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The demise of the UK Recording Studio
By Trevor Krueger - 08/28/2009 - 06:29 AM EDT

After the recent celebrations of the fortieth anniversary of the iconic Beatles album and, indeed, the cover for “Abbey Road”, it is sad that last nights’ television news was lamenting the closing of two more top studios here in London.

Though responsible for shaping and bringing artists such as The Beatles, Cold Play, Pink Floyd, Oasis and countless others, recording studios in the UK are steadily disappearing because of the crisis in the music industry. This was announced by the University of Nottingham which seems to mean we are to believe it now that academia has made it official, though we all knew about it anyway. This is not the first time I have lamented the death of the grass roots music industry here in the UK with the increase of illegal downloading (theft) continuing to remove the lifeblood from the system.

Right now this country’s recording studios are becoming better known for closing down rather than what they are turning out. It would seem that nothing is sacred as their trend follows the closure of countless pubs too, which have also done their considerable bit for promoting and nurturing live music and new talent, providing the stepping stone to recording, releasing and immortalising music for the rest of the World to enjoy. While the studios fall victim, in part, to the availability of digital home recording equipment and instant access to a digital download market, the pubs are victims of increased licence restrictions and cheep booze in the supermarkets. No one seemed to foresee that technology and discounting would actually dig away the very foundations of our society and creative music cultures.

Several celebrated London studios which include Olympic, Townhouse, Whitfield Street (formerly Sony and, prior to that, owned by CBS) and Eden too have all been closed in the last few years.

The implications are obvious. This tragic trend will affect emerging talent, the creative technicians, and record companies too. The Government seems to be getting tough on the illegal down loaders, so that is something to be glad about, but as home printers on our PC’s have taken away work from Lithographic print shops and Email has replaced proper letter writing, it didn’t take a Professor to work out that much of the new technology we have access to enables us to “self produce music” and this inevitably leads to an acceptance of lesser quality. You won’t create in your bedroom what it takes Abbey Road to do. I constantly point out the differences in the production of classic hits of the past to the meat mincer stuff we are fed today by many of the five minute wonder fraternity.

Professor Andrew Leyshon’s research has apparently “uncovered” the extent of damage to the industry, created by the explosion of digital music and the democratisation of musical technology. Nice one Prof’ go to the top of the class! Even I could get a Degree in stating the blatantly obvious.

It wasn’t so long back that the only music you could hear was that played by live musicians who did it mainly for the love of it. Could it be that if the revenues and substance of the music industry continue to fall, quality recorded music will eventually die, leaving only historic libraries to listen to? Unable to make any money from it, musicians will just have to play for the sheer hell of doing so?

Thankfully, we are not there yet and someone or something may still just wake up or regulate the industry to keep it viable – please?




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