The article just aggregates an NYTimes article which describes, in great, captivating detail, the events leading up to the fire which destroyed a reported 500,000 songs from artists ranging from Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, The Roots, and John Coltrane. It also touches on the coverup by UMG and the state of the music's industry's efforts to properly archive all of recorded music.
A sobering read but the writer holds your interest throughout. It's a long read - took me about a half hour but it's a great read and I generally don't like music journalism.
2. "I know what you mean" In response to Reply # 1
I was stunned at the destruction of all of that great, iconic music. The coverup seemed to be par for the course of all these too-big-to-do-their-job corporations.
It makes sense that the record companies probably aren't incentivized to tend to their archives. (that story about the Atlantic Records exec showing more emotion about the insurance payment offered over a fire than sadness over the loss of the music speaks volumes.) The news that the labels could see their catalogs as a source of revenue means archiving could get more attention but I would think a lot of great music is not going to get the attention it deserves.
The Library of Congress isn't equipped to handle a project of this scale and it seems like whatever music historical non-profit that was mentioned in the article (the one Jack White donated to) isn't either.
Another chapter in the book of 20th Century institutions hopelessly ill-equipped to adapt.
4. "I hope there are vinyl backups" In response to Reply # 0
Vinyl plates or the tapes they use for vinyl can be almost as good as masters. At least for some of the jazz stuff I really hope there are other analog copies. I have some Loius Armstrong 45s I restored that I don't think there are any masters for. Those are some of my favorite recordings even though they are vinyl recorded to digital.
So Half-Life and DYWM masters are lost? Damn that sucks. I wonder if the unsequenced tapes are somewhere. Sometimes The Roots vinyl are cut from a different nonsequenced Tape with gaps between the tracks.
7. "RE: Ah, beat me to it. " In response to Reply # 5
>I was going to post about this after seeing the article on >Twitter yesterday. > >Whew. My blood is boiling! Boiling! > >...and I haven't even finished reading the article. > >There’s a larger story here about why they owned the masters >for all of those legendary labels. No company should have >owned all of that music in the first place. > Right. The current structure is *just* short of being monopolistic. Companies that big that aren't structured and incentivised to tend to parts of their business which are basically sinks for money, like archiving masters. It would be great if a non-profit or some other group which actually cares about artistry and music could take over archviving for all that music. But that organization would need some deep pockets and time to create the heirarchy and infrastructure necessary to pull that off.
On a side note, there's a portion of the article that refers to a 'cloud storage' company for lack of a better term that has a number of digitized versions of masters. They'll be preserved for some time but apparently artists and labels who want to look at their masters have to pay some sort of check-out fee. Which limits the possibility of reissues of albums which weren't big sellers or may not have much interest from music afficinados. It's great that everyone's getting paid here, but it does seem like the artists and art fans, as usual, are the losers.
>By the way, I don’t think this is what most people would >call traditional “music journalism.” This is an >interesting feature story that happens to be music-related, if >that makes sense.
That's a good point. This article was more investigative journalism than a music review or culture critique. My problem with music journalism is that many of the journalists don't convey they know much about the craft of music making or don't know how to articulate their tastes. And of course you have people trying to be personalities rather than just talking about the music. Signed, Uncle Ruckus.
That aside, this article was really well written. For an article that long, the 'pace' never slowed down and I was engaged throughout, even when the details got Inside Baseball.
8. "UMG says article is inaccurate, but doesn't dispute damage done" In response to Reply # 0
They're dancing around a lot, saying: 1) that everything had been digitized, 2) they made copies of everything, 3) They've reissued lots of the albums in question, 4) Artists compensation hasn't been effected. But there's very little in the way of denial of what happened, other than, "Not as much was damaged as the NYT said."
9. "RE: UMG says article is inaccurate, but doesn't dispute damage done" In response to Reply # 8
I'm hoping artists get together to directly dispute UMG -- because I'm assuming that UMG has to at least be honest with them and say, "Yup, the masters for x are gone." Then the artists can present that to the public for clarity about what exactly has been lost.
I'd swipe the article but I don't know what OKP's stance is on posting content behind a paywall (although this article is readable without a subscription if you have viewed fewer than five articles on latimes.com)
TL;DR - Three lawsuits have been filed against UMG which claim the artists whose music was destroyed in the 2008 fire are owed 50% of a $150M insurance settlement granted to UMG.