x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Music studio BKP to open in Abu Dhabi

The move to open an audio production studio is indicative of the capital's growing prominence to the industry.

Barry Kirsch, the head of BKP Music in Dubai in his newly opened Abu Dhabi Studio.
Barry Kirsch, the head of BKP Music in Dubai in his newly opened Abu Dhabi Studio.

In a move indicative of Abu Dhabi's growing prominence as a media centre, the Dubai-based BKP Music will open a music and audio production studio in the capital. The company, which does music, post-production, sound design, sonic branding, voice-casting, radio, video and music rights work for clients in the advertising, broadcasting and events industries, decided to make the move after noticing a 25 per cent jump in business coming from Abu Dhabi in the past year, said Barry Kirsch, the company's chief executive.

"It's an absolute must for us to be here," he said. "Because Abu Dhabi was coming up and has a vision in media, and because we already have many clients in Abu Dhabi that we were servicing in our Dubai studios, it was an absolutely logical step for us to take." BKP's clients included Mubadala, Etihad, Etisalat, the Tourism Investment and Development Company and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, he said. The company, which was founded in 2001, has also been doing a growing amount of work for the Abu Dhabi branches of major international advertising agencies, which themselves are expanding in the city.

"TBWA, FP7, TEAM Young and Rubicam, BBDO - all the big names are here," he said. "When we first started to touch base with the agencies here, some of them were two or three people, and now they are like 60 or 70 people. They are growing in leaps and bounds. This growth combined with the prospect of twofour54, Abu Dhabi's recently launched media zone, made the Abu Dhabi expansion "inevitable", he said.

But it didn't make it easy. Alice Hazelden, the company's business development manager, was given the daunting task of finding studio space in the capital. After being shown the same building three times by three separate property agents, she settled on a building overlooking Airport Road, with a sweeping view of the surrounding neighbourhood and an eye-popping price tag. "I was appalled at the cost per square footage," she said. "But they we were like, look, we've got to get in. The price is only going to go up. We've just got to bite it and work hard and make the profits better the first year."

For the moment, the studio is modern but modest. In both size and decor, it resembles the kinds of recording studios found in New York, London and other cities where the creative industries are strong but property comes at a premium. Ms Hazelden, who is a sound engineer, is the sole Abu Dhabi-based employee in BKP's staff of 31. The company plans to start with one sound studio, supported by its six studios in Dubai, and expand as needed. Meanwhile, the company's Dubai operation is making plans to move into studios in Dubai Studio City and Business Tower Central.

"When the [Abu Dhabi] media zone opens, we'll be moving there for sure," Mr Kirsch said. "We're really ambitious." khagey@thenational.ae