SXSWORLD November 2014


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3 0 S X S W o r l d | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 | S X S W. C O M he digital home recording revolution might have been viewed as the deathblow for recording studios, as resourceful DIY musician/producers made traditional recording studios seem like an artifact of the last century. Even so, despite the vagaries of today's music business economics and the fact that in general, musicians now make far less money from selling music, many recording studios are actually thriving. "It's not that expensive," says Chris Bell, producer, engineer and partner at Blade Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana. "Bands and artists can record at home if they want, so our rates have to be competitive." But he also explains the advantages of his studio: "We can make records faster than anyone can in their house. We can put everyone together in a huge space, mic everyone up, and capture it live as a performance instead of piecing it together. You lose the energy of the music doing it in pieces." But there are factors other than just time and money: "You go into any of the great studios like Air, or Abbey Road, or the Record Plant and you feel you're in this magical world," says Jeff Greenberg, owner and CEO of The Village in Los Angeles. "This is the place Supertramp and Fleetwood Mac recorded," he says of The Village, which opened in 1968. "Somebody hears a recording and, says, 'Wow where was that done? I want to record there and get that sound.' " Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and Tom Petty recorded at The Village, too. "This place does have a sound … T Bone [Burnett] thinks Studio D is an instrument." says Greenberg about the Grammy and Oscar-winning producer, whose work at the Village includes movie soundtracks such as Crazy Heart and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? "T Bone is a magician who plies his magic here. He's guided by an internal … something. Oh my god, it's so good. It's very exciting when that happens." Having one of these magicians on board is a big part of the story. Producer John Fry owns 48-year-old Ardent Studios in Memphis. "Big Star wouldn't have happened without John's input," says Ardent's general manager and Big Star's drummer and last surviving member, Jody Stephens. "Talk about inspiring ... I was 17 when I first walked through the door. He mentored us. He really was the extra band member. It was his sonic stamp." Outside-the-band perspective makes a huge difference to a recording, Stephens adds: "You see bands getting lost because they're too close to the song and lose perspective. It's good to have outside guidance." Stephens says studios thrive due to the quality of the experience: "That can be down to equipment, but also the sound of a room. You get in a great sounding room like Ardent's Studio A or Studio C, and it adds something unique to the recording because it's not a piece of processing gear that everyone uses." Energy and Essence Keep Classic Studios in Demand by Linda Laban "You get in a great sounding room ... and it adds something unique to the recording because it's not a piece of processing gear that everyone uses." A r d e n t fou n d e r J o h n Fry a t t h e co n t rol s d u rin g t h e s tu d io's e a rly y e a r s . Th e o rig in a l B ig Sta r l in eup i n s i d e A r d e n t Stu d ios . J o dy Ste p h e n s o n t h e le f t . Th e V il la g e's fa m e d Stu d io D. T C O U R T E S Y O F T H E V I L L A G E A R D E N T S T U D I O A R D E N T S T U D I O

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