|Tony Byers, UK Sales
Director at Iron Mountain, examines how the world of entertainment archiving
can prove profitable for global record and film companies....
The entertainment industry is changing
beyond all recognition, with technology dramatically affecting the way
in which music and film is accessed, archived and enjoyed. Increasing Internet
access speeds and the MP3 revolution have given rise to changing consumption
habits, as consumers get used to an on-demand entertainment industry. Most
importantly, the proliferation of music download sites enables users to
cherry-pick songs that they want from the extensive selections available.
Although this is great for the music
lover, how does this affect the artists and producers of the music? In
order to keep up with the public’s crescendoing appetite, content owners
are delving into back catalogues and rare music samples. With this in mind,
the back catalogue market is rapidly expanding, as suppliers constantly
look for new ways to keep their buyers happy.
Turning to the film industry a similar
trend is happening. As movies are being shifted onto DVD, space is freed
up for extra out-takes and clips of unseen footage. Like the music industry,
the back catalogue is coming into a life of its own, with companies that
were previously not interested waking up to the benefits of archiving properly.
Last month the British Phonographic
Institute (BPI) revealed that digital downloads more than tripled in the
last year, accounting for over half of the singles market. What’s more,
according to forecasts from eMarketer, sales of digital music will make
up 35 per cent of the overall music industry by 2010. The sector is growing
at a rapid pace, with customers crying out for an endless supply of songs
In order to keep up with demand, record
labels and content owners are sourcing extra material to offer to their
customers, exploring the music industry’s back catalogues and realising
the vast financial potential these inventories have. The industry is no
longer making money from the latest hits; companies are now capitalising
from their archived material as well.
Piracy is the dangerous undercurrent
that has arisen from online music’s success, with the illegal copying of
sound recordings representing an illicit enterprise worth $4.5 billion,
according to the BPI. Fuelled by the Internet’s growth, this new era of
piracy poses potentially even greater problems than the proliferation of
CD piracy. Although the music industry is fighting back against this threat,
it is still causing severe financial damage.
Extra film snippets
Film is notoriously easy to damage and
subject to mechanical, biological and chemical decay. As well as the havoc
that can be caused by heat and water, scratching, colour fading and decomposition
are all problems that archiving films face. Unfortunately, mishandling
of film cuttings and shoddy archiving has caused irreversible damage and
the loss of valuable film and sound footage. It is extremely important
that the film industry looks after cuttings in a safe, controlled climate
environment; sometimes it really is the case that valuable footage ends
up lying around on the cutting room floor. Although lots of film has already
been lost forever, it is never too late to start archiving property.
As the film director, Martin Scorsese
pointed out: “We’ve seen a growing awareness of film preservation, yet
the deterioration and eventual disappearance of films has not come to an
end. There’s still a race against the clock to save what we can at some
Old and new
Aside from safety, these archives also
have to be catalogued to access records quickly. By offering powerful electronic
storing systems, companies like Iron Mountain constantly update their archiving
services. Our e-search on-line search facility provides complete indexing
and management capabilities.
Implementing these technologies allows
us to store and even rediscover older recordings as well as modern day
ones – in many people’s mind the very essence of the importance of archiving.
Unfortunately some film companies and
record studios can be shoddy in their preservation of off-cuts and extras,
with poor, if any, archiving systems in place. Worse case examples
include storing tapes above kitchen units or in damp basements. With this
in mind, careful analysing and treatment of existing and damaged material
is crucial in a solid records management outlet. Taking into consideration
the delicate nature of the task in hand this is no mean undertaking and
an extremely time-consuming project.
Although archiving and restoring film
and sound is an expert process, the tools to do it are vastly improving.
Technology that cleans, removes scratches and repairs other damage breathes
new life into otherwise lost film and sound moments.
The entertainment industry’s future
Looking forward, the future of music
and film lies in the digitisation of the entertainment world. With customers
wanting more and expecting an on-demand service from the film and sound
sector, suppliers need to keep offering them extras to keep on top of the
game. With competition rife within the industry, it is essential that they
take advantage of all the options on offer if they want to keep the customer
Making full use of sound and film catalogues
is essential to moving with the digital times. As the MP3 player market
grows, as do DVDs and other forms of mobile entertainment, sound and film
can be enjoyed in a range of different formats. And if back catalogues
are to be exploited, it is critical that companies invest now in archiving,
as being unable to find footage can cost millions of pounds, and raises
the question – if those who produced the footage don’t have it, then who