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.)

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:

(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.

  • cooptrol

    I guess the downloaded audio would be in SC’s compression algorythms quality, not very useful if you intend to re-upload on another site that re-compresses.

    • policarpo

      Just downloaded all of my tracks using the ninja downloader. They were in the original .AIFF or .WAV format I uploaded them as. So it is actually grabbing the original source file and not the converted file.

      • Tomas Ruud

        Yes, the article forgot to point that out, and I’ve probably not been to clear about it, but the “ninja downloader” downloads your track in it’s original format, without the shitty compression.

  • Jason Job

    I’m shocked that anyone would use SoundCloud as their one place to host their audio files.

    • Colin C.

      Exactly. Who’s dumb enough to think any service like Soundcloud is a good place to keep a one and only copy of your music? If you are, you deserve to loose it all. A good backup plan for your files is paramount!

      • Yeah, exactly. Any phrase beginning “one and only location” already suggests there’s a problem.

        I bring it up, though, because the reality is a lot of people are doing this. I think a separate discussion of backup routines is probably also in order!

  • The soundcloud ripoff site lets you import all your soundcloud stuff at the press of a button! Including tags, links, descriptions etcetera. Still one should never just rely on internet back-ups.

  • Sasquatchfuzz

    Just use:

    • interstar

      That’s pretty awesome. I didn’t know youtube-dl did SoundCloud.

      Even better, it seems to do entire playlists. Sweet.

  • AdrianF

    Yeah that hosting estimate? No. You can host a lot of data (petabyte for sure) in GCP and it won’t be anywhere near $1.5/2 million. (Also over what time frame? 1 month, 12 months, 24 months?)

    And anyway – it’s not the storage – it’s the bandwidth. We have no way of knowing what the bandwidth usage of Soundcloud is, so any estimate is just going to be miles off in either direction.

    • wdullaer

      1.5 PB on gcp multi region will run around 40k usd / month (just storage). So that’s about 0.5 million per year. 2 million will host this for 4 years.
      The estimate sounds about right to me (if you define “foreseeable future” as the next 2 to 4 years)

  • Wolfgang Lonien

    I’m not using Soundcloud – or any other service like that – for my audio/music work yet (not much to share until now). But in a signature of one of the commentors in where I’m trying to contribute/collaborate, he/she says:

    I have come to prefer over soundcloud

    But, like I said – my experience with both is zero so far…

  • viridisvir

    re: Orfium – a lot of potential, but next to no adopters. I posted a track 8 months ago and it got like 2 listens (no joke). A look at their userbase shows a handful of very active users and a bunch more completely inactive ones. Even their “top tracks” show low hundred count listens.

    Would love it if more people used it, but it all makes me wonder: why *aren’t* they using it? Is there something horrific and bad I’m not seeing about the platform on some level?

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    What I would like is a way to download all my likes and playlists (just account names, track titles, etc). And a list of people I follow. That’s what scares me most about the possibility of losing soundcloud — with the amount of work I’ve done to curate music there, it would suck to lose those lists. If I can’t find another way I’ll probably do it manually, but if there were something that used the API to do this that’d be better.

  • interstar

    The issue is more the metadata.

    I’ve fallen into using SoundCloud a lot as a kind of audio blog for posting sketches and experiments and work-in-progress.

    I have the original of all that music somewhere. Either FL Studio .flp files, or raw wavs etc. But I don’t necessarily have it all in the same place. I may have written original descriptions (short, admittedly, one or two sentences) directly to Soundcloud. Added a picture only on Soundcloud. And I’ve grouped things into various playlists and albums. (Over 190 tracks distributed in more than 20 albums and playlists)

    It wouldn’t be a *total* disaster if all of that suddenly evaporated. But it would require some effort to reconstruct it all.

    I am seriously looking into an alternative. Ideally self-hosted. But clearly nothing comes with all the convenience and features of SoundCloud’s hosting, let alone the social features.