Music is fundamental to humankind. What if the world’s musical history could be safely stored forever deep inside a mountain in far north Norway?
A doomsday vault for recorded music is being constructed on an arctic island between the North Pole and Norway. Known as the Global Music Vault, the project is headed by Oslo-based Elire Management Group, which claims the building should last for at least 1,000 years buried beneath 1,000-feet of snow.
The Global Music Vault is set deep inside an arctic mountain in far north Norway, on the Svalbard archipelago. Svalbard is a declared demilitarized zone by 42 nations.
World music bodies are collaborating with the Global Music Vault on its first phase of archive building. The main purpose and mission are to preserve indigenous music from every country around the world. Global music entities are partnering with the Norwegian government and world-leading archive specialists Piql, which already safeguards some of the world’s most precious memories from UNICEF, GitHub, European Space Station, and the Vatican.
The Global Music Vault is also looking forward to introducing valued global ambassadors, who will be able to engage with and learn about the material within the vault at a planned visitor center near the facility.
The music of the world must be safeguarded and preserved. This doomsday vault is the music industry and humanity’s opportunity to protect our collective body of musical work.
What makes the Global Music Vault one of the world’s most secure buildings? Read on to find out.
What Is Included in the Global Music Vault?
Starting in 2021, a wide variety of musical expressions from all around the world will be the first to get deposited in the vault. The vault is expected to be operational by early 2022, and the initial focus will be on native music styles. Later, the plan is to include pop and other genres. The Global Music Vault wants the nations and regions of the world to curate what music is deposited.
Using future-proof digital storage, the Oslo-based Elire Management Group plans to store recordings of everything from major-label pop hits to Australian Indigenous music with the same safeguards offered by the Arctic World Archive and the Global Seed Vault, two existing storage facilities housed underground in the Svalbard archipelago.
When it comes to selecting the artists and work to include, the managing director of the Global Music Vault, Luke Jenkinson, states the intention is not to just protect a certain genre or certain era. The group encourages individual nations to submit ideas as to the tracks and songs making the final cut, potentially involving a public vote.
What Is Special About the Technology Used in the Global Music Vault?
The technology used to store the data is as important as the music itself. Most digital storage mediums have a limited lifetime, and hardware, software, and file formats become obsolete as technology evolves.
The purpose-built digital storage for this doomsday vault can last for over 1,000 years with guaranteed future accessibility. The storage medium is future-proofed and technology-independent, so no matter how much time passes and how technology evolves, the data will still be accessible.
The technology can withstand extreme electromagnetic exposure and has undergone extensive longevity and accessibility testing. According to the team behind its construction, this technology will be revealed to the world in the near future.
The safety, security, and remoteness of the location make the site a perfect choice for a vault containing such valuable information. The cool, dry permafrost conditions increase the longevity of the stored data.
The vault occupies a truly unique location. It is a remote safe haven for the most treasured and valued musical creations of our culture’s past and present. The Global Music Vault uses a preservation solution with a storage level guarantee of 1,000 years. This year, music from indigenous communities will be the first collection added to the vault.
Ecological Impact of Doomsday Vault
The Global Music Vault, located in the Arctic World Archive, is an ecological powerhouse, climate-neutral structure, which by virtue of its geographic location, features some of the most consistent temperatures in the world. This means the heating and humidity regulation of the structure fluctuates very little throughout the year.
Music stored and preserved is low impact as it is only transported once to Svalbard and then remains there. Employees live and work within 5 kilometers (3.11 miles), so there is little impact from site maintenance.
The cool, dry, permafrost conditions in Svalbard mean that this doomsday vault is one of the greenest data centers in the world, requiring little electrical input. The remaining electrical energy required is generated from nearby low-impact hydroelectric energy.
The Global Music Vault aims to provide the worldwide music community an opportunity to minimize its carbon footprint. With currently over 3 million music producers worldwide, releasing over 40,000 songs a day on music streams, creating 10 – 40 master music files for each song, is a massive amount of data to store. The music industry at large is ignorant of the negative environmental impact of storing this much data. At this unique doomsday vault, a single master file is stored, which will last for generations.
Founding Partners of the Global Music Vault
Elire MG is a Norway-based commercial management group working in innovative and fast-moving industries and markets including mobility, media, sponsorship, sports and entertainment, large-scale events, FMCG, music, and more.
Elire MG is the founding partner taking the Global Music Vault through an accelerator process to scale and grow in order to unlock government funding and secure the business for the next phase.
International Music Council (IMC)
The International Music Council (IMC) is another founding partner of the Global Music Vault. UNESCO founded the IMC in 1949. It is the world’s largest network of organizations and institutions working in the field of music. Through its members and their networks, the IMC directly accesses over 1,000 organizations in some 150 countries and 200 million persons eager to develop and share knowledge and experience on diverse aspects of musical life.
The IMC develops, proclaims, and works towards the advancement of core values called the “Five Music Rights”. Becoming a founding partner of the Global Music Vault is a natural step in IMC’s global mission to safeguard and promote the value of music in the lives of all people. The council sees the Global Music Vault as a solution to a couple of the big challenges faced by today’s musical ecosystem, notably the danger of the world forgetting about music cultures or not being able to access this rich diversity.
Arctic World Archive (AWA)
The Arctic World Archive (AWA) is also a founding partner of the Global Music Vault. It is where the physical music files and music capsules will originally be stored in far north Norway on a remote island called Svalbard, using the same advanced, unique technology necessary to store music files for eternity.
As world leaders in specialist archiving, the Arctic World Archive is trusted to store and safeguard works from UNICEF, The European Space Station, Github, and the Vatican.
What Makes the Global Music Vault One of the World’s Most Secure Buildings?
The Global Music Vault can withstand electromagnetic pulses from a nuclear explosion. The structure uses specialist technology developed by archiving, data storage, and preservation experts at the Norwegian firm, Piql. This involves binary coding and high-density QR codes written on durable optical film.
Designed to withstand natural and manmade disasters in the safest location on earth, data stored in this doomsday vault is expected to last for centuries. Much of the heritage here is stored digitally and, despite best efforts to protect it for the future, it can be exposed to risks, either from the online environment or just from the limits of modern storage technology. The combination of resilient long-term storage technology and the remote, safe, and cold conditions found on Svalbard enables data to live on into the distant future.
The Svalbard region is an ideal location for the Global Music Vault thanks to its cold and dry climate. This is why the group of islands are already home to both the Arctic World Vault, which stores historical and cultural artifacts and data from across the world, and the Global Seed Vault, a physical “backup” to protect the planet’s crop diversity. The area is classified as demilitarized, and so, in principle, cannot be involved in conflicts.
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