Ben Folds Being Forced Out Of Historic Studio ‘A’
The saga to save Nashville’s historic Studio ‘A’ and other Music Row landmarks sees another setback as Ben Folds says he’s being forced out of the space he’s spent over a decade renting and spent over $1 million on in rent and renovations. Because of raised rent of 124% from the new ownership, Ben Folds says he’s planning to vacate Studio ‘A’ by November. The building that resides at 30 Music Square West was officially sold on Monday (7-28) to Bravo Development, who immediately put the building back up for sale to other potential developers, and raised rents across the board for all the building’s tenants, including Ben Folds, and country artist Jamey Johnson.
Bravo Development’s assessment of the building is bleak, citing asbestos, bad plumbing and wiring, a leaky roof, and mold in the ducts. Though Bravo said initially it was their intention to attempt to preserve this historic studio even if the rest of the building was to be razed, they’re now saying their main intention is to resell the property as soon as possible to someone else. Bravo stated right after the sale went through that increased rent to the building’s tenants was on the way.
The fight to save Studio ‘A’ is very much a centerpiece in the preservation fight for many of Nashville’s historic places as development encroaches on many of the city’s cultural districts, including Music Row where Studio ‘A’ is located.
READ: As It Is With Nashville’s Historic Places, So Should It Be with Music
Studio ‘A’ was built in 1964 by Chet Atkins, and was originally called “RCA Victor Nashville Sound Studio.” It was built was to have a big enough studio space to record the string instrumentation that found itself onto many of the country music recordings of the time. It has since been used for many legendary recordings in country music and many other genres.
You can find the entirety of Ben Folds’ statement below.
After closing on the purchase of 30 Music Square West, home of historic RCA Studio A (of which I’ve been tenant for 12 years) Tim Reyholds of Bravo Development in Brentwood TN has just informed us that our rent will be raised 124%. Haha, okay Tim, we got it, and we’re moving out as soon as our current lease runs out. That means we will be there until end of November. He is on public record saying he will not demolish the building, though I’m not sure how any studio owner could make bottom line with rent that high.
We have and will continue to send investors and planners his way who have ideas on how to both preserve the space, keep the studio working and make everyone the money they want. I will continue to raise public awareness of the grand history of Music Row that is threatened by hasty development. Today we did Morning Joe and an NPR segment on 360 will also air soon many more outlets to come. My hope is that all our efforts have given us a moment to pause and consider how Nashville might continue to grow, while also retaining the identity and culture that has made it Music City.
Since the rally was held at the studio on June 30, a group called Music Industry Coalition has formed, elected a Board, begun filing its official papers with the state, fashioned a mission statement and collected over 1500 members. Their mission is to give the working folks in the music industry a voice and to work with city officials on a plan for Music Row that allows our music culture to co-exist with new growth. I will continue to help them in any way I can.
Yeah, I’m sad personally, but I had a good decade plus run and will be recording as much of my new album as I can there before November, including with the absolutely incredible sextet yMusic from New York. The Nashville Symphony and I recorded my Concerto For Piano and Orchestra there recently. What other studio can handle 80-piece orchestras in one take?
This whole #SaveStudioA and #SaveMusicRow thing was never about me (or the former owners or Tim Reynolds) and that’s why the issue has resonated with people here and around the world who are concerned about retaining Nashville’s identity, culture and music economy. Thanks for reading, and for the concern and effort! It’s working. That’s all I got to say.
August 1, 2014 @ 12:28 pm
Jamey Johnson should organize a group of artists that can buy it. I could see others buying into that.
August 1, 2014 @ 1:03 pm
Nashville’s glory days are gone, anyway. They’d bulldoze the Ryman and all of Broadway if they thought they could make more money.
August 1, 2014 @ 3:27 pm
I live in Nashville, and I can tell you that if someone tried to bulldoze the Ryman at this point, there would be mass rioting in the streets. Actually, the non-historic portions of the Ryman are currently being refurbished and expanded, for what it’s worth.
I occasionally speak up on behalf of Nashville on this site. While I agree that the glory days of popular country music are gone, the situation with the city of Nashville is much more complex. The reason over-development is an encroaching problem in the first place is because in many ways, the city is thriving and stronger than ever. Make no mistake, the threat of over-development is definitely a real problem, but unfortunately it is not one that’s unique to Nashville.
August 1, 2014 @ 1:37 pm
WHA……studio A is closing….D’OH! 🙁
August 1, 2014 @ 3:47 pm
“Since the rally was held at the studio on June 30, a group called Music Industry Coalition has formed, elected a Board, begun filing its official papers with the state, fashioned a mission statement and collected over 1500 members. Their mission is to give the working folks in the music industry a voice and to work with city officials on a plan for Music Row that allows our music culture to co-exist with new growth. I will continue to help them in any way I can.”
I think this is really important. The issue of the future of RCA Studio A has galvanized the support of the Nashville (and world) community behind the cause of preserving the city’s musical history. A coalition has been formed, and people are paying attention now. And it’s all because of the potential destruction of a secondary RCA studio many country music fans were probably not even aware of. I can’t help but think this is a really positive development, even as the future of Studio A remains to be seen.
August 1, 2014 @ 3:53 pm
I agree, and I think that is why Ben couched the end of his letter as he did. He knows that despite the bad short-term news, this puts these issues right back in the spotlight. Even if the building gets bulldozed, it will be a rallying cry for the movement, and make it much harder for landmarks to be bought and sold like this. It’s going to be an interesting next few months.
August 1, 2014 @ 4:03 pm
“It”™s going to be an interesting next few months.”
Agreed, and thanks for reporting on this issue.
August 1, 2014 @ 5:22 pm
Perhaps The Opry should buy it? Even record an album in Studio A featuring Opry members donating their time/talents with all proceeds from sales going to preservation/renovation? Maybe a tie in with Cracker Barrel (assuming still a sponsor, haven’t listened lately)?
Seems if there’s a will there’s a way.