Based on key topics raised at a 2021 summit co-hosted by Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES) and Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing (P&E Wing) “Protecting Legacies: The Art, Science, and Value of Music Archives”, IMES, the P&E Wing and the Audio Engineering Society (AES) developed a survey to assess current practices and challenges in audio archiving. The survey was sent to approximately 4,000 Wing P&E members and 11,000 AES members.
“Not only does this survey tell us where we are,” said Lance Podell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of IMES, “it provides a baseline for future measurement of progress towards the systematic protection of the rich embodied heritage in archived audio content.”
This baseline includes information such as nearly 65% of survey respondents said they advised clients on how and where to keep their jobs, and 70% said they had mentored young professionals on archiving issues – evidence that the majority of these respondents see archiving as an important area of concern. Despite this worry, a startling 22% said they never check their backups to make sure they’re still functional, and 16% allow at least a year to pass between backup quality checks. 62% check backups more frequently: 21% check backups at least once a month, 15% check backups at least quarterly, 26% at least once a year.
Abundantly available and affordable hard disk storage dominates backup and archival media choices. 83% of respondents said they use external, often portable, backup hard drives for master file archival purposes, 59% using internal computer drives, and 43% cloud storage (the total exceeding 100%, as users often deploy multiple methodologies). Survey responses were similar for backing up work files: 86% rely on external drives, 64% on computer drives, and 43% on cloud storage. Shared factors for HDD dependency included reluctance to rely on cloud storage due to factors such as overall cost, upload/download time, and security concerns.
The survey also provides a snapshot over time of how respondents describe their job, their years of experience (most respondents with over 21 years of experience), how they keep up to date with archiving and preservation and their responsibility. level of archiving (more than half stating that they had archiving responsibilities and more than 30% stating that their archiving responsibility could not be characterized by a straightforward “Yes” or “No” answer). Only 25% of survey respondents said they were aware of the Producers and Engineers Wing Delivery Recommendations, developed in partnership with AES to guide content producers toward practices that promote sustainable retrievability of content. archived assets.
Other survey questions focused on identifying archival leads with potential for distribution and monetization, access to archival content, file structure, and file sharing methodologies.
“The survey results will allow us to focus on areas where additional education and training will be most effective in protecting our recorded musical heritage,” said Maureen Droney, Vice President, Producers & Engineers Wing. “The preservation of recorded audio content is an always important topic for our members,” says Josh Reiss, President of AES. “The survey data provides important understanding of current practices and potential gaps, informing our ongoing discussions about the vital issues of content protection, storage, cataloging and retrieval.”
The full survey results are available for review at https://www.imes.media/s/PE-Archive-and-Preservation.pdf. Plans are underway to conduct the first follow-up survey later this year to dig deeper into the key themes uncovered during the initial survey and better define education and outreach needs and opportunities.