Fredrik Thomander CEO and founder of Palma Music Studios. | H. Carter


Tucked away in the heart of Palma is the Palma Music Studios. The studio, which opened in November 2017 after two-and-a-half years of extremely complicated and expert development, is the brainchild of CEO Fredrik Thomander and Johan Lundgren.

Fredrik is a Swedish songwriter/producer, who has had numerous hits all over the world for the past two decades. Artists he has worked with include N’Sync, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Luis Fonsi, Arashi, Scorpions, Girls Generation, Agnetha Fältskog (ABBA), Kim Wilde and many more. Johan has always been passionate about music and had collected over the years high-end analogue recording equipment, which became the foundation of the equipment at Palma Music Studios. He also happens to be the CEO of easyJet.

And since the studio opened, and despite the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, the studio has gone from strength to strength, with artists travelling to Palma to record from all over the world.

“As a songwriter, producer and musician, I spent the best part of 25 years on the road and in 2013, as a family, we decided to make a lifestyle change.

“We first moved to Los Angeles, but it wasn’t right for the family so we decided on Mallorca. My mother had lived here for years. We knew and loved the island and decided that we would base ourselves in Mallorca and I would travel. So, in 2014 we moved to Mallorca, 2015 we bought the property which we totally rebuilt into a state-of-the-art modular recording studio and before we knew it, the acts wanted to come to record in Palma and, apart from during Covid, they have not stopped coming,” said Fred.

“And of course, I’m doing much less travelling, so it’s worked out better than we honestly could have expected because when we first started out we weren’t too sure what was going to happen,” he added.

But the pandemic and the lockdown meant that Fred and his excellent team had to start learning “to use new legs”.

“I began doing a lot of online courses, workshops and remote recordings with composers, bands and artists around the world as well as here in Mallorca. And since we were able to properly reopen last year, the classes have continued, but groups of writers and composers are coming back to the studios here in Mallorca. What better place to come and study and work? They all love it.

“So the pandemic meant that to a certain extent we had to reinvent ourselves and one of the most exciting developments was that we started to get approached by film companies wanting an ADR service. ADR stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement. This is the process of recording dialogue in a studio after filming to replace the initially recorded lines on set. This is usually due to bad sound quality recorded in the take that production wants to use in the finished product. With cast members being unable to travel during lockdown, production companies began using our facilities for actors and actresses who lived in Mallorca.

“I had to get to grips with ADR and we are the first and only studio which is officially recognised by the American Screen Writers’ Guild to do so in Spain.

“In order to achieve that I had to make sure that my skills and our facilities and equipment were up to Hollywood standards, and that our physical and cybersecurity controls met all the required standards as well. That is now an important part of the work we carry out at the studios. Despite people being able to travel again, the technology which was developed and improved during Covid means that ADR can be easily carried out here in Mallorca and fewer people need to be flying back and forth to the States, for example. It saves time and money.

"We’ve had the likes of Joseph Fiennes, who lives on the island, in the studio a number of times. And when Zoe Saldaña, one of the stars of the Lioness series which was shot on the island with Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman, was here earlier this year, she used our studios to complete two films she was also working on. One of them being Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” Fred said.

It is also understood that Mads Mikkelsen also used the studio for his part in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

“What very few people realise - in fact I didn’t until I got involved with ADR - is that the dialogue replacement system is used by the vast majority of the big budget movie productions, especially Hollywood, in particular action and horror films or those which are filmed mainly outside because there is always exterior noise. It could be a car, a plane, someone shouting, the wind catching the microphone booms - anything. So ADR is used to remove all alien noise.

"Plus, just say one of the cast catches a cold, then their voice is going to change, so that dialogue has to be re-recorded once their voice returns to normal, for example. Then one has to take into account last-minute changes to the script or rewrites, so remote ADR makes it much easier for the producers because it doesn’t matter where any cast member is. They can be in Mallorca and just come along to our studios or catch a shorter flight to Palma instead of transatlantic,” Fred said.

“It’s all about consistency in the dialogue and the voice, it’s a huge part of post-production and Hollywood is now looking to Mallorca.

“We’re working with British, German and Scandinavian productions in addition to voiceovers for Playstation games as well as laying down musical scores for some of the games. So ADR for film and TV has become a new market for us and it’s growing because with so many streaming platforms now the demand for content is huge,” he added.

“But our standards have to be extremely high. I don’t care who walks through the door. I want everyone treated as if they were Beyonce and that they all leave happy and that’s how we work. I have a great team and a constant trail of people from all fields of the music industry is coming to us and Mallorca. Why all the travelling when the singers and musicians can come to us here in wonderful Mallorca? We’re in the centre of the city, close to bars, restaurants and hotels. With the great weather, where better place is there to record?

“When we set the studio up - I had one in Stockholm and Johan had one in London - we decided straightaway that Mallorca was going to be the only option and it has worked.

“All of the studios are fully equipped with technology and instruments, and as a commercial venture we are able to cater for anyone. As a producer and voice coach, I am on hand to help guide and advise any musicians should they need assistance, but one of our primary aims has been to engage with the Mallorcan-based musicians. Before I got involved in the studio I had no idea just how much great music and how many talented musicians there are on the island, of all nationalities, and we have been able to bring them together here at the studios and produce some top-class music.

“A whole new international and local community of musicians, actors, producers, directors, writers, people from all disciplines in music and film has grown on the island and we can only see ourselves getting stronger as a studio. That is our aim, our vision,” Fred stressed.

“Next week, we’ve got a Swedish songwriting camp coming down. Twenty in total, ten from Sweden and ten from the United States and they’re taking over pretty much all of the building and this is very common.

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“Plus, the Independent Music Publishers International Forum, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is returning to Palma in October for the second edition of The Global IMPF Music Entrepreneurial and Creative Industry Summit, which is great news for the island’s creative sector.

“We never wanted to take work away from the island, we wanted to bring work to Mallorca. We have managed to do that and now the industry chiefs are seeing what’s happening on the island. We’re super happy how things have worked out. It’s an ever-changing industry and we’re constantly learning and adapting - I never thought we’d have to adapt one our studios for the most bankable actresses in the world in the basement. So it’s also fun,” he said.

“Mallorca is becoming the new Los Angeles and we’ve set the bar as high as we possibly could.”