Jim Diamond says Ghetto Recorders is being priced out of downtown

July 14, 2014

After 18 years of working in an unassuming former poultry processing facility-turned-recording studio, Jim Diamond of Ghetto Recorders says he is being priced out of downtown Detroit, the Detroit News reports. Diamond and his studio are  noted for capturing, if not creating, the sounds of the “garage rock” revival of the early 2000s, having recorded acts like the White Stripes, the Electric Six, the Dirtbombs, the Von Bondies and Diamond’s direct, lo-fi aesthetic and vintage recording equipment have made Ghetto Recorders a destination for national and international artists as well.

According to Diamond, his landlord is doubling his rent. The news came up when a film crew from the advertising agency Lowe Campbell Ewald (which recently relocated from Warren to downtown Detroit) came by to ask him about Detroit’s rising creative class. Diamond didn’t mince words:

“I said something like ‘Yeah, it’s great. I’m being run out of downtown because of all you creative types,’ ” Diamond said. “You know, that cool image about Detroit being a raw, authentic place that I helped create. Well, now I can’t afford it.”

It’s interesting, though, that what Diamond says he is being priced out of isn’t an actual neighborhood but rather “that cool image”  and one that he says he helped create. It’s also worth noting that Ghetto Recorders is hardly located in the ghetto. Situated invisibly among the Fox Theatre, the Fillmore, and Comerica Park, Ghetto Recorders sits squarely in epicenter of downtown activity. In the Detroit News article, Diamond said he was reluctant to move to a part of town that wasn’t “trendy.”

“If it’s in one of the neighborhoods that are trendy now, people really want a lot of money for the space I need. More money than I have,” Diamond said. “And if it’s the parts of Detroit that are not trendy, it gets kind of dicey. I haven’t found something where I will feel safe to have all my stuff and where you would see bands carrying a bunch of expensive equipment into the building all the time.”

Another thing to note is that this is in complete contradiction to the copy on Ghetto Recorders’ website, which uses the “dicey” aspects of the neighborhood as a selling point.

Ghetto Recorders is hot, hot hotter than hell. Especially during the summer. (And during the winter, possesses the ambiance of some North Pole station for scientific tundra research.) It’s in a decidedly questionable part of town, where danger is always imminent; if your car isn’t stolen then it’s bound to get ticketed.

Far from being a bad thing, these factors actually help the creative process. As any numbskull knows, the best rock and roll was produced under duress and in great adversity. Ghetto Recorders is surrounded by plenty of both. But fear not  Owner and Producer Jim Diamond will be on hand to see to it that no one loses their mind.

It kind of sounds like Diamond wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Have a peek inside Ghetto Recorders here, and check out the video for Electric Six’s “Danger! High Voltage” below (that’s Diamond on the saxophone).



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  • Zukey Badtouch

    This is the problem you have when you take advantage of a shithole. When enough people take advantage of the same shithole, it stops being a shithole, and pretty soon you can’t take advantage of it anymore.

    Time to find a new shithole, Jim.

  • Alej

    There’s a lot of history that isn’t taken into account by this author. Firstly, Ghetto Recorders was created before gentrification had displaced so many of the homeless, section eight tenants, and lower end businesses from the area. Jim Diamond wasn’t “taking advantage” of anything, he was simply working and living in an area that was in his budget until recently. Also, if this “rock expert” was a little more aware of the history of Detroit, he would respectfully acknowledge that Jim Diamond has been an integral part part of the music scene for nearly two decades. I’m sure he’ll finds the advice that moving to a place where his music equipment isn’t secure as helpful to the creative process very useful. My guess, some twenty something newcomer with no actual knowledge of the city wrote this badly written character assassination that wasn’t fit to print.

  • kyle callert

    well said. did jim diamond refuse to record your band or something, DeVito?

  • Unkle Gabby Bookay

    you got some nerve diamond. moving downtown when nobody else wanted to and having an independent business long before the someone like shinola or whole foods gave a shit. obviously you’ve taken advantage of the situation and are getting exactly what you deserve. shit head.

  • Zoe

    The worse part of gentrification finally being on the radar in the media is people emerging from every privilege saturated corner of the internet to weigh in on who has a right to talk about the rising cost of rent and promote grossly incorrect assessments about Detroit. Personal attacks do not negate the reality of gentrification, although this clearly can be used as a tool to thwart critical thinking on an important social issue. Jim Diamond is a Detroit institution and I hope he continues his work in Detroit longer than this self-righteous trend of moving here and appropriating Detroiters voices lasts.

  • Leyland ‘Lee’ DeVito

    I don’t see this as a “character assassination.” I’ve been a big fan of Diamond’s work for years. I’m just pointing out the dissonance between what he told the Detroit News and how he brands himself on his own website, and musing on the idea of Detroit as an “image.”

  • Cotton

    DeVito’s name shows up on a lot of articles so he’s one of the few full timers there. Problem with that though is his pieces are mostly drivel- poorly researched, rushed, and per normal for the MT, snarky and cynical. No one there seems to put much time or effort into their work and it shows week after week.

  • Jeremy Hein

    I real,y doubt many cars get stolen outside of the Park Bar. For some reason I always thought this studio was on the other side of 1-75.