Tom is correct. Edison no longer exists. Most of those tapes went to Iron Mountain.
When Universal bought PolyGram, they initially wanted to move all the tapes and masters out to LA and close down Edison. It was too costly a move, and it was decided to make Universal Music a bi-coastal company. The MCA-related labels (A&M, Impulse, Uni) and their masters would be in LA, and the PolyGram-related jazz and pop labels (Verve, Mercury, Motown) and their masters would remain back east. The classical material was handled differently, as Tom described.
PolyGram had all their inventory cataloged on microfiche and on database programs back in the day. It was merged with Universal's database after the buyout, so most everything should be accounted for. As for them putting their holdings online, don't hold your breath.
I have no idea what parts of their holdings may or may not have been damaged in the LA fire.
Audio Restoration Engineer
From: Tom Fine [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2008 6:45 AM
Subject: Re: Universal fire
The Edison facility was closed down. Some of those tapes are in storage facilities in the US but all
or most of the classical tapes are over in Germany at the Universal-owned archive in the Berliner
Studios complex. I am not sure how many jazz and pop and rock tapes went over to Germany and how
many are in Iron Mountain and other facilities here.
The materials out in Hollywood were from what used to be MCA. As Mike said below, what used to be
the Polygram part of Universal would not have had reason to use that facility.
What seems somewhat alarming to me is that, as far as I can tell, there is no centralized "vault
control" and no one source for an inventory of what is owned and where it is located. I'm not sure
if Sony or Warner Music or EMI do any better. I do remember swapping "tape detective" stories in the
90's and the folks doing the BMG and Sony higher-quality second-generation CD reissues were having
some of the same issues that were had with Mercury tapes (ie items are not where it was long
supposed they were, items turn up missing, boxes are mislabelled, inventory lists are mis-filed or
lost, etc). One would think that lessons would have been learned and advantage would have been taken
of the newer/faster/better computerized inventory systems, but this may not be the case. Also, the
late-90's mega-glomeration brought with it a wave of "helpful" consultants who recommended
"downsizing" most historical knowledge in these companies (I guess it's cheaper to lose track of the
base assets of a company than to pay the health insurance for a 50-something man or woman). I think
history will show that the whole business went one money deal too far with this mega-glomeration and
a workable business model was lost in the process.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Fitzgerald" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2008 3:04 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Universal fire
> At 02:49 AM 9/21/2008, Anthony Barnett wrote:
>>Mercury, Westminster, Verve, for example, do not seem to have been
>>mentioned. Are these not also Universal owned? Are they held elsewhere and
>>therefore escape fire consideration?
> Last I knew, the PolyGram portion of the Universal multi-conglomerate (including Mercury and
> Verve) was stored in Edison, New Jersey.
> mike at jazzdiscography.com