The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the world’s famous Jazz festivals that has hosted and given stage to the music’s greatest legends for over 50 years. One of its great successes is its vision. This wasn’t only about top musicians and an eclectic array of music, it was also about the idea to share the experience with people around the world by recording every single performance since its initiation in 1967. Over the years, the festival saw the launch of new, never before seen technology such as black and white video, multi-track audio, high-definition video, and much more.

The Technology to Preserve Culture is Continuously Changing

The variety of music is matched with the variety of ways the festival keeps in touch with their fans using resources like Montreux Jazz Live, Concert Database and the 50th edition interactive video offerings.

The technology required to capture, preserve and share this musical legacy is challenging. With over fifty years of great performances already recorded, the technology used to store this legacy has made significant and continual changes.

At EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), the Metamedia Center is dedicated to facilitating technology transfer from research to industry in the areas of multimedia, augmented reality, acoustics, signal processing and others. One of the center’s flagship projects, the “Montreux Jazz Digital Project,” is focused on the digitalization of all of Montreux Jazz Festival’s content.

Converting the different legacy storage media to something that facilitates a data forever architecture was one of Montreux Jazz Festival’s requirements. To give you a scope of things, they started with:

  • Over 11,000 hours of video
  • 6,000 hours of audio from 5,000 concerts
  • 14,000 tapes in 18 different formats[1]
  • There was no backup of any recordings
  • They needed 4PB to store all of these musical archives
  • And more than 10 years to digitalize everything

Now the festival has moved beyond audio recordings to video and virtual reality. Since 2014, all concerts are archived live and this summer they filmed concerts using 360-degree video, light field cameras and positional audio.

These technologies mean an exponential growth in capacity requirements, looking at a hundred petabytes expected over the next few years.[2] They also create significant storage performance requirements to ingest the large amount of streaming video and audio at the festival so that transcoding in a different location can proceed unimpeded.

How Can You Preserve Cultural Data, Forever?

To create their advanced media plan, Montreux Jazz Festival joined with their technology partner, EPFL and Western Digital to construct a data forever architecture.

It was clear the access speed of tape is far too slow, and it lacked critical features like:

  • Easily accessed archives that can be searched and shared by many constituents
  • Rich metadata to easily tag and find content and extract value
  • Cloud-level, seamless scalability
  • Long-term solution with “future-proofing” including expected migration to new technology every 5–7 years

They found ActiveScale™, our object storage system, to be an easy-to-implement and easy-to-administer cloud storage solution. Their solution includes a 3-geo configuration that allows them to ingest files at the festival and immediately share it at two locations on the EPFL campus for transcoding.

They can now store content from every festival, add rich metadata and provide access to the concerts for a broad range of users from a variety of devices including mobile devices, tablets, iPads and HDTV screens.

You can hear more from EPFL about how they built this digital archive in the video below:

Changing What it Means to Experience Music

The Montreux Jazz Festival combines passion and technology in a unique way to realize their dreams and capture, share and preserve their unique cultural heritage.

Read the story of how they’re changing what it means to experience music on Data Makes Possible and read a first-hand impression of the recent immersive experience.

To see more about the Montreux Jazz Festival and to find out more about ActiveScale solution for your critical unstructured data you can learn more on our website.

[1] https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/culture/musical-heritage_montreux-jazz-festival-opens-concert-time-capsule/42574036

[2] https://documents.westerndigital.com/content/dam/doc-library/en_us/assets/public/western-digital/collateral/case-study/case-study-epfl-preserves-fifty-years-of-montreux-jazz-music-activescale.pdf

Erik is the Senior Director, Product Marketing of Western Digital's Data Center Systems, with 25+ years of experience in high tech storage.