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.