Digital Assets Are A “Feeble Storage Medium”

In this Rolling Stone article: “File Not Found: The Record Industry’s Digital Storage Crisis” David Browne considers the lack of robustness of digital media assets as compared with analogue alternatives. ¬†As has increasingly been noted by a number of commentators, digital media tends to age more quickly and becomes difficult to use after a short period of time as compared with analogue assets which are relatively easy to re-play:

Welcome to the digital nightmare. Until the 1980s, music was recorded on analog tapes that were stored in vaults and easily played back. In the digital era, that process has changed irrevocably. A new report issued by the Library of Congress calls digital formats “not inherently safe harbors of preservation,” and raised red flags about how music collections are being stored. “There’s a paradox,” says Sam Brylawski, a former Library of Congress archivist. “We can record so easily now with digital recorders. But at the same time, the stuff is at greater risk than it used to be.” Producer T Bone Burnett, who testified at a hearing on the topic, couldn’t agree more: “Digital is a feeble storage medium.” [Read More]

Also noted is the high cost of digitization and the need for constant change:

Unfortunately, future-proofing digital music isn’t easy. The Library of Congress report recommended regularly migrating files to updated systems, a costly expense. (The library estimates $187,500 for every 1,000 hours of audio.) Bob George of the ARChive of Contemporary Music, which has collected more than 2 million CDs, LPs and tapes of decades of pop music, says he won’t be converting the library’s collection to hard drives. “By the time we’d finish,” he says, “there would be a new system for digitizing.” [Read More]

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