Universal Admits To Losing 22 Master Recordings In 2008 Fire

July 18, 2019

In June 2019, it was reported by The New York Times that over 60 rock and metal master recordings (including those by Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, and The Who) were lost in 2008 fire at Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA. As they prepare the legal backlash from artists and representatives affected by the fire, Universal Music Group has confessed that at least 22 "original masters" were destroyed in the fire.

According to an internal memo acquired by Variety, the media company has been putting in overtime by following up with about 275 artists. "To date we’ve reviewed 26,663 individual assets covering 30 artists."

"We believe we've identified 424 that could be missing or lost due to the fire, with audio assets accounting for 349 of them. Our data suggests that 22 of those could be 'original masters' which are associated with 5 artists. For each of those lost masters, we have located high-quality alternate sources in the form of safety copies or duplicate masters."

This comes from the senior vice president of recording studios and archive management of UMG, Pat Kraus. 

The memo states that UMG does not intent on making the list of lost masters public, saying, “Our current priority is to communicate directly with our artists and their representatives. Each artist can determine if they wish to publicly release the information we convey to them.”

Read the full memo here.

Related: Recordings by Aerosmith, Nirvana, Elton John, Guns N' Roses and More Destroyed in Fire