This is one of the most despicable things a music label has ever done.
A massive fire burned down a Universal Music Group warehouse in Florida back in 2008, but reports about what was inside — 500,000 high-quality master recordings, many of which were for iconic records — didn’t surface until last year. Now, Universal has acknowledged that master recordings to albums by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Slayer, R.E.M., Elton John were either damaged or destroyed in the fire.
The reason this is news 12 years later is because Universal never told the artists impacted by the fire in the first place, even those who were the legal owners of those masters. Instead, it was who broke the story, which prompted artists like Hole, Soundgarden, and Tom Petty’s estate to file lawsuits against Universal. According to , as part of the legal proceedings, these artists asked for “a complete list of damaged records.” Universal has now responded by confirming (via filed documents) that the master recordings of 19 artists were “either damaged or destroyed” in the fire.Universal has been lying to these artists for over twelve years. They've failed to curate and protect the original master recordings for their artists. This hangdog effort to deny what really happened is more about avoiding responsibility than it is about being "confused" as to what was lost. It's inexcusable and they should be sued relentlessly.
Other labels should find a way to protect their own libraries. The real tragedy here would be to fail to learn from what happened.