Music industry veteran Rolff Zwiep has been named manager of Blackbird Studio, that lays claim to being Tennessee’s largest commercial audio recording facility.
“Rolff exemplifies the attitude and approach we have at Blackbird – professional but laid back, over-delivering every chance we get and doing everything we can to give people a great experience here,” said Blackbird owner and founder John McBride. “I am proud that he is part of our team. Rolff is a great guy, not just in business, but as a person.”
Zwiep has more than 30 years of experience in the Nashville music business. He came to Music City from his hometown of New Knoxville, Ohio in 1983. As a musician he was hired by Picker’s Pickup, Nashville’s first cartage service, in 1984. Since then, he has worked for S.I.R., Drum Paradise, his own T.K.O. firm and Underground Sound as a stage manager, cartage professional and drum tech, as well as production manager for The Nashville Symphony from 1989-1994. Zwiep is a graduate of Leadership Music, and launched Blackbird’s equipment-rental business in 2004.
“Everything – all of the ability and knowledge I have gained – has led me to this,” said Zwiep of his appointment. “I guess you could call this a dream job.”
Blackbird Studio was founded by John McBride in 2002. It now incorporates nine studios, the full-service rental business, Little Champion Music Publishing, and Blackbird Academy. The Academy trains producers and engineers via bi-annual classes in live sound and recording, the latter program incorporating Blackbird Studios into the curriculum.
Blackbird Studio’s clients include such pop stars as Adele, Green Day, Pearl Jam, fun, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Megadeth, The Beastie Boys and Train. Pop legends including Bon Jovi, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Johnny Mathis, John Fogerty, Keith Richards, Neil Young, R.E.M., Rush, Steven Tyler and Stevie Nicks have worked at the studio.
Nashville’s finest also record at Blackbird, ranging from country Hall of Fame members Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Garth Brooks, George Strait and Kenny Rogers to current country stars Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Kenny Chesney and Martina McBride.
In addition, the elite of Nashville’s pop community records at Blackbird – Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Jack White, Sheryl Crow, Keb Mo, Kelly Clarkson, Paramore, Taylor Swift, Better Than Ezra, Kelly Clarkson and more.
“We also have a lot of international clients,” commented Zwiep. “We have had British, Scandinavian, German, Irish, Japanese and artists from all over the world.”
“I am proud that we have been involved in more than a billion records sold,” said John McBride. “I look at the artist, producer and engineer as painters – and I want to give them every color of the palette.” Blackbird is notable for its extensive collection of vintage microphones and other gear, as well as its hospitality, notes McBride, “and I think Rolff is definitely going to continue to help great music come out of this place.”
Mike Simmons, who is Zwiep’s long-time business colleague, has become manager of Blackbird Audio Rentals, and former night manager Jeff Woods also advances into the company’s rental business.
Blackbird Studio is located in the Nashville neighborhood, Berry Hill. Known as “Little Music Row,” the area is home to more than 30 other recording studios.