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 Posted:   Jun 12, 2019 - 6:44 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Although the statement from UMG on the NYT article claims that the article includes “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets”, the Variety write-up cites none of these, presumably because UMG offered no specifics..

UMG is still hiding behind "constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire." The most specific thing they say is that the fire "never affected the availability of the commercially released music.” Translation: "Everything that was issued as of 2008 is still available. Of course, it may only be in MP3 quality, but what do we care?"

 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2019 - 7:48 PM   
 By:   Essankay   (Member)

Although the statement from UMG on the NYT article claims that the article includes “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets”, the Variety write-up cites none of these, presumably because UMG offered no specifics..

UMG is still hiding behind "constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire." The most specific thing they say is that the fire "never affected the availability of the commercially released music.” Translation: "Everything that was issued as of 2008 is still available."



That's exactly what I got from the Variety article. The only "agenda" I see is UMG still trying to cover its ass!

Maybe since it wasn't film music masters that were lost, some people don't really care all that much. But the loss of original master recordings by artists as diverse as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Cab Calloway, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Clara Ward, Fats Domino, Big Mama Thornton, Les Paul, Burl Ives, the Weavers, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, The Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Sammy Davis Jr., Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny & Cher, the Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Captain Beefheart, Cat Stevens, the Carpenters, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Don Henley, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Iggy Pop, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and others(!), seems like nothing to sneeze at. And who knows what oddities and little-known treasures may have lurked in the back catalogs of now-defunct record companies whose entire libraries of original recordings have been wiped out?

The Variety article very rightly points out "Despite its at-times dramatic tone, the [NYT] article does contextualize the assets that were lost, which are primarily historic in value. 'John Coltrane and Patsy Cline music has not vanished from the earth; right now you can use a streaming service to listen to Coltrane and Cline records whose masters burned on the backlot,' it reads. 'But those masters still represent an irretrievable loss. When the tapes disappeared, so did the possibility of sonic revelations that could come from access to the original recordings. Information that was logged on or in the tape boxes is gone. And so are any extra recordings those masters may have contained — music that may not have been heard by anyone since it was put on tape.'”

 
 Posted:   Jun 12, 2019 - 10:57 PM   
 By:   Stefan Huber   (Member)

'John Coltrane and Patsy Cline music has not vanished from the earth; right now you can use a streaming service to listen to Coltrane and Cline records whose masters burned on the backlot,' it reads.

A silly statement since a huge amount of the music from that era has never been (officially) re-issued. The only option is to dub from commercially released copies.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2019 - 1:13 AM   
 By:   jamesluckard   (Member)

I finished reading the article today. It's exceptionally long, but thoughtfully written.

The article makes it very clear that it's never suggesting that the music of all these artists has been entirely erased, but that the original master recordings have been lost.

Again, these are NOT film scores they're talking about, they're jazz and pop and rock albums, from some of the biggest names in music in the 20th Century.

The new UMG press release calls the article lots of names and extols their corporate accomplishments in the years since the fire, but I don't see it actually disputing any of the facts alleged in the article.

The article also makes clear that it's partly sourced from UMG's own internal documents, filed in a lawsuit against NBC Universal.

If UMG can demonstrate that anything in the article is untrue, the NYTimes owes them a HUGE retraction. We shall see.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2019 - 1:25 AM   
 By:   jamesluckard   (Member)

Looks like lots of major musicians are chiming in now too:

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-universal-hollywood-fire-master-recordings-20190611-story.html

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2019 - 3:36 AM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

When I said there was "nothing to see here," I was trying to imply in not so many words that there is a smoking gun here. Now I'll just say it outright: there is a smoking gun. It's pretty close to falling into the category of "fake news." This is being stirred up because of an individual with an agenda.

https://variety.com/2019/music/news/universal-music-disputes-severity-2008-vault-fire-new-york-times-1203239661/

And one more time: Music elements owned by Universal Studios were not stored in that building. That means no Spartacus masters, no TV material, etc. The only music tapes in that building were owned by Universal Music Group -- a completely and totally separate company since 2004, which leased the space because they hadn't gotten around to moving things off the lot yet. That means album material ONLY. That would include, of course, re-recordings of scores, but that doesn't mean the one and only copies were completely lost. Not only are there copies elsewhere, but a lot was taken out of the building during the incident.


An individual with an agenda. There you have it, folks. What else is new? Is that the individual named in the article, the former UMG employee?

 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2019 - 5:14 AM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

And one more time: Music elements owned by Universal Studios were not stored in that building. That means no Spartacus masters, no TV material, etc. The only music tapes in that building were owned by Universal Music Group -- a completely and totally separate company since 2004, which leased the space because they hadn't gotten around to moving things off the lot yet. That means album material ONLY. That would include, of course, re-recordings of scores, but that doesn't mean the one and only copies were completely lost. Not only are there copies elsewhere, but a lot was taken out of the building during the incident.


All due respect to Mike Matessino, but that's a sweeping statement for a vault (really a shed) of that magnitude. It's a huge storage site. The firemen looked like ants on the roof of the adjacent building (NYT caption: "The fire at the Universal backlot in June 2008. Credit Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press"). Who knows what recordings of its own Universal Studios had in there, adjacent to spaces occupied by the tenant UMG? I don't think we can know. Even an industry insider like Mike could be lied to, or brushed off with a lack of candor, or at best informed by someone at Universal who doesn't know the whole vault utilization story himself.

I certainly hope Mike is right on this point, that the only film music we lost that day was the UMG album masters, but that's not nothing! The 2016 liner notes of SILENT RUNNING (which had to be transferred from vinyl) specifically refer to a fruitless search of Universal and UMG vaults. It's just one example where an album's master tape controlled by UMG would have been damn nice to have.

Also, do we really think Universal would make a public announcement if they'd lost Oliver Nelson's SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN scores? There'd be rioting in the streets. Or they just wouldn't tell us for some other reason.

And while they have a photo of firemen handling ("removing") some media canisters, how big a dent could they possibly have made in the enormity of the building's contents?

And this: "...as Aronson looked around he noticed one truck whose parking lights seemed to be melting." That might be baloney, or it might be that a fire truck had pre-melted fixtures from a prior incident, but IF it's true, then even the tiny handful of canisters possibly being rescued in the photo might contain destroyed media.

You have to be skeptical of any "good news" and reassurances from UMG, especially in light of how it conflicts with their own claims in the lawsuit.

Also, I'm thankful for every boutique label film music CD we got from master tapes, and for the metadata in the liner notes. Many of our wonderful booklets tell us the recording dates, musicians' names, and reel numbers, which is the kind of info that will be destroyed in the next vault fire. I'm thankful for the whole film music CD renaissance that preserved so much for us, especially as a Silver Age and sci-fi fan.

 
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