A 2008 fire at Universal Studios was "the biggest disaster in the history of the music business", according to a New York Times feature released yesterday.
According to the Times, however, the fire also destroyed an archive home to about 500,000 master recordings, a.k.a. original audio recordings that all future copies are based on.
The blaze made headlines in June 2008, as it destroyed parts of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, as well as several sets used for filming and a large warehouse that stored videotapes and film reels.More news: Video shows sophisticated attack on ex-slugger David Ortiz
Master recordings are typically owned and controlled by the music labels for the artists in their catalog.
Also lost were nearly all of Buddy Holly's masters, plus classic and/or early recordings from Etta James, Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Al Green, Ray Charles, Elton John, B.B.
Now a number of artists said to have been affected by the news have spoken out about the revelation, with a representative for Courtney Love's band Hole admitting to Pitchfork that the rockers were "not aware (of the loss of masters) until this morning". "We will detail further as and when".
In his report, Rosen likens a master recording to that of an original painting and says that more than the monetary value, the damage to our shared cultural heritage is the great tragedy of the situation.More news: People Canceling Trips to Dominican Republic Amid Slew of Deaths
Universal Studios officials reportedly kept the damage hush-hush at the time, saying that nothing that had been lost was the sole copy of a work. King, THE FOUR TOPS, Snoop Dogg, Chuck Berry, Tom Petty, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Cat Stevens, GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS, Eric Clapton, THE EAGLES, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, THE POLICE, Sting, Steve Earle, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent, and countless more.
In its statement, UMG said it was proud of its efforts in music preservation and listed various initiatives it had spearheaded or supported.
R.E.M. were another victim of the fire, and have stated that they are trying to find out what happened and "the effect on the band's music, if any".More news: Three officially announces 5G plans for the UK