Crystalphonic goes bankrupt
Only four years after opening its doors, Charlottesville's multi-million dollar recording facility Crystalphonic Recording Studio has declared bankruptcy and will sell off much of its contents at an auction on Thursday, October 11, according to a classified ad that's been running in the Daily Progress. Reached for comment, Crystalphonic CEO Dave Spence would say only, "I am not at liberty to say anything."
It's a state of affairs that's a far cry from the fanfare that accompanied the studio's 2003 opening in the old Monticello Dairy building, when it was purported to be on par with the best studios in the world, but in a setting far calmer than the hustle and bustle of New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. "People live there for the industry, but they hate being there," explained Crystalphonic founder Kevin McNoldy in 2002 adding that many a musician with whom he had worked had said of Charlottesville, "Man, if I could live there and work, I would."
But as of 2005, that steady stream of rock stars coming to town had yet to materialize (save recording sessions by jam rockers O.A.R. and former-next-big-thing Blue Merle) and well-established recording studios on both coasts were closing their doors as at-home recording technology got cheaper. So, in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, Crystalphonic made the switch from analog to digital recording. At that time, McNoldy said of the transition, "When things get low in the industry, that's when change can really happen, and you should invest in the things you believe in because it can only go up from there."
As he made those comments, McNoldy was sitting in his new home in Florida, and intended to work with the studio exclusively via the Internet. At the time, he didn't see a problem with such an arrangement. "In the same amount of time it would take to send a file upstairs to downstairs," he explained, "I can send a file from here to Virginia."
"My involvement with the studio ended shortly thereafter," McNoldy tells the Hook today. "I'm afraid I can't offer much help to you."
Jack Gray had worked as Crystalphonic's chief engineer until March, and moved to Atlanta soon afterward to pursue greener recording pastures. "I love Charlottesville, but any career move I could have made would have been a lateral move," he says.
Gray expressed shock at learning of Crystalphonic's demise and says that, based on his experience, the studio's financial problems weren't due to a lack of clients. "I was working 90-hour weeks there," he says. "It's not like I was sitting around with nothing to do."