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Could home recording doom professional music studios?

Inexpensive home recording equipment helps artists rise from outside the mainstream labels.

Singer/songwriter Freedy Johnston records in a personal studio he sets up in his apartment in New York’s East Village. He uses Duet, a small audio interface that hooks up to his laptop, which is equipped with GarageBand music editing software.

Ann Hermes/Special to The Christian Science Monitor

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Rock-music lore is rife with stories of bands sealing themselves up in an expensive commercial recording studio for days, weeks, or months, refusing to reenter civilian life until armed with a masterpiece destined to be heard for generations.

Today, that scenario sounds more like an ancient fable. Major recording centers such as London; Los Angeles; New York; and Nashville, Tenn., are losing the studios that made them famous due to shrinking budgets at the big labels and the growing sophistication of home-
recording technology. Now musicians can plug directly into their laptops and record digitally with greater ease than ever.

Software such as Avid Technology’s Pro Tools, Steinberg Media Technologies’ Cubase, and Apple’s GarageBand and Logic provide multitrack recording and editing, pitch correction, and access to a library of virtual instrument samples. They’re tailor-made for cash-strapped musicians and record labels seeking quick and affordable alternatives to the studio model that flourished in the 1970s and ’80s, when lavish recording complexes were built to suit demand. Back then, massive record sales helped keep private studios solvent. But following the downturn in music sales this decade, many studios are struggling or simply have closed their doors.

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