Abbey Road Studios is opening its doors to the public for the first time after partnering with Google to create an interactive tour of the building.
Inside Abbey Road allows fans from around the world to explore the building’s three legendary studios, hear about the artists who have recorded there and use their computer, tablet or phone to play with some of the studio’s equipment.
Previously, only artists or groups cutting tracks in the building were allowed access to the world famous studios where The Beatles recorded swathes of their era-defining music, Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon and more recently Florence + The Machine and James Bay have produced music.
The new site, which draws on technology used on Google’s Street View application, boasts more than 150 different 360-degree panoramic images and means anyone can now explore every corner of the famous studios accompanied by realistic sound effects. Isabel Garvey, managing director at Abbey Road, explains how it allows music fans, bands, engineers and anyone else interested in music and the production process to walk across the pedestrian crossing made famous by the Fab Four on their Abbey Road album cover, go through the studio gates and straight into the building. “There’s archive footage and history about the people who have worked there, background on inventions and discoveries that the studios contributed to, like stereo sound, and information about the various bits of kit we have got,” says Garvey.
Watch the video below to find out more:
Tom Seymour, the project lead from Google’s Creative Lab, explains how Inside Abbey Road builds on tools that already enable people to see and experience parts of the world they have previously been unable to access. “We’re always looking at how we can use technology to bring people closer to cultural icons and institutions. With Inside Abbey Road, we wanted to open the doors to the iconic music studio for anyone in the world to step inside and experience the stories, the sounds, the people and the equipment that make Abbey Road Studios what it is today.”
Armed with their own point-of-view (POV) shot the virtual visitors can visit the three studios and a mastering suite. When they approach a hot spot, a YouTube video will pop up featuring a whole raft of different experiences including performances from some of the many bands which have recorded at Abbey Road, footage of Elgar and the London Symphony Orchestra opening the studios in 1931 and Jay Z talking to Zane Lowe about his album, Magna Carta.
Garvey explains, “As you walk around you will hear ambient noise, lights will come on, there’s work going on, engineers at mixing desks, people talking, someone will be playing a piano and in studio two some musicians are warming up.”
As well as having the run of the building to roam freely, visitors also have the option of taking three interactive tours, each tailored to provide a different perspective on the studios: Giles Martin, producer son of Beatles collaborator George, narrates a tour discussing the recording processes employed; Abbey Road’s head of audio products Mirek Stiles hosts a tour addressing the innovations and technology developed at the studios; and BBC 6Music presenter Lauren Laverne provides a tour rich in anecdotes. Martin says: "This gives the outside world a great insight into the everyday workings of the studio and allows anyone to glimpse the magic that goes on inside the world's most famous recording studio."
Garvey expects no shortage of demand for the new interactive site because there is already phenomenal interest in the studios. Every day around 1,000 people make the trip to north London to take photos of the iconic Abbey Road crossing or graffiti on the studio wall and another four million people view the live visual feed from the crossing cam. “Inside Abbey Road is going to give all these people a lot more insight into the studio,” says Garvey. “It’s a tour designed to enthuse people about what we do now and the art of making music.”
Get inside Abbey Road Studios here - g.co/insideabbeyroad