DIME Keeps Rocking: Co-founder Sarah Clayman went from England to Israel to Downtown Detroit.
Martin Michalek | Special to the Jewish News
Every day in Capitol Park, rock ‘n’ roll can be heard emanating from the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) at 1265 Griswold St. in Downtown Detroit.
DIME is a music college that offers students a rigorous college experience with the opportunity to meet other experienced musicians, develop their talents, and earn degrees in subjects such as songwriting and music entrepreneurship.
Experienced record producer Kevin Nixon founded the school in 2014 with his partner, Sarah Clayman, as well as Bruce Dickinson, who played guitar in the British rock band Little Angels. Now, as the school enters its third year, Clayman says the success in Detroit has been better than they could ever have hoped.
“We were looking for a challenge [when we came to Detroit] and we definitely got that,” Clayman says. “I hadn’t considered the lifestyle change because we were so focused on the business aspect. Yet the relationships and friend- ships we’ve built in Detroit are some of the strongest I’ve had in my lifetime.”
Just as some children take over the family bakery, Clayman knew from an early age she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and work in the music industry. Growing up in Cockfosters, London, she watched her father work as a concert promoter for acts like Michael Jackson, the Carpenters and Neil Diamond.
Clayman’s father had his reservations about his daughter working in the music industry, though; and so, in her typically spunky fashion, she decided to move to a kibbutz in Israel at age 16. (Her other plans were either being a helicopter pilot or a beautician.)
In Israel, Clayman began punctiliously studying Hebrew and, by age 17 she was speaking fluently and working for a medical company in Tel Aviv. But a dream can only be deferred for so long. Before turning 18, Clayman returned to England where she threw herself into the music business at last.
“I never thought I would be living in Detroit when I decided to enter the music industry,” Clayman says, “but people in Detroit have been so warm, open and welcoming. It’s quite unbelievable.”
One of Clayman’s earliest ties to Detroit came from working as an assistant manager to D-Influence and the Motown act Zhane. Now, Clayman has a home in Indian Village with her companion and business partner, Kevin Nixon.
“The plan for a music college began in a pub,” Nixon says. For an entire year, Clayman, Nixon and Dickinson met over pints in the U.K. to work on founding a college in England. Their hard work culminated in the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM). Soon, enrollment exceeded 1,000 students.
“There were moments when I’d stand on stage at induction week and look up into a crowd with a thousand faces,” Clayman says of BIMM’s early days, “and I couldn’t believe it. It was meant to be.”
Eventually, the trio sold BIMM and set their sights on founding a music college in the United States. They looked at New York City and Nashville until a fortuitous meeting with one of their old friends, Metro Detroiter Charlie Rothstein. Rothstein is the senior managing director and co-founder of Beringea, a venture capital firm with offices in London and Detroit.
“We met Charlie [Rothstein] seven years ago,” Clayman says, “because we’d talked to Beringea for a year about our previous U.K. business, BIMM.”
Though the two never ended up working together, things changed quickly. “Kevin [Nixon] got a call from American Idol to work with the show, and we came to Detroit to see if we wanted to be involved. Charlie was the first person we called.” As Nixon, Clayman and Rothstein all sat down to dinner the decision became obvious.
“We said no to Idol and yes to Charlie,” Clayman says before quickly adding, “It’s the best decision we have made — ever.”
Three years later, DIME is pioneering music education in the heart of Downtown Detroit with DIME ONLINE, an online college curriculum that helps musicians earn degrees in music-related subjects.
“In five years, people will look back on what we’re doing with DIME and DIME ONLINE and say we were the first to do something special,” Clayman says. “A student can study anywhere in the world. It has the potential to create music collaborations with students from different countries and cultures.”
DIME’s ambitious plan to revolutionize music education is moving forward in 2016. Presently, DIME is building a relationship with the Metropolitan State University of Denver to allow students (both online and in Detroit) more access to student loans, more affordable courses and new online programs. *
To learn more about DIME, visit www.dime-detroit.com