Editor's Note: Got a Backup Plan?

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Have you ever been in a critical musical situation—either onstage or while recording—and suddenly discovered that part of your setup doesn’t work? Were you ready for it? If so, what was your strategy?

In the high-stakes world of professional audio, redundancies are built into a production to avoid show-stopping failures. But while major acts with millions of dollars riding on a tour can afford to have fully duplicated systems at the ready, the rest of us must find clever ways to be prepared for disaster. If you are planning to do any kind of work in front of others and you haven’t given this some thought, it is time to come up with a plan of action.

Under the term “electronic music” are innumerable approaches, and in nearly every case, electronic equipment failure is far more unforgiving than is the malfunction of a traditional musical instrument. Replacing a broken guitar string or drum head is trivial compared to dealing with a complete drive failure on your laptop where you’ve carefully organized several GB of data. And because most of us have a complex, customized setup, there is no one-size-fits-all solution (other than having a fully redundant system at the gig with you, of course).

I’ve met artists who carry a complete set of back-up audio files (mixes or stems, depending on the kind of music they make) on a USB drive and their mobile device. It also makes sense to keep a set of backups in the cloud. Although it won’t help you if you’re in a venue without access to stable Internet connectivity, it’s worth having it there in other situations.

What is your backup plan when your system goes down? If you already have a system in place, we’d love to hear about it: Send us an email detailing the setup. We will gather the best ones together in a future article on the topic to share with the rest of our readers.