Volunteer collective Archive Team has announced that it will undertake a large-scale backup of SoundCloud via its virtual archiving appliance, ArchiveTeam Warrior, starting tomorrow, July 18th. The move is designed to preserve the SoundCloud archives in the event that it shuts down, following news that the company recently underwent a massive round of layoffs. SoundCloud says it is here to stay and that its archives are not in danger of disappearing.
Archive Team was founded in 2009 by Jason Scott, with the mission to preserve the historical records of websites and services considered “at risk.” According to its site, warning signs for an at-risk website include mass layoffs, neglect, decay, or owners missing in action. Other archive projects the group has tackled include GeoCities, Google Video, Friendster, TwitPic, and Verizon Personal Web Space.
TechCrunch reported last week that SoundCloud only had enough money “to have runway ‘until Q4.’” SoundCloud denied that report, saying it is in no danger of closing. A statement released by SoundCloud co-founder Alex Ljung on Friday says “SoundCloud is not going away. Not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future. Your music is safe.”
The ArchiveTeam Warrior runs in volunteers’ operating systems using a virtual machine, scraping the content of at-risk websites and eventually uploading it to the Internet Archive on the Archive Team collection.
The group says it believes SoundCloud’s service to be in danger, citing a 2015 suit threatening to take the company to court for unpaid royalties, a 2016 report by financial auditor KPMG stating “significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” and the recent news that SoundCloud fired 173 staff members.
In 2014, SoundCloud stored 2.5 petabytes of data on Amazon Glacier, and as of April 2017, all the 128 kbit/s MP3 streams that comprise SoundCloud’s public tracks totaled 855 terabytes. Archive Team says it has prepared to save tracks selectively, as “a full grab would be too big and would raise concerns of mass copyright infringement.” Archive Team has historically sought to preserve the earliest years of a service’s files, as they are least likely to exist anywhere else, the organization told Motherboard.