“the day the music burned” as the New York Times Magazine . This is the biggest disaster in the history of the music business, according to the weekly. 11 years ago, a fire devastated the premises of Universal Studios in Hollywood and carbonizes hundreds of thousands of musical recordings, as was revealed on 10 June a long investigation signed Jody Rosen. Universal Music has estimated that about 500.000 titles were lost in a confidential report of 2009, which refers to the disappearance of a “musical heritage is enormous”.

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once the flames had been extinguished, Universal had simply deplored the destruction of film archives and film sets, concealing those audio recordings, some of which were historical. The list of the artists that we’ve lost the masters, the original recordings, made cold in the back. Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, the Eagles, Ray Charles, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Sting, Guns N’ Roses or Nirvana, Snoop Dogg and Eminem. The loss of master artists less-known or forgotten that were stored in the warehouse is also to be deplored: tens of thousands of music-gospel, blues, jazz, country, soul, disco, pop, variety, classical, comedy, song and spoken word.

Minimize the scope of loss

A master is a single record, which contains the original version of a music title, from which are created the vinyl, CDs, MP3s, and all other formats. According to the survey of the american media, the warehouse burned contained masters decades old, including multi-track recordings, that is to say, where each instrument is isolated from the other. “A master is to capture the most faithful representation of a piece of music,” says the New York times Magazine Adam Block, a former president of Legacy Recordings, the catalog of Sony Music Entertainment.

Jody Rosen, the author of the survey, describes the group’s efforts to minimize the scope of the loss. He cites the turnaround of Nikki Finke, one of the only reporters to have mentioned the presence of records in the warehouse, before affirming that most of these had been digitized, which is now false.