Copyright Wrought

By | June 12, 2019

The Day the Music Burned. It was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business — and almost nobody knew. This is the story of the 2008 Universal fire.

Keeping all of our culture locked up in vaults for stupid and anti-human copyright reasons leads to disasters like this.

The archive in Building 6197 was UMG’s main West Coast storehouse of masters, the original recordings from which all subsequent copies are derived. A master is a one-of-a-kind artifact, the irreplaceable primary source of a piece of recorded music. According to UMG documents, the vault held analog tape masters dating back as far as the late 1940s, as well as digital masters of more recent vintage. It held multitrack recordings, the raw recorded materials — each part still isolated, the drums and keyboards and strings on separate but adjacent areas of tape — from which mixed or “flat” analog masters are usually assembled. And it held session masters, recordings that were never commercially released.

A whole era of history, just gone because of corporate greed. This is why I am largely against copyright and why this era will have very little left to remember it by. Over time, with no backup and no accounting for it, disasters and mistakes will inevitably and incrementally destroy our collective cultural history.