are enjoyed by music fans all across the planet. There isn’t an easier platform for quickly uploading and consuming your work. Tons of people love it, but love isn’t enough to keep the service afloat. There is a real possibility that your creations can disappear overnight – not just from Soundcloud, mind you. Any service you use to host your music could shut down their servers. At any moment your work would be lost to the ether.

Musicians, somewhere out across the world wide web, there is probably someone who enjoys your music. And unless you take some precautions, you’re gonna leave your fans broken-hearted. Please, take the time to save your work to your local hard drive, upload it to the cloud, and then find multiple platforms to host your material.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • Eliza

    The Toilet is a place of both humor and existentialist dread.

  • Scrimm

    I’ve often worried about this kind of thing

    • Scrimm

      On the other hand the thought that certain bands “music” might be lost forever is a pretty happy one.

  • RJA

    “The song was called “Orange Krush” by a band called X Boyfriends and it was an undeniable earworm.”
    Well now I just want to hear that song! Thanks Joe.

  • David Foster Wallace in “Infinite Jest” (1996) predicted the whole Netflix/on-demand-media-in-general thing with surprising accuracy. I don’t think he thought it would be a good thing, and I don’t either.

    I know it’s because I’m FROM the olde days, but I like physical media on my shelf that can’t be deleted at someone else’s whim – Blu-ray, DVD, LPs, cassettes, pretty much everything but CDs (oddly enough), which I’ve ripped to my hard drive and backed up. I buy most of my metal digitally, basically. The LPs and cassettes are for classics and oddities.

    • I buy a ton of music too (physical and digital). Unfortunately, for my example, the track in question wasn’t available for purchase or I totally would have.

      • Oh, I totally hear you. I sounded more angry old man than I meant to haha.

    • all this media-on-demand has shorted our collective patience levels too. lord help me if i haven’t completed a project at work, which was handed to me 20 minutes prior.

  • My new goal in life is to find Orange Krush by the X Boyfriends to make Joe happy again.

    • I think I found their twitter, based on the photo of their setlist with “Krush” at the top

      • They removed the track from Soundcloud too. GODDAMMIT.

        • For what it’s worth, we know the name of one of their members based on their tweets now

        • Have you tried Soulseek yet?

          • sweetooth0

            I’m consistently surprised with how badass Soulseek still is.

          • I’m hitting up my roommate at home to look for it for me

          • more beer

            It has actually improved quite a bit thru the years.

          • I haven’t. Mostly because I don’t know how.

          • Remind me tonight, I’ll see what I can find

  • Howard Dean

    “It’s not the failing Soundcloud and lost media you should be worried about. When the computers become sentient, even your great uncle’s Cold War fallout shelter won’t be enough. Mars, motherfucker, do you understand?! Let’s hope it takes the machines a few decades to learn intrasystem space travel, or else we’ll need to look elsewhere. #AlphaCentauri 2090?? I’ll be there (cryogenics, motherfuckers). BELIEVE.”

    • Did you know Musk’s recent foray into BMI’s via Neuralink is his roundabout way of combating AIs?

      • Howard Dean

        Yep. Elon is terrified of AI. He just gave a presentation to government officials calling it the biggest threat to humanity. On one hand, I’d like to say he is being hyperbolic and a tinfoil hat guy. But he’s been on the ball with so many other things that it’s hard to just brush it off and not take it at least a little bit seriously.

        • I think it’s important to note that it’s improper use and development of AI he fears, not AI in general. IIRC from a REALLY long, in depth article I read earlier this year, the idea to getting AI implemented properly is to have it be complementary to our own existence, ie our own personal AI in our brain. It’d be as much you as you’d be it.

          • Literally SAM from Mass Effect Andromeda, basically

  • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

    “I had notebooks filled with all the lyrics I could decipher so that maybe, possibly, I could find it later on a physical album”

    I’m so happy to know I’m not the only one who did this. Of course, I abandoned this practice when I got into death/black metal, because the lyrics are undecipherable

    “But most likely, you’d spend days downloading mislabeled bullshit”

    Indeed. I spent all of high school thinking SOAD had written a song about The Legend Of Zelda (and Joe ain’t exaggerating; with dial up, it literally took days to download a single song)

  • Megadead™

    Taking hipster lifestyle to the next level: “Ughh…Like I only listen to music that doesn’t exist anywhere, exclusively”

  • GrungierNine0

    Speaking of the impersonal and destructive nature of the cosmos, I grew a pair and bought Artificial Brain’s “Labyrinth Constellation” and thoroughly enjoy it. I’ll be ordering “Infrared Horizons” too. I NEED MOOOORE.

  • JWG

    It’s now a pretty even division between albums I buy in physical format (anywhere) vs. digital

    As for the latter, 100% of that is now from Bandcamp. I’m still hoping a few albums I had to resort to getting on iTunes eventually show up on BC or get reissued on CD and distributed here (I am not paying $25 for a CD and another $25 to ship it, no matter how great it is).

    On another note, there seem to be several different ways to restrict future purchases of albums on Bandcamp, but I don’t have an artist page to upload things and test whether or not case #3 is a real option or just a technical glitch within one or the other:

    1. just deleting it completely
    2. making it ‘private’ so that it’s still available for past buyers to re-download but only they can see
    3. odd third case where it’s ‘private’ on the app version but completely deleted from the web version: this one tends to be (coincidentally?) most frequent with demos

    1 obviously is a case of forcing buyers to lose access forever
    but 3 is, too if they don’t have the app (granted that’s unlikely for most people who use Bandcamp)

  • Guppusmaximus

    This has been the argument I always present when the youngsters exclaim that physical media is obsolete. It comes in waves. I have no problem with the convenience of portable media / streaming music / movies depending on the environment (car, gym,etc) but to advocate burning bridges just because it seems implausible to someone that anyone might use older tech seems a bit arrogant & ignorant. Companies are trying to push everything into “the cloud” and I, for one, don’t care to need a constant network connection to access things I like.

    Just .02 from an older dude:)

  • Kyle Reese

    Worthwhile and informative. A+

  • Demonic Doomsayer

    >Not using a shady torrent or youtube to mp3 converter site to obtain warez and then painstaking saving them on your multiple terabyte hard drive
    Pfft, fucking plebs.