AS Music was started in 1980 by Allen Sutton, a steel-worker who had been involved in music since the ’50s. Allen took early retirement and used his redundancy money to open a music shop in Charlesville place, Neath, and become his own boss. A few years later, he needed bigger premises and the business was moved to 37 Water Street, where it has operated for more than 30 years. The business name was also changed to Neath Music Centre.
In 1988, a gigging musician called Adrian Bamford was made redundant from his day job as a computer programmer due to company closure. He asked Allen if there was any work available and started work as the classic ‘Saturday boy’ almost immediately. The Saturday job became a full-time job and, in 1993, Allen decided that he wanted to sell the business. Adrian bought it after securing a business loan from a high street bank.
The retail business grew over the years to three times its original turnover and in 2000 Neath Music Limited was formed. Alongside retail sales, a sound equipment hire business was also established and Neath Music could be seen touring with professional shows all over the UK and Ireland. Specialising in live sound also secured business in the field of professional audio consultancy and sound design.
In 2013, as a reaction to the threat of the UK recession and the growth of Internet shopping, Neath Music Academy was established. The idea was to diversify by expanding into music tuition. Initially, Lessons were offered in one studio within the shop, but in 2014 the first floor premises was refurbished and three teaching studios created offering lessons on piano, guitar, violin and music theory. The music school has since gone from strength to strength.
In 2015, it was decided that, along with professional audio services, the music school was to be the future of the business. For Adrian, the music retail world had been a blast for almost 25 years, there were a million rock and roll stories to tell, but now it was time to bow out. The music shop closed on the 31st of July 2015 but out of the ashes rose The Music Shop at Neath indoor market, which was started by long-time Neath Music manager, Leyton Thomas.
Neath Music has been something of an institution in Neath for a generation. Although the nature of the business has changed, the ethos has not and neither have we! We have always been people-centred, which is probably the key to our longevity. Friends, previous employees, and associates of ours are still very much a part of the local live music scene. Neath Music Academy has a great community feel, and The Music Shop in Neath Market has become something of a hub in itself. Every town needs rock and roll!