Can a Studio Ever be Sustainable?

null Can a Studio Ever be Sustainable?

Can a Studio Ever be Sustainable?

Sustainability is a funny word. It means different things to different people. Right now in the music and media industries, ‘sustainable’ more often refers to an organisation’s ability to withstand the constant batterings of COVID-19. Can we ‘sustain’ ourselves throughout this attack on the very nature of our business? Will our current business model be ‘sustainable’ in the long term when any government support stops?

But rewind the clock only a few months and nearly every business was waving the sustainability flag, each one meaning something entirely different. Finally, one of the most carbon intensive industries - entertainment - was truly looking at itself in the mirror and turning its previous lip-service to the green agenda into core changes and new ways of thinking. The arts were becoming truly environmentally sustainable.

After more than a decade of making sure our studio complex in South London remained ecologically sustainable, we have now also hit a difficult juncture: It’s costly to be a sustainable studio (in the ‘green’ sense of the word). It’s time-intensive and financially challenging - at the best of times.

Put simply - in both senses of the word - it’s hard to be sustainable right now.

Procurement of equipment often faces restricted choices when taking the environmental impact of that product into consideration. And where there are fewer options, prices are generally higher. Can we even afford the ‘luxury’ of shopping sustainably?

Where we had always ensured that we were carbon-neutral and plastic-free, due to the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain we have been forced to use less sustainable alternatives. We’ve had to use plastic-based PPE and chemical cleaning products where before we’d only ever used plant-based equivalents - which we’d previously purchased from zero-waste and ethical outlets.

It doesn’t sit right with me.

But there are things we can do. I continue to write to every company that sends me goods wrapped in unsustainable packaging, or uses parts that are cheaper and could be replaced with better quality, more sustainable alternatives. I’d encourage you to do the same. We’re all a part of the solution - and this pressure on companies does make a difference.

To be sustainable in 2020, we need to very honestly monitor our priorities. For those in the creative sector, in this new world we find ourselves in, these are the primary areas: Safety, Art, Finance and arguably, most importantly, the Planet.

This checklist is relevant to both my recording studio complex and the wider entertainment industry. But something might surprise you:

First - Safety. Is my studio safe, and made safe in the most sustainable way?
Second - Art. Am I uncompromisingly creating the very best for me/my client using the most sustainable resources?
Third - Finance. Is my business plan robust and reviewed to withstand this new era, ensuring that the Planet remains ahead of Profit?

The surprise? Sustainability isn’t actually a category. We can’t tag it onto our industry, or onto our business plans. Sustainability has to be at the very core of our Safety, Art and Finances.

How we do that - and to what degree - will depend on our circumstances, willingness and distance down the road. Is it possible to be sustainable in all senses of the word? The answer sounds like a cliché, but I believe we can. Sustainability isn’t a destination, it’s a journey - and I hope you’ll continue to join me (and many others) on it.

Guest blogger:

John Merriman

John Merriman is the director of Crown Lane Productions, an award winning recording studio complex based in London, UK. Crown Lane specialises in creating exceptional jazz, folk, world, classical and fresh audio recordings, and its long term commitment to sustainability has led to it successfully operating as a carbon neutral business.

To find out more, visit, and to read our 2017 interview with John, please click here

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