Instaudio has been shut down.
- On July 27th 2019, Instaudio stopped accepting new uploads and new user account signups, and the shutdown was announced.
- On August 12th, 2019, a data export feature was launched, allowing registered users to request a .ZIP archive of all their uploads
- On August 31st, all uploads became unavailable to the public, but registered users could still access their own uploads, and request an archive. Meanwhile, deletion of all uploads not associated with a registered user was started.
- On September 28th, 2019, the site was shut down entirely, and replaced by a simple message.
A few reasons.
Instaudio had always been a personal passion project. I built it on my own, and operated it on my own since its inception in 2013. All of the costs like web hosting for the site itself, hosting for all the uploaded audio files, and cost of the domain name came out of my own money. While I'm fortunate enough to have a steady job that allowed me to afford doing this, it was no longer worth it to me.
First of all, I want to acknowledge and thank Versilian Studios for kindly sponsoring the site. They have been users of the site since the very first days, and frequently advertised on the site through now-defunct Project Wonderful. After that they've been sponsoring directly ever since.
Increased traffic and more uploads meant that costs kept going up, particularly for traffic through Amazon's S3 service, where the audio files got served from.
An ever-increasing amount of people chose to ignore the simple text on the upload page:
Please do NOT upload anything you don't have the rights to distribute. This includes music that isn't your own generally, and "leaked" work by other artists
This led to lots and lots of takedown notices from record labels and organisations representing them. I've always done my best to respond to these notices by taking down the content as soon as I saw the email.
In some cases, I developed scripts that detected certain sources of infringing content and automatically cleaned it up.
The abuse situation has gotten to the point where I'm being threatened with "legal consequences" and other such things because, in those organisations' judgment, I am ineffective at preventing infringing content from being distributed through Instaudio.
I have always operated Instaudio in good faith, with the goal of letting musicians and other audio producers like myself share their works in progress with their peers, in a no-hassle way. Unfortunately good intent is always abused on the internet. To survive the abuse, websites need the resources to implement effective measures against it—measures that often lead to false positives, to the dismay of legitimate users. For many, Instaudio was a breath of fresh air from that sort of thing, but, alas.
Other forms of abuse also occurred, such as automated bulk-downloading, or hot-linking to Instaudio-hosted files on webpages with high traffic. Both of these result in high bandwidth, and therefore high cost for me. On many occasions, I had to implement measures to stop it. The most visible of these is the "I'm not a robot" check on the download page.
SPAM is just part of the background noise of the internet, of course. Fairly early in, Instaudio started receiving spammy uploads with either a nonsense audio file, or with text-to-speech content of the product being advertised. The description field was also used for links and whatnot.
This is kind of amusing, considering this sort of spam cannot have any benefit for the spammer; Instaudio does not by itself link to uploads. There has never been a homepage or feed with "latest uploads" or "best of" or any of that, so there was no way for this spam to ever surface and get the perpetrators views.
That being said, they still took up storage space, so I invested time into automatic detection and cleanup tools, after spending entirely too much time manually moderating incoming content for it. A lot of work went into those tools, for no visible benefit.
As time went on I had to put more and more effort into the ugly side of keeping Instaudio running, which left no energy to work on cool new features. Coupled with the cost and the stress, it became an overall negative for me. I have other, more fulfilling hobbies that I'd much rather spend the time and money on.
I am really thankful for all the legitimate users of Instaudio. You shared so many great pieces of work: tracks, podcasts, Undertale covers, synthesizer bleeps and bloops, voice acting, Undertale covers, birdsong, discussions of scripture, memes, and Undertale covers. You recommended Instaudio far and wide, so it got thousands and thousands of people uploading to it, without ever spending anything on marketing.
Thank you also to everyone who has made donations through "Buy me a Coffee", they've all helped make the cost of upkeep a bit lighter.
Thanks again also to Versilian Studios for their support and sponsorship over the years.
Thank you to the many people who have gone out of their way to express how much they love the site too, it has brightened my day every time.
And thank you to my friend DB, who came up with the idea that spawned Instaudio to begin with, and who has always been a sounding board for ideas when I was working on it.