A Tour Of The Universal Music Vault At Iron Mountain

It used to be that record label tape vaults were simply a room in a building where the space was sometimes considered more valuable than the contents. Hence, we’ve all heard the horror stories about labels just ditching valuable masters in the trash when another office was needed. That’s not the case today as labels are acutely aware that their tape vaults actually contain a gold mine of valuable reissue material, with no item being too obscure. As a result they now guard their masters in secure temperature-controlled facilities, just like Universal Music does at Iron Mountain.

Universal tape vault Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain has 1,500 storage facilities around the world, but the one that’s best known is the converted limestone mine located in Butler, Pennsylvania just north of Pittsburgh. This is just one of several tape vaults used by Universal Music, but it’s hard to imagine that they use one any larger since this facility is enormous.

Not only does Universal store a huge variety of audio assets at Iron Mountain, but also video, graphics and documents.

In the video below by Michael Fremer of TrackingAngle.com, you’ll see the process by which a licensee gets selected assets for a music album reissue, whether it’s the tape for an all-analog reissue or a digital file for a digitally sourced reissue. You’ll everything from finding the tapes in the vast facility to cataloguing it and preparing it for reissue.

The video is long at over an hour, but it’s truly fascinating as you begin to see just what goes into operating a state-of-the-art storage facility.

Check it out.

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