If you already know that a formal, standardized plan will help you keep track of your physical or digital stuff, great -- half the battle is recognizing your needs. In fact, the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Preservation 101 Textbook has a chapter on preservation plans that might be useful to you. But if you’re still on the fence, consider the situation facing Burger Records.
Fullerton, California’s Burger Records was founded in 2007 by Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard, members of a band called Thee Makeout Party. Bohrman and Rickard started the label to release music by Thee Makeout Party and Audacity, another Fullerton band. While on tour, they realized that Burger could potentially fill a (mostly) untapped niche with cassette tapes. “We [were] friends with NoBunny and The Go and all these bands that have made these awesome records that nobody’s put on cassette, ’cause no one was doing that at the time,” Bohrman told TheVinylDistrict.com. “I sent out emails to all these people, and they were into it. The record labels that put out these records originally had no interest in putting out cassettes, so they were fine with us putting it out.” In 2009, Bohrman and Rickard opened up a Burger Records shop in their hometown, giving them a place to sell and promote their label’s releases.
Since then, Burger Records has exploded -- at the time this post was written, Burger has issued more than 600 releases and sold more than 100,000 cassette tapes. They now have a second store (Gnarburger, a joint partnership with cassette label Gnar Tapes in Cypress Park, California), a baby-brother label (Wiener Records), a weekly online radio show, and several recurring music festivals, the latest of which -- Burger Boogaloo 2015 -- was hosted by none other than director John Waters.
Despite Burger’s insane passion and work ethic, the precarious nature of the label’s output isn’t far from their minds. Earlier this year, we talked with Burger about how the label saves its stuff, and Bohrman was characteristically frank with us. Burger, like a lot of young independent labels, takes advantage of an era where practically everything that a label does -- recording, mixing, marketing, and releasing music -- can be achieved with a single computer. But not too long ago, their hard drive reached its limit for storage, and the Burger enterprise spilled over into multiple external hard drives.
“Sometimes [I’m] scared of how easy it would be to lose everything,” Bohrman told us. “All it would take is a fire, or a flood, or for someone to come in and take our equipment, and it'd be years of work lost.”
As Burger Records continues to expand, a label-spanning preservation plan will become more and more complex. It will likely be a long, boring process, but it will also be absolutely useful.
The first logical step in creating a preservation plan is take a detailed look at what has filled up your hard drives (and your boxes and backrooms) and take note of what needs to be saved -- or more easily, what doesn’t need to be saved. Stay tuned for our next post on deciding what to keep.