With dBs Manchester launching in New Century this year, we take a look at some of the best independent recording studios in the city and what our students should know about them.
Manchester’s association with the music industry goes back a long way – dating back to the industrial revolution. In the 1960s and 1970s, musical greats like The Bee Gees, The Sex Pistols, Tina Turner and Jimi Hendrix came to the city to make their music dreams come true – be it to record their albums or perform at one of the city’s hundreds of live venues. That momentum has continued into the 21st century, with the strengthening of an already vibrant independent music scene.
The music scene has played a major role in the social, cultural and economic development of Manchester. So, it’s not surprising that Manchester’s music creators generated £24 million for the city in 2019. On top of that, the city has become a springboard for emerging talent and businesses, with more music studios popping up every year.
Although London has historically been touted as the heartbeat of the UK’s music and creative industries, it’s no longer the only option. According to the Music Studio Market Assessment released by the UK’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, demand is certainly there for music studios in Manchester. To that end, the number of independent studios in Manchester has erupted in the last decade.
So, we thought it’d be helpful to share a few of the leading studios that now call Manchester home – and tell you what makes them unique, how they’ve grown since landing in the city and what they look for when hiring talent.
Oscillate Recordings is run by seasoned music producer Chris Hughes, who has spent the better part of 15 years writing, producing and engineering music for major record labels and artists. Much like Chris, the studio doesn’t just focus on a single service or type of artist – it delves into all aspects of sound production from recording, mixing and mastering to post-production audio and voiceovers. And it doesn’t stop there, offering hands-on training on the industry’s leading equipment.
Staying true to its well-rounded services, Oscillate Recordings is constantly trying new things and working with industry insiders, including:
- The Courteeners, The K's, Calva Louise, La Fontaines, Delights and Bad Boy Chiller Crew
- Mastered an album for Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Seige game
- Paul Pogba for an Adidas advert and Darren Sturridge for his Dudley Road record label
- Romelu Lukaku and TheColorGrey
- Working on sound design for two CBBC Newsround animations
- Adding Chris Hughes as a panellist on our upcoming webinar in June
Chris Hughes, the Manager and Head Engineer/Music Producer from Oscillate, spoke to us about what he looks for when shortlisting candidates for work placements or employment opportunities.
"When hiring, I always look at the areas the candidate has specialised in whilst studying. It helps me to think about where their skills could fit into the studio and where we could help them grow - both in soft and hard skills. Importantly as well as having great technical skills we need to know how you will bring business to us. Proactive candidates are always given priority. For example, do you have an existing client base you can bring to the studio? Do you have social media ideas to push our brand? Do you have a label you are starting up and or part of a club night?
If I could give one piece of advice to future graduates, it would be to put yourself out there and proactively make connections with studios you admire, as it will put you in a great position when it's time to apply for a job post-graduation. Don't be afraid to contact them and ask about shadowing opportunities, work experience and internships. It shows initiative and passion, both of which are appealing to studio managers and engineers."
Situated on the outskirts of Manchester is a real muso-haven Eve Studios. With the option of residential accommodation on-site, it’s particularly popular with those wanting to spend focused time writing, recording and mixing music with a strong emphasis on experimental production. Plus, they’ll hire their studios out by the day or hour too if you don’t need accommodation.
The studio prides itself on having ‘all the retro stuff’ as well as state-of-the-art software, including classic NEVE and CALREC vintage recording consoles, real EMT plates and an impressive selection of vintage mics – all available for use to give tracks that extra special something. Earlier this year, they played host to artist Studio Electrophonique for a unique recording experience that paid homage to the BBC and their fearless Radiophonic Workshop. The outcome of this session, utilising vintage methods and equipment, is well worth a listen here.
Their recent clientele includes chart-toppers The Lathums, Doves and Everything Everything. International clients include Wiz Khalifa, Billy Ocean and Albert Hammond Junior. We managed to secure some time with a former in-house Eve Studios sound engineer, who is now working on a freelance basis, to join our upcoming sound production webinar in June. He’ll share his personal career milestones, lessons learned and much more.
Hope Mill Recording Studios
Launched by music producer David Tolan, Hope Mill Recording Studios has some seriously big hitters that have been known to frequent this studio in Ancoats, including Primal Scream, Rudimental and Johnny Marr. When he's not managing the studio, he’s a part-time teaching fellow and module leader. Educating and mentoring the next generation of talent is something that’s extremely important to David.
The studio supplies a great mix of analogue and digital technology, making themselves the perfect choice for recording artists. The building itself is designed to maximise the acoustics to make each recording pop. The studios themselves are unusually flooded with daylight so you won’t feel like you’re in a bunker for hours on end.
Based within the trendy creative office and production space The Sharp Project, 80 Hertz is a major player among the growing number of music studios in Manchester. The studio is no stranger to working with major commercial brands and publishers like Nike, McDonald’s, Penguin and Sky.
There’s a vast selection of equipment on offer at the studio. No matter how niche your needs are, the studio’s team will work closely with you to make your recording project a success.
White Bear Studios
A more recent addition to the Manchester music scene, White Bear Studios was established in 2011 by producer, musician, mixer and electronic music aficionado David Page. Starting from his humble beginnings of making mixtapes from his dad’s CDs, he then progressed to being in a band and decided he wanted to record his own music. After studying and completing a Music Technology and Sound Design degree, he took the plunge and opened White Bear Studios. You can listen to some of the great tunes he’s produced since opening the studios, on the website and via their Spotify playlist.
This studio may be smaller than some of the others we’ve mentioned, but it carries a mighty, well-respected reputation and longstanding relationships with artists across a variety of genres. So, it’s certainly one that should be checked out for internship or employment opportunities.
If all of the above hasn’t convinced, you that Manchester is the place to come to study your sound or music course then check out this interactive map showing just how booming the industry really is across the city.
If you’re considering pursuing a career in sound production, and you're looking for specialist education and training, get in touch.