Be your own archivist

Archives, Archivist, History

Last month, as with many months previous, the world lost a great music blog. The name does not need to be repeated here because the site and everything it ever contributed to the scene it supported has already been scrubbed from the internet. The reason for this could be one or more of many things, from costs to a pure desire to be done with music blogging altogether, but regardless — what’s done is done, and it cannot be undone for any amount of money.

Websites, like anything else, are not infinite. All music blogs will eventually cease operations, and in time the people responsible for their hosting fees will inevitably choose to save a few bucks and delete their site for good. When that happens, all the site’s content will be erased, and everyone who contributed will lose any proof of their work having ever happened. The world will keep spinning, bloggers will keep blogging, and those who gave up their time to help build a community will have nothing to show for their work.

Instances like this happen all the time in music, as well as other areas of business. Contributors and employees place the burden of documenting and preserving their work on their employers only to realize the error of their ways after it is too late to make a change. Bands and artists face something similar. Many performers believe their dream of performing will never stop, so they never think to keep all the little things that serve as proof they put in the work, saw the world, or otherwise lived their life. When the bubble of popularity bursts — and it always does — those careless performers are left clinging to fading memories of moments now long gone. People don’t care because no one remembers what was done, nor is there lingering evidence it mattered.

Maybe you don’t care about remembering everything you did, but you should be concerned with your ability to prove your level of experience. This is why maintaining a personal archive of accomplishments and passion projects is so immensely important to your development as a professional. You have to be able to show your work, not to mention your talent, on a moment’s notice. Relying on someone or something else to track your activity is lazy and a foolish. Others may benefit from your work, but at the end of the day your work is and always will be most valuable to you. Don’t take it for granted.

There is a market for this kind of thing. Over the last several years some companies have begun promoting tools and services designed to preserve digital content for future use/reference. These businesses may be tremendous and well-intentioned, but they are still an outsider to your personal journey. Use them if you like, but you should also keep offline archives as well. Save each story or accomplishment that matters to your own device, as well as an external storage device, just so that it exists regardless of what happens online. The internet is unpredictable, as is all technology, so you need to go to great lengths to ensure the continued existence of your creative output.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.