Essential Lockdown Guitar Maintenance

By Tristan Seume, Professional Guitarist & DIME Online Learning Technologist

Everyone knows that professionalism includes taking responsibility for the things under your own control. And whilst live music is taking some time off, now’s the perfect chance to take stock of your gear, making sure it’s fit for purpose and ready for when you’re back on the road.

It feels good to show your equipment some love and attention, and there’s no better time than the present to do so. Just like those niggly home DIY jobs you never seem to get around to, here’s our guide to getting back on top of all things guitar-related…

Change Your Strings

I’ve yet to meet a guitarist who relishes to the task of changing strings and I expect most put it off for a couple of reasons:

1)  it’s a pretty boring job and;

2)  no-one much likes paying for consumables.

Everyone wears strings out at a different rate – some people kill a set in one gig; others make theirs last months – but, as a rule, if you can’t remember when you last changed ‘em, then change ‘em! They’ll feel fresh like shaving with a brand-new razor. There are practical reasons for doing this too: tired, old strings don’t hold their tune well, and the intonation becomes vague. Lastly, buying the cheapest strings can be a false economy. By paying double for premium coated strings you’ll easily get more than double the lifespan.

Clean Your Fretboard

While you’re in the process of changing strings, now’s the perfect time to clean your fretboard too. Over time, your fretboard will have accumulated debris like sweat and dust from those diligent hours of practice. Restoring your fretboard will make it feel slicker, faster and altogether more pleasant to play. Take a microfibre cloth, wipe it clean of debris, before applying some proper fretboard oil in small, circular motions between the frets. Never use household cleaning products, as these can cause damage to your guitar.

Fix Those Rattles & Hums

It’s amazing what we can put up with when we’re too busy. You’ve become blind to that mysterious rattle you get when you play one particular note, or a wobbly jack socket or crackly volume pot. Time to sort it out!

  • Using a spanner, make sure the jack socket is screwed in nice and tightly – continual finger-tightening never works for long.
  • Make sure all the screws in your guitar are tight, such as those around the scratch plate, jack socket and pickups. This simple task can sometimes cure an annoying buzz easily.
  • Crackly volume pot? A small amount of switch cleaner can sort this out, although badly soldered contacts might need addressing too, if that doesn’t fix it. Depending on your guitar, access the pots by removing either the scratch plate for Fender-style guitars, or via the back plate for Gibson-style instruments. Tip: when removing the tiny screws, stick them all to a piece of masking tape so you don’t lose them!
  • Check for fret buzz up and down the neck. Your guitar’s neck should not be dead straight; it should have a small amount of relief (backbow) to allow the strings to vibrate freely along their whole length. Try the ‘tap test’ by placing a capo at the first fret, fretting the strings at the 12th and tapping them individually around the 5th. There should hear a tap telling you there’s a gap. If not, your action may be too low causing fret buzz. An 8th of an anticlockwise truss rod turn could help. Setting up your guitar’s action is a whole topic in itself, so make sure you do plenty of research before steaming in if you’re unsure.

How to Stay Creative During Covid-19

By Mike Sturgis, Head of Education, DIME Online

As COVID-19 continues to limit professional opportunities for those involved in the music industry, the response from many has been to focus even harder on creative endeavours.

And while we can sometimes have moments of inspiration come to us in organic ways, creativity is often something that needs to be nurtured proactively. To get some thoughts on this, we’ve reached out to some of our talented graduates to see how they have used this unprecedented time to their advantage with regards to their creative output. We’ve distilled some of their wise words down into the following tips which will hopefully inspire and motivate you.

Consolidate

Having more time on your hands due to C19 can be turned to an advantage when it’s used for strengthening your specialist skills. DIME graduate Emanuele Marchetti is a busy drummer on the London music scene who seized the opportunity to redouble his efforts in the practice room:

“My last big TV show was on March 19th, right before the UK went into a lockdown. My life before C19 was pretty busy, spreading myself between different bands, gigs and teaching. Therefore, the impact of the loss of work due to the virus has been really hard and I had to try to find any solution to keep myself occupied and creative at the same time.”

Emanuele explains how he has used the extra time productively:

“The lockdown has been a sort of reset time from a personal and musical perspective, where I could finally have the possibility to practice and play my instrument every day (something that before C19 wasn’t possible due to lack of time) focusing on styles of music that suit me the most and working on my chops and phrasings.”

Educate

The broad range of skills needed to facilitate a successful career for a free-lance artist always needs updating. In addition to consolidating your specialist skills, you can spend the time learning new things that will help your career or that will simply inspire new ideas. Emanuele has been proactive in this regard and tells us how he’s been extending his skill set:

“Besides the playing aspect, I’ve started building up new skills that include audio and video editing through the use of multi-cameras and software like Final Cut Pro and Logic X. I’ve also been increasing my transcriptions with software like Transcribe and Sibelius. I’ve been using these elements in the creation of tutorial videos and content for my social media channels to share with the drumming community while developing my own brand and merchandise.”

Motivate

Setting short, medium and long-term goals and regularly checking your progress towards each of these can be hugely satisfying and help keep you on track at times when you may feel de-motivated.  However, there may be times when you need to absorb the thoughts, wisdom and encouragement of others to maintain your motivation. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of material out there to help and support, with much of it being available for free. Emanuele explains how being proactive in sourcing this type of information has been a lifeline for him:

“Reading motivational books and watching online webinars has been a huge part of the process as well, because they gave me a better insight of the business side and opened up to a new world of possibilities to help me make it through this tough time.”

Rodrigo Lopes, another of DIME ONLINE’s drum graduates, also cites the importance online webinars in staying motivated: “I recently checked out an amazing online drummer forum featuring (former) DIME ONLINE Head of Drums Gabor Dornyei and other great players. It was really informative and insightful, and it gave me lots of new ideas for my playing.”

Collaborate

Reaching out and collaborating with others on projects is a great way to keep the creative energy going. And while it may not be quite the same as sitting in the same room with someone, connecting online via Zoom or other platforms is becoming more and more the accepted norm for working.

Rodrigo has been repurposing his professional working to the online world and collaborating more with other musicians in this way:

“I started recording with many people from different places and I have had the opportunity of recording more than 15 songs from home in the last few months. Recently, I was invited to record a song and be part of the video clip with two Icelandic musicians, Eyþór Ingi (who represented Iceland in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest) and Lay Low (famous Icelandic singer).  The song went to number one on many radio stations here in the country. Last Friday I was invited to perform the song live on RÚV, a TV program in Reykjavík.”

Replicate

Creative ideas do not occur in a vacuum. We have all been influenced by the creative output of other people, and it’s how these ideas are re-interpreted and re-expressed that result in a new work. Going back to study and replicate the work of one of your idols (e.g. a solo or a riff) may sound counterintuitive when you are trying to come up with your own creative output, but it’s often the discovery of pre-existing vocabulary that will serve as a catalyst for new . For a musician, you can learn or even steal the ‘licks’ or vocabulary of another artist, but it’s the sound you make, the juxtaposition of ideas and musical context chosen that can make your ‘borrowed’ vocabulary sound original. No one would advocate ‘cloning’ another musician, artist or writer; however, replication of what someone else has done can act as a scaffolding when trying to create something unique. This is particular true when you blend these ideas with the myriad of other influences that you already have. The way you combine all of these countless influences and express them will always be unique, because there is only one you! That said, being too derivative (especially in songwriting) can be challenged in the legal system, so it’s also important to remember that replication needs to be done with a degree of wisdom, respect and caution.

Meditate

The importance of your mental health in these challenging times cannot be overstated. Looking after your own well-being is critical to the creative process, and meditation and mindfulness can be powerful tools for maintaining wellness. It can be difficult to not be overwhelmed or anxious about the future when there is so much uncertainty. Most of us are prone to incessant cogitation that can be counterproductive, and we often need a break from our thoughts. Focusing on our breathing, candle gazing and nature walks are examples of mindfulness-based activities that can lift us out of unhelpful thinking (which is based either in the past or an imagined future) and back to the present moment.  If you can stay present and be the observer of your thoughts (rather than identifying with them) you stand a much better chance of maintaining a state of relaxed concentration where creativity can be optimised.

Alumni guitarist Jess Furneaux had this to say about the importance of well-being in relation to her creative output:

“Ensuring I take time out of my day to do some physical activity is very important. I suggest taking a long walk first thing in the morning or going to the gym for an hour, to get yourself into the right frame of mind and set you up for the day feeling energised and determined. Making sure I eat healthy foods and have at least 8 hours sleep is vital to ensuring I give myself the best chances to concentrate and produce my best. Nobody feels great when they’ve had a late night and eaten leftover pizza for breakfast.”

There are a number of free resources available mindfulness and meditation. An excellent app for this purpose is Insight Timer, which offers hours of well-organised content for no cost and much more for a small fee.

Music Income Streams During the Pandemic

By Tristan Seume, Professional Guitarist and DIME Online Learning Technologist

If you were a performing artist in 2019, the chances are you haven’t been in 2020. It’s been tough, hasn’t it? But don’t despair – re-evaluating what you do is a periodic necessity regardless of whether it’s been enforced by a global pandemic or not. Let’s look at five different ways you could earn money through music while the venues are dark…

Start a YouTube channel

You’ll have doubtless seen clickbait promising failsafe tips for earning a fortune on YouTube. Yes, it is possible to earn, but it’ll take time and no small effort. Monetising your YouTube channel requires you to hit certain milestones and criteria before converting views into dollars:

Subscribers: 1,000 subscribers watching 4,000 hours of video in a 12-month period are the magic numbers for earning money via your channel. You’ll also need a linked AdSense account. So, how do you gain such a following? Well, there’s no single right answer, but create good, regular content and they will come. Of course, established artists are always likely to draw their own fans to their channel, but many famous YouTubers are famous because of YouTube – it’s a meritocracy determined by quality content.

Content: keep it short and keep it regular – succinct, meaningful videos hold viewers’ attention better. What will your angle be? Sponsored gear reviews? Artist interviews? Your own music videos?

It’s worth investing in some basic kit to improve your production quality, such as a vlogging camera, mic and lighting. Entry-level gear has improved so much that there’s really no excuse for poor quality audio and video these days.

The hidden bonus is that you’re upskilling as you go, developing your Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premier chops. Just like those gigs you practiced for; your latest video will always be an improvement on your previous!

Performance royalty income

DIME ONLINE’s Head of Music Entrepreneurship, Tim Ferrone advises you take some time to ensure you’re properly registered for performance royalty income:

 “Have you ever played on a recording that has been broadcast somewhere, be that on the radio, television, or even via streaming platforms, for example? If you have, then you might not know that as a musical performer, you should be due broadcast performance royalties for your efforts.

“If you haven’t received any corresponding income, then it could well be that you are not correctly registered on the recording itself, or with a suitable collection society (such as the PPL for example) whose role it is to issue licences for this type of musical usage, and then distribute royalties to the relevant musicians accordingly. You can learn a whole lot more about this topic on DIME ONLINE’s Creative Industries courses.

“Now is a great time to ensure that your performance royalty house is in order; otherwise you might just unknowingly be leaving a sizeable chunk of change down the back of the sofa…”

Online tuition

There’s great pleasure to be found in teaching your instrumental skills to others and with the useability of various video conferencing platforms, it’s one of the easiest income streams to facilitate. Skype and Microsoft Teams are both free to use and Zoom works very well for saving video lessons although you’ll need a paid plan to run lessons longer than 40 minutes.

It’s also well-worth registering with a recognized awarding body such as RSL to add kudos to your teaching profile. You’ll gain access to ready-made syllabi as well as support and training opportunities plus exposure to clients via their database.

Digital sales

One of the great things about selling digital downloads is that once in the public domain, there’s no need to replenish stock. That’s not to say there aren’t fees involved, however, as digital download services will likely require either an annual subscription fee or take a slice of your sales.

The obvious product is your music. Bandcamp is great for giving you, the artist control over the price of your album, so you can undercut other services, safe in the knowledge that you’ll take a bigger percentage anyway.

How about selling your sheet music? For example, PDFs of guitar tabs or lead sheets of your songs can be hosted on your website with services like Easy Digital Downloads or Big Cartel (which lets you sell up to five products for free).

Although famously poor in terms in remuneration per stream, you should still be present on Spotify, Amazon and Apple Music. Services like Tunecore and CDBaby take care of the online distribution of your music online to the big players and pass the royalties to you. Depending on which platform you choose, you’ll either pay an annual fee and keep 100% of the royalties, or a one-time set-up fee followed by a revenue share.

Patronage

A single payment for an individual product is one thing, but repeat business can be even better and Patreon.com is great for enabling this. In a nutshell, Patreon lets you connect directly with fans to offer exclusive content or rewards through a tier system of monthly subscriptions. For example, a dollar a month might give access to exclusive podcasts or livestreams you create, while a few extra dollars might be rewarded with personal shout-outs in your videos or merch such as signed guitar tabs or setlists.

More than ever, fans are interested not just in artists’ music but their whole brand, their creative process, even their ethics, and patronage helps turn your fans into a family of supporters. Just remember to keep your subscribers happy with regular content so they’ll want to keep supporting you!

Streamlining Your Live Streaming

by Tristan Seume, Learning Technologist, DIME Online

Introduction

Post-lockdown, live streaming has become a lifeline for many artists to stay connected to their fans, earn a little money and, quite frankly, stay positive while the venues are shut.

But live streaming has its challenges. If you’ve yet to give it a go, read our practical guide on getting prepared to deliver the best show you can.

What’s your motivation?

Firstly, ask yourself why you’re doing this, because the answer will likely have a bearing on what platform you should use, how to monetise the show, etc. Consider then, the following options:

  • Is it to raise money for charity?
  • Is it to earn yourself some money?
  • Is it part of a wider event (e.g. online festival)?
  • Is it replacing a cancelled live show?

Platforms

Based on your answer to the above question, consider the following platforms to help decide which platform is right for you:

Facebook Live

  • Quick and easy to use
  • Works well with streaming software such as OBS
  • Allows you to preview before going live
  • Saves your video afterwards

Instagram Live

  • Very easy to set up
  • Best for mobile-only users
  • Only saves your video for 24 hours
  • Good for capturing passing viewers

Stageit

  • Free to use, but works on a revenue-share
  • Lets you sell tickets in advance, and collect in-show tips

YouTube

  • Free to use (it’s part of Google, after all)
  • Supports 4K
  • Lets you preview before going public
  • Saves your video to your channel

Zoom

  • Free, but only for shows with up to 100 viewers and a maximum 40-minute stream before you need to upgrade to a paid plan
  • Gives a more ‘exclusive’ feel than, say, Facebook Live
  • Enables lots of audience interaction

Monetisation

There are various ways of collecting money from leaving a virtual tips jar to selling tickets in advance.

  • Collecting tips: Services such as paypal.me and Stripe let you set up payments links so viewers can pay you directly, mid-show. This works well with platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram.
  • Crowdfunding: set up a page on gofundme.com or JustGiving.com and keep its link pinned to the top of the chat window. Mention it regularly, as viewers might have found your livestream by chance and missed your opening announcement. A service like JustGiving is ideal if your gig is for charity, and you’ll get that bonus warm fuzzy feeling when your chosen charity writes to say, “thank you”.
  • Subscription services: use your livestream to direct viewers to your own subscription page such as on Patreon.com. Take the opportunity to entice them with the promise of rich, subscriber-only content. It can pay to play the long game as regular subscription fees generate repeat business in ways that tips don’t.

Marketing

Take a short run-up

The internet is awash with live streams these days, so there’s probably not a whole lot to be gained by tweeting about yours a month early. People simply won’t remember. Sure, create a buzz with a few mentions in the week or two beforehand, but save your attention-grabbing flyer until 48 hours before the show.

Keep it brief

What platform? What time (and time-zone!)? What’s it in aid of?

Make it visual

Create an attractive flyer you can share easily across platforms like Instagram and Facebook. 

Technical considerations

Firstly, no matter how reliable your internet speed, there’s no substitute for the consistency of wired ethernet (i.e. plugging directly into your router). It’ll give you more stability with the heavier lifting needed for your livestream, no matter what you’ve been promised by your ISP. However, as a general rule, make sure your bandwidth is around 40% greater than the bitrate you’re using to avoid constant buffering and poor-quality video. For live streaming in 1080p HD, an upload speed of 5 Mbps should be a minimum.

What about audio and video? Investing a small amount in an HD webcam will improve your video quality and you’ll benefit enormously from using an external mic combined with an audio interface. Think about lighting too – an inexpensive studio light capable of providing a warm glow will generally improve the visuals and enable you adjust positioning and brightness exactly as you need without having to rig up some random desk lamps and torches until you stumble upon half-decent results. 

Preparing for the show

Space

Consider how best to set up the room. Unless you’re blessed with a huge ornate fireplace or grand staircase to create a stunning backdrop, it’s probably not worth pretending your anywhere other than in your own kitchen. And that’s OK – people are generally warm to the reality vibe anyway so embrace it. Sure, don’t have dirty dishes over your left shoulder but a tidy, well-lit room perhaps decorated with some fairy lights or drapes shows you’ve made an effort and creates a sense of occasion. Just make sure people can see your face when you test the video.

Testing, testing…

Line check your audio and video stream at least two hours ahead. Last-minute technical difficulties can create the sort of panic utterly counterproductive to quality live performance. If you can’t fix it yourself, it at least gives you the time to Google the problem or seek the assistance of a tech-savvy friend.

Consider starting early

If using Facebook Live, for example, you might pick up a few extra viewers by going live a few minutes earlier than advertised. Streaming software such as OBS Studio (free!) lets you set up a holding slate that you can display five minutes early. Just remember to have your microphones muted – people don’t want to tune into the sound of you gargling honey and lemon as you warm your vocal cords!

Showtime!

You’re certain everything works. The clock strikes the hour. You click ‘Go Live’, and after a moment of eerie silence you welcome everyone who’s tuned in. Before launching into the first few bars of your opener, it doesn’t hurt to ask if everyone can see and hear you OK. A few confirmatory ‘thumbs-ups’ in the comments will help break the ice, too.

Red light fever

Performance situations where you’re basically playing alone are nothing new – live radio and session work, for example, can be just as nerve-wracking as facing a large crowd. But, playing to an empty room can be unsettling. You could combat this beforehand by deploying a tiny studio audience of a couple of members of your social bubble, but if not, it’ll just be you and the invisible people of the internet.

If you’ve live streamed before, you’ll have doubtless experienced that awkward silence following the climactic ending to your latest showstopper. That moment you remember you’re the only one in the room, which prompts a hasty scroll through the comments for those reassuring emojis.

But then what? If you usually rely on a bit of stage banter with the crowd, you’ll need to adapt fast to the lack of instant feedback you only really get from seeing the whites of their eyes. So, factor that into your set: After three or four songs, check the comments quickly and give a couple of shout-outs to personally acknowledge some positive words from your viewers. Dopamine works both ways, after all!

Consider also that the lack of breaks for applause can add a good few minutes to the time you’ll actually need to be playing. Don’t get caught short if you’re due to play for an hour but you’re all out of songs with 10 minutes to spare, especially if it’s a pre-ticketed event.

Good timing = good times

Many festivals have shown great determination to keep the music going by running livestreams in the absence of their much-loved live events. If you’ve been invited to perform as part of a wider program, it goes without saying the usual etiquette still applies. Check your gear works well-in advance, go live bang on schedule and Don’t. Run. Over. Time. At the end of the day, these things are made or broken on the good will and professionalism of all of us.

The after-show afterglow

Once you’ve thanked your viewers and ended your stream, you’ll probably be feeling a huge relief so give yourself a pat on the back and relax. Reading back through the comments you might have missed the following day will help you reflect on how it went. And, if you were taking donations through a JustGiving page, don’t forget to log in and check it. Personally replying to each of your donors is a nice touch, and remember that your crowdfunding page will still be live, so get back on your socials and remind everyone they can still chip-in!

A final word…

Every artist has been affected by the pandemic. Even those with household names have had to adapt to the changes, and let’s be honest, some with more success than others. Having a famous name doesn’t instantly qualify someone as a proficient home recording engineer, camera operator or video editor. Many famous players have since set up regular livestreamed gigs or teaching clinics. And in some respects, it’s been a great leveller – watching one of your heroes struggle with their own internet speed or glimpsing a family member’s cameo as they walk right through their shot can be endearingly relatable.

One thing’s for sure – this is going to roll on for a while yet, so let’s stay positive and productive for all our sakes.

Oakland University and DIME collaborate to offer students a one-of-a-kind music education

Oakland University and the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) have partnered to provide Bachelor of Arts degrees in performance, songwriting and music industry business classes to students wanting to study commercial music and pursue a career in music.

“We are thrilled to announce this relationship between Oakland University and DIME,”
said Amy Hardison Tully, director of OU’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance. “Their quick rise as leaders in the world of commercial music is very exciting, and their community involvement in downtown Detroit is something that the School of Music, Theatre and Dance and the university as a whole is eager to be part of. We look forward to the collaboration between the two schools and the opportunities that await our students, faculty, and community members.”

Starting this semester, current DIME students are able to transfer to Oakland University to continue their program.

“We have been working hard over the summer with our colleagues at Oakland University to ensure students have a smooth transition into OU,” said Sarah Clayman, founder and managing director of DIME. “Due to Covid-19, many classes will be delivered online, with one-to-one sessions where possible. We are committed to giving students the best educational experience possible during these times, and recognize that home-study may be a challenge for some.

“We are giving all OU@DIME students access to both OU and DIME’s virtual learning environments, where students can study on their own time” Clayman added. “We are focused on continuing to provide students with real-life experiences via masterclasses and online lectures.”

Many existing DIME faculty members will continue to teach these programs as they know the curriculum well and have established strong relationships with the DIME students. DIME is looking forward to meeting OU faculty members and bringing DIME students to the OU campus for shared classes and experiences. OU students and faculty will also have access to the Underground, DIME’s live music venue in Downtown Detroit.

“DIME’s partnership with Oakland University is a huge win for young people of Detroit,” said Rick Sperling, CEO of Sperling Arts Strategies. “As the founder of Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, I witnessed the impact DIME had on talented Mosaic alums, giving them a place to continue to grow their musical talents and business smarts in college without leaving Detroit. As an arts education consultant, I have seen the excitement and passion DIME has created for Detroit high school students.”

New students can enroll at Oakland University to take general education and music core classes in Fall 2020. They will also be invited to participate in online masterclasses and any safe, in-person events. Students will be able to start DIME classes in Spring/ Fall 2021.

“Inspiration advanced through education is such a powerful combination,” said Lisa Applebaum of Applebaum Family Philanthropy. “DIME, now in partnership with such a vital institution for our community, Oakland University, take this an important step further by maximizing and transforming the next generation into pioneering leaders.

“Applebaum Family Philanthropy is so proud to help strengthen DIME and its critical relationship with Oakland University,” Applebaum added. “The future of professionally educated music entrepreneurs is very bright thanks to DIME and Oakland University coming together. I look forward to the many new leaders who will now be cultivated as a result of this partnership.”

DIME DENVER Moves ONLINE

JULY 9, 2020
POWERED BY DETROIT INSTITUTE OF MUSIC EDUCATORS
BY MICHAEL ELLIS

To read the full article and see all the photographs, please visit: urbanlifewashpark.com

After two beautiful years here in Denver, DIME has decided to move online indefinitely. They cannot say at this time whether or not they will have a future home here in Denver. But as many students head into the unknown of the fall school year, more and more are opting for an online education, and DIME is ready for them.

We had the opportunity to interview Sarah Clayman, Co-Founder of DIME. No stranger to the music scene, Sarah grew up watching her father work as a concert promoter for talents like The Moody Blues, Neil Diamond and The Carpenters. She and Co-Founder, Kevin Nixon, are both equally passionate about DIME and they’re confidant in the school’s ability to put rigorous music education online.

DIME seeks to inspire a generation of creative artists and entrepreneurs by supporting students interested in developing a career in the music industry. Can you tell us a bit about the programs you provide and are they accredited?

So Kev and I are music industry entrepreneurs. We both started our careers in different cities in the UK, in different areas of the music industry. He is a talented musician, songwriter and producer, who over the years also became a Brit award-winning artist manager and record company executive. I started in live music, tour managing and working as production assistant on some big European Tours. We met in 1995 while I was International Promotions Manager at Sony Music Entertainment (UK) and he was artist-manager to a band called Kula Shaker. We instantly hit it off, as we had the same ethos and ethic – ‘work hard, play hard – treat people how you want to be treated – and always try your best.’

We recognized there was no training for young people in commercial music. Sure, you could go to college and learn how to play traditional instruments in jazz or classical styles, to a very high standard – but what about the next generation of Keith Moons, Kurt Cobains or Joni Mitchells? Let alone the next Jon Landau’s, Estelle Axton’s or Big John Platt’s (from Denver). Previously, it was more about who you know, rather than what you know, so we set out to change that.

Ten years of founding and developing Europe’s largest music college group, BIMM, we decide to come to the US, as we had visited, the Clive Davies School of Music, Yale, Berklee and NYU and saw a gap in the market for affordable commercial music education and created a program that is inclusive to all.

Our programs are focused around teaching skills that will help graduates get jobs in the modern music industry, we strongly believe that education equals employability, so have designed our programs and classes carefully so graduates earn a living from music.

Students can study Songwriting, Music Entrepreneurship, and Performance in guitar, bass, drums or vocals, and music production. Examples of classes include: Music Industry Skills, Income Streams, Lyric writing, Technical Development, and Self-care for Creative professionals. These are just a few. All programs and classes are accredited. More information can be found at dime-detroit.com or dime-online.org

DIME was featured in Billboard’s Top Music Business Schools 2020! This is a weighty achievement. Can you give us insight into the community of musicians and music professionals who teach the courses?

Thank you, yes, we were featured in Billboard’s Top Music Business Schools in 2019 and 2020 – two years in a row! And after only 5 years in the USA. All other schools listed have been around for decades! We are proud of the team, faculty and students who have worked hard to get DIME this accolade, and it’s really about being truly connected to the music industry and inspiring and educating students through real-world experiences.

A big part of our ethos is to continue to hire faculty who are out there, working in the modern, commercial music industry – today, right now, even during Covid-19. Our previous academic partners music department did not agree with this, and tried to make it hard for professional musicians, songwriters and entrepreneurs who didn’t continue their academic studies after high school. Yet, we recognized and respect it was because they were touring the world, having hit records, and selling those hit records to large audiences. Students learn as much (if not more) from those teachers as they do from a faculty member who is on tenure, with a PhD, sitting behind a desk – reading about the music industry. It’s about balance, and one does not outweigh the other, but the former is so much more practical, interesting and relative.

Faculty members who have taught at DIME included Eric ‘Rain Man’ Gaston – drummer for Salt ‘n Pepa, Eric Roberson, Charlie Wilson, Kern Brentley, bass player and musical director for Lady Gaga, and worked with Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Ne-Yo, Brandy and Destiny’s Child, Neyla Pekarek – ex-member The Lumineers’, and Doe Phillips, tour manager to Blondie, Oasis, Noel Gallagher, Corinne Bailey-Rae and Jake Bugg.

We are bringing masterclass guests into the student’s space, whether it’s in person or online. Learning directly from people who are working in music and networking with those individuals is key to career development. People who have given their time to DIME students include Ben Lovett from Mumford and Sons, BJ The Chicago Kid, Allen Stone, Tom Odell, Denver songwriters – Jill Sobule and Eddie Spaghetti, George Clinton, Michael Bolton, Alessia Cara, Rafe Offer, founder of Sofar Sounds, …. And so many more.

When seeking to attend higher education, there is always an admissions and application process. Does DIME require auditions?

Yes, we did for our previous partner, as we had to follow their processes. Any program needs an audition process – to set students up to succeed not fail, but some of the audition processes are still steeped in the classical approach to music, such as: playing complicated scales and runs – I mean, would Nicki Minaj, Drake or Beyonce ask you to play a F# Minor scale in an audition! Of course not, I think it’s much more important to talk and understand someone’s career and playing goals, work ethic and attitude, and learning those scales become part of their education.

None of our online programs require an audition, and allow students to study in their own time, it’s a much more grown-up approach to education. I mean, let’s think about it, young people can google answers to their questions in seconds, they can find out information about anything they want with one quick click . . . so teachers and educators need to understand the changing landscape for young people, especially in today’s world, and during this pandemic. Online education can work for many, and it’s time to respect students and their individuality instead of putting them all in the same box.

Do you know how many students we have who were put in a box with a label that said – ‘not right for higher education’, ‘will never go to college’, ‘you’ll never make it, ‘you need to consider a real job’ – and they have gone on to get their Bachelor’s Degree, continued to Master’s level, got great jobs in music and have made it! Graduates from our UK colleges include James Bay, Tom Odell, Two Door Cinema Club and George Ezra …. Who’s next?

Does DIME offer core classes like math or English, and if so, how do they look different?

Yes, in the US we do as its part of the Bachelor programs, and with many general education subjects, such as math, English and public speaking, we encourage faculty to make the classes as relevant to music, musicians and the music industry as possible. For example, in public speaking, students are asked to write Grammy’s acceptance speeches, or to present a band to a room of music industry professionals. In Detroit, the last 3 semesters, 100% of students passed the math class – that is an amazing statistic, and it is because the math teacher, understands the relationship between math and music, and can teach in a language students understand! Simple, yet brilliant.

Live performances in large venues have been brought to a screeching halt. Prior to the move online, DIME students received performance opportunities. How will the new rules prohibiting large groups, change the shape of the music industry?

I have this conversation weekly with my father who is head of Live Nation in Europe, and various promoters and friends in the music industry. Doe Phillips, a very good and long-time friend of Kev and I, lives in Boulder, and is enjoying time at home with her pup Pearl, but is concerned about the Live music industry as she is a tour manager who works with many artists including Blondie, Noel Gallagher, Jake Bugg, Oasis and many more. She also taught at DIME Denver. We are equally concerned with friends who are self-employed and whose income has stopped completely. But, as the famous quotes says, ‘the show must go on’ – music and art can’t stop, it will not stop, but it’s inevitable that it has to be re-imagined.

Artists, big and small, have already taken to social media, during the pandemic, to perform at home, stripped down versions of heavily produced songs, showing fans a different side to what they usually see. #Togetherathome, Live Nations Live at Home, or Tiny Desk (Home) Concert are just a few of the many streaming concert series. Artists know they need to stay connected to their fans, and do it differently from what they did before March 2020. Performances are more real and honest, and artists seem more comfortable revealing a different side of themselves.

It is going to be a long time before Red Rocks, the Pepsi Center, Mission Ballroom and the many other venues are full capacity with fans sitting hip-to-hip next to strangers, singing along and dancing together. But venues will book shows, to fewer live audience members, who may pay a premium ticket price, with other fans paying to stream the concert at home . . . technology will play an even bigger part in our future.

DIME is focused on live music, and that means learning to play your instruments well, and play with others. This is just as important online as it is in person. If you are a musician, you don’t just play because of the audience, you play because you have something to say, you are feeling something and music is one of the greatest forms of expression.

Music is found and collected through so many different channels today. The various streaming options offer consumers more than they could possibly handle, directly to their fingertips. Is this a good thing for someone seeking a career in music?

Yes, I think it is, just because we are being forced to think and act differently, it doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity around us. First, we will need more and more content, from music to visuals. TV shows will be filmed in smaller groups, but they will still need songs and background music. Films will still need soundtracks and advertising, too. Songwriters, producers, artists and musicians are at a great advantage, as technology allows for all of us to collaborate from different parts of the world. We don’t need to be in a studio together anymore, technology has allowed us for many years to share large files over the internet. So in some ways, the music industry is ahead of the game.

With Live Music, we are forced to stay closer to home, to find the bands and artist in our home towns that we like, and not just wait for Taylor Swift or the Foo Fighters to come through town. When smaller venues open, they may attract a different audience than they did in 2019. It may get us out more, but in smaller numbers.

With the move online, does this open the door for musicians and educators around the country to participate in the programming at DIME?

DIME ONLINE has been delivering courses entirely online for 7 years now, so we know how online learning can work at its best. We have students studying in 27 countries around the world. Many collaborate with each other from the US to Africa, from Singapore to Sweden. This mix of cultures also influences new and interesting sounds in music and songwriting. Students have been listening to music individually for years now, even if they are sitting in groups they are all listening to their own music, wearing headphones, heads down, texting and watching SnapChat and TikTok videos.

What is your advice for an incoming student, eager to start a career in the music industry?

Just do it, there is no better time to do what you want, however you want. All the rules have been thrown out and in 2020 the only thing we can do is live the lives we want to. Music, DIME, and the music industry is a community, a diverse community of people that all have one thing in common – the love of music. Many students, when coming to DIME, say such things as ‘I have finally found my people’, ‘I felt like a freak before I came to DIME, and now I am where I was meant to be’, ‘No one believed in me until now’ – it’s about nurturing that feeling of belonging, that common language musicians, songwriters and music entrepreneurs have.

This program is for parents out there who have creative children, for young adults, for mothers and fathers, who never have the chance to follow their dreams, whose lives have been busy running around doing things that seem so unimportant now. We can all, without guilt, choose to do things differently, and that is liberating, so, if you want to learn how to write better songs, if you want to play guitar or drums, there are options out there for you, and DIME ONLINE is just one of them. www.dime-online.org.

As music lovers ourselves, we are grateful to have people out there in the world like you, Sarah. Your dedication to providing strong musical foundations for your students, offering them an opportunity for sustainable futures in the music industry, is inspiring.

Photos by: JUDE at judemediaagency.com

DIME featured in Billboard’s Top Music Business Schools 2020!

We are proud to announce that DIME has been featured in Billboard's Top Music Business Schools 2020, for the second year running! 

We share this honor with all of our students, faculty, and staff that work hard to create and promote incredible music and events every day! We are not able to celebrate in person, but please know that we share a virtual high five with all of the educators, musicians, songwriters, entrepreneurs, masterclass guests, Underground performers, and everyone that makes DIME Detroit the amazing place that it is. We can't wait to see you all again soon!

Click the image below to read the full story from Billboard:

Looking to study music business online?

DIME ONLINE has just launched a new program in partnership with RSL Awards to offer Extended Diplomas in Creative Industries at Level 4 and Level 5, which is equal to the first 2 years of a BA degree.  This program offers students the opportunity to develop their music industry skills while studying from anywhere in the world. Check out the video below to learn more about this program!

Coronavirus Updates

Dear DIME Detroit Community,

We are writing to update you all on new teaching and learning policies that DIME is implementing in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) to slow the spread for the virus and protect our students, faculty, staff, and their families.

Remote teaching and learning
Effective immediately, all campus-based activities at the DIME Detroit location are suspended. Classes will be held online, potentially for the remainder of the spring semester.  Faculty will be determining how best to use technology to enable students to complete their coursework.

Staff and administrative operations
DIME staff are now initiating a work-from-home directive. They will all still be available through their DIME email addresses. Our phone, 313-223-1600, will be answered Monday-Friday from 10am-6pm as usual. Outside of these hours, please email us at info@dime-detroit.com

Large events and meetings
All events and meetings at DIME Detroit’s campus are suspended effective immediately.

We recognize that this may be a complicated transition for some, but we feel that the risk of not acting outweighs the inconvenience. Your safety is our top priority and we remain committed to supporting all community members with the resources they need to provide and receive an excellent education.

Thank you,
DIME Detroit

Student Spotlight: Riley Kirkpatrick (Bass)

DIME Detroit's annual guitar and bass show, DON'T TURN DOWN, returns to The Underground @ DIME on Wednesday, February 26th at 7pm! To get us ready for this special occasion, we caught up with one of our 2nd year bass students, Riley Kirkpatrick, to tell us a bit more about his background, what it's like studying at DIME, and what musical projects he's working on now. Learn more about Riley in the interview below, and don't miss his performance at DON'T TURN DOWN!

Riley Performing with Viper and the Vertebrae - Photo by Dan Plucinski

What is your background and music education?  What brought you to DIME?
Prior to attending DIME I've had no formal music education, I was primarily self-taught. I applied to DIME after visiting my sophomore year of high school and jamming with a few of the students attending at the time. The overall atmosphere and openness to many genres appealed to me, and I had made up my mind that this is where I wanted to be.

Who are some of your influences?
One of my main influences, as far as my bass playing goes, is Dan Maines from Clutch. Clutch is a band that is very groove oriented, and a solid groove is something that I strive for in my own playing. There are loads of other influences on the sound I would like to create in my music, some being Poppy, Ic3peak, and Code Orange, to name a few, due to their experimental tendencies and blending of genres.

How has DIME impacted your songwriting and style of playing?
DIME has opened up my vocabulary on the instrument tremendously. I've learned a ton of music theory that also helps me to understand what I'm playing, instead of just "oh, this sounds cool".  This has helped me to be more versatile in my bass playing.

What has been your experience performing as an independent artist?
At the moment, I'm playing bass with a band of fellow DIME students, as well as a non-DIME guitarist, under the name "Viper & The Vertebrae". I've been playing bass for bands since I was 16, starting in a folk-rock group, and through that group I have been able to play at all sorts of local Michigan festivals like Beaver Island Music Festival, Nor-East'r, and Hollerfest, as well as a ton of local breweries around Michigan.

 

Any gigs outside of DIME coming up or current projects?
Viper & The Vertebrae are in the process of recording some songs, with hopes of releasing music in the next few months. (Don't tell anyone I told you, it's a secret.) I'm also in the process of writing some deathcore/hardcore/metal songs with a few DIME students, with hopes to play out live soon.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?
After I graduate, I'd like to be regularly playing in a band, or multiple bands (who doesn't though?) Whether that means going on tour, or having gigs with multiple different groups throughout the week, I'll be playing bass somewhere.

What advice would you give someone considering DIME Detroit?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to be versatile, but to still be yourself. While it is important to be able to fit into multiple contexts, I feel it's even more important to find/keep your own style. As a bass player, most of my opportunities come from being able to play different genres, as well as bringing some of my own influence to the table. To sum it up in three words: just be yourself.

Check out our talented guitar and bass students and faculty at Don't Turn Down on Wednesday, February 26th at 7PM. Click the image below to learn more and RSVP on Facebook.

Our next semester begins on August 17th, 2020. Start your application for a bachelor's degree program in Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals, Songwriting or Music Industry Studies today!

If you’re interested in in finding out more about DIME Detroit, contact info@dime-detroit.com or check out the homepage: www.dime-detroit.com

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Detroit Public Community School District Announces Expanded Arts and Music Programs – Partners with DIME

Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) announced Tuesday, February 11th it has partnered with 24 arts organizations for an intentional investment of resources and expertise in the Detroit School of Arts (DSA) Pathways Initiative. The initiative is designed to position DSA as the premier arts school in Metro Detroit and to develop students’ talent in the years to follow. The press conference took place inside the Detroit School Arts Aaliyah Recital Hall. Metropolitan State University of Denver Campus Manager Drew Schultz and Year 3 Vocal Performance student Jamiliah Minter were present during the press conference.

It was super insightful to see the kinds of plans that are in motion for DSA, and other establishments in the city. I love the relationships being created and the furthermore excellence that will be created for youth  in Detroit. - Jamiliah Minter, DIME Student and DSA Alumna

DIME is a proud partner of Detroit School of Arts and we look forward to the growth and enhanced opportunities that this program will provide for young musicians in the city of Detroit!

“The Detroit School of Arts is a beautiful facility that is underutilized as an asset to the arts, students and the City,” said Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD. “We know that Detroit’s children represent historic arts talent and that DPS has developed some of the world’s best artists. As we continue to rebuild the school system, we are committed to the whole child, this is a critical piece to the process. The concentration of focus by the District and partners will make DSA the destination for Detroit’s talent.”

In Fall 2019, the District embarked upon Phase I of the DSA Pathways Initiative with 24 partners committed to providing programming in multiple art forms either in-kind or at no-cost during the first full year of rebuilding (through June 2020). Four schools are designated as Middle School Arts Conservatories, or feeder schools, to DSA – Brenda Scott Academy for Theatre Arts, Duke Ellington Conservatory of Music & Art, John R. King Academic and Performing Arts Academy and Spain Elementary-Middle School. The Middle School Arts Conservatories will work with the 24 partnered institutions, as well as with students and faculty from DSA. In addition, DSA Pathways partners are collaborating with national organizations such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Educational Theatre Association, and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy to bring the best of arts to DSA and its middle school programs. The Middle School Arts Conservatories will offer five core art forms – dance, theatre, visual arts, instrumental music and vocal music.

For more information about DSA Pathways and the application process.