London’s second-best record studio is up for sale

London’s second-best record studio is up for sale


norman lebrecht

May 08, 2018

The AIR studio in Hampstead, founded by Beatles producer George Martin in 1969, has been put on the market.


  • Caravaggio says:

    Yep, even popular, as in pop, music is experiencing a severe decline. I’d say an all out collapse. They should turn the space into a deli.

  • Tommy says:

    Air makes a profit and is busy all the time (particularly with film scores), since it’s the only other big room studio (along with Abbey Road) that can handle a full orchestra and London is busier than ever with recording film scores thanks to tax breaks.

    So that’s not why they are selling: the owners have been widely quoted as saying that the recent – and lengthy – legal battle with a neighbour (who wanted to build an underground gym, swimming pool etc that would have completely destroyed Air’s business) took its toll on them and it’s time to sell up to someone with more energy for it.

    • Tommy says:

      It’s also not remotely ‘second-best’. It’s different to Abbey Road and composers want different sounds for different works/films. It’s whatever works for them. Air has some of the finest engineers in the business, plus that gorgeous main room that composers love. The list of artists and composers that regularly use Air is extraordinary.

      So why would you say it’s second-best? Have you used both yourself, Norman?

  • “London’s AIR Studios, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious recording facilities, has been put up for sale by its owners.”

    “The facility’s cavernous hexagonal shaped 300m squared live room big enough to house a full symphony orchestra and choir simultaneously — has also made AIR an in-demand booking for film composers and Hollywood studios.”

    “Co-owner Paul Woolf tells Billboard that while the decision to put AIR on the market is “not an easy step” for either of them, it comes down to a very simple reason. “We’re a pair of old farts, basically,” he explains.

    “We’ve worked very hard over a number of years to get the business in really solid shape, but there’s always a future path and it’s time to go. There’s someone out there who’s younger and who has got the tenacity that we had when we were 40,” ”

    Sorry Norman but your “Not so busy these days” comment is wrong.

    Oh, and those are not my words contradicting you… they are taken from the article you linked to this post!

  • NICK says:

    Have you read the article you’re linking to Norman? the one which names five of last year’s biggest films? not to mention Paddington 2, Murder on the Orient Express, Kingsman 2, Mute, Red Sparrow, and of course all the stuff that’s been recorded so far this year? And of course all the records, TV soundtracks, scores for games and theatre…. The place is flourishing. Still, why not throw in a lazy and inaccurate dig. eh?

  • NN says:

    AIR is certainly not the second-best in London. I would even call it the best. The acoustics at AIR’S Lyndhurst Hall are actually more natural in comparison to Studio One at Abbey Road. Of course Abbey Road is the best-known studio.

  • Annie says:

    Norman, you don’t actually even know what your talking about! All the studios in AIR are basically booked out from dawn til dusk mon-sun and there is a thrilling rotation of artists using and loving these facilities. Clearly you haven’t been?

  • Paul Quinn says:

    Amazing studio. Recorded there with Teenage Fanclub and worked elsewhere with the brilliant Nick Woolage. Met the gentleman that was, George Martin. I manage Gorbals Sound Studios in Glasgow and understand the energy that’s required to stay afloat in a dwindling industry. God bless the amazing Air Studios.

  • Mike Hatch says:

    I’ve recorded classical music in both, and Abbey Road always gives a good sound, but it’s so tricky to get a really GREAT sound there – it’s warm and reliable, but rarely outstanding. However there’s a “real acoustic” feel to the Hall at Air that has the potential to make superb sound, if you know how to use it…!

  • Anonlondon says:

    Better than Abbey Road because of the catering! Us musos much prefer to work at Air. And it’s always busy!

  • Paul Woolf says:

    Norman it is very shabby of you to post a picture of our Hall when empty and characterise that as indicative of the shape of our business. I invite you to retract your article and apologise. Thanks

    Paul Woolf
    CEO/Co Owner
    Air Studios

    • norman lebrecht says:

      I think you read far more than I intended in the connection of picture and hall. Indeed, the sight of instruments in the hall make it clear that the hall is in use and this is a rehearsal break. However, I have removed the sentence that you find contentious. I wish your business well. NL

      • Paul Woolf says:

        Thanks for your speedy response. As you say it’s clear the studio is in use which makes your post more inappropriate

        Oh and for the record we are not and never have been second best to anyone.

        Differences do not create rankings

        Paul Woolf
        CEO/Co Owner
        Air Studios

        • Barry Guerrero says:

          Oh please, lighten up everyone. Who the h__l cares if it’s the best, second best or worst-est of the worst. The point is, it’s up for sale and we now know the reasons why. End of story. Go have a martini.