The fire at the Universal Music Group (UMG) warehouse in 2008 has larger repercussions than thought before. A huge repertoire of master recordings was destroyed with another 700 artists reported to be affected.
Rock music vocalist, Courtney Love has criticized UMG, telling the New York Times,
“No one knows for sure yet, specifically what is gone from their estate, their catalog. But for once in a horrible way people believe me about the state of the music business which I would not wish on my worst enemy. Our culture has been devastated, meanwhile, UMG is online with cookie recipes and pop as if nothing happened. It’s so horrible.”
Along with Steve Earle, Soundgarden, the estate of Tupac Shakur, and a former wife of Tom Petty, Courtney Love’s band Hole have filed a lawsuit against the UMG. The lawsuit seeks $100 million as damages.
UMG had earlier disregarded the story, broken by the New York Times, citing ‘numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.
The record label claims some of the recordings have not been destroyed as claimed. These include works of John Coltrane and Muddy Waters.
Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO UMG said in a letter to his colleagues,
“Having our artists and songwriters not knowing whether the speculation is accurate is completely unacceptable. We owe our artists transparency. We owe them answers.”
The New York Times report
The New York Times story that broke the news about the fire listed artists including Bill Haley and His Comets, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Elton John and many more.
‘Lost in the fire was, undoubtedly, a huge musical heritage,’ says a confidential UMG document from 2009. This document has been accessed by the New York Times.