Here is a pretty fascinating article that has gotten a lot of attention over the past week or so.
Jody Rosen writes about the massive fire in 2008 that wiped out a storage facility that housed thousands and thousands of original sound recordings. News just broke overnight that a huge swath of big artists not mentioned in the article also lost their original masters.
There’s no doubting it is an immeasurable loss. But as I read I also wondered if the loss is still overstated, at least for the artists who are part of the mainstream. Rosen and others argue that the versions we listen to on Spotify, Apple Music, etc are already copies of copies of copies, and when the next format change arrives they will get copied yet again, losing a little more data and clarity in the process. But I always scoff at how many regular people can tell the difference in these tiny losses from version to version. And aren’t even flawed copies better than none? Do people in 100 years really need to hear outtakes from Steely Dan sessions in order to have a culturally rich life? Or is listening to a deprecated version of Aja enough to help explain the music of the 1970s to them?