Point Blank (London) has the heady accolade of being the best equipped Ableton and Pioneer training centre in Europe. However, not content to rest on their laurels, they have just opened up a second learning facility, now giving more opportunities to the next generation of music industry workers. DJ Mag Tech spent some time with the guys to understand why Point Blank continue to be top of the class.
Rob Cowan founder of Point Blank is a happy man; with a school in L.A. and now two in London and potentially more to come, things are going well for his creative learning establishment. Sitting in the surroundings of the newly built facility, Rob tells DJ Mag Tech more about the need for a second learning facility...
You’ve just open a second building in London – why did you do this?
“Simple reason: we needed more space because we were full! We’d been planning to expand for two years but needed the right space to move into. We now have two buildings in the London campus with a total of eighteen studios and practice rooms, and this has enabled us to develop more courses and longer, more detailed programmes.”
Tell us more about the new space?
“The new space has everything you could possibly think of for learning to make electronic music, DJing, radio broadcasting and more. Without turning this into a kit list, I should mention that the studios feature a 48-channel SSL Duality Delta mixing console (we’re the only school to feature this model), a 48-channel Audient, two Pro Tools HD rigs, a host of tasty outboard compressors, vintage synths, Adam monitors… I can safely say students learn sound engineering and mixing on the best equipment in the world. We’ve got a great live room with Fender guitars, Vox, Orange and Ampeg guitar amps, Gretsch drums, and a comprehensive selection of Neumann, Shure, AKG, Røde and SE mics. It’s a great offering really – we’ve left no stone unturned in giving the students what they want.
“Our relationships with manufacturers such as Ableton, Apple, Native Instruments and Pioneer, give our students access to the latest equipment and software available. For example, our DJ room is sponsored by Pioneer and features CDJs, record decks and controllers.
All the DJ set-ups have Traktor, Serato and Rekordbox installed with a broad selection of dedicated controllers so students get to practice on industry standard kit. The music production studios all feature Apple Macs fully loaded with Logic, Ableton and NI Komplete, together with NI Kontrol keyboards. We have whole rooms kitted out with Ableton Push 2 and Maschine. Our radio students have Ableton Push and Traktor controllers at every set-up.
“Students can access our studios and project rooms when they are not in class. The project rooms feature all the equipment and software they learn on in the classrooms, as well as additional kit such as Roland TR8s and TB3s, Novation Bass Station IIs and UAD plug-ins. Studio assistants are always on hand to help and advise.
“Apart from all this kit though, one of the stand out features of the new building is the central atrium, a communal area we call the ‘Hub’. It links all the classrooms together and functions as a chill out area, encouraging students to mix with each other, swap ideas, plan collaborations and generally hang out. It’s a great environment for students to bring their laptop and work on some music whilst getting feedback from their classmates.
Students from different courses hook up together: producers with singers, radio students with producers to feature on their shows, songwriting partnerships form, etc. It’s a great atmosphere in there and is a bit like our own version of Shoreditch House. The feedback from students has been overwhelming to be honest.”
Is this part of the master plan to get Point Blank established in the best cities in the world?
“We’re happy with having our schools in London, L.A. and online and we’re constantly looking to develop and improve what we already have. We now have the second building in London, and we have plenty of space in our iconic building in L.A. for the school to grow into. In fact we have just opened a new DJ studio there supported by Pioneer, so we are now able to train up-and-coming DJs as well as music producers. However, we are always open to opportunities to open in new cities. I’d love to have a school in New York and Berlin.”
Will you be offering new courses or mirroring what you are already doing?
“Both! The new building has given us a huge opportunity to develop our provision in music production, radio and singing. This was the reason we decided to go down the expansion route.”
Point Blank now offers a degree course, BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering, what is the significance of this to you as an educational establishment?
“This is a huge step. For years we have delivered outstanding courses designed to get people working in the industry. For our BA we did not want to lose this focus so the course will prepare you for a job in the industry but also give an academic qualification that backs up the skills and experience learnt on the course.
“Delivering a full degree puts us academically on a level playing field with all universities and means that students can gain the same value qualification with us as they would do from Oxford or Cambridge. Now the biggest difference between us and most universities is the fact that we have equipment and resources that universities can only dream of.”
Why choose Point Blank over any other learning facility?
“You can compare us to other schools by asking specific questions: Do they have state of the art facilities? Are there expert instructors teaching the course? Is the school reputable and renowned worldwide? Of course Point Blank ticks all these boxes, but perhaps the most important questions to ask are: what are graduates from the school doing now? What can I achieve after taking a course? Point Blank, through its genuine connections to the music industry, has given rise to literally hundreds of music industry professionals.
85% of our graduates go on to to find successful employment in the music industry and many of our students, such as Felix Jaehn, Nicole Moudaber, Aluna Francis, Claude VonStroke and Patrick Topping (to name but a few – literally), have scored No.1 hits all around the world. We are very proud of our students’ real world achievements. Our courses are engaging and challenging, so you can reach your potential no matter what your level.”
Have you thought of opening a summer school, somewhere like Ibiza for instance?
“Absolutely! We are currently speaking to an existing school in Ibiza about working together - so watch this space! It’s a centre for electronic music and a melting-pot for all cultures – perfect for Point Blank. Traditionally, we have always held activities in Ibiza. We ran production and DJ courses in the studio in Ushuaia, we’ve delivered remix labs with IMS and worked with holiday companies too, holding DJ courses in bars and clubs across the island.”
Contact a Course Advisor to book a place on 0044 (0)20 7729 4884 or email at [email protected]
Words: Mick Wilson