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Universal Music Group Issues Update On Fire Investigation
Christian Eede , June 19th, 2019 17:01

UMG CEO and chairman Sir Lucian Grainge says that the company owes artists and their estates transparency over the matter following a report by the New York Times

Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO and chariman of Universal Music Group, has issued an updated response on the New York Times' investigation into a 2008 fire which they allege led to the destruction of numerous artists' master tapes.

Grainge said that the company owes artists and their estates' "transparency" over the matter, with the newspaper's report having claimed that more than 500,000 recordings were lost in the fire over a decade ago. The report went on to allege that UMG made efforts to cover up the extent of the damage.

Amongst the artists whose master recordings were apparently affected are Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., Aretha Franklin and John Coltrane. It's thought that the loss of these tapes has hampered efforts to remaster and reissue some old recordings.

Grainge sent a message out to company employees yesterday (June 18), saying that while "many of the assertions and subsequent speculation are not accurate, one thing is clear: the loss of even a single piece of archived material is heartbreaking".

The note goes on to admit that recordings were lost amongst other pieces of archive material and Grainge also concedes that "having our artists and songwriters not knowing whether the speculation is accurate is completely unacceptable".

It's reported that a legal firm based in Los Angeles is representing somewhere between 10 and 100 "musical acts" who want to take legal action against Universal over the matter.

An initial statement by Universal sent out on June 11 said that "while there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details, [the incident] never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists' compensation".