Universal Music Confirms 19 Artists Lost Master Recordings in 2008 Warehouse Fire
In a suit against its parent company, Universal previously estimated some 17,000 artists were affected by the blaze.
Universal Music Group has confirmed the recordings of at least 19 artists were damaged or destroyed in the warehouse 2008 fire that leveled a Universal Studios lot being used for storage by the label.
According to recent court documents obtained by Rolling Stone from the ongoing class-action lawsuit against the label, artist masters affected by the blaze include those of Beck, Elton John, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and others. The suit charges UMG with failing to fully disclose the severity of the potential damages to artist assets.
And this new figure, down from the some 17,000 named in the label’s own suit for losses against parent company, NBCUniversal, seems a little short. At least, that’s what Howard King, an attorney representing some of the artists in the current suit, is currently arguing. “This discrepancy is inexplicable,” King tells Rolling Stone, requesting a comprehensive inventory of items damaged in the fire. For their part, a UMG rep contends King’s demand for a list of affected recordings is “a desperate attempt to inject substance into their meritless legal case.” In a statement to the publication, the rep adds, “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.”
The losses from the 2008 fire were uncovered in a New York Times Magazine investigation that revealed hundreds of artists’ recordings were potentially destroyed. With the prospect of billions in damages on the table, don’t expect this thing break out of the court system anytime soon.