Yesterday, The New York Times unveiled an investigation into the 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood that destroyed thousands of musical recordings, many of them master tapes and unheard session material.
When asked on Twitter if Nirvana’s masters of ‘Nevermind’ were destroyed, Novoselic replied: “I think they are gone forever.”
I think they are gone forever.
— Krist Novoselić (@KristNovoselic) June 12, 2019
On Tuesday (June 11), R.E.M. put out a statement on social media. “We are trying to get good information to find out what happened and the effect on the band’s music, if any,” it read. “We will detail further as and when.”
REMHQ is receiving inquiries from many people concerned about the New York Times article on the Universal Music fire 11 years ago. We are trying to get good information to find out what happened and the effect on the band’s music, if any. We will detail further as and when.
— R.E.M. HQ (@remhq) June 11, 2019
Though prog rock group Asia were not named in the NYT article, keyboard player Geoffrey Downes took to Twitter to note that the fire might be the reason why “nobody can find the original Asia album masters.”
This might explain why nobody can find the original Asia album masters. Very sad, and UMG have kept it quiet for more than 10 years. https://t.co/eWMaEcoBRC
— Geoffrey Downes (@asiageoff) June 11, 2019
Hundreds of artists lost their recordings in the blaze, and the story notes it is likely that many of them were, until the article’s publication, kept in the dark. One of those artists is Hole. A representative for the band told Pitchfork that the band was “not aware until this morning [June 11]” that their master recordings had been destroyed.
The NYT article quotes a Universal Music Group spokesperson who said the company “doesn’t publicly discuss our private conversations with artists and estates.”
Yesterday, UMG issued a statement to Variety claiming that the NYT piece contains “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.”
“While there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire that occurred at NBCUniversal Studios facility more than a decade ago, the incident – while deeply unfortunate – never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists’ compensation,” it read.