Historic RCA Studio A on Nashville’s famed Music Row has been saved from demolition. Nearly three months after an 11th hour, $5.6 million bid to save the legendary site from being torn down and turned into condos, Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee philanthropist and preservationist Aubrey Preston has partnered with Nashville healthcare executive Charles “Chuck” Elcan and Curb Records founder and Music Row preservationist Mike Curb to purchase the facility, which was finalized December 23rd.
“We’re proud to be part of preserving RCA Studio A for the next generation of musicians, songwriters, recording artists, and producers,” Preston said in a press release. “It’s essential that we protect the infrastructure and heritage that anchors Nashville’s creative economy, and Mike and Chuck are perfect partners for this project. As a team, we’re looking forward to working with the preservation community to ensure Studio A’s long-term protection and share its incredible story.”
The release also states that the trio formed a new umbrella group called Studio A Preservation Partners to make the purchase. Each of the men will have a one-third interest in the property and will work with longtime tenant Ben Folds to stay in the studio.
RCA Studio A, located at 30 Music Square West, has been the home to five decades of recording artists ranging from Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves (who just wrapped recording her next album there), Jamey Johnson and Miranda Lambert. At nearly 50 years old, the building is still used as a full-time, full-service studio where many artists still choose to record. Folds has leased, maintained and operated it for the last 12 years while Tony Bennett, Hunter Hayes, Sturgill Simpson and the Nashville Symphony are just some of the acts who have recorded there in recent years.
The Nashville Business Journal reports that the investment in Studio A completes a set of historic Nashville studios Curb has purchased and restored over the years, including three of the city’s most iconic studios used for educational and tourism purposes. Columbia Studio A and The Quonset Hut, known as the Owen Bradley-built birthplace of modern country music which Curb acquired in 2006, are being leased in-kind to Belmont University while Studio A’s sister studio, RCA Studio B, is being leased to the Country Music Hall of Fame for $1 per year.
Music Row has been making headlines all year as several commercial developers, including Tim Reynolds of Bravo Development in Brentwood, Tennessee, have threatened to demolish Music Row landmarks, including RCA Studio A, to build condominiums and other commercial developments. Located south of Downtown Nashville, Music Row was once known as Nashville’s entertainment industry due to the hundreds of recording studios and music industry businesses, including record labels and publishing companies, that once resided in the area. While most of these companies have moved elsewhere, mainly Downtown, there’s still a lot of history that enriches Music Row which many believe should be preserved.
In June, Folds wrote an open letter to the city of Nashville protesting the sale and demolition of the site that went viral. On June 30th, a rally was held at the studio to protect its legacy. A group called Music Industry Coalition was formed 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 music culture to co-exist with new growth. The group elected a Board, began filing official papers with the state, fashioned a mission statement and collected over 1500 members to ensure the legacy of RCA Studio A is preserved.
Despite their efforts, the future of the studio’s future still looked bleak in August when Folds told his Facebook followers that he was vacating the facility at the end of his lease in November due to a rent increase of 124%.
“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 Reynolds of Bravo Development in Brentwood TN has just informed us that our rent will be raised 124%,” the singer writes. “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’re proud to be part of preserving RCA Studio A for the next generation of musicians, songwriters, recording artists, and producers.”
Over the summer, #SaveStudioA and #SaveMusicRow movements began gaining traction around the world as more people expressed their concern about retaining Nashville’s identity, culture and music economy.
Multi-platinum selling country crooner Keith Urban also demanded that the area be preserved by personally writing an article for Nashville’s The Tennessean. The singer and multi-instrumentalist states that after making his first trip from Australia to Nashville, he immediately drove to Music Row where he had an instant connection.
“I would drive to the Row almost daily in my rented crap car to write, record demos and generally hang around, meeting all kinds of people. Music Row became my center, because Music Row IS a center.”
While Urban states that “evolution is a constant part of music and life,” for him (and most Nashville-based musicians), “Music Row is where the past, present and future meet, and that’s a vital part of keeping balance.”
Most notable for launching the careers of country singers and musicians, Nashville and Music Row has impacted all genres of music which Curb states is very important to Music City.
“We have to strike a balance here because we have to be fair to the Atkins and Bradley families, however, none of us want to lose Studio A and Ben Folds, because we want more pop and other music in Nashville, and Ben Folds symbolizes that,” Curb told the Nashville Business Journal in July.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.