A pitch for a business to help composers & a request for help

Hello everyone!
This has been a plan in the works for a couple of years now and I’m going to be diving into it this year. I am starting a business called “The Midi Lab.” It is a physical business designed to help composers, arrangers, and music-makers start their careers in music that I will be starting in the Reno, Nevada area. I seek to remove the hurdles that keep many musicians from starting. To do this I have 3 main goals.

  1. Provide access to knowledge and training in digital recording, midi orchestration, sample library creation, and interactive game music.
  2. Provide physical access to the equipment and software needed to produce usable music audio.
  3. Build a local community of music-makers interested in collaboration, sharing knowledge, and being a talent hub for potential job opportunities.

I have started a GoFundMe campaign to bring in money for purchasing computers, software, and audio equipment to build several music workstations and set up a basic classroom. I know most of you do not live anywhere near Reno. And many of you have your own online teaching businesses and virtual communities that you have founded. So pardon me if it is out of place for me to ask this here. But this is a gap that I see in our music industry. We have schools for teaching a subset of people musical skills. We have online classes and virtual instruction. But we do not have much in between. We are missing physical locations for young musicians to learn these skills, or post-college musicians to go before they can afford to build their own studios. We’ve got great online communities like this one. But not many local music communities that help composers reach that next step of moving into a career.

If this idea sounds interesting at all to you, and it’s something you feel like you could get behind, I’d sure appreciate any support I can get in getting this thing started. I’ll post my GoFundMe link below. There’s a lot more info there as well as a video where I go into more detail about this idea and the story behind it.

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Glad to see this coming to fruition Mike! I’m behind you 100% and I’ll be chipping in where I can. It’s a great idea.

Incidentally, my conservatory here in Milwaukee, The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music started doing something similar last summer called mobile music, where they has a converted truck that had a small studio and instruments and they rolled through city neighborhoods letting the kids come try stuff out.

Great idea ands I hope it works out no matter how long it takes!

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Matt, that’s funny! I had a similar idea about refitting a cargo trailer with a couple workstations to have something to take to local festivals. Do you know if it was a computer-based studio or if it had something like a digital multitrack device? In my idea, my main worry was how to supply stable power for computers, but I suppose if you take it places with power to run an extension cord to it’d be fine.

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I don’t remember 100%, but I think they were just using laptops and some mobile multitrack recorders. It was mostly intended to get the kids interested in playing music and what not, and then they’d go to the conservatory for lessons later. I’d think if you went with some sort of RV it’d have a built in power supply of some sort? Plus air conditioning!

Weird history with that place though, since it started as a full-fledged conservatory–for women–in the 1890’s then became co-ed later and remained that way up until about the time I briefly studied there.
But it was poorly run and was non-profit and really only did instrument lessons for kids, but now is starting to get back to being an actual music school, but still focusing on teaching kids–no actual degree programs anymore.

Hi Mike. I live in the Minneapolis area. There are several businesses that offer musicians all sorts of training and experience in an academic setting. I think a real opportunity is being overlooked. We develop all these training programs, but they rarely result in a paid gig. I’m wondering if it would be more advantageous to approach those people in the entertainment business that need the services of a composer (arranger, orchestrator, dub stage, recording studio)? As an example, when a doctor is being trained, they intern at a hospital or with other working doctors as an assistant in their office. The new doctor seeks out those that are looking for his services. He/she doesn’t wait around to be discovered. By finding out what the people with the money are looking for, and tailoring your education to give them that, you could be a resource for them. It’s like promoters. The fastest way to get a working band together is connect with a promoter that has a show to do. Networking, lots of it, is the only thing I know that actually results in a paid gig. Well, I hope that made sense.

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Clinton, I hear what you’re saying about networking. Now, are there really several businesses in Minneapolis that offer training to musicians? That’s kind of amazing. I’ve never lived any place that had very many businesses in the music education space outside of actual schools and just guitar and piano lessons. What kind of stuff do these businesses do?

I guess where I am currently living there’s a couple businesses that teach music theater and one recording studio that teaches kids mixing and audio engineering. But all of those are just for kids and they’re mainly performance-based or focused on rock and pop bands.

I think you’re right about approaching the people in the entertainment businesses and building relationships with them, and that it’s about positioning yourself as someone who can give them what they need. I’m not sure if I agree that we should ask them what they need and try to fill that role. I worry that approach would lead to a funneling of certain styles to the exclusion of other styles, and that some musicians would be lost in that culling and left disillusioned. Maybe that’s no different to how things normally work, though.

Philosophically, I feel the best approach is to let artists be themselves and develop musically in the ways that come naturally, and work to put systems into place to allow that kind of natural expression to be showcased in front of the people that hold the opportunities. I think that’s what I’m trying to do here. I think a community of music-makers working together will be better able to showcase their talents to those in the business who might hire them. And, just maybe, help to set the trends in the industry rather than just follow them.

Hi Mike, I might not be grasping the services you are wanting to offer. But here is a partial list that offer training to musicians. I know most of them do, because they have asked if I’d be interested in working for them. I’ve been teaching piano lessons online for free since February of 1994 - https://pianonanny.com/

https://twincitiesmusicschool.com/

http://www.lhhouseofmusic.com/

https://bluetreemusiceducation.com/

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Wow, that’s quite a list! And some good variety too. I suppose the main difference between what I want to offer and what most of these offer is that these are mostly what I’d call performance-based. As a kid I took piano lessons. In school I learned trombone. As an adult I’ve performed in several bands playing keyboard and guitar. But the thing in our world of music that I enjoy most is writing music. I like to sit down at a computer with an idea and work through it until I have a piece of music. That’s something that I had to learn on my own. I’d like to set up a place that focuses more on that creation side of things rather than the performance side.