SoundCloud’s financial turmoil has prompted users to consider, what would happen if the service were switched off? Would you lose some of your own music?
Frankly, we all should have been thinking about that sooner. Clarification: To be very clear: there is no reason you should ever have a file that you care about in just one location, no matter how secure and reliable you imagine that location may be. Key files are best kept in at least one online backup and in at least one locally accessible location (so you can get at it even without a fast connection).
There’s also no reason at this point to think SoundCloud is going to disconnect without warning – or indeed any indication from SoundCloud executives, publicly or privately, that they expect the service is going away. While recent staff cuts were painful for the whole organization, both those who remained and those who left, every suggestion is that the service is going to continue.
SoundCloud publicly has said as much. (Though, sorry – SoundCloud, you really shouldn’t be surprised. Vague messaging, no solid numbers on revenue, and a tendency not to go on record and talk to the press have made apocalyptic leaks the main picture people get of the company. In a week when you cut nearly half your staff and have limited explanation of what your plan is, then yeah, you wind up having to use the Twitter airhorn because people will panic.)
*airhorn* Spread the word: your music isn’t going anywhere. Neither are we.
— SoundCloud (@SoundCloud) July 14, 2017
But the question of what’s happening to SoundCloud is immaterial. If you’ve got content that’s on SoundCloud and nowhere else, you’re crazy. This is really more like a wake up call: always, always have redundancy redundancy..
The reality is, with any cloud service, you’re trusting someone else with your data, and your ability to get at that data is dependent on a single login. You might well be the failure point, if you lock yourself out of your own account or if someone else compromises it.
There’s almost never a scenario, then, where it makes sense to have something you care about in just one place, no matter how secure that place is. Redundancy neatly saves you from having to plan for every contingency.
Okay, so … yeah, if you are then nervous about some music you care about being on SoundCloud and aren’t sure if it’s in fact backed up someplace else, you really should go grab it.
Here’s one open source tool (hosted on GitHub, too) that downloads music.
A more generalized tool, for downloading from any site that has links with downloads:
(DownThemAll, the Firefox add-on, also springs to mind.)
Two services offering similar features are hoping they can attract SoundCloud users by helping them migrate their accounts automatically. (I don’t know what the audio fidelity of that copy is, if it includes the original file; I have to test this – and test whether these offerings really boast a significant competitive advantage.)
Could someone create a public mirror of the service? Yes, though – it wouldn’t be cheap. Jason Scott (of Internet Archive fame) tweets that it could cost up to $2 million, based on the amount of data:
Had a quick chat with @brewster_kahle about the Soundcloud thing. To host a Petabyte of data for forseable future would be ~ $1.5/2mil.
— Jason Scott (@textfiles) July 13, 2017
(Anybody want to call Martin Shkreli? No?)
My hope is that SoundCloud does survive independently. Any acquisition would likewise be crazy not to maintain users and content; that’s the whole unique value proposition of the service, and there’s still nothing else quite like it. (The fact that there’s nothing quite like it, though, may give you pause on a number of levels.)
My guess is that the number of CDM readers and creators is far from enough to overload a service built to stream to millions of users, so I feel reasonably safe endorsing this use. That said, of course, SoundClouders also read CDM, so they might choose to limit or slow API access. Let’s see.
My advice, though: do grab the stuff you hold dear. Put it on an easily accessible drive. And make sure the media folders on that drive also have an automated backup – I really like cloud backup services like Crashdrive and Backblaze (or, if you have a server, your own scripts). But the best backup plan is one that you set and forget, one you only have to think about when you need it, and one that will be there in that instance.
Let us know if you find a better workflow here.
Thanks to Tom Whitwell of Music thing for raising this and for the above open source tip.
I expect … this may generate some comments. Shoot.