As one of the oldest surviving big recording studios in Johannesburg, DownTown Studios has been offering artists a truly inspirational and openly creative space for decades. After a 2015 makeover, this queen of the local sound scene is once again providing studio time to aspiring and established artists alike; with world-class equipment in a space that is pulsing with history.
But we’re not just a studio any more: our full revamp has seen the newly renamed DownTown Music Hub develop into a fully-fledged musical community centre designed to form the new backbone of our industry.
Besides recording services, the DTMH is now a platform for workshops and industry events to help today’s music entrepreneurs connect and collaborate as they craft the next generation of sounds. And because part of our role is also about preserving our musical heritage, we’re also home to a soon to be launched public museum that will host a permanent exhibition entitled:
“A Glimpse of South African Music”.
Welcome back to the new home of music; join us for the next chapter in our incredible story…
In 1979, the RPM Record Company bought a corner building in downtown Johannesburg and set up the RPM Recording Studios, the most technologically advanced in the country at the time. A few short years later, the studios became part of the renowned Gallo stable and the original Downtown Studios was born.
During the heady and turbulent 1980s, the studios provided a welcome respite and open creative space for local and international artists of all races. From within its walls there came the sounds that would define an era: music of protest and also of joy; songs of politics, love, struggle and life.
Over the years the studios have hosted some of South Africa’s greatest musicians as they crafted their classic recordings. From Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Lucky Dube (to name a few), DownTown has been a home to them all. Its rooms have nurtured genres as diverse Kwaito, Bubble Gum, Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock and Pop.
Then, in 1988, the fortunes of both downtown Johannesburg and the studio turned. As the area experienced a period of decline, it seemed that Downtown Studios would become a distant memory of an earlier Jozi; especially after developers expressed an interest in the building. However, the years of idling and uncertainty came to an end when the Department of Arts & Culture intervened to protect this vital pillar of South Africa’s music heritage.
Today the DownTown Music Hub has been restored to its former glory and then some. A dynamic community space, DTMH is now a studio, a museum and a meeting point.
It’s an open forum for all music entrepreneurs to explore their craft and connect with their peers, and we’re inviting all who are inspired by our musical past to collaborate on our cultural future.