Songwriter-sound engineer applies lessons from Nashville to launch music studio in Portland

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A songwriter and music producer who has worked in world famous recording studios is currently developing a production and training center in Portland.

Ryan Ordway and his wife, Emily Wedick, kicked off the operation last weekend when they kicked off the first class in their training program, called Let’s Record ME, at Studio Portland.

Located at 45 Casco Street in the city’s arts district, the studio added Ordway’s professional-grade sound production equipment to its existing equipment. Ordway offers hands-on lessons for future producers, as well as services such as music production, mixing and engineering; production of videos and podcasts; material reviews and promotion of the music industry; and sound design for film, television and commercial use. Services are offered in all styles and levels of music.

Studio Portland is the name of the production operation and Let’s Record ME is the name of the training program offered in the Studio Portland space. Both are for-profit businesses. Creative Portland, the city’s nonprofit arts agency, is the Operation’s nonprofit fiscal sponsor for a fundraising campaign, which will provide financial assistance for students to participate in the Let’s Record ME programs.

Courtesy / Studio Portland

Ordway, in the background, is in the control room of Studio Portland, investigating where students get hands-on experience with sound equipment in the “concert hall.”

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Group tours

Ordway is an audio producer, engineer and songwriter with over 20 years of experience touring, producing, songwriting, and writing publicity jingles and theme songs for television.

Born in Los Angeles, he grew up in Wolfeboro, NH. He started playing guitar as a teenager, inspired by his uncle, Danny Wilde, a native of Houlton and co-founder of the Rembrandts, who had one of his biggest hits in the 1990s with the theme song from NBC’s “Friends”, “I’ll Be There For You”.

“I was turning on MTV and VH1 and seeing my uncle and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool,’” Ordway told Mainebiz. “It prompted me to embark on this career.”

After high school, he returned to LA to develop as a songwriter and guitarist. After about a year, he decamped to Boston, which became the home port of his group, Oddway. Ordway was its principal songwriter, guitarist and conductor.

The group did a few hundred shows per year from 2001 to 2007, including three national tours. Traveling in a 16-passenger van with a trailer to haul their equipment, the group performed in many colleges and bars. Ordway also taught guitar lessons in Boston for many years, teaching up to 65 students per week.

Songwriting success

Around 2007, Oddway broke up. Ordway subsequently recorded an EP which won him a publishing deal. Since then it has also resulted in numerous songwriting contracts.

Today, its music catalog is licensed in more than 13 countries and on platforms such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu. His songs have been featured on NBC shows including ABC’s “Happy Endings”, FOX’s “Raising Hope”, SYFY’s “Eureka”, Warner Brothers “Felicity”, ESPN, NESN and Comedy Central.

Her song in “The Office”, for example, occurs during a bar scene. (The music is not the well-known piano tune that begins each episode.)

“It’s the trend – whenever a show needs a song for a bar scene, that’s when they call me,” he said.

Ordway calls his music “Amerikinda” – rock and roll with modern touches.

“I’m in the vein of Tom Petty Meets The Beatles,” he said.

“When you hear Ryan’s music it sounds very familiar to you,” Wedick said. “It’s almost like coming home to a place you’ve never been to. And he’s experimenting with synth sounds. Sometimes his songs take an interesting turn.

Ordway then invested in equipment to open its first recording studio, in Wolfeboro, with a business partner, and continued to teach music.

The studio generated a lot of demand from the start.

Wedick said other studios may come up with an audio engineer, but the recording artist would need to outsource other aspects of the recording, such as instrumentals.

In contrast, she said, Ordway brought engineering as well as her own multi-instrumental and songwriting talents to the table, which allowed her to “elevate” the ideas brought in by artists. recording.

The clients were local and regional players.

A few years later he invested in more equipment and a larger space in the nearby town of Gilford, NH

“This studio was a step forward,” he said.

Rolls Royce Equipment

In 2015, he was selected for a free six-day session to record two songs with British producer Ken Scott at Blackbird Studio and Blackbird Academy, a studio complex in Nashville, Tenn., Founded by the engineer. sound John McBride and his wife, country artist Martina McBride.

Scott’s client list includes The Beatles, Elton John and David Bowie.

“It was incredibly intimidating,” Ordway recalls. “I walked into the room and they had a film crew around us. There were students from Blackbird Academy watching us record. Ken Scott says: ‘Mr. Ordway, would you mind playing a tune for us? ‘ “

Scott produced Ordway’s song “Easy Street”, which was featured in a video tutorial titled “Getting Started with Music Production”.

Ordway also got a chance to check out the top-of-the-line equipment the McBrides had at Blackbird. The centerpiece was a type of recording console made by Automated Processes Inc., a manufacturer of recording studio equipment commonly referred to as API. The McBrides console, Ordway said, was the largest API console ever built.

The API, which dates back to the 1960s, is the “Rolls Royce” of analog recording consoles, he said.

“The flavor and the color – it’s all better mixed,” he said. “It captures the energy of the group. Much of the records we’ve all grown up with – you’ve listened to the API. “

Ordway was hooked by the API he heard from Blackbird.

“I call it my six days in college,” he said of the training he received on the console.

Soon after, Ordway and Wedick decided to move to Falmouth. They bought a farm there, built a studio on the farm, and bought an API 1608. With cables and other equipment, the investment was around $ 200,000. They ran the studio for two years, then closed it and sold the property when the pandemic hit.

The material entered a storage unit. A few months later, Ordway traveled to Portland to try to find a space where he could relocate the studio.

Ryan said, ‘I’m going to Portland to find a studio worthy of this level of equipment,’ Wedick said.

Well built studio

Ordway was put in touch with David Hembre, an architect who also owns 45 Casco St., a former school building dating from 1899 and located near Maine College of Art.

Courtesy / Loopnet

Studio Portland is located at 45 Casco Street, a century old schoolhouse now housing a variety of offices and studios.

In addition to the offices and spaces occupied by Hembre tenants, the building houses Studio Portland, a recording center established in 1986 and specially designed for acoustics, with sound control functions such as floating floors and equipment such as a green room, large recording and mixing rooms, and an existing collection of recording equipment.

Clients for more than four decades have ranged from national artists such as Rod Stewart, Ray LaMontagne and Charlie Musselwhite to local artists such as Rustic Overtones. The studio was used for the dubbing of the award-winning television series “Schitt’s Creek”.

“It’s a well-built studio,” Ordway said. “I was like, ‘This is an amazing place.'”

The studio’s operation “was in a lull” but the space was ready to go, he said.

Ordway and Wedick, who now live in South Portland, partnered with Hembre, installed their equipment, and began rebuilding the brand for audio production and hands-on training.

“Weekend Warrior Audio Production Camp” for high school students was the first course, held last weekend.

Other programs, aimed at high school students, adult musicians and home recording enthusiasts, are designed to provide a hands-on recording and mixing experience in an acoustic environment.

Leveraging Ordway’s industry connections, the courses are designed to attract visiting teachers.

Marketing

The couple are in the process of developing a marketing plan. This includes distributing press releases through Portland marketer, Kast Inc., as well as social media, radio ads, and word of mouth.

“So far, everything has been done without a marketing budget, but by word of mouth,” said Wedick. “We’re excited to dedicate our resources to targeted marketing and see where it can go.

The Weekend Warrior class and an upcoming five-day audio production camp, each taking eight to 10 students, have both been three-quarter booked.

“These first two classes will be a try,” Ordway said.

Starting in September, he expects to have more courses of varying lengths in place. The goal is to be able to sponsor 50% of their students through the fundraising partnership with Creative Portland.

The students so far have come from southern Maine, but the goal is also to attract others from further afield, Ordway said. Education programs will likely account for around 70% of business services and 30% of professional services, he added.

Referring to the Grammy-winning producer of Michael Jackson’s Hits, Ordway said, “Who knows? The next Quincy Jones could be here in Portland.


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