Nearly half of commercial recording studios could close down without government support

The iconic Dean Street Studios is among those in trouble

Almost half of commercial recording studios could go under without financial support from the government, new research has found.

Studios nationwide were forced to close their doors when the UK lockdown was implemented back in March. Unlike live venues, these spaces have not yet benefited from any business rates holidays or grants while closed for business.

Now, research conducted by the Music Producers Guild indicates that 48% of commercial music studios could close for good within three months should they fail to gain government support.

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One of the studios to be affected is the historic Dean Street Studios in London, which was founded by longtime David Bowie producer Tony Visconti in 1974. As well as playing host to sessions from Bowie himself, the Soho building (formerly known as Good Earth) has welcomed the likes of The Smiths, Adele and Florence + The Machine through its doors over the years.

“Studios seem to be bottom of the food chain in the music industry, always being beaten down on rates,” said Jasmin Lee, Managing Director of Dean Street Studios. “For those of us who are independent, it’s always hand to mouth on the finances.

David Bowie at Dean Street Studios (then known as Good Earth) with Capital Radio competition winners. CREDIT: Press

“Many of us have put our life savings into starting our studios and keeping our doors open.”

The new research has also found that producers and engineers who rent studio spaces are struggling, with 73% saying that they will only be able to remain open for 3 months or less as things stand. The MPG state that producers and engineers are therefore reliant on landlords and local authorities to offer them discounted rates.

As a result of their findings, the Music Producers Guild are now calling on the UK government to extend their business rates relief package and grants to include recording studios.

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The MPG’s Executive Director, Olga FitzRoy, said: “The UK has some of the finest recording studios in the world, but unless the government steps in with immediate support, half of those studios won’t be around when things get back to normal, and the knock-on effects on the wider industry will be disastrous. We welcome the new grant announced on Saturday, but we have yet to see the details.

”The Culture Secretary recently said he wanted to protect ‘core architecture’ in the creative industries. If the studios like Dean Street, where Bowie recorded Ashes to Ashes aren’t considered worth saving, then I don’t know what is”

The Music Producers Guild are also campaigning to improve the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) as they claim they currently “know of no studios who have been able to access a loan”.

Those backing the MPG’s campaign include Air-Edel Recording Studios in London, Depeche Mode and Blur producer Ben Hillier as well as other studio owners and freelance producers nationwide.

This comes after a new campaign to save over 550 of the UK’s grassroots music venues from permanent closure due to the coronavirus lockdown surpassed £1 million in donations.

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