Recording studio nestled in Pa. countryside dreams big

    Top row: Bands record at Great Time Studios. Bottom row from left: Great Time Studios' Jill Ryan

    Top row: Bands record at Great Time Studios. Bottom row from left: Great Time Studios' Jill Ryan

    Let’s be real for a minute. A lot of recently released music is … underwhelming.

    Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of artists doing their part in keeping honest, high-quality music alive. So why, then, does that next radio megahit sound eerily similar to the last 15? And why do I hear these same 15 songs everywhere I go?

    The “Big Three” record labels that currently dominate the production, release, and consumption of a vast majority of music have an iron grip on anywhere from 70 percent to 85 percent the industry. For an independent artist, procuring a deal with one of these companies is difficult — often impossible — without “the right connection,” a paid agency to vouch for you, or a whole heap of luck.

    On top of this, a majority of the music released by these labels is produced by a small pool of writers and lyricists essentially owned by the labels. Add to this the rise of digital services, and independent artists are finding it more and more difficult to build a fan community of like-minded individuals. In an increasingly digital environment, musicians are trending towards isolation from one another.

    Why don’t musicians run the music industry?

    This is where me and my colleagues come in — three self-motivated musicians, producers, and engineers looking to make a big impact on the way artists approach their craft. Two years ago, while we were attending The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, we spent our weekends turning an unused home office in the Pennsylvania countryside into a recording studio called Great Time Studios. Now that we’ve graduated, we have spent the last eight months designing and constructing a 1,000-square-foot addition by hand, entirely on our own.

    We believe this space — a studio built from a band’s perspective — will serve as a hub, a breeding ground, for both established and up-and-coming talent interested in taking their music further than ever before. Located on 140 acres of wooded farmland, it is accessible from New York City, Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Our goal is to provide a home for passionate creators and forward-thinking artists who are supremely dedicated to their work. The best part is there are more like us, who want to do things differently, than might appear. This can be a place for that to happen.

    Regaining ‘realness’

    Quite frankly, we’re tired of the direction mainstream music is heading. Since when did art become corporate? When did studios become grand, sterile rooms whose sole purpose is to turn a profit? Why don’t musicians run the music industry? Priorities are skewed when big money is involved, often at the expense of creativity. We’re looking to change all that.

    As we finish up our debut record, “Great Album,” the entirety of which has been recorded, mixed, and mastered in our studio, we hope to share with the world a fresh perspective on music, a perspective dictated not by what might sell the most copies, but rather a glimpse into what can be created given the proper environment. Gone are the restrictions put in place by major label studios, the overpriced engineer more concerned with grounds in his coffee than how your last vocal take sounded. We want to bring the human element back into the recording world, a “realness” that has been lost over the decades. We want to make music great again.

    As studios have been disappearing following many changes in the music business, the purpose and need for these spaces has not; an environment for musicians, engineers, and friends from all walks of life to converge and create, while simultaneously adding to and becoming part of music’s rich history. Every hit song, every legendary artist, every defining era of music exists because of a handful of revolutionary studios — Abbey Road, Sound City, The Magic Shop. Now, Great Time Studios.

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