The Blackbird Academy Story

The Blackbird Academy was started by recording and live sound engineer John McBride and his wife, country artist Martina McBride. They created Blackbird Studio in 2002, which has grown to be a top production stop for recording artists like Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Kid Rock, Tim McGraw and many more.

When interviewing interns and employees for Blackbird Studio, John would ask various questions about production such as: “What is your favorite kick drum mic?” The answers revealed that many graduates of audio programs had little hands-on time in a recording studio.

Another question whose answer shocked him was “How much did your education cost?” John quickly realized that not only did grads still have a lot to learn, but they were also saddled with debt.

After talking about the ideas they had regarding audio education, John and Martina founded The Blackbird Academy. John hired Mark Rubel and Kevin Becka, both longtime audio engineers, musicians and educators, and the three of them went to work creating the program. The curriculum features access to Blackbird Studio’s gear and facilities – a top stop for award-winning artists, producers and engineers.

Another unique feature of The Blackbird Academy is a mentor-driven, experience-based education. At The Blackbird Academy, you will be taught by a unique cast of professional instructors and award-winning guest mentors. Any great education is centered in a hands-on environment, and at The Blackbird Academy you will have 350 hours in our 30-position classroom/lab, and 350 hours in the studio in groups of five students. The studios are the same rooms used every day to make hit records at Blackbird Studio. The classroom is itself a recording studio with an API console, patch bay, two iso booths, Pro Tools HD, three 65” flat screen TVs, and 30 student Pro Tools rigs driven by Universal Audio’s Apollo interface featuring every plugin in the UAD-2 collection. There is no substitute for learning hands-on, from the best professional instructors, in rooms and on gear that is used to make top quality music every day. The lessons learned at The Blackbird Academy will help you find work in an industry that is competitive, challenging and rewarding.

Realize your potential by taking part in The Blackbird Academy experience!

Our Mission

The mission of The Blackbird Academy is to prepare students for careers in music production and live sound in the best possible way – via mentor-based training. There is a need for a new model in education which gives students access to true working professionals and hands-on experience using a world-class collection of gear in facilities designed for one purpose: making excellent music. The Blackbird Academy addresses these needs by providing a mentor-based program where students will be taught by a unique cast of professional instructors and award-winning guest lecturers.

Challenge and educate students by presenting them with real-life scenarios that an engineer would encounter on a regular basis.

The sole purpose of our campus is for education. Our campus is built on the foundation of Blackbird Studio, the Nashville home to a community of engineers, producers, musicians and technical staff who over the years have taken the art of audio recording to new highs. The principles and beliefs that guide the Academy’s programs are simple: Challenge and educate students by presenting them with real-life scenarios that an engineer would encounter on a regular basis. We believe training should take place in spaces that are not empty, cold classrooms but professionally designed studios, labs and venues where engineers can hone their craft. Students should graduate with a high degree of both practical and theoretical knowledge of their trade which will give them the best opportunity to establish and build their careers. Our goal is to provide the greatest education, in the shortest amount of time for the least amount of money. Realize your potential by taking part in The Blackbird Academy experience!

Get to Know Our Staff

The Blackbird Academy is run by a stellar cast of music industry professionals, recording industry veterans, and all-star office staff. Get to know them here: