Chapter 5: Digital disruption and recording studio diversification: changing business models for the digital age
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This chapter is concerned with three key elements of a ‘digital disruption’ effecting the contemporary recording studio sector: (1) falling recording budgets from a wider economic crisis in the musical economy; (2) home recording technologies; and (3) audio quality. These developments have challenged the future viability of recording studios as formal, professional spaces of recording. The chapter examines diversification as a strategy being adopted by recording studios to remain economically viable businesses in the face of these challenges. Set in the context of the rise of ‘dual-market’ audio facilities, the chapter provides a case study of the service diversification of the world-renowned Abbey Road Studios in London. Then, considering the potential for diversification across the sector more widely, the chapter identifies medium-sized professional studios as the potential losers in an industry in which large ‘audio service centres’ gain the lion’s share of heavily reduced corporate recording budgets, and small home and project studios offer audio services at rates that larger studios simply cannot afford.

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