I’m afraid I’ve lost the name of the reader who asked me this, but it’s a great question and I’d love to hear everyone’s views on it. Here it is: “Hi Phil. A lot of the music I have on my PC is promotional tracks, from SoundCloud, Bandcamp, etc. Thing is I bought a new smartphone with 50GB cloud storage for free as part of a promotion. Well, I was looking for a cloud storage option anyway, to backup my music library (lost a lot of good music a year ago when my hard drive suddenly died), so this option is very handy. But is it OK to backup my collection to a cloud storage? What if they ask me to remove the files because of copyright questions?”
“I mean I can’t prove that my tracks are owned legally. For example, some tracks are from a label’s ‘best of’ collection that was free to download for a limited period of time, while now it costs £10 to buy that same collection. So should I use cloud storage to keep my files safe or it’s better to go to the old practice and burn some DVDs?
Digital DJ Tips says:
A few things here. Many of the services “legalise” your music by charging you a subscription annually for the privilege of using them, and paying some of this along to the record labels, while replacing your uploads – wherever you got them from and whatever their quality – with pristine new legal versions. When they don’t have a track, they use your version, but I’ve never heard of anyone being questioned over where those tracks came from. I wouldn’t worry about the legality side of it all personally, although this advice would change from country to country (and person to person!).
The other point is how safe cloud storage is, period. My take on it is that if you keep the tracks locally on your DJing laptop, also on your smartphone locally, and then have a cloud backup too, you’re pretty safe, as you’d have to lose all three at once to lose your collection – the chances of that happening are pretty slim.
I love cloud music, I think it can be really convenient and with data rates getting higher and cheaper, I personally think local storage is best backed up to the cloud not to DVDs etc. But I know DJs who feel you should treat digital music just like vinyl or CDs – have very carefully cared-for local copies, backed up away from the cloud, and be very careful about ensuring you stay on top of maintaining and looking after than collection. The argument goes, of course, that a DJ’s musical needs are much more specialised than the general public’s, who of course cloud services are primarily aimed at.
Lots of people have very different views on this so I’d like to throw it open. Do you see any legal issues with storing promo music in the cloud? Do you back up your library to the cloud, or locally? Where can you see this going? Please share your thoughts in the comments.