Earlier this month, it was reportedly posted by The New York Times that there was a fire 11 years ago at Universal Studios Hollywood. Within the fire was a mass number of destroyed master tapes by artists throughout the decades, including works by Nirvana, Eminem, John Coltrane, and many more.
Posted by Pitchfork, in a follow-up, The Times claims that several artists including Hole, Soundgarden, and Steve Earle, as well as the estates of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty, are suing UMG for losses. The document obtained by The Times revealed that the lawsuit mentioned that they never revealed to the artist that their masters were allegedly destroyed during the fire.
According to The New York Times, the plaintiffs allege that Universal breached its contractual obligations to artists by failing to protect the masters. The suit also reportedly asserts that UMG should have shared any funds received as settlements from the fire, such as an insurance payment and a legal settlement from NBCUniversal. It is also reported by The Times that claim is seeking more than $100 million in damages.
In their recent article, Pitchfork stated that the “2008 fire reportedly destroyed [more than] 100,000 audio recordings containing as many as 500,000 songs.”
After an investigation was conducted by The New York Times, Universal released an official statement downplaying the amount of damaged caused by the fire. Universal Music Group argued that The Times report included “inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions, and fundamental misunderstandings.” However, there was no evidence available to back up their claim.
In The Times report, chairman and chief executive Lucian Grange, was quoted saying “we owe our artists transparency” regarding the 2008 fire.
Many were not aware of the ordeal until it was reported by The New York Times, such as Hole. Others, such as musicians that masters were destroyed during the fire are still reacting to the new revelations via social media.