The phrase “Mixed at Abbey Road Studios, London” is no longer the exclusive domain of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, U2, Radiohead, Lady Gaga and other superstar acts that have worked at the famed facility.
The studio has now launched an online service where anyone willing to pay a fee can upload tracks and Abbey Road engineers will start mixing away, with a promised delivery of finished mixes via download within 10 days. Prices start at about $800 U.S. for recordings with one to 24 tracks, and about $1,200 for 25 to 48 tracks. A similar online mastering service also is being offered, with prices starting around $140 per song.
“The online mixing service offers a more accessible alternative to working personally at Abbey Road Studios, providing musicians and producers all over the world with the engineering excellence that makes us the perfect venue for mixing your song,” according to the studio’s website description of the service that launched in August.
Potential clients are also told they’ll have their input in the mixing process, even though they won’t be working in real time with the engineers.
“As our engineers won’t be working with you in person, it’s important for us to gather as much information as possible about how you’d like your song to sound. So please send us your ideas, i.e. ‘I’d really like this to sound like a Pixies song,’ or ‘I’d really like this to sound like a Pixie Lott song,’ ‘give it a long fadeout,’ ‘the vocal needs a slap back echo’ etc.,” the website states.
Customers also get one revision included in the mixing price if they aren’t completely happy with the engineer’s first attempt. Full details on the process are available at the Abbey Road Studios website.
In all likelihood, the move stems from financial problems the studio has been facing from competitors and the rise of home recording technology in recent years, despite its vaunted history and famous clientele. Last year, there was considerable specualtion that the EMI Group, which owns Abbey Road, was considering putting the studio operation up for sale to help ease its own financial troubles. But public outcry at the prospect prompted EMI to back away and issue a statement assuring the public that the historic site was not going on the auction block.
As for aspiring musicians looking for a prestigious studio imprint on their own recordings, Memphis, Tenn.’s fabled Sun Studio, which gave Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and many others their starts, also is available to anyone who wants to make a record there. It costs $100 an hour.
Think of it: You could have a record stamped with "Recorded at Sun Studio, Memphis; mixed at Abbey Road Studios, London.” At that point, who’d care whether it was a hit?
-- Randy Lewis
Photo of the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album cover. Credit: EMI / Capitol Records.