Meet the team: Studios 301 General Manager / Abbey Road Institute Sydney CEO, Ron Haryanto.

“Community is essential for me; it helped me through many periods in my life.”

Being part of a community enables us to share, relate on a personal level and support the perpetual growth of ourselves, each other and our environment. But most importantly, it gives us a sense of belonging. For Ron Haryanto, community has played an essential role in both his personal and professional life. And now, as a songwriter, performing artist, label manager, General Manager of the iconic Studios 301, and CEO of Abbey Road Institute Sydney, it’s that same community that will help him pave the road to success.

Haryanto brings extensive personal experience and a vast network into this unique collaboration, bridging the gap between the music industry and practical professional training.
He describes it as Batman and Superman joining forces, while others refer to it as two titans uniting; the partnership between Studios 301 and Abbey Road Institute in Sydney is something we can’t help but be excited and passionate about.

In this series of meet the team, we want to introduce you to the people from our Abbey Road Institute Sydney team. Starting off, we interviewed our CEO, Ron Haryanto; to learn more about his inspiring journey and how writing his life plan a decade ago changed the course of his career path with razor-sharp focus.

Meet Abbey Road Institute CEO, Ron Haryanto! Let’s start from the beginning: how did you get into music?

As far as I can remember, I wanted to be an artist. When I was a kid, my grandma used to tape RAGE, basically the Australian MTV. They’d play non-stop music videos, and she would record them on VHS cassettes. I used to watch them over and over again. And I just loved them and knew every song and every music video. Want thing I knew at a young age; I just wanted THAT, to be an artist.

Music was always and still is something that resonated with me. My upbringing was pretty modest, and where I was from, it was very hard to see a way to make that happen. The only way I thought I was going to get out was by playing sports or going to university.

So that became my path; I went to university to study, played sports and was making music all at the same time. And I took it seriously. Playing professional sports was always the dream, from when I was 6 until 18. I used to play professional rugby league for my hometown, training every night until I, unfortunately, was injured. At the same time, I was studying for a business marketing degree, but I always wanted to sing. I was pretty shy until late high school, when I started performing. By the time I was 17, I had been “scouted” up by a talent agent called Michael Browning and put in a boy group. This was my first kind of ‘brush’ with the actual music industry.

Ron Haryanto at Highschool

Ron Haryanto at his old highschool radio station

The start of a music career?

No, not immediately. I had many things going on at the same time and didn’t really prioritise any of them, so I lost the opportunity. As a result, I ended up focusing on university and completing my business degree, but that didn’t stop me from making music.

I was very fortunate that my mother bought me a computer in high school. At the time, I started messing around with sampling, recording my voice and putting songs together because I simply wanted to create. And I just had to figure it out myself.

I used to record my friends in the neighbourhood, basically everyone who wanted to have a rap career. At the time, I used Soundforge and would sample my own drums and instruments off CDs, timestamp everything and build everything block by block. No multi-track recording; it was just me building a collage completely free form moving pieces in time. And I think that’s how I developed my ear for music.

So you got into production at an early age?

Sort of, but I had no idea what it was. I used to ‘produce’ until I met DJ’s that were making beats and doing production. That’s when I stopped doing that and started focusing on mainly songwriting. I started meeting more DJs and artists and doing more co-writes. So I spent from 18-21 years old, studying business and as soon as I finished my degree, I decided I wanted to focus on music again. I ended up getting myself an independent record deal but just kind of floundered through my 20s.

Eventually, music took me around the world. I’ve had an artist career in Malaysia, Indonesia and released house tunes throughout Oz and Europe. I’ve released music under different aliases, including Ron E Jones, Boswell, St Christoph & Shaade. I’ve written for and collaborated with people like Marcia Hines, Russell Crowe, Danni Minogue, Shannon Noll and even Lil Jon. House music-wise, I’ve had releases on big labels like Defected, Ministry of Sound and so on.

Picture of Ron Haryanto songwriting with Marcia Hines

Ron Haryanto in a songwriting session with Marcia Hines

What influence did your professional sports career have on you?

If I look back, team sports shaped me the most by making me understand exactly what my role in the team was and what I needed to do to make sure that we all won. Now, that’s how I try to manage too. That’s how I run teams; I try to make sure that everyone knows their key role in this bigger thing and try to build community.

At the start of my 30s in my artist career, I spent a lot of time in Malaysia and Indonesia. But I was never based in any of those places long term, so maintaining a “team” was really hard.

I had some fantastic experiences, but when I came back home, none of the people that I had shared those experiences with was around to celebrate what we did or to follow that momentum. It made me realise the importance of having a “team” and a sense of “community”.

Looking back, what did you learn from that time in Asia?

I learnt that you have to take advantage of opportunities whilst they’re in front of you. You can be blind to great opportunities in front of you and do nothing about them, or you can use these opportunities to create and build things.

“You can be blind to great opportunities in front of you and do nothing about them, or you can use these opportunities to create and build things.” – Ron Haryanto.

In my 20’s I had a lot of experiences and opportunities, but I wasn’t mature enough to ever make the most out of what I was doing. By the time I got to 29, I had done a lot of self-reflection and got to the crux of why I’m here and what I wanted to do with my life. I now approach life with the intention that “these are the things that I want to create, and this is exactly what I want to do”. Everything that happened in Malaysia and Indonesia was an affirmation: “If I want this, I can get it.”

But as I mentioned earlier, because I didn’t relocate, I wasn’t building on them. I wasn’t able to really capitalise in the way that I could have. So after I spent time doing those sorts of things, I decided to stay in Sydney and build on all of the wins I’d had. I wanted to stay in one place and build on all of these things so I could start building my castle, start building my creative agency and start building a business.

What made you decide to take the music business path?

I always thought that I would naturally move to the business side of the music industry. Never stopped being an artist this whole time though, I’ve just found ways to have a creative outlet and release music under different aliases.

From my perspective it’s really a significant strength for me; I live in multi-facets of the music industry. I gig, so I know all of the musicians and everyone that does Live Music for a living. And because of my journey as a professional songwriter, I know most of the publishers, creatives, writers, A&Rs, producers… all of the people I’ve run into on this journey. And now, on the business side, I’ve gotten to know all of the people on the recording studio side in the music industry.

What’s interesting now is because I’ve been in the industry for a while, I see artists I used to write songs with or mentor at the start of their careers doing some amazing things right now. That’s a fascinating dynamic.

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Picture of Ron Haryanto Abbey Road Institute CEO at Sony Studios with Justice Crew

At Sony Studios with Justice Crew.

Ron Haryanto Abbey Road Institute CEO with Willstah and i.amsolo during the Industry Access Session

Haryanto with Willstah and i.amsolo during the Industry Access Session

From artist to business. Is that the path to success in the music industry?

I think it definitely helps to be successful and consistent in what you’re doing because people respect that. The music industry is one place where people can smell, like a sixth sense, people who aren’t from our industry because we’re all dedicating our lives to it. People want you to do your time. People want to know and want you to show them that you’re serious about this.

Portfolio careers in the music industry

We wrote this article for Abbey Road Institute London about portfolio careers or slash careers. I mean, you seem to be a perfect example of having a portfolio career, meaning multiple streams of income, various roles. What’s your take on that?

A portfolio career for me, in layman’s terms, is a consolidation of all of your life experience as a human and finding ways you can draw on every skill you have learned and put that into action. I really like the idea of that because I think that is essential for people in our industry, especially now. Unless you are a big touring artist, on a major label, have management and an extensive team looking after you, nine times out of ten, you have to have a portfolio career. I think many people in the music industry live portfolio careers without even realising that’s what they’re doing. Industry people are resourceful. If they strategically apply that and embrace that, they will be successful.

Can you tell us a bit more about the partnership between Studios 301 and Abbey Road Institute?

The proposition of the ‘Abbey Road Institute – Studios 301’ collaboration is something that I can’t help but get excited and passionate about. I feel everyone that I speak to in our community gets excited as well.

For years Studios 301 has been regarded as Australia’s most iconic and longest-running studio, the benchmark for excellence in the industry for engineers and producers. To be partnered with Abbey Road Studios, the world’s most famous studio and their production course is exhilarating.

Being the person building the Abbey Road Institute school in Sydney and the person who oversees Studios 301 makes the two brands’ synergy so much smoother. This collaboration includes the Studios and the fantastic community of engineers, producers, partners, industry people, artists, all of that talent that comes to the studios; we can actually share that as well.

Additionally, we’re building the academic team from the ground floor and approaching Grammy-nominated, award-winning engineers and producers in our extended community. They have all been interested so far because they understand the proposition of what it means to be involved with both brands and what we’re building. It’s exciting because these people are still in the industry at the top of their game, wanting to be a part of this thing.

What makes this sense of ‘community’ so important for you?

I suppose people’s voids become their values, right? I grew up with a single mum in my hometown of Raymond Terrace. I’ve always had people around me, and together we would try to build things to be proud of and lift each other up.

I treat people that are close to me as family. I spend day and night alongside these people here at the Studios and Institute and see them more than I see anyone else. By default, these are the people that I care about, that I want to invest in more than anyone.

A community is essential for me. That’s what helped me through many periods in my life. I need the community to be part of anything that I build or anything that I try to launch. For example, Studios 301 is a 12-million-dollar facility, but it’s just a building without the community and the people.

That’s also the idea behind ‘Industry Access’ events?

The “industry access” initiatives and events are a way to create an access point to our community. The reason we’ve called them “industry access” is that it’s bridging the gap between people that are up and coming engineers, students, interns, assistants, anyone that’s trying to navigate their way through and the actual industry. All the people who are part of the initiative will play a role in Abbey Road Institute, whether that’s lecturers, guest lectures or just amazing resources to call on.

Ron Haryanto Abbey Road Institute CEO with Simon Cohen

Haryanto with ARIA winning vocal producer and mix engineer, Simon Cohen (Justin Bieber, Masked Wolf, Lizzo, Thelma Plum, Genesis Owusu, Jessica Mauboy)

What drives you? Why are you doing what you are doing?

Ten years ago, I wrote a life plan about who I am, who I wanted to be, what my life is going to look like, my mission, etc. Ultimately I wanted to be an artist and make music because, for me making music is the ultimate personification of being able to share love and connect with people. The life that I live now is continually trying to build the biggest community I can because this is who I am and who I want to be.

“Ultimately, I wanted to be an artist and make music because for me making music is the ultimate personification of being able to share love and connect with people” – Ron Haryanto.

I need to create, so I’ve taken the basic premise of me creating as a songwriter, as an artist performing, and applied that to Ron Haryanto sitting in Studios 301 chair and the Abbey Road Institute chair. This is a chance for me to put my stamp on things by creating initiatives, creating communities and creating ideas, sitting with people, making partnerships, doing all this sort of stuff. That’s the extension of me creating. So is me having a record label and being an A&R and mentor artists and helping them with their creative process. I’m incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I can do all of that constantly.

You’ve seriously come a long way. what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

Don’t let your fear prevent you from actually doing anything. Sometimes people say they need to get things perfect, and they need to get things right before starting anything. To me, that’s just another way of them stalling and saying “I’m scared of failing because this isn’t good enough. If you’re creative, create. If you’re a performer, perform. At some point, you’ve got to let stuff go. Everything happens when it needs to happen.

The scariest position you’re ever going to put yourself in in life is standing in front of your opportunities and not having any excuse to hide behind. That’s when you will know if you are good enough or not. So many people put excuses in front of that because they’re afraid of what the answer could be. They prevent themselves from growing. It’s not going to kill you; the sooner you can get to that place, the better.

That’s a great perspective. Will you be teaching at Abbey Road Institute?

If there’s a place for me to share my life experience and my journey with people, and people can learn from that, then that would be great!

The way that I see things is: You’re either a student, a teacher or a prophet in terms of where you fit for people, and in all different aspects of life, the roles can be reversed at any time with any relationship. So, I mean, I’m sure there are many people that I could probably teach something to. And I’m sure many of the students and a lot of the people that are coming through could teach me a thing or two.

We think you will do a great job!

Thank you! From my perspective, what I bring to this whole collaboration is someone fortunate enough to navigate through the music industry successfully. I currently manage Studios 301 and an entire team of creatives, but I am positioning myself to lead this community that we are building. This amazing community was already here before me, but I can add that layer on top with the proposition of the Advanced Diploma of Music Industry in Australia. My ultimate goal is to basically see the two worlds completely entwined with each other and become another part of this living, breathing organism that is the community of Abbey Road Institute and Studios 301. So if I can manage to do that, then it will be a success.

Thank you Ron!

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