Yesterday night, I was having a night out with a local French band and we were talking about their future and how they could overcome everything with some self awareness and patience.
At some point in the discussion we came to talk about recording studios and how they were closing one after another.
The past 5 years, I have been living in New York and I must say that recording studios there are completely different than in the rest of the world.
It’s like if they did everything to come up with the most expensive studios possible.
When you come to other countries and look at what you have, it is generally normally set up in regular locations, but no, in Manhattan, it has to be in a luxurious building with millions of dollars of equipment.
That makes sense
New York is a hub in the United States, with not only a lot of tourists but also an easy way to locate all Majors’ headquarters.
Therefore, when artists come to the city in order to record, they make sure they make them pay the price.
Not only that, the rent in New York is absolutely astonishing. Multiple hundred thousand dollars per month depending on the size.
They close one after another
And that’s pretty normal in fact because:
- The end consumer tends to not care anymore about mixing and mastering, since the rise of the MP3, there has been a tolerance to bad audio quality from illegal downloads and websites’ files compressions. Therefore artists themselves don’t really see the point.
- The money needed to keep up with the rent, the bills and to pay the staff (sound engineer included) is out of this world. Therefore the prices have to be jacked up for the artist.
- Anybody can go on Youtube and start learning Mixing and Mastering techniques from professionals with their own software since it is way cheaper to do it that way.
I was watching a TEDxTalk from Ian Kagey a few nights ago.
Ian Kagey is an experienced sound technician, engineer, and musician with skills in live and studio recording, sound design, editing and mixing. He is currently one of the faculty members of the Music Production, Technology, and Innovation Masters Program offered by Berklee College of Music, as well as Chief Engineer of the Berklee Valencia Campus.
The man was talking about the fact that these Manhattan studios would close because nobody is going anymore.
It seemed to be a heartache for him and his solution was to take the advantage of non profit organizations to basically pay via crowdfunding or investments the studio time in advance and artists would just have to show up and record.
While it is a very humble way of doing this, I hate it.
That’s whining and that’s ugly
The speech that he is having there is basically letting us know that his job is in danger because the man doesn’t want to evolve and adapt with the Music Business and the way the market is going.
I get it, sound is important and plenty of musicians like to have a certain sound.
But nobody feels bad for multi million dollar studios in the heart of Manhattan that have been paid by majors on the back of artists when in fact the same result could have probably been obtained by the techniques we have right now for a few hundreds bucks.
They are complaining that the system that was working so fine for them is not working anymore and that’s insane to hear for me.
The market is evolving, the way consumers consume is evolving, why would you try to preserve your job in such an archaique way? It does not make sense.
What makes sense is what Abbey Road Studios, the famous recording studio based in London that saw the Beatles, doing.
They understood that people would start to do it on their own and may want to have their sound signature, therefore they designed plugins that simulate their own equipment and offer it to the public as paid extensions.
They also understood that not everybody wants to move to London to record, mix and master, therefore they adapted: they are offering their services online for a few Pounds, where you can even select the sound engineer of your choice and have the same exact result.
The internet will wipe everything out. Either adapt, or shut down. But don’t complain.