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ARCHIVING! What, How, and Where do you back up your music?

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What to do with decades worth of music is starting to become a real problem. Just the organizing is more complicated than I thought it would be. Its made me rethink how much I want to preserve. For analog tape, I just kept my masters. Does it really make sense to save DAW multi-track files too? And then where do you put all that stuff? I now have Blu-Ray burners on hand to back up 25 GB chunks at a time. This has lead me back to the organizational conundrum referred to before. 

So yeah, I know many of you guys have been at it way long and with way more than I have. HOW do you archive your work?

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Yes, lots of space, lots of time, is it worth it?

When I moved to KS from CA back in 96, I left nearly every reel-to-reel tape (hundreds) and my reel-to-reel recorders with my CA collaborators -- big mistake...  One died, sadly, and I don't know what happened to his collection.  Another sold his set at a flea market...  Sheesh...

Anyway, I've still got many large boxes full of cassettes, including tapes with most of the raw materials from which albums were hatched.  I still go back and find hidden gems in these, so YES, this is worth it.

As for digital recordings, I do have disks with some raw materials on them, but most of that stuff now gets deleted once master edits are created from them.  I have made about 300 albums over the years.  All the master files, including cover art, out takes, etc., are stored on external hard drives and on DVDs (both places for each item).  The albums themselves are also all backed up on CDRs.  Same is true for videos and photographs/graphics and literature (I do a lot of types of art).  Every year I go through my computer to make disk copies of everything I did over the previous 12 months or so.  I'm actually working on this year's collection right now.  It usually takes several hours of several days to complete.  Also, most of my recordings and videos are available on the internet at archive.org in some form, so if the tornado hits my house, that's another safeguard for preserving my work in some way.  I figure of all the places on the internet, the archive has been around the longest and seems like the best that the net offers in terms of longevity (it's also free to use, YEAH!).

Yes, all the disks and tapes take up space, and sometimes I get confused about where things are, but I've got peace of mind about all this.  I'm guessing that all the hard copies will be trashed after my passing, and some day the internet archive will become obsolete -- but I also know that in the big picture, the sun's gonna blow up like a balloon and swallow the earth one day, and I'm guessing the rest of the universe might be thinking "good riddance" when that happens. 

Good luck with your archiving!  I hope whatever solution you come up with gives you peace of mind and leaves a little space in your house for you to live in too...



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Thanks and ARGH! The same thing happened to me. I entrusted my tapes to a friend when I moved to California. They got rid of the tapes without telling me. :fire: Fortunately, I had copied all the masters to DAT tapes. :ninja:

And yeah, I am running into problems finding stuff too and I don't have 300 albums worth of stuff. Do you have any method for organizing physical stuff? I am not sure if I should get boxes, cabinets or wallets to store all the hard copies. I won't rely on Hard-drives any more after losing a 3TB back-up drive recently. One I didn't have 2nd back up for. :emo:

I didn't think about stuff being published online as a form of back-up. That's a REALLY good point! At least there is that.


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Ha!  I really don't have much GOOD advice regarding your boxes, cabinets, wallets, shelves, etc.  The sad facts are:

1)  Whatever sort of wallets, sleeves, disk holders I have gotten fond of for durability, thickness, ease of including some sort of standard-sized paper insert, etc....  they seem to only be manufactured the same exact way by the same manufacturer for a couple of years -- so I got disks stuffed into all sorts of sleeves now -- top loading, side loading, two sided, one sided, flimsy, sturdy, different colors, you name it...  The same is true for "wallet" designs -- I got lots of different sizes, shapes, capacities.  A problem with all this variety is finding a storage place where they all can fit together and can be accessed with relative ease.

And sadly, the one sort of storage thing that HAS survived over all the years is the absolutely crappiest of all -- the jewel case.  The guy who designed this thing should be punished -- they break, crack, don't open well, are really a pain to add album art to, often the album art is ruined because it doesn't fit properly into the little niches, and they are way too thick compared to the disks themselves (so they take up a whole lot of space when stored).   How this piece of dung design has remained popular for over 30 years is a true miracle of marketing power, because it's an awful example of engineering...

2)  And no matter what I've tried to do with various organizing schemes, there's always a ton of exceptions.  Put all the albums I've done with Person A in one zone, put the albums with Person B in another,  -- then  what about the ones that feature both Person A and Person B?  Put all the albums with one recording group together, let's say Herd Of The Ether Space -- there's a lot of these -- organize them by year -- but some have been remastered, so whenever I make a new version, must I move some disks out of their original wallets to make room for the remastered disks to be stored with the originals? or should I put all the remastered albums together in a separate wallet?   Do you remember where you put those remastered ones?  Sometimes it's a real treasure hunt around here.

So you see, I'm constantly challenged regarding organizing my recordings.  I muddle through as best I can, but I have yet to find a true solution to this puzzle. 

I encourage anyone with some good advice on this matter to share it, PLEASE!

Again, Good Luck Jack


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