Avatar Entertainment Corporation has announced that Avatar Studios, the iconic full service, multi-room recording facility in New York City, is up for sale.
Located in Midtown West and measuring around 33,000 sqft, Avatar Studios is where the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and David Bowie – to name but a few – recorded seminal, career-changing music.
“It is with a sense of both great excitement as well as some trepidation with which we make this announcement,” said Kirk Imamura, president of Avatar Entertainment Corporation. “Avatar is a magical place where some of the world’s most beautiful music has been recorded and it is my family’s hope that a new owner will choose to maintain its legacy as a pillar of the recording industry.”
Formally known as The Power Station, Avatar has been owned by Kirk's wife Chieko Imamura since 1996 – when it was given its new name – and she is hopeful that a successful sale of both the real estate and the business itself to a party willing to keep the place running as a studio can be achieved.
“Avatar plays an instrumental role in New York City’s cultural and economic fabric and it would be unfortunate if it was torn down,” Kirk Imamura continued. “We can accommodate a wide array of clients including a 60-plus-piece orchestra or large Broadway cast and orchestra. Such facilities simply do not exist anywhere else in New York. We recognize that finding a purchaser for the business may be difficult and that the real estate alone may be more attractive.”
Avatar Studios boasts a wide range of high-end analogue and digital gear, with an assortment of both vintage and state-of-the-art equipment to meet various recording needs, including one of the world’s largest collections of Pultec equalisers.
The facility claims to have greatly benefited from tax incentives available to TV and film production companies that make New York an attractive option for film and entertainment executives, bringing associated music production work to Avatar. Recent projects recorded at the studios include the cast album for the Broadway hit Hamilton, as well as the film score for an upcoming film by the Coen Brothers.
It was also recently used as a location for shooting two upcoming television shows: HBO’s Vinyl, which is being executive produced by Marin Scorsese, and Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix creation, The Get Down. The theme song to Late Night with Stephen Colbert was recorded at Avatar as well.
The premises was originally used as a power substation, but after a period of vacancy it was transformed into a sound stage for the television game show Let's Make a Deal. In 1977, it was rebuilt as a recording studio by producer Tony Bongiovi – cousin of rock star Jon Bon Jovi – and his business partner Bob Walters.
Primarily known for rock & roll and jazz, albums such as Madonna’s Like a Virgin, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Roxy Music’s Avalon were all recorded at 441 West 53rd Street.
More recently, artists such as Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Nile Rodgers, Beck, Bruno Mars, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and Josh Groban, have all used Avatar.
“I have owned the studio for almost 20 years and at this time, I feel it was my obligation to the music industry and to lovers of music around the world, to at least provide an initial opportunity for a new owner to continue the studio and its legacy,” added Chieko Imamura. “I will do as much as I can to facilitate a successful transition.”
Picture: Avatar's flagship room, Studio A, which is used for orchestral and cast recordings