The Day The Music Burned

Discussion in 'What's left to Talk About?' started by Beyer160, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. Beyer160

    Beyer160 Well-Known Member

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    adad and Milkman like this.
  2. honyock

    honyock Well-Known Member

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    wow

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
     
  3. jtcnj

    jtcnj Well-Known Member

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    Wow is right that is sad.
     

  4. RockYoWorld

    RockYoWorld Well-Known Member

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    That's why you gotta back your tapes up to the cloud! ;)
     
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  5. Mickey

    Mickey Gandalf the Intonationer

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    So Huawei has access?
     
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  6. RockYoWorld

    RockYoWorld Well-Known Member

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    There's no way like the Huawei!
     
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  7. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    The vault fire was not, as UMG suggested, a minor mishap, a matter of a few tapes stuck in a musty warehouse. It was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business. UMG’s internal assessment of the event stands in contrast to its public statements. In a document prepared for a March 2009 “Vault Loss Meeting,” the company described the damage in apocalyptic terms. “The West Coast Vault perished, in its entirety,” the document read. “Lost in the fire was, undoubtedly, a huge musical heritage.”

    On the bright side. The fire got all the Yoko Ono masters.

    Maybe you could even say it was worth the price.
     
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  8. notme

    notme Well-Known Member

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    I never heard of this....talk about all your eggs in one basket...
     
  9. Mossman

    Mossman Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that's nuckin' futs!
     
  10. frozensoda

    frozensoda Well-Known Member

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    We didn’t hear about it because they deliberately downplayed the damage for years.
     
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  11. Fat Jack

    Fat Jack Well-Known Member

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    They almost lost the East Coast vault due to a salad dressing water flood 5 years earlier. That was most of their Motown holdings. Can't make this stuff up.
     
  12. Beyer160

    Beyer160 Well-Known Member

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    According to the article, at the time of the fire 2/3 of the material had already been moved to another facility. As bad as it was, it could have been MUCH worse.
     
  13. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    Was it really a big deal though? What songs were lost that would otherwise have been released? Most of those masters would never have been touched again, and mag tape degrades with time, especially in a California warehouse so were they really the best copies?
     
  14. idiotsdelight

    idiotsdelight Well-Known Member

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    That's not the point.

    Let's ask the surviving artists or the estates of the others. This was future income, which is why they downplayed the loss.
     
  15. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    Future income from what? Unless the tapes were going to be pulled to make a new remastered release, there was no future income. The demand for physical media or high quality rereleases is dwindling. There is little chance UMG was ever going to spend a penny bringing most of that stuff out of the vault and doing something with it.

    Effectively, the tapes were lost to us when UMG acquired them decades ago. Does it make any difference if the recording we will never get to hear is sitting in a warehouse until the tape decays beyond recovery verses not sitting in a warehouse because it burned? Aside from unrealistic romantic notions about what would have been possible, I don’t think so.

    I am not sure there is much of a real story here. In the past 11 years the world has barely noticed that the tapes were missing. Seems like just a long very wordy piece of sensationalism on the part of the NYT.
     
  16. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    Also, from the article

    Aronson says he urged UMG to abandon the backlot, shifting the recordings to a safer location. Eventually, Aronson says, a compromise was reached: Most of the session reels and multitracks stored on the backlot, about 250,000 tapes, were moved to the archive in Pennsylvania. This left approximately 120,000 masters — 175,000, if you accept Aronson’s estimate — in Building 6197. These were the recordings that burned on June 1, 2008.”

    So the masters burned but the session reels and multi-tracks (that the masters were made from) were moved to a safer location. Those tapes plus all of the 2nd gen production copies and safety’s of the masters means in reality little if anything was truly lost.
     
  17. idiotsdelight

    idiotsdelight Well-Known Member

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    Aren't those same masters used when re-mastering/re-releasing back catalog, greatest hits, etc.? Future income would be royalties of those re-releases, yes?

    I'm not sure how that all works? It was just stuff that I was asking myself. If it was worthless (to them) why warehouse it for years? Why downplay it? Surely it was insured. Who collects on that? It was worth something to someone. Offer it to the estate, the living artist, the deceased artists relatives... someone. They might not hold the publishing rights, but it's a small token gesture to those who performed. If it were me i'd love to have something like that regardless of the degradation, ability to listen to it, etc. That's it's worth to me... there is no other.

    The world barely noticed? UMG weren't up front about the extent of loss. How would the world know? 11 yrs isn't that long.

    The question I ask myself is. Am I shocked to hear they're gone forever or am I indifferent? I'm saddened. It's on UMG regarding brushing it under the rug. Pretty lame.
     
  18. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    There are original multitrack recordings. Moved to a vault in PA.

    Those get mixed into two track masters, a copy of which is saved as “the master.” Destroyed in fire.

    Multiple copies of the master are made. Some sent to production facilities others saved as “safety” copies. These never were in the warehouse and have continued to be used for new releases.

    The pickiest of picky audiophiles will argue that these second gen copies can never be as good as the original, but it is a load of horse shit. First, the original masters were themselves copies of tracks from other tapes not some magical pristine media from the gods, second, the masters were never used in production so all of the past releases were always copies of copies, and more importantly, the tapes have been degrading for decades. By 2008, the copy in the warehouse wasn’t necessarily the best preserved, least degraded version.

    Maybe there was a reason UMG didn’t make a big deal out it. Artists haven’t made a big deal out of their “lost” work either. This article has a lot of spin in it, and the primary source is the guy who was most attached to the warehouse and who was let go by UMG. Not exactly unbiased.
     
  19. Beyer160

    Beyer160 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, and it goes beyond that.

    Multitrack recording didn't gain wide acceptance until the mid '60s, before that music was mixed live and recorded straight to mono (or less often stereo) tape. So, masters of this material represent the "Session Masters"- in other words, the first generation, primary source tapes from the studio that all subsequent recordings are sourced from. There are no multitracks to recreate these from. It looks as if the entire library of Chess Records master recordings was lost in the fire. If that's true, all that now exists of this music are second generation (at best) safety copies or "Production Masters"- tapes that were used to create "Cutting Masters". A lot of the early CDs were sourced from worn-out production masters or VCMs, and a lot of people noticed how bad they sounded so yeah, I think having the best fidelity source tapes available is important. Maybe not for the oeuvre of Tiffany or Herman's Hermits, but losing Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry's masters sucks. If you're a bean counter at a record label you probably don't care, but if you're looking at popular music as cultural history and an art form, it's a big deal. I mean, there are all kids of copies of the Mona Lisa so who gives a shit if we just torch the original, right?

    Also, not all multitrack masters are complete or in usable condition so it's always good to have the mixdown masters.
     
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  20. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    The list of destroyed single and album masters takes in titles by dozens of legendary artists, a genre-spanning who’s who of 20th- and 21st-century popular music. It includes recordings by Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, the Andrews Sisters, the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Clara Ward, Sammy Davis Jr., Les Paul, Fats Domino, Big Mama Thornton, Burl Ives, the Weavers, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Bobby (Blue) Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, the Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Captain Beefheart, Cat Stevens, the Carpenters, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Don Henley, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Iggy Pop, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Police, Sting, George Strait, Steve Earle, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Eric B. and Rakim, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Guns N’ Roses, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Sonic Youth, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots.

    Then there are masters for largely forgotten artists that were stored in the vault: tens of thousands of gospel, blues, jazz, country, soul, disco, pop, easy listening, classical, comedy and spoken-word records that may now exist only as written entries in discographies.

    Today Universal Music Group is a Goliath, by far the world’s biggest record company, with soaring revenues bolstered by a boom in streaming music and a market share nearly double that of its closest competitor, Sony Music Entertainment. Last year, Vivendi announced a plan to sell up to 50 percent of UMG. The sale is the talk of the music business; rumored potential buyers include Apple, Amazon and the Chinese conglomerate Alibaba. The price tag is expected to be hefty: In January, Deutsche Bank raised its valuation of UMG to more than $33 billion.

    The label’s dominance rests in large part on its roster of current chart toppers — stars like Drake, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. But UMG’s reputation is also based on the great swaths of music history it owns, a canon that includes Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Queen and many more artists and labels whose catalogs came under the UMG umbrella during decades of acquisition and consolidation. A key part of that legacy — the originals of some of the company’s most culturally significant assets — went up in smoke in 2008.
     
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