David Rose tipped me off to this story titled Peter Gabriel Considers Allowing Fans Into Recording Studio. The source for that story reports:
“The Incredible String Band wrote to their fans on their website and sold admission to their recordings… and that gave them the budget to purchase the studio time. They created a mini-economy based on 120 people.”
Props to Peter Gabriel for being able to manage the crush of 120 people in his studio (or at least be game to do so)!
Actually, I think this could be a significant turning point for the recording industry…
Namely, when people understand more, they demand more. The more people understand about the recording process and the production process, the more they appreciate the creative process and their own creative aspirations. By connecting the energy of these co-producers with the creative ferment of the band, not only does the band get a much needed product that they can sell to the market, but they get the extra fertilizer that this artist/co-producer relationship can yield.
I have been collecting a survey of large studios around the world (at least those that public their live room and control room dimensions), and I have concluded that there are a good 30 studios in Europe and 50 studios in the US that have a large enough live room and a large enough control room to open their doors to the co-production model. Let’s face it: if the live room is barely large enough for the band, or if the control room cannot hold more than 4 people without feeling cramped, that’s not a studio that’s going to support co-production.
Real World Studios has one of the largest studio rooms I’ve surveyed: at over 2100 sq ft (196 sq m), it’s top 10 in what I have found in Europe (and likely top 20 in the US). But it’s more than just a Big Room. By integrating the control room and the studio environment (which extends to a pair of isolation booths and the Wooden Room), Real World creates the essense of the co-production environment. But until now, it’s been a cloistered affair, and what Gabriel is beginning to realize (I think) is that if you let the fans in, it will help both the process and the commerce. At least for those bands that can play (as opposed to those who can only construct their music at a workbench).
It will be fascinating to see how this all evolves, and interesting to see how well the design of Manifold Recording supports the mission of co-production (which benefits from completely integrated spaces) as well as conventional engineering (which benefits from acoustic design criteria that kinda go against the completely large, integrated space). Nevertheless, because our Music Room is fundamentally symmetrical, we can create an integrated music, engineering, and production environment that reaches for the same goals that Gabriel describes for The Real World and that George Massenburg describes for Blackbird’s Studio C.