Abbey Road, where startups start

Abbey Road studio has a history in music technology but now it's getting back involved with a hub for startups, but why now?
08 December 2015

Interview with 

Jon Eades, Abbey Road Red


Recently, the iconic Abbey Road Studios made famous by the likes of Pink Floyd Abbey Road Studioand The Beatles, launched Abbey Road Red. This is a new incubator for music technology startups. Chris Smith spoke to project manager Jon Eades who explained what a startup incubator is...

Jon - I guess incubator is actually not a bad term for it.  It's kind of lost a bit of meaning for me recently but I guess, if you think of an incubator as somewhere where you put an egg or a new born baby or something in the early stages of its life to give it the best chance possible, and an incubator for startups really does the same thing.  It provides the right type of habitat for a startup to have the best shot at success.

Chris - What sorts of people are approaching you and coming to take part in the incubator.

Jon - People, like I say, in the very early stages of building a business.  Some people with just an idea; some of them very crazy; some of them more promising and right through to people who have built a bit of a team - up to kind of 10 or 15 people.  But that's all really quite early in terms of how big some of these businesses can grow.

Chris - Technology and music go 'hand in glove' and 'hand in hand', they have done for years.  So what's new here?

Jon - I very much see it as a progression or continuation of a progression which has been going on for a long time, and Abbey Road's been around since 1931 so there's 84 years of history there, and I'm lucky enough to have spent quite a lot of time researching that history.  And what I see happening at the moment is very much just the continuation of how things have been progressing for a long time.  The only difference for me really is how quickly it's moving and things are really, really accelerating in pace and you can point to a few quite large socio-economic changes that have caused that or allowed that to happen.

Chris - So, why have you moved back into this scene?  Abbey Road was big in this area historically, then there was a bit of a fallow period.  Now you're back.  Why?

Jon - Some of those big economic changes have meant that we've played a different role in the change in technology over the years and, in the 50's and 60's, you couldn't go to a shop, you couldn't just buy a tape machine off the shelf and it was very much the seedlings of therecording studio industry.  And EMI, the company that owned Abbey Road; built all of its own equipment.  As things changed, as more independent studios cropped up and as independent producers came along, lots of independent companies started making equipment, and competing quality, and competing price.  So EMI stopped producing quite so much equipment through the kind of 70's/80's period, and things have changed recently such that it's not so much the big established companies that are making the best technology now, or pioneering the best innovations.  It seems to be that they're coming from either academic research or from the startup community and so we're not now running and R and D department in the way that we used to, we're more running collaborative agreements with the people who are innovating at the moment.

Chris - Is everyone on board with this encroachment of the new technology into the music scene or have you some people who in the same way as regard the teasmade as bit of a threat to the kettle?  Is everyone on the same page?

Jon - No, I'd be kind of innocent if I said they were and I'm very much the kind of pioneer at Abbey Road.  Abbey Road still does what it's always done and does a very good job of it - large scale acoustic recordings, and a lot of the people involved in that process see some of the things that I'm working on as quite threatening, and in some ways they are but in some ways they're not and, for such a company as Abbey Road, the worst thing to do is to ignore these technologies.  and the best thing to do is to really get on board and embrace them.


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