With a hands-on, hands-on approach, Abbey Road Institute makes music industry dreams come true
If you visit EarthCam.com, you may see a 24 hour live broadcast from the Abbey Road zebra crossing. The London Street Level Crossing is best known for its appearance on the cover of The Beatles’ 1969 studio LP, Abbey Roadwhich was recorded at nearby recording studios.
The studios featured prominently in Peter Jackson’s recent Beatles documentary, To recover, although the building was still called EMI Recording Studios at the time. The name Abbey Road Studios was adopted in the 1970s and the otherwise quiet London street became part of rock and pop folklore.
Abbey Road remains a working recording studio of the highest quality. In addition to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Kanye West, Kylie Minogue and Adele have all recorded there.
In 2015, Abbey Road Institute was launched as a school focusing on music production and audio engineering. Through its Advanced Music Industry Diploma, the institute provides budding engineers and producers with professional know-how and industry connections.
From 2021, Abbey Road Institute has entered into a partnership with Sydney’s most comprehensive recording complex, Studios 301 in Alexandria. Students who enrolled in the first year of the Diplôme Supérieur d’Industrie de la Musique will soon be graduating, while the next school year will begin on Monday, February 28and.
Not only does the year-long program draw on the innovative recording techniques cultivated at both Abbey Road and 301, its modules are taught by a number of industry professionals spanning production, engineering, film production and music management.
Stefan Du Randt is one of the main teachers of the Diploma. Du Randt works as a producer and engineer at 301, where he engineered recordings by Mac Miller, Vera Blue, Thelma Plum and Guy Sebastian and mixed artists like RISSA, Polish Club, St. Christoph & Shaade and Dylan Wright.
Tone Deaf spoke to Du Randt about the higher music industry degree and the unique opportunities that come with studying at Studios 301.
Tone Deaf: Hi Stefan. You started your career in South Africa. When did you join 301?
Stefan Du Randt: I actually started working at 301 Castlereagh Street – that’s where the name comes from – when they were still at EMI, but my dream has always been to work at 301 [in Alexandria].
When I was in South Africa, I was already working on big projects, but here I had to start from scratch, and it only got stronger. It’s an awesome studio – it’s truly world class.
TD: What makes the 301 unique?
DTS: We’re sort of the only large format studio in Sydney. Normally, before COVID, we did all the artists on international tours, but since then I mix 90% of the time. Recently we started installing a Dolby Atmos room, which is in the room where I mix, so I hope to do 50% Dolby Atmos and 50% stereo mixes.
TD: How much access to 301 facilities do students at Abbey Road Institute have?
DTS: The first quarter is an introduction to all mixing and engineering tools, so each week we are basically in Studio 1 or Studio 2. Studio 1 is the flagship studio and Studio 2 is an amazing mixing room and a bit more for smaller indie rock bands. .
When [students] do their final project, they can actually book studios 1 and 2, depending on what they decide to do – some of them do more strings, some do bands. And then they also have a really great little studio that also has a great analog console where they can do overdubs or vocals or whatever.
TD: Tell me about the equipment of the two main studios.
DTS: Studio 2 contains an SSL console. Dr Dre mixes on an SSL console. You used to record on a Neve console, which is the one in Studio 1, and then mix on an SSL. But there are also Neve preamps in Studio 2. Studio 2, any other studio in Australia, that would be your main studio.
TD: What type of expertise and professionalism can students expect to develop at the end of the one-year course?
DTS: We want them to be able to get a job as a 301 assistant when they leave. This is the level of excellence at which we want them to be.
The way I learned, we never really got to use the gear – we didn’t have this great gear, to be honest – and in the end I didn’t really feel like I knew what what I was doing. But what I try to do is to mentor the students. We all put in the extra time, when they’re using their studio, we go over there and see what they’re doing and help them out.
TD: Who else is involved in delivering the course?
DTS: Every week we have a working industry professional. Every Friday there is a guest lecture, sometimes even by us. For example, now that I’m obsessed with Dolby Atmos, I might do a guest talk about it because it’s not on the schedule yet.
Basically, we just bring people to the top of the game. It’s not all about music production. There are also a lot of music managers, people from APRA and ARIA and people who do audio for video games.
TD: There’s theory involved, but is the program heavily focused on hands-on teaching?
DTS: It’s very, very, very studio-focused, and it’s not just in my class. The other classes actually write music and stuff like that. The grades and the tests are not very theoretical; it’s more convenient. So it’s like writing a song, doing a project in Ableton Live, going to sound off a live show.
We also encourage students to get into the studios as much as they can and really immerse themselves in 301. There are a lot of industry people around, so we encourage students to immerse themselves in the community so that you can be much more connected. than when you entered.