This one slipped under the radar for a while, but according to The Tennessean, the Universal Music Group (UMG) purchased the House of Blues studio complex in Nashville back in November for $4.3 million. The purchase now gives the label noted studio facilities in London (Abbey Road Studios), Los Angeles (Capitol Records Studio), and now Nashville.
The studio complex is one of the largest in Nashville, featuring 5 studios along with producer cottages. Studio D was previously located in Memphis, but the entire building was moved to the Nashville complex in 2009.
The studios are well equipped, with Studio A featuring an 80-channel SSL 9000J, Studio B a 40-channel SSL 4000E with G+ VCA automation plus a 16-channel API 1604, The Cave features a 1979 Vintage API 32 input and 32 monitor console, and Studio D a custom API console originally commissioned in 1978 for the Record Plant in New York. The Sun Room is modeled after the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis and features a 1979 Vintage API 32 input and 32 monitor console.
The Berry Hill studio was originally known as East Iris Studios, and was purchased by Gary Belz (who was one of the founders of the House of Blues) in 1998.
Commercial studios have floundered for quite a while, but there’s been a comeback in the last year, especially on the high end. That’s a result of increased budgets and many artists who have tired of using their personal studios. The biggest thing that a commercial studio offers (besides the gear and a larger room) is the service, and artists with a substantial budget are increasingly opting for that experience.
That said, studio rates haven’t changed substantially in 20 years, while operating and real estate costs have increased. Labels can fill a studio with their own artists and justify the costs, while most privately owned studios have a much more difficult time making it work.
That said, UMG hasn’t indicated what’s it’s going to do with the complex, but it looks like another large studio facility in Nashville is going to be saved from future uncertainty.