A report in the New York Times yesterday revealed that a half million master recordings were destroyed in 2008 fire at Universal Studios.
UMG had never disclosed the destruction of the masters, which included material from 2Pac, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Nirvana, Guns N Roses, Elton John, R.E.M., Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, The Eagles, Bobby Brown, BB King, The Four Tops, Quincy Jones and just about everyone who's ever been on Universal.
It's now being called the biggest disaster in the history of music.
Universal is now pushing back on the report, but not necessarily denying hundreds of thousands of recordings were lost
A spokesman told Variety the Times article contained. “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.”
“Music preservation is of the highest priority for us and we are proud of our track record. While there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire that occurred at NBCUniversal Studios facility more than a decade ago, the incident – while deeply unfortunate – never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists’ compensation," the statement continues.
Krist Novoselic of Nirvana and Questlove of the Roots have now both confirmed their masters were lost.
I think they are gone forever.— Krist Novoselić (@KristNovoselic) June 12, 2019
i mean, it's sad to lose a piece of my life, but we still have the final masters---as in how it was released in 95/96 are still there. this also explains why we CAN'T find the original #WhatTheyDo subtitle video for youtube— Questlove De La Rose (@questlove) June 11, 2019
In better news, it looks like Eminem's masters still exist thanks to some really good timing. Joel Martin, who manages Shady's former production team, tells the Detroit Free Press that Em's masters were "painstakingly duplicated onto digital media just in the nick of time -- months before the June 2008 disaster."