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Published on September 1st, 2016 | by Sunit Nandi


Securing Music In The Digital Age

In the rush of creating new music, it can be very easy for artists to lose track of castoff lyrics sheets, early versions of songs, and even duplicates of the final product. And thanks to the increasing portability of music, it’s easier than ever to physically misplace these valuable assets and let the wrong people stumble onto them.

In order to ensure that your music goes only where you want it to go, you need to become well-versed in computer security and legal rights. Here are some areas that you should look at closely:

Maintain Security

It used to be that music theft required someone to sneak stealthily into the studio and then to escape with a huge reel of tape. They also needed access to some means of playing and duplicating that tape after procuring the contraband.

Digital music has changed that. It’s very simply for people who aren’t even involved in the recording process to access the music and help themselves. Those early versions that you’ve rushed home to play on your own laptop for family and friends aren’t secure if they aren’t carried on a secure device. Otherwise, anyone can grab your jump drive and potentially get away with a huge quantity of your work. The company Secure USB now offers encrypted USB flash drives and this could be a trend for years to come.

The same is true for networks, emails, Cloud storage, and all the other places where your music may reside. Read up on computer security and make sure that you know if your studio, producers, label, and everyone else have taken the necessary precautions to keep unauthorized people from gaining access to your music.

Limit Initial Access

In the digital age, it is frighteningly easy to duplicate and distribute music. Artists have taken varying positions on this, from Metallica’s offensive against Napster to Jack White’s acceptance of piracy. Those who have fought it weren’t always concerned only with finances but with control of their own products; if a version of a song just wasn’t there yet, the band wanted the right to maintain control of it until it got where they wanted it to be. That includes lyrics that might have ultimately been scrapped from that song but were later forged into a new song.

Whatever your position, it’s your decision to make. The important thing is to keep full control of who has access to your music for as long as you need to evaluate your position on music sharing. If you don’t mind that every studio employee and her cousin is ripping your mp4’s after a day’s recording, that’s fine. But don’t give up the factory right out of the gate and then wish you had kept tighter reins.

Cover Legal Points

Paperwork is decidedly un-artistic. Few musicians, songwriters, photographers, or actors get as enthusiastic about paperwork as they get about creating their craft.

But it’s very important that they protect their craft by securing its legal rights. When there are a lot of people involved in the creative process, such as in a music studio, there can be bits and pieces of your creations that aren’t captured in the final product. Studio outtakes, old drafts of songs, and even recordings of instrumental and vocal warmups are usually ignored by the performers.

Those little relics can gain new life if the wrong people get possession. That’s why it’s important to have copyrights, publishing rights, and all other legal protections in place for everything you record. Da Vinci may have had a thousand sketches leading up to the Mona Lisa, but because he worked alone, he never lost control of them. When there are studio musicians, engineers, producers, label people, and even custodians around, it’s very easy for your rough drafts to escape your control.

Music is a field for the creative person, and not many creative people are quite as enthused about things like legal rights and network security. Likewise, most lawyers and IT professionals are better in those fields than in the arts. But there is an important intersection of these two worlds where they must work together to protect the creative products of artists to ensure that they see their vision fulfilled on their own terms. Security and legal protection are critical to conserving that process.

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About the Author

I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.

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