V.I.A.’s Home Grown features only the most awesome companies in Vancouver. From tiny, single-person operations to the big players, we profile our favourite businesses and interview their owners and operators.
For over 40 years, Tom Lee Music has helped musicians of Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island to make sweeter music. More than just a musical instrument and equipment specialty superstore, Tom Lee Music offers instruction and a level of service in a creative, dynamic environment that is unique to Western Canada. Further still is Tom Lee Music’s dedication to its community, offering continued support to a wide range of local arts and cultural events (including the TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ballet BC, Vancouver Opera, Music Fest) to sponsoring organizations like the Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach Foundation and the BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities as well as the School Alliance of Student Songwriters (SASS).
I sat down with Richard Duggan, Managing Director of the Next Level Learning Centre, to talk about the school.
Is there actually a Tom Lee?
Yes, there is. And no, he does not play drums in Mötley Crüe.
Tom Lee Music first opened in Vancouver in 1969. What is the secret to this company’s longevity?
Music is an international language, and Vancouver is one of the most multicultural cities in Canada. We always listen to all of our customers and make a real effort to satisfy their needs.
Tom Lee Music already offers traditional instruction through their existing Learning Centre. How is the Next Level Learning Centre different?
The education we provide at Next Level is different than anything we’ve done before. Music lessons, the way most people think of it, is learning to play guitar or drums or piano. Historically, music industry schools were limited as to what they could teach or would teach, and were otherwise few and far in between. What we’re offering at Next Level are all the essentials skills a musician needs to set themselves up for success in today’s music market, which as you know is constantly changing.
How did Next Level get started?
It initially started as a simple idea among myself, Tom Lee Music’s Business Development Manager Richard Howland and Don McLeod, who is a producer / songwriter and the founder of SASS (www.sass-bc.com). The concept was to expand upon our existing educational facility by offering songwriting and software recording classes.
However, as we were doing the groundwork and market research, we discovered that there is a massive gap in affordable music industry based educational facilities in this city – one can either take musical instrument lessons or spend $10,000+ to learn how to be a recording engineer.
So upon discovering this void we decided to expand our vision of the school to encompass a much larger segment of the music industry. Now, we will be offering everything from songwriting and software recording classes, to performance coaching, business and marketing, promotion, all the way to DJ lessons, and much more, all at an affordable price.
Self-marketing and promotion, this “new” philosophy… are there examples of this?
The reality is that the music industry has changed – established artists that have been tied into music contracts for years are telling people, “whatever you do, do not get into the industry we got into!” It worked for them, but it is a totally different industry today, and aspiring musicians need to learn how to work and grow within it.
In the end, there are many variables and measures to gauge success. But you still need to know what the resources out there are and how to access them, and that’s where we come in.
Tell me about the music market in Vancouver, from a musician’s perspective.
Vancouver’s music scene, like many other cities in Canada, can be …READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY>>>