Folds Focuses On Touring, Cobb Takes Over Landmark Site
Historic RCA Studio A will see a changing of the guard in spring 2016, with platinum-selling artist/composer Ben Folds handing over the keys to the landmark studio to respected producer Dave Cobb.
Folds has had a 14-year affiliation with the studio dating back to 2002 when he began leasing the space for his personal recording. In 2009, under the banner of Grand Victor Sound, Folds opened the studio to other artists after making new investments in equipment and other upgrades.
Most recently, Studio A served as the go-to recording destination for Chris Stapleton, winner of the 2015 Country Music Association awards for best male vocalist, new artist of the year, and album of the year for “Traveller.” Cobb served as the producer on that album.
“Ben Folds played a key role in reopening one of the world’s most important recording studios,” said Aubrey Preston, who in 2014 joined fellow entrepreneurs Mike Curb and Chuck Elcan in purchasing the complex to save it from the wrecking ball. “Mike, Chuck and I wish Ben the very best in the future.”
Folds cited an increasingly demanding touring schedule and a growing plate of projects around the globe as the reasons for stepping back from Studio A. “I know the studio will be in good hands with Dave Cobb,” Folds said. “Dave is familiar with the history and inner workings of Studio A and he represents a bright future for Music Row.” Folds said he plans to record in the space in the future, as time allows, and will stay involved in the community, including serving on the board of the Nashville Symphony.
Cobb, a Grammy-nominated producer for Stapleton and other critically acclaimed recording artists — including Jason Isbell, Shooter Jennings and Sturgill Simpson — said he’s looking forward to being the producer-in-residence at Studio A and making the space available on a limited basis to other producers and artists.
“I’m proud to be entrusted with the keys to one of the best-sounding rooms in the world,” Cobb said. “My plan is simple: Honor the history of Studio A while making sure its unique sound carries forward onto new songs and albums with new artists.”
Opened in 1965, Studio A’s client list — past and present — is a Who’s Who of music stars. Past clients include country legends Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, and George Strait as well as newer artists like Hunter Hayes, Jamey Johnson, and Kacey Musgraves. Pop and rock artists who have worked at the Studio A complex include Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett, The Beach Boys, and The Monkees, and newer artists like Sara Bareilles and Kesha.
“Dave Cobb respects Studio A’s history and has a clear vision for its future,” Preston said. “He understands where the music industry is headed, he knows how to take full advantage of the unique acoustics in this very special place and he’s a world-class producer. Mike, Chuck and I are proud to welcome Dave Cobb home to Studio A.”
In 2014, musicians and preservationists rallied around Studio A after a developer announced plans to demolish the building and replace it with condos and a restaurant. Led by Folds and songwriter-producer Trey Bruce, the “Save Studio A” movement garnered global attention, capturing hearts and minds across the music and historic preservation communities. Artists including Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, and Keith Urban weighed in with moral support.
Curb, Elcan and Preston — operating as Studio A Preservation Partners — purchased the property to protect it. Shortly before the 50th anniversary of Studio A in 2015, the federal government added the site to the National Register of Historic Places.
“Two years ago, we almost lost an integral part of American music history,” Preston said. “Now, thanks to Ben Folds’ efforts and Dave Cobb’s future leadership, Studio A will continue to be a special place for the next generation of musicians, songwriters, recording artists and producers.”