‘Sonic Highways’ studio The Magic Shop ‘will probably have to close’

Steve Rosenthal, owner of the iconic Magic Shop in New York, has told The New York Times how his studio is in danger of joining the list of historic recording facilities in the city that have closed their doors in recent years.

In an interview with the paper, Rosenthal (pictured) talks about his struggle to cope with the $12,500 monthly Soho rent price; a changing music/recording industry that has severely shortened demand; juggling ownership of the studio and his other business, the live venue Living Room, which had to relocate from Manhattan to Brooklyn to keep costs down; and a failed attempt to buy the space it currently occupies, despite the generous intervention of a very well known rock star.

Although The Magic Shop will be familiar to some for being the place where David Bowie recorded his much-anticipated latest album The Next Day, and popular with artists such as Arcade Fire, Lou Reed, Norah Jones and Thurston Moore, many will also know it as one of the studios Foo Fighters visited to record Sonic Highways, and film an episode of the accompanying TV series.

Upon hearing of Rosenthal’s predicament, Foos frontman Dave Grohl was so keen to see the studio pull through that he put forward $50,000 to help with the back rent, and offered to finance the owner’s move to buy out the lease, but to no avail, as the property could be worth as much as $45,000 a month on the open market.

Although the archiving side of the business is doing well at present, it isn’t bringing in enough to cover the studio’s overheads, and Rosenthal fears he may now have run out of options: “That was Plan A, B, C, D, E and F, to be honest,” he said. “What will probably happen is, I will have to close the studio, and I will move my archiving business to Bushwick or somewhere.”

“Maybe I’m a complete anachronism,” Mr. Rosenthal added. “But what happened here was valid, and the experiences were real, and the music that was created here was worthwhile.”

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Photo: The Magic Shop