A new court filing shows UMG has acknowledged the loss of master recording from Nirvana, Elton John and more in the 2008 warehouse fire.
Universal Music Group has confirmed that master recordings of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Elton John, Beck, Soundgarden, Sheryl Crow, R.E.M and more were destroyed in the 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood, as reported by Pitchfork.
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In June 2019, The New York Times reported that an extensive number of master recordings were destroyed in 2008, but not initially reported by UMG. Now, as a part of a new filing in the artists' class action suit against UMG, the company has acknowledged that masters of the aforementioned artists, as well as Bryan Adams, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, David Baerwald, Jimmy Eat World, Les Paul, Peter Frampton, Michael McDonald, Slayer, Suzanne Vega, Surfaris, White Zombie, and Y&T were destroyed.
UMG sent the following response to Pitchfork:
The plaintiffs’ lawyers have already been informed that none of the masters for four of their five clients were affected by the fire — and the one other client was alerted years earlier and UMG and the artist, working together, were still able to locate a high-quality source for a reissue project. Recognizing the lack of merit of their original claims, plaintiffs’ attorneys are now willfully and irresponsibly conflating lost assets (everything from safeties and videos to artwork) with original album masters, in a desperate attempt to inject substance into their meritless legal case. Over the last eight months, UMG’s archive team has diligently and transparently responded to artist inquiries, and we will not be distracted from completing our work, even as the plaintiffs’ attorneys pursue these baseless claims.
Howard King, who represents the artists, released a statement saying, “Universal claimed 17,000 artists were affected by the fire when they were suing for damages. Now that they face a lawsuit by their artists, they claim a mere 19 artists were affected. This discrepancy is inexplicable.”