Want to record at Abbey Road -- for free? With new studio partnership, Converse foots the bill

Perhaps more famous than Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," Outkast's "Ms. Jackson" or Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" are the studios in which they were birthed: London's Abbey Road; Atlanta's Stankonia; and Kingston, Jamaica's Tuff Gong. Ask any musician and they'll likely tell you they'd kill for a chance to record in the very booths once graced by such Grammy winners. But now they don't have to.

In a new program announced today by sneaker company Converse's Rubber Tracks, the doors of such legendary studios will now open to emerging musicians to record original music -- for free.


Opened in 2011, Rubber Tracks is Converse's state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn, NY. The 5,200-square-foot space provides new artists from all genres access to a top-level recording studio at no cost.

"Since we opened our first permanent Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn four years ago, we've had aspirations to elevate this program even further, hoping to extend this opportunity to artists across the globe," Converse Global Music Marketing Director Jed Lewis said in a statement. "With this new Converse Rubber Tracks program, we will unlock the doors to some of the greatest recording studios in music history and we're ecstatic to offer this extraordinary experience to emerging artists worldwide."

The 12 studios participating include Abbey Road Studios; Sunset Sound in Los Angeles; Hansa Tonstudio in Berlin; Tuff Gong; Greenhouse Studios in Iceland; the Warehouse Studio in Canada; Avast Recording Co. in Seattle; Stankonia; Studios 301 in Australia; Toca do Bandido in Brazil; the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn; and a second Converse Rubber Tracks in Boston, slated to open this summer.

"I think it's a great publicity opportunity for us," Sunset Sound general manager Craig Hubler told The Times, "to introduce ourselves to a new generation of musicians who are up and coming and looking for an opportunity to record and get their music out there in some way other than YouTube or Twitter or whatever."

He said the legendary studio -- where megastars like the Doors, Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones recorded some of their most iconic records -- has taken on mostly young "rock-'n'-roller types" in recent years, so it anticipates that the program will help it expand its clientele in that community.

Since 2011, Converse has granted artists -- mostly small-time indie-rock bands but also a handful of singer-songwriters, rappers and other acts -- one to two days of recording time at Rubber Tracks' state-of-the-art Brooklyn location. The product of those two days is owned entirely by the artists, though they are video-recorded while in session and, afterward, are given the option to release any of the music to Converse for use on its website.

This new program is the latest installment in a recent uptick of brand-funded artist development, in which companies like Converse, Citigroup and even State Farm have invested large chunks of their marketing budgets -- as Lewis told The Times in December -- "to give something back" to creative communities.

Musicians interested in the program can apply online through June 24. After a planning session with studio producers, chosen artists will be taken to one of the participating studios of choice in September, with most travel accommodations arranged, and select expenses covered, by Converse.

Once the winners are chosen, a total of 84 recording sessions will take place within a 10-day period in September.

Times staff writer Devon Maloney contributed to this report.

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