It’s easy for artists to dismiss hacking as something that only happens to big companies or governments, but as many found out last week when distributor Tunecore was compromised, even small-time creatives aren’t immune. When you choose a music distribution platform to sell music online or deliver songs to streaming services, data security needs to be one of criteria you use to evaluate your options.
Make sure your music distribution is compliant with data security
Not all digital distribution platforms are alike. Although it might be tempting to go with the service that charges the lowest fees, it is definitely worth doing some due diligence to make sure you won’t wind up exposed. Make sure to see if a service has ever been hacked before, and if so, what steps they took in the aftermath to correct any security lapses. It’s also worth asking how user data is encrypted and how secure the distributor’s networks are — while a distributor doesn’t need a full time security expert to keep things in good shape, they should probably have at least consulted with someone to make sure all systems are in good order.
At a certain point, when you work with a digital distributor, you wind up leaving things to chance. But good security needs to start at home, and artists should make sure they observe data security best practices (starting with a secured password) on their personal networks as well — hackers have broken into producers networks and stolen unfinished tracks in the past.
You don’t want to take the risk to be hacked
That’s just one of the many risks artists face if they are hacked. First and foremost, your financial information could be stolen — and once that happens, it can be very hard to track down who exactly has your information. Even if you call your bank and alert them as soon as you find out, the hackers might have already used your information to make purchases, and getting that money back can be a long and difficult process.
Your personal information can also be stolen and resold, and you might not know that has happened for many years. If you’ve shared your government identification number (usually your Social Security number in the United States), that can then be sold along to someone trying to enter the country without proper documentation — and can create a massive headache if you ever want to collect government benefits. Your address and phone number can also be sold on to scammers, and although it’s unlikely someone will show up at your home, you can be the target of other mail and phone scams. Digitally savvy folks can generally see through these, but some are convincing — there have been cases of people calling about realistic sounding medical bills, for instance, and getting people to offer credit card numbers over the phone.
As mentioned above, hackers can also steal and distribute your music, although the good news is that unless you’re a superstar, this won’t be a huge deal. Once you release a song, it’ll likely end up on torrent sites soon enough — that’s just the situation these days. That said, having rough drafts of songs get out before they are ready is never fun, so add that to the list of reasons to make sure your data is protected.
Some tips to protect your data
- Regularly change your password (every 3 months);
- Don’t use your name on your password, it is easier to hack;
- Combination between numbers and letters are best.
Data security isn’t a particularly fun or sexy topic, but it’s also crucial to making sure all your hard work doesn’t wind up being compromised. As long as you do some due diligence and make sure your digital distributor is responsible, you can avoid some of the headaches outlined above.