Key findings


The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) appointed Sound Diplomacy to undertake a market assessment of the recording studios, production rooms and rehearsal studios (the studio market) in England.(1) The scope of the assessment was private studios that were professionally run, although the role and impact of home studios was addressed throughout and included both open and closed facilities. Sound Diplomacy's aim was to provide DCMS with a detailed understanding of the studio market and its current challenges and opportunities. The research team used a mixed methodology comprising:

  • mapping;
  • surveying;
  • stakeholder engagement; and
  • analysis of the key findings.

Key findings

The evidence showed that:

  • there is a sufficient supply of music studios;
  • barriers to entry are low;
  • there are no signs of monopoly, oligopoly or any other market dominance; and
  • the market is responding to changes (eg, technological innovation) and new competition.

According to the report, democratised access to music production technologies has given rise to an increasing number of home studio users at all levels of professionalism. Personal use – including skills development and commercial means (eg, project work) – are both evident, which can reduce demand and dependency on traditional studios. However, these spaces can also be used in tandem (57.1% of surveyed home studio users also use commercial studios).

The report stated that the current challenge is for traditional studios to achieve standards and sufficient added value to distinguish themselves from the alternatives – for example:

  • via specific production and creative processes;
  • through the reputation of studio professionals in terms of technical and creative skills; and
  • by offering artistic development services.

The report also found that the studio market is principally invested in the music industry but that some studios have chosen to expand their business models into the audiovisual sector (eg, films, TV and radio).

Regarding integration in the music ecosystem, the report found that the growth in digital music distribution and the democratisation of music production technologies have contributed to the "disintermediation" of record labels, music publishers and other traditional vertical services from the recording industry value chain (ie, they have helped to "cut out the middleman").

Further, the report found that record labels' budgets and involvement in producing recorded music and in artist and repertoire activities have declined with the advent of digital music distribution. Coupled with the growing number of self-producing and self-releasing artists who may in themselves struggle to make a living (partly attributed to low streaming royalties), there is now an overall reduction in budgets and, in turn, demand for studio services according to focus group participants.

The evidence also showed a disintegration between the studio market and the wider music ecosystem. The report stated that there is:

  • a low level of interaction between studios and other music stakeholders;
  • a poor perception from clients towards studio networks; and
  • a lack of contracted professional services (78% of surveyed clients have no support from other music professionals such as record labels or managers).

In addition, surveyed studio clients perceived live music venues as the most influential stakeholders in their success as artists or musicians, while studio professionals had an overall lesser importance (rated 3.8 and 3.4 out of five, respectively). The evidence also showed both creative and professional links between studios and live music venues, specifically via rehearsals. However, there were concerns about access to and the availability of live music infrastructure.

The survey was conducted between January and March 2021, during the United Kingdom's third covid-19 lockdown. The report analyses the effects of the pandemic on studios, as well as the effects of Brexit and real estate pressures.

For further information on this topic please contact Alexander Ross at Wiggin by telephone (+44 1242 224 114) or email ([email protected]). The Wiggin website can be accessed at


(1) To read the report, click here.