A Music studio set up by a pair of music mad mates is set for its busiest year ever – thanks to some star names and pop wannabe youngsters.
Rock Hard Studios in Blackpool provides high quality recording facilities for professional musicians and has seen the likes of legendary pre-punk US rockers New York Dolls, local up-and-coming star Shane Ritchie Jr and hotly tipped RnB popsters Rixton, come through its doors.
But it is some imaginative business ideas and flexibility which have helped pay the bills at the six-year-old studios – including pop parties for youngsters and grown-ups where they can live out their dreams of being stars in a real studio, recording their own voices singing their favourite pop hits.
Dan Atkinson founded the studios with business partner Andrew Cox, aged 19, when they could not find anywhere suitable to rehearse their rock band.
They took over an empty building in Cocker Street and started building the rehearsal rooms and then a fully equipped recording studio with cutting edge Pro-tools equipment from scratch.
Dan said: “We thought let’s set somewhere up ourselves and then spent about six months coming up with a business plan and finding the funding. We got our loan just before the banking crash so we were lucky.
“We started with just the one rehearsal room and now we have four plus the recording studio and now there’s a chill-out lounge for the clients too.
“We are open 13 hours a day and we have invested something like £200,000 in the place. It has been hard work but when you do a job you love it is great. The last 12 months have really started to take off and we have been working with a lot of high profile bands and singers.
“Rixton even recorded a video here in the studios and put it up on Youtube. it has had around 90,000 viewings.
“The New York Dolls came here for rehearsals when they were in Blackpool to headline the Rebellion festival at the Winter Gardens and we have had Shane Ritichie Jr recording with his band.”
Dan and Andrew have taken on an apprentice Ben Marshall who is an expert on the drum and bass style of music, and record everything from 30 second jingles to ten piece bands with choirs. But aside from the professional stuff they decided to let everyone else get in the on the fun.
“One side of the business which has really taken off is the experience and party market. We have always had the college students come in with their bands but now we are also having popstar parties where kids can come in for the full make-up and photo sessions to go with them recording them and their friend singing their favourite songs.
“They sing to a backing track and get a CD each. The birthday girl or boy gets it framed. Most popular choice are One Direction. We only started advertising towards the end of last year and it has really taken off.”
The pair also carry out DJ workshops and work with local youth groups providing training.