“The number of studios shutting down is distressing in a city with such a celebrated musical history,” Sting — who recorded part of his most recent album, “57th and 9th,” at Avatar — wrote in an email. “I understand how hard it is to keep a studio afloat in these times when so many can now make do-it-yourself records inexpensively at home, but there’s nothing like a room with a history where the music seems to have been absorbed into the walls.”
Chieko and Kirk Imamura have been managing Avatar since 1996, when Ms. Imamura and her mother bought the building out of bankruptcy from Tony Bongiovi, the Power Station’s founder, but they put it up for sale in 2015.
Mr. Muller, the founder and chief executive of P.D.T. Partners, a quantitative investment firm and an accomplished musician, was recording at Avatar when his producer, Rick Depofi, brought up the “crazy idea” of buying the studio for Berklee’s use.
“At first I thought, ‘You’re right, that’s crazy,’” Mr. Muller said, “but the idea kept coming back to me and I thought, why not? I have the ability to give back, and it might be fun to help create a community — a place where lots of people are eager and excited to create music.”
Mr. Brown said that when Mr. Muller first presented him with the idea, his reaction was “wild enthusiasm with a little bit of disbelief.” Berklee, which is based in Boston, had long wanted to establish a more permanent presence in New York (especially, noted Mr. Brown, as a way to engage the almost 8,000 alumni working in the city).
Concurrently, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment was expanding its portfolio to include music, the first time a city agency has ever had the mandate to support the industry. Julie Menin, the commissioner for the Office of Media and Entertainment, said that it was “looking actively at models to make a major impact in music,” along the lines of the city’s announcement in February that it would renovate the Bush Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and turn it into a center for film and TV production.
Stephen Webber, the former director of Music Production, Technology and Innovation at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, was tapped to run BerkleeNYC. Mr. Webber said…