Atlanta’s position as a music mecca could be threatened if proposed new zoning legislation were to pass. Atlanta City Council members Felicia Moore and Andre Dickens proposed a new order which will require recording studios to be soundproofed when operating within 500 feet of residential areas.
The proposed legislation stems in part from the murder of local favorite Bankroll Fresh in March 2016. Bankroll, born Trentavious White, was killed outside Street Execs Studio on the north side of town. Public outcry was strong at the time after police reportedly found more than 50 casings at the crime scene. Locals cited an increase in crime – from shootings to muggings and car break-ins – and blamed the studio and the increased presence of rap artists that has accompanied its growth in traffic since it opened. in 2015.
“After giving them a second chance,” Dickens, who lives in the area, noted after the incident, “now I’m on the side of the community where we were before saying this type of activity can’t be in our neighborhoods.”
The Zoning Review Board of Atlanta will make a recommendation on an ordinance at a meeting today, Thursday, Dec. 8, but the legislation likely won’t pass until the new year. However, the proposal has already drawn a strong reaction from supporters and opponents of the new law. The biggest complaint against the ordinance is that it could make operating a studio too cumbersome, forcing current and potential companies to relocate to other cities.
“They’re using a machete to do the job of a scalpel,” said Maze Studios owner Ben Allen. Creative stroll. “Much of the hip-hop industry has already migrated elsewhere…[I]If this ordinance passes, there is no reason for me to stay here, rather than move my business to Nashville or New York.
He’s not alone in his thinking, and the studios have the backing of people like Councilman Kwanza Hall, calling music production the city’s “DNA.” He issued a statement to Atlanta Business Chronicle opposing the ordinance, stating that the new law could “cripple” the city’s strong entertainment industry.
“By broadly defining the ‘music recording studio’ as any facility maintained and equipped for sound recording and mixing for the purpose of producing a product for commercial use, this proposed ordinance would cripple the film and television industry from Atlanta as well as our music industry. The idea of soundproofing an entire building that contains a music studio is prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of producers in Atlanta. Producers who record sound for commercial production insist on soundproof studios for two reasons: 1) to keep sound out and 2) to keep sound out.
Currently, there are about 90 studios within a 20-mile radius in metro Atlanta, according to the the Chronicle. Using isolated incidents to enact legislation that ultimately punishes all of these companies sends a very bad message. While some established studios will be grandfathered, the new law would make it nearly impossible to open new studios in the city.
Atlanta is a place that has given the world Outkast, TLC, and many other renowned musical acts. Currently, it serves as a favorite location for many up-and-coming artists and producers as well as those looking to enter the music industry and want to avoid the high cost of living in New York and California. But, if the new zoning restrictions are passed, the city’s creatives will have a convoluted and possibly costly path to sharing the next generation of local stars.