Studios suffering as stars make tracks at home

RECORDING STUDIOS in Britain are "in crisis" according to senior music industry figures, who say the rise of cheap electronic equipment has led to studios lying empty as headline acts literally make their hit albums at home.

Gus Dudgeon, who has produced records by Elton John and a number of other top names, told an industry conference in Liverpool this week that the studio network around Britain was "suffering" and that many of the studios, which have cost millions of pounds to build, are "hanging on by doing just anything to get people in".

In the past three years a number of studios have closed. Even the famous Abbey Road studios in London, where the Beatles recorded many of their best-known albums, can see some of its four studios going empty for days at a time - though Dave Flower, its bookings manager, said yesterday that "we're fine".

"We do all sorts of music and anything else, and we have huge rooms which orchestras and so on need. It's the mid-range rock'n'roll studios who are getting burnt. That's because the music industry is flat, the CD business is flat and nobody wants to pay the money. Most mid-range studios are probably empty for weeks," he said.

But the slump is not reflected by a fall in the amount of music being made. Instead, it is the consequence of a startling shift in technology.

"Studios are finding it really hard," said John Harris, editor of the music magazine Select. "The first thing the record industry said when digital technology came along was that people would still need top-flight studios. But it's just not true. The record which won last year's Mercury music prize, Bring It On by Gomez, was recorded by them at home. "You can buy the equivalent of a 20-track digital recording studio set-up to put in your house for pounds 2,000 now."

While home recording has been a staple of the record industry for years, it has recently begun to bite into its economics. Even a few years ago top-flight bands looked on months spent in an expensive recording studio as one of the perks of success. The Manchester band Happy Mondays in effect bankrupted their record company by spending months in the Caribbean recording their second album.

But now, record companies tend to subtract the cost of recording from bands' payments - which means that artists are choosing cheaper venues where they have more control. Fat Boy Slim's first album was made on home equipment, and he intends to make his second at home too.

Radiohead, the Oxford band whose third album OK Computer has sold millions of copies, have a studio in the back of their tour bus where they record additional tracks for CD singles. They have also just set up their own studio near Oxford. "They're paying about one-tenth of the rates that the Rolling Stones and the Beatles used to," said Mr Harris.

The arrival of digital equipment and the Internet means that bands do not even have to be in the same place to record a song, said James Mackie, director of Juice Studios near Lancaster.

"You can have the bass player in Australia laying down one track, and the singer in Los Angeles doing another. Then, because it's still all digital, it can be sent to yet another studio to all be mixed down. The artists might never come together ever, and no single studio might be the venue."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan