Exclusive: Bonus Q&A Beyond Iron Mountain’s Vault

Founded 1951, Iron Mountain began its Entertainment Services division in the 1990s, led globally by Jeff Anthony, Sr. VP. Iron Mountain’s Nashville post has been headed by Barry Cardinael, Project Manager, since its inception in the early 2000s.

“People know Iron Mountain for the preservation of 30 million assets. We also operate digital studios, which have digitized a staggering 1.5 million hours of content. The third part of our business is the DCR (Digital Content Repository), which is where all this digital data ends up,” says Anthony. “It allows customers to come in and mine their old content.”

In this bonus web piece, MusicRow highlights some of Iron Mountain’s work—storing valuable treasures and assets for many of the world’s leading companies—including all three major record label and recording studios. Pick up a copy of the MusicRow Awards print issue to read the full feature and learn how the DCR helps entertainment companies monetize their archived media. Or subscribe to MusicRow today to receive your complementary print issue.

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MusicRow: How did your work with Neil Diamond bring you to Iron Mountain, Barry?

Barry Cardinael: From the late ’70s I was working full time in L.A. with Neil Diamond both on the road and in the studio. Neil stored tapes in the Hollywood facility. Iron Mountain acquired that facility in the ‘90s, and I had some meetings with one of the VP’s from the client perspective where I had a few ideas of preserving and protecting the assets of the entertainment world. We jotted down a rough prospectus, and he said if we get it going, there will be a job if you want one. I of course took the job and in the first few years worked as a project manager and Jeff Anthony had just come on board. I did a lot of his market research, special projects, etc. in the Hollywood facility.

Today, I’m a project manager for our Entertainment Services Division. Not only do I oversee archiving in Nashville—but because I’m the oldest kid on the block—when we take on projects I decide what we’re going to do, who’s going to do it, what’s the scope, workflow, timeline and budget. We have projects pop up regularly, whether it’s cleaning or baking tapes or transferring them across the country to different facilities. We try to provide a full slate of services for our clients based on what their professional needs are.

What types of conditions do you have to maintain for your archives?

Jeff Anthony: We have the Corbis photo collection in a 20,000 square feet vault, kept very cold and dry—in the neighborhood of 45 degrees and 40 percent relative humidity. That collection has some of the most iconic photos: Albert Einstein with his tongue out or the beam in New York City.

The same applies for motion picture film because of the color dyes. You can typically get well in excess of 250 years life. There’s a lot of studies from the Rochester Institute of Technology that suggest the colder the temperature, the longer the life. I’ve seen some design curves suggesting a 500-year life if you kept it closer to freezing. Same thing with audiotape or videotape, you can get a couple hundred years if it’s kept in the 60-degree range.

There’s always been this thought with magnetic tape that if you’re comfortable, the tape is probably comfortable. People talk about 65-degrees or 45-percent relative humidity. We go a little bit cooler and a little bit dryer. This is sort of the standard set by the Library of Congress. We like to see five to 10 air exchanges per hour, using HEPA filters in all of our vaults.

Where are your more exotic underground and aboveground storage facilities?

Anthony: Iron Mountain has a number of underground storage facilities. The original in upstate New York called Iron Mountain Mine in Rosendale, New York. The largest one we have is in Pennsylvania where we typically keep our crown jewels. We also have a facility in Rhode Island, London—which is an old abandoned tube station—Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

How have you reduced risk when delivering archived media back to your clients?

Anthony: We have strategic studios in a lot of our facilities. So if a label or studio wants original content, the last thing you want to do is pull it out of a vault and into an airplane or truck, which really puts that asset at risk. What we’ll do is take the asset out of the vault and in to our studio, where we have amazing engineers, some of which have been nominated for Grammys or won Oscars for technical achievement. So the idea is an asset never leaves an Iron Mountain facility. It comes out of the vault, in to the studio and is digitized and can then take the digital vault and send it to the client with the original asset going back in to the vault, never seeing the light of day.

Explain how digital has impacted your work.

Anthony: Digital has been wonderful as a transport mechanism. If you want to get data from point A to point B efficiently, the only way to do that is to digitize it. If you put something up in the cloud, we all know what could happen—similar to the Sony breech. If you have things on tape and completely offline, there’s no way you would be subject to piracy. So all of our studio systems are not connected to the internet.

In terms of archiving, digital has been almost a disaster. Previously, you had to be very efficient with the finite amount of motion picture film in a magazine. With digital cameras, it’s not uncommon to find 30 cameras on set and they never turn them off. They’re shooting almost 10x more content than they used to when there was film. The labels are grappling with the same problems. People don’t record to tape anymore. Where typically on a tape you’d get 1-3 songs, on a hard drive you could get 50 takes of the same song and you don’t have a lot of metadata on that hard drive.

So you have this avalanche of content, metadata issues, format obsolescence, data degradation—It’s a real problem studios are grappling with.

How did Nancy Shapiro’s Grammy P&E Wing Deliverables Committee help solve those issues?

Cardinael: The deliverables committee was put together to try to establish what would be the most acceptable single standard for long-term preservation, cataloging, identifying around high-quality audio files. After much debate, putting recordings on LTO became the world standard. It is a technical committee of about a half dozen members that looked at the technology out there, and what would be best to use long term and not leave you scratching your head 5-10 years ago because you can’t retrieve what you recorded. The committee was meant to help engineers determine what to deliver to labels when turning in that $200,000-500,000 album project.

I’ve been on the Deliverables Committee since I moved to Nashville for Iron Mountain in 2001.

What do you find rewarding about your job in Nashville today?

Cardinael: One of the things I like best about the entertainment services division is working for such a large company. We have the wherewithal to have great buildings and systems and build studios to help people with professional needs. The best part is everyone I work with loves what we do.

But I’m a very lucky guy to have—back in the ’70s when we were all young and still alive—to have worked with Cat Stevens, Earth, Wind & Fire, Beach Boys, and Neil Diamond for over 20 years and went around the world multiple times. I consider myself just as lucky today to do the work I’m doing, with the people I’m doing it with, for the people I’m doing it for, as I did in my prior professional career.

Pick up a copy of the MusicRow Awards print issue to read the full feature or subscribe to MusicRow today to receive your complementary copy.


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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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