Initially opened in early 2022, Oxford Originals is a student-run business for those looking to professionally record music. Unfortunately, due to various complications, it was closed before the end of the spring semester.
Now, it’s back.
“Oxford Originals started out as a project at the old space, but looking back at it now, that’s just a joke to what it’s turned into,” said Michael Burns, Miami University senior marketing major and owner/manager of Oxford Originals. “After almost a year of gathering equipment and knowledge and engineers and having help, the place has really formed into a fully-functional recording studio.”
Burns is referring to 7 ½ East High St. where Oxford Originals has made its new home. Located beneath Juniper, he said the space is much more suitable than the former Oxford Copy Shop building on Poplar Street.
“At the old place, I was under the impression that if you rented a building that everything came along with it, like the occupancy level and all the regulations,” Burns said. “After finding that not to be true and working with the city, they had me bring an architect in, and basically he said that the space I was in was not up to code and just would not work with what I wanted to do.”
After searching around Oxford for a suitable replacement, Burns found his home thanks to a quirk of the building’s history.
“Juniper used to be a bank, so the concrete slabs are six inches thick. No sound escapes, you can’t hear anything from outside, it’s perfect for a space like this,” Burns said. “You can be as loud as you want, as noisy as you want … you can do anything.”
Burns said he has always loved music, so turning that passion into a business made sense — especially in Oxford, where options are limited.
“Recording studios nowadays aren’t seen as profitable because people can do stuff like this on a different scale at their own home,” Burns said. “But if they want to do it right, and if they want to make something that means something to them that’s quality and has every gadget you could possibly want, this would be the place to do it.”
The new space offers many amenities: a professional-grade mixing station, a stage full of live instruments and amps, an isolated booth for recording and an outdoor patio.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
It’s the perfect environment for artists like Zac Kelly, a sophomore university studies major, to record their music.
“I’ve got my own little home studio, if you will. It’s like a microphone and some speakers, but it’s nothing compared to the equipment that they got at Oxford Originals,” Kelly said. “Recording is a lot easier for any artist, any genre.”
Kelly, who produces and creates hip-hop music, said the atmosphere was incredibly friendly and welcoming, which put him at ease.
“We hung out for like 15, 20 minutes and caught up, got comfortable and then I just got into the studio and started recording,” Kelly said.
Juggling his roles as a business owner and a full-time student is a large factor in how Burns runs Oxford Originals.
“It does get overwhelming at times, but that’s why this place is open by appointment,” Burns said. “It’s ready to go any time of the day, but until someone actually signs up or wants a tour or something, it’s shut down, so that works around my schedule a lot more.”
Burns isn’t the only person working at the studio. He’s hiring other managers to expand the hours of operation. He’s also bringing in engineers like Lyric Kiani, a first-year graduate student, to run the technical side of things.
“There’s a group of students who started High Street Records, and I was originally part of that,” Kiani said. “It was through that that I met Mike Burns … so whenever he has a client I’ll come in and help out with it because it’s no big deal.”
Kiani said the recording process strikes a balance between professional and playful, with the ultimate goal to get artists the tools they need to succeed.
“You want the client to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible while recording because heaven forbid they think they’re being judged,” Kiani said. “My favorite thing is to slap on a crazy effect … and then they start messing around, whether it’s autotune or reverb or delay and they’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so cool!’”
Beyond producing and recording, Burns is also expanding the scope of Oxford Originals’ services.
“A lot of my business has been as a rehearsal space,” said Burns. “I’m trying to venture out as a music production company too, so that not just the studio can throw concerts but we can rent out equipment to other people and throw concerts for them wherever they want.”
Burns is excited about the future of Oxford Originals, and said he expects for it to be around for a long time.
“I hope to keep advancing in equipment because I’ve just found it’s never done, like you always need something,” Burns said. “I think in five years this place will have everything you will ever possibly need and more.”