Keeper of the Seven Keys: Audio Heritage in Metal Music Production

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Abstract

Audio heritage is a relatively unexplored area within popular music studies from a technical production perspective. This research raises awareness of the importance and challenges of audio preservation and provides insights into archiving practices of record labels and producers. Based on interviews with German metal music producers, the article examines the conflicting artistic, economic and legal forces in the recording industry that often result in the loss of master tapes and multi-track recordings, thus preventing significant remastering for new consumer media such as high-resolution streaming or remixes valuable to artists and their fans alike. The findings suggest that there is no archiving standard amongst record labels. It is often up to record producers to archive and preserve recorded artefacts, which they do voluntarily and at their own expense, either in the hope of future commercial exploitation or to preserve their work. Whilst established record producers who began in the analogue era seem to be reliable archivists, the modern metal music industry, with its shrinking budgets, semi-professional, digitally home-recorded productions and self-releasing artists, puts the genre’s more recent audio heritage at risk.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMetal Music Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Jun 2021

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