UK recording studios face closure without government support
Posted on: Wednesday 13th of May 2020
The Music Producers Guild has surveyed the UK studio sector to discover the full extent of the impact during the Covid-19 lockdown. Their research indicates 48% of commercial recording studios could go out of business within three months, unless they receive further support from the government.
“The UK has some of the finest recording studios in the world, but unless the government steps in with immediate support, half of those studios won’t be around when things get back to normal, and the knock-on effects on the wider industry will be disastrous,” said MPG executive director Olga FitzRoy. “We welcome the new grant announced on 10th May, but we have yet to see the details. The Culture Secretary recently said he wanted to protect ‘core architecture’ in the creative industries. If studios like Dean Street, where Bowie recorded Ashes to Ashes aren’t considered worth saving, then I don’t know what is.”
Dean Street Studio have revealed that without additional help from the government they will only survive until the end of May. The studios have played host to sessions by David Bowie, The Smiths, and Tina Turner and more recently Florence and the Machine and Adele. Jasmin Lee, managing director, Dean Street Studios, said: ‘Studios seem to be bottom of the food chain in the music industry, always being beaten down on rates. For those of us who are independent, it’s always hand to mouth on the finances. Many of us have put our life savings into starting our studios and keeping our doors open.’
Among engineers and producers who rent production rooms, the risk of closure seems even higher, with 73% saying that they will have to close in the near future without more support. Currently many are relying on landlords and local authorities to provide discounts on rent and rates.
Discussing government-backed loans that were made available early on in the COVID-19 crisis, FitzRoy continued: “I know of no studios who have been able to access a loan. Banks are refusing to lend, or only offering commercial packages at interest rates of 18-20%. And many are put off by needing to pay commercial rates after twelve months and are contemplating closing their business rather than running up debts they can’t repay”.
The new ‘bounce back’ loan scheme announced by the UK government in May is indeed a step in the right direction, but the government should realistically increase the interest-free period to 24 months to give studios and engineers “a fighting chance of recovery”, Fitzroy concluded.