With the news that Converse are opening a free recording studio in Brooklyn, we got to thinking about recording studios in general, and the place they might occupy in today’s world. Before the advent of consumer DAWs (digital audio workstations) like Logic and Cubase, and the emergence of hardware powerful enough to run this software on home computers, a recording studio was a necessity for musicians who wanted to be heard. Recording in the right place with the right producer was a huge coup, and the studios themselves thus took on a mythology of their own, becoming magical places where raw demos were turned into burnished musical gold. We also got to wondering about what’s become of such places in the 21st century. Happily, the magic of Google Street View makes it a cinch to find out — so join us on a virtual tour of 10 of our favorite recording studios, as they look today.
52 W 8 St, New York, NY
We start with an easy one that’s pretty close to home. While it’s immortalized in the title of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, Electric Lady the studio actually arose out of the album, rather than the other way around. Indeed, it was the fact that recording Electric Ladyland at London’s Olympic Studios cost a small fortune that got Hendrix thinking about the idea of establishing his own studio in the first place. He eventually settled on the site of the recently closed rock club Generation, which he purchased in 1968. Fitting out the studio took two years, and famously, although he recorded there while construction was still underway, Hendrix only saw the finished product once, at the opening party in August 1970. He died three weeks later. Today Electric Lady is New York’s oldest major recording studio, although you’d totally miss it walking down W 8 St if you didn’t know it was there.