Taking the studio to the orchestra: Solving the shortage of London’s recording studios
Co-founder of DLMDD, Max De Lucia, talks about his company's struggles to find a recording studio and the solution they found.
The closure of one of London’s largest and most iconic recording establishments – Angel Studios – at the end of last year was a huge blow for the music and creative industries across the UK and beyond.
Angel had been responsible for capturing some of the world’s most iconic music creations; welcoming everyone from 007 to Kylie, The Lion King to Robbie and Attenborough to Adele. But most importantly, it was one of a small handful of studios still operating in London that was large enough to handle complex productions and orchestral recordings.
Its closure leaves Abbey Road and Air Studios as two of the only remaining commercial facilities in London that are suitable for larger ensembles and ambitious line-ups. Consequently, the effects of increased demand for Abbey and Air are being felt across the music and creative industries, with booking times scarce and often hard to come by at short notice.
This somewhat ironically comes at a moment where commercial investment in music is at an all-time high. According to IFPF’s Global Music Report 2019, revenues from recorded music totalled $19.1bn in 2018, a 9.7% increase on 2017 and a faster rate of growth than the previous year.
Within the UK, the Sync market alone (which includes revenue from the use of music in advertising, film, games and TV), is estimated to be worth over £80m. And with London a world-renowned centre for orchestral talent, there’s an economic and artistic imperative for finding a solution to the shortage of recording facilities across the Capital.
But what if you could bring the recording studio to the orchestra rather than relying on finding an available studio at short notice?
Whilst producing the score for our latest commercial with Amazon, we were faced with this very challenge. With all of London’s studios full to the brim, we thought “there must be another way…”
Enter Spiritland One. A recording studio on wheels. An 11 metre Mercedes hunk of musical joy and production wizardry that can be transported to any location across the UK and around the world. As you may have guessed from its name, it’s the brainchild of the famed Spiritland brand which has made waves with audiophiles and music-lovers alike via their world-class music venues in Kings Cross, Waterloo and Mayfair.
But a recording studio alone is not enough. We needed London’s best musicians, and so enlisted the services of the sensational English Session Orchestra whose Chief Whip Dom Kelly can magic an orchestra together quicker than a magician can pull a rabbit out of a hat.
With musicians in-tow, the final piece of the jigsaw was to find a location and space that could handle the demands of a large-scale orchestra and its many complex moving parts. So, where better than the home of the London Symphony Orchestra at St Luke’s on Old Street. This stunningly restored 18th-century Grade 1 listed Hawksmoor church has one of the world’s foremost orchestras through its doors day-in and day-out. Thus, a project like this is simply another day at the office for their fantastic on-site team of production experts.
And so as with any session, the conductor placed his downbeat at precisely 11.00AM, the musicians created faultless beauty for two hours and the whole thing was over in a flash. As the teams from DLMDD, Spiritland One, LSO St Lukes and The English Session Orchestra gathered to shake hands and thank each other for a job well done, it struck us – is this the solution to London’s recording studio shortage?