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Title: The evolution and decline of the traditional recording studio
Author: Kirby, P. R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 3084
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis studies the development of the British recording studio from the early- 1930s to the present day (2015). This is an area of academic study that has received relatively little attention within popular music studies. Recording studios feature in artist biographies and in studies of music production, and attention has often been focused on iconic studios that are associated with successful artists from the rock canon, rather than exploring the wider sector. Human and economic geographers have focused on specific aspects of the studio sector, such as working practices, the impact of software and the impact of digital technology. This thesis seeks to bridge the gap between the work of popular music scholars and geographical researchers by utilizing a holistic approach, which examines the evolution of the sector using the production of culture perspective, specifically the six-facet model. The development of the recording studio in the UK has been shaped by the interplay between technological innovations, developments in audio production, changes in popular culture, and the structure and financial success of the recording industry. These factors have had a significant effect upon the development of the sector and the cultural products produced within it, consequently any nuanced understanding of the sector has to take all of these factors into account simultaneously. This study draws on a body of oral interviews conducted by the author with engineers, producers, studio owners, technology manufacturers and musicians. It also integrates published materials from a variety of disciplines. The growth and decline of the sector is explored chronologically; from its industrial beginnings as part of the manufacturing process, the emergence of an independent sector, the standardization of recording studios, the introduction of digital technology, and the evolution of the networked digital studio. Technological innovation in the recording sector is examined throughout the thesis and the development of the professional audio industry is also explored. The thesis examines how the studio sector evolved in tandem with the growth of the market for popular music, and explores the impact of digitization on the sector. A combination of affordable digital recording technology and a crisis in the market for recorded music has significantly reshaped the studio sector in the 21st century. The traditional recording studio is now no longer the main site of production, as small Internet connected DAW-based studios are the new studio paradigm. Consequently, the thesis examines how digital technologies and shifting market dynamics have influenced and shaped the current studio sector. Historicizing the evolution and subsequent contraction of the professional recording sector informs understanding of the recording sector in general, and offers an insight into the interplay between technology, practice and the market.
Supervisor: Strachan, R. ; Cohen, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral