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ARSCLIST  April 2015

ARSCLIST April 2015

Subject:

Re: Disasters at Commercial Archives

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 1 Apr 2015 08:15:04 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (79 lines)

Hi Joel:

1. the fire on the Universal movie lot in 2008. Among the archives destroyed were a
never-publicly-disclosed number of Universal Music Group tape and disk masters:
http://6abc.com/archive/6178572/
Rumored to have been destroyed were many US Decca disk and tape masters, MCA masters, Command,
Impulse, Kapp and Chess masters. All the insurance settlements carried strict non-disclosure
agreements, so we'll probably never know the full extent of the loss.

2. there was a fire in the early 2000's in an Iron Mountain facility that destroyed much original
artwork for Mercury and other Polygram labels. As far as I know, there were no master audio media in
that vault, just a lot of original artwork and documentation.

3. there was a flood in the tape library of the former Polygram facility in Edison NJ, mentioned
previously on this list by a former employee of the facility. As far as I know, the bottom layer of
tape shelves was water-damaged, but I do not know if any master media was actually destroyed in the
event. Many master tapes had been shipped out of that vault by then.

There are also plenty of cases of master media being lost in events like studio closings. I can cite
three specific cases where a family member rescued boxes of tapes headed for the dumpster when a
once-famous NYC studio closed its doors. I eventually reunited the tapes with their owners, several
of the tapes being real-deal album masters (and thus first-generation CDs had been cut from inferior
copy tapes). I heard stories about similar things happening when my father's studio closed --
clients had to be begged and cajoled to come pick up their tapes. I've also seen paper trails
detailing hundreds of tapes nearly being thrown out because a conglomerate I will not name wouldn't
pay a few thousand dollars in warehouse bills! Those tapes were saved because someone in a US
division took money from their own budget to pay the bills and save the tapes. The tapes went on to
be used to make successful CD reissues and are safely in the vault today!

Please note that I'm sure similar incidents have happened with all major record companies in all
countries. And there is also the issue that just because a master tape is in a vault and accounted
for, the splices go gooey and sticky-shed develops and acetate dries out. Tapes are not something
you just put on a shelf and assume they will always work. This is a myth, just like putitng hard
drives on shelves. Archives are gardens that require constant funding and expert tending. This
reality has never sunk in with the beancounters at the megaglomerates.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joel Bresler" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 7:50 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Disasters at Commercial Archives


> Dear Friends:
>
> I would like to assemble a short list of disasters (and near-disasters) that
> have befallen multimedia archives. Any help building a short list would be
> much appreciated. To get us started:
>
> MGM and Atlantic labels lost holdings in a fire
> In 1996 a movie lot fire almost demolished the MCA audio archive
> RCA bulldozed a warehouse in Camden, NJ in the 1960s, with master recordings
> and other materials still inside
>
> (These examples from: "Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our
> Cultural Rights" by Bill Ivey
>
> Destruction of Odeon masters at the end of WWII.
>
> Thanks in advance,
>
> Joel
>
>
> Joel Bresler
> 250 E. Emerson Road
> Lexington, MA 02420
> United States
>
> 1-781-862-4104 (Telephone & FAX)
> www.joelbresler.org
> [log in to unmask]
> IN CASE OF VERIZON EMAIL PROBLEMS, PLEASE USE MY BACK-UP EMAIL:
> joelbresler-at-gmail.com
>
>

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