Starting next spring, a Norweigian company will begin housing some of the world’s most important music recordings in a doomsday vault located between Norway and the North Pole. Oslo-based Elire Management Group recently spoke with Billboard about their grand ambitions to preserve recordings varying from pop acts like the Beatles to Australian indigenous music for at least 1,000 years.
Named the Global Music Vault, it will share the same safeguards as the Arctic World Archive and the Global Seed Vault, two preexisting facilities located underground in the Svalbard archipelago. As the financer of the project, Elire is currently negotiating with the Norwegian company Piql to use their PiqlFilm format, based on binary coding and high-density QR codes written onto special durable optical film.
Per Billboard, Piql claims their storage technology can last over 1,000 years while being able to withstand electromagnetic pulses from a nuclear explosion that would normally deal permanent damage to electronic equipment and wreak havoc on digital files. The cool, dry permafrost conditions on Svalbard will also contribute to the longevity of the stored data.
To decide what music should be preserved, Elire has partnered with the Paris-based International Music Council to form a global committee that will work with national music business groups to select the “most precious and loved” music from all over the world. The public is expected to vote on national submissions as well.
“We don’t want to just protect a certain genre and certain era,” said Luke Jenkinson, managing director of the Global Music Vault and managing partner at Elire. “We want the nations and regions of the world to curate what music gets deposited.”
It’s worth noting that major labels including Universal Music Group, Sony Music UK, and Warner Music Group — as well as many independents — already store digital copies and duplicate recordings in separate locations across the world. According to Elire, however, they are just offering an extra level of protection — assuming they get clearance from record companies and other rights holders.
The company intends to earn money by charging companies and artists to make deposits into the vault. Elire also plans to make the vault’s contents accessible to listeners around the world and share the revenue with creators.
Scheduled for spring 2022, the vault’s first inaugural deposit will focus on preserving Indigenous music, with pop recordings to come later. Learn more about the Global Music Vault here. Head over to Billboard to read the full report.