Sep 20, 2022 Updated Sep 23, 2022
Students at Tweed Recording Audio Production School in Athens can learn the audio recording and production skills necessary for a career in the music industry. (Courtesy/Tweed Recording)
What started as an in-home recording studio in Mississippi is now a major audio recording school, giving students in Athens preparation in all areas of sound engineering.
With a career that began as recording throughout the day in his own home and working in a pizza kitchen at night, Andrew Ratcliffe, CEO of Tweed Recording Audio Production School, is a self-taught recording artist and instructor. Ratcliffe found much success in his in-home recording studio where other musicians began to utilize his space and equipment.
“We had a lot of bands and a lot of musicians showing up. We charged like 10 or 15 bucks an hour and bands started using our facilities and that became the first version of Tweed Recording,” Ratcliffe said.
When Tweed Recording took off, a new space was needed. It was nothing but expensive to open and build a recording studio. Different ideas were thrown out to subsidize the cost before the final decision was reached — they would open a recording school.
“We could give back to people and kind of teach the way that we’ve learned,” Ratcliffe said
Ratcliffe’s first plan was to stay in Mississippi. Roadblocks were constantly delaying the process to open up the school in his home state, so ultimately Ratcliffe decided to head to Athens.
One of the main reasons Ratcliffe chose to open Tweed Recording in Athens was due to the history of the Classic City and the small-town music community. However, Ratcliffe “didn’t come here to try to ride the coattails of the history of Athens,” he said.
The goal for Tweed Recording was to be a part of the future of the Athens music industry.
“We started construction in 2018 and took in the Lamar Lewis Shoes store and a bar, so now it’s all in one building. We went back and built in 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 to the program in a typical semester, according to Ratcliffe. This is to ensure the ability to utilize all equipment and one-on-one time with instructors.
Tweed Recording also offers sessions and workshops for high school students and Athens locals.
In each semester, students take 18 weeks of classes, six hours five days a week, learning various components of recording, producing and navigating as a sound engineer.
Classes range from sitting in a classroom listening to lectures to actively recording music for a band in town. Tweed Recording is heavily hands-on, where students actively practice things like running cables and learning how to build their own in-home recording studio.
Studio recording one and two are introduction courses to the studios. Students learn how to practice recording etiquette, how to set up a server and how to 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 classes is designed to prepare students at Tweed Recording for any type of future in sound engineering.
An understanding of the basics of building a recording studio is imperative for future sound engineers, but building a recording studio is expensive. Tweed Recording teaches its students how to build an in-home recording studio with simple items.
In March 2023, Tweed Recording is beginning its first semester teaching a new program, Live Sound Production. An impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a major shortage of employees in live sound production, according to Ratcliffe.
Tweed Recording has a large venue to teach live sound production and Athens has a plethora of venues that need the help. Classes for the new program will be Monday through Thursday, from 5-9 p.m.
“On Mondays we’ll actually be doing kind of an apprenticeship-based experiential thing [at] the Georgia Theatre and some of the places here in town that have flying speakers and different sound stations to kind of give them different looks of what my sound looks like,” Ratcliffe said.
Tweed Recording serves as a stepping stone into the future of the music industry. One of Ratcliffe’s main goals opening Tweed Recording in Athens was to aid in the future of the music industry and training a new generation of music professionals is the perfect way to do so.