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Blackbird Studio Names New Manager

Music industry veteran Rolff Zwiep has been named manager of Blackbird Studio in Nashville.

Music industry veteran Rolff Zwiep (pictured) has been named manager of Blackbird Studio, Tennessee’s largest audio recording facility. Mike Simmons, who is Zwiep’s long-time business colleague, becomes manager of Blackbird Audio Rentals. 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.

“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,” says Blackbird owner 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. The musician 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.

From 1989 through 1994, Zwiep was the production manager of The Nashville Symphony.

Zwiep launched Blackbird’s equipment-rental business in 2004. He is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Music.

“Everything—all of the ability and knowledge I have gained— has led me to this,” says 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 rental business, Little Champion Music Publishing and Blackbird Academy, which trains producers and engineers via bi-annual classes. Blackbird is notable for its extensive collection of vintage microphones and other gear, as well as its hospitality.

“What better place to learn than in the same rooms where hit records are recorded on a regular basis?” says McBride. “I look at the artist, producer and engineer as painters, and I want to give them every color of the palette.”

Blackbird’s clients include 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 sought out 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, who is the owner’s spouse.

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,” says 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,” says John McBride. “And I think Rolff Zwiep is definitely going to continue to help great music come out of this place.”

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