Saturday, November 12, 2011

Abbey Road saved on its 80th Anniversary?

One wonders how long Abbey Road can last as a recording studio? One the one hand, it is great news that its 'mothership', EMI, has been bought back from the bankers by the French-owned, Universal Music Group (tinged with a bit of sadness that there was no British company able to buy the company). On the other hand, what place has a traditional studio in the scheme of things when recordings can now so easily be made in bedrooms and mixed on mobile phones?

To date it has been great to be able to visit the studio (or at least the location as you can't get inside unless using it professionally) and to talk not only about its 80-year history and place in rock's pantheon, but also its current activities. It's a buzz to see the artists wondering in and out, and occasionally to see a real star (hats off to Taylor Swift incidentally, who came out of the studio to meet her fans earlier this year, creating crowd scenes last seen during its Beatle heyday).

But technology is evolving, as it has throughout the history of recording. Abbey Road was arguably the world's first purpose built studio (arguably as there may have been a few already in Italy) but its pre-eminence was constantly challenged by rivals acquring more advanced equipment. EMI artists might have preferred going to other facilities to record (as indeed the Beatles famously did on occasion) had they not been tied by their recording company to using the studios.

The days of a music company tying bands to its own studio are long gone. To survive in the modern world, a studio needs to offer a combination of the greatest technology, affordability, and that certain intangible 'something' that somehow feeds the artistic muse.

Abbey Road can fulfill the last criteria in spades; everyone wants to 'feel' that Beatle or Pink Floyd magic. Kate Bush might be an exception to this ... she liked Abbey Road because it is apparently situated on leylines. So much for technology. Maybe the studio doe shave a future and that would be magic indeed.

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