Tweed Recording: Athens’ springboard into the music industry | Arts & Culture

What started as a home recording studio in Mississippi is now a major audio recording school, providing students in Athens with preparation in all areas of sound engineering.

With a career that began recording throughout the day in his own home and working in a pizzeria at night, Andrew Ratcliffe, CEO of Tweed Recording Audio Production School, is a self-taught recording artist and instructor. Ratcliffe found great success in his home recording studio where other musicians began to use his space and equipment.

“We had a lot of bands and a lot of musicians showing up. We charged $10 or $15 an hour and bands started using our facilities and it became the first release of Tweed Recording,” Ratcliffe said.

When Tweed Recording took off, a new space was needed. It was just expensive to open and build a recording studio. Different ideas were floated to subsidize the cost before the final decision was made – they would open a recording school.

“We could give back to people and kind of teach the way we learned,” Ratcliffe said.

Ratcliffe’s first plan was to stay in Mississippi. Roadblocks constantly delayed the process of opening the school in his home country, so Ratcliffe finally decided to go to Athens.

One of the main reasons Ratcliffe chose to open Tweed Recording in Athens was due to the city’s classical history and small town music community. However, Ratcliffe “did not come here to try to follow in the footsteps of Athens’ history,” he said.

Tweed Recording’s goal was to be part of the future of Athens’ music industry.

“We started construction in 2018 and incorporated the Lamar Lewis Shoes store and a bar, so now it’s all in one building. We went back and built four studios and a classroom,” said Melissa Bateman, director of admissions at Tweed Recording.

The school began offering an audio production certificate in January 2021. No more than 24 students can fit in the space, but only 12 students will be accepted into the program in a typical semester, according to Ratcliffe. This is to ensure the ability to use all the equipment and spend one-on-one time with the instructors.

Tweed Recording also offers sessions and workshops for high school students and residents of Athens.

During each semester, students take 18 weeks of classes, six hours five days a week, learning various components of recording, production, and navigation as an audio engineer.

Lessons range from sitting in a classroom listening to lectures to actively recording music for a band in town. Tweed Recording is very hands-on, where students actively practice things like running cables and learning how to build their own home recording studio.

Studio Recording One and Two are introductory studio lessons. Students learn to practice check-in etiquette, set up a server, and run cables. Three weeks of the program focused on commercial recording, Ratcliffe said.

Other classes include an audio electronics class, a sound design class, and a music business class. This variety of courses is designed to prepare Tweed Recording students for any kind of future in sound engineering.

An understanding of the basics of building a recording studio is imperative for aspiring sound engineers, but building a recording studio is expensive. Tweed Recording teaches its students how to build a home recording studio with simple elements.

In March 2023, Tweed Recording begins its first semester teaching a new program, Live Sound Production. One impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a major shortage of employees in live sound production, according to Ratcliffe.

Tweed Recording has a great venue for teaching live sound production and Athens has a plethora of venues that need help. Classes for the new program will take place Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“On Mondays we’ll actually do a kind of experiential learning-based thing [at] the Georgia Theater and some of the places here in town that have flying speakers and different sound stations to kind of make them look different from what my sound sounds like,” Ratcliffe said.

Tweed Recording serves as a springboard to the future of the music industry. One of Ratcliffe’s main goals when opening Tweed Recording in Athens was to help the future of the music industry and nurturing a new generation of music professionals is the perfect way to achieve this.

Alice P. Darby