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'Sunset Sound is one of the last great L.A. recording studios.'

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The legendary Sunset Sound is in the news lately, due to problems with homeless encampments in the area. I was just at the studio a few weeks ago for a couple of hours and met with the owner. Hopefully this situation gets resolved in the near future. Here's a photo I took in the room JP used to mix LZ IV (in Feb. 1971). Their three studios are an amazing time capsule.   -Sam






Sunset Sound is one of the last great L.A. recording studios. To lose it would be a disaster.

By Jessica Gelt | Staff Writer
Feb. 20, 2024

There are two ways to look at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue in Hollywood. It is an area with a large unhoused population, and for the past 64 years it has been home to one of the country’s most iconic music recording studios, Sunset Sound.

Now, one truth about this particular bit of real estate threatens to annihilate the other.

According to multiple news reports, Sunset Sound might go out of business because of the dangers posed by a nearby homeless encampment.

The homelessness crisis in large California cities often becomes a scapegoat for the disruptive, divisive chaos of early 21st century life. San Francisco is in an “urban doom loop” because of homelessness, not, say, because of the staggering inequities wrought by rising techno-authoritarianism. Los Angeles neighborhoods are unsafe because they are overrun with homeless people, not because of soaring housing costs enabled by NIMBY elites that push people out onto the street.

But the problems experienced by those living or running businesses near large homeless encampments are quite real. Sunset Sound’s owner and studio manager, Paul Camarata, has publicly described escalating troubles — a burglary, two instances of arson and discomfort expressed by visiting artists.

Recording studios have, historically, been built and operated in rougher parts of town where rent is cheap and warehouse-type spaces are plentiful; their owners know something about security. This is why Camarata’s cry for help should not go unanswered by city officials tasked with humanely taking care of disadvantaged people in need of shelter, food and health services.

Especially given that homelessness is not the biggest threat Sunset Sound faces. That threat is existential and highly documented: namely, the digital revolution has done to the analog world of art, media and communication what the industrial revolution did to agrarian and handicraft economies a century before. In the case of the music industry, the advent of Pro Tools recording software in the 1990s and the rise of music streaming services in the early aughts — with its cataclysmic loss of income for artists and studios — irrevocably changed the business.

For years cost-effective digital technology has enabled a seismic shift away from the legendary temples of carefully crafted sound that facilitated the creation of some of the greatest records of all time, and into the garages, bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms of indie artists and superstars alike. Making music, once the very definition of artistic collaboration, now more often than not occurs in isolation with a vast library of plug-ins designed to mimic the sounds of various recording studios.

Sunset Sound is among the last holdouts of a once-thriving music-business ecosystem that is taking its last gasps.

If we care about the craft, art, history — and future — of music, its survival should concern us deeply.

Sunset Sound represents the apotheosis of the recording industry’s heyday. It is also a sentimental favorite because it is among the last family-owned old-school studios in a city once awash in them. The state-of-the-art, three-room studio was founded by composer Salvador “Tutti” Camarata, who played trumpet for Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. In 1956 Walt Disney hired Camarata to form Disneyland Records. Tutti built Sunset Sound for that purpose and eventually recorded audio there for a number of Disney classics, including “101 Dalmatians” and “Mary Poppins.”


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