Recession saves music — for now

The economic downturn has allowed a set of Tenderloin neighborhood studios where famous artists recorded to survive and to share in Woodstock 40-year anniversary celebrations in The City later this year.

And though the show will go on inside what is now known as Hyde Street Studios, the tune has changed from the 1960s, when Woodstock performers and other renowned artists — such as Jefferson Airplane, Santana and the Grateful Dead — swept through the doors to record music.

The studios were created inside a film storage and distribution center used by motion picture companies at Hyde and Eddy streets in 1969, the same year Woodstock was held in New York.

But for much of the past decade, the studios operated under the looming threat of demolition.

In April 2008, the Planning Commission approved plans to replace the studios inside the historic building with 65 condos.

That plan was given the green light on the condition that developer and landlord AF Evans erect a plaque to commemorate famous albums recorded at the site.

But the recession and real estate slump have indefinitely delayed the condo project.

Earlier this year, AF Evans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In June, the Tenderloin property was snapped up by a Daly City-based group of investors operating as BNN LLC.

Kennedy Chan, an agent for the company, told The Examiner the delay could protect the studios for three, five or even 10 years.

But the last-minute recessionary reprieve does not mean the studios are in the clear, since they provide some services that are becoming antiquated.

“There’s a whole bunch of digital audio editing applications that you can use to create your own home studio now,” Hyde Street Studios manager Jeff Cleland said. “Right now, some of our biggest competition is not from within the industry. It involves musicians and audio engineers that have gone to Guitar Center and bought Pro Tools [digital recording systems].”

To help adapt, Hyde Street Studios plans to begin teaching courses in its recording studios to musicians and engineers who want to learn how to use the computer applications.

“A lot of those people don’t know how to use the equipment,” Cleland said. “They’ve never studied audio engineering, such as the basic concepts about recording and how to get a good vocal sound or what kind of mike you need.”

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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