In the first part of our interview with Notes for Notes® (N4N), CEO and Co-Founder Phillip Gilley articulated the story of founding N4N and the impact the non-profit has had since its inception in 2007. N4N is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young people through music. The organization designs, equips, and staffs after-school recording studios, giving youth access to a variety of instruments and audio recording equipment they may not have otherwise. As a proud sponsor of N4N, we sat down with Phillip Gilley to talk more about the non-profit’s plans for expansion and its partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs.
N4N is quickly expanding throughout the country. How many studios do you currently have and what are your plans for expansion?
The first studio opened in a City Teen Center in 2007, then moved into a Boys & Girls Club in 2008, then setting up the opportunity to national growth. By 2011, we had two studios and set our sights on growing to Nashville where we would launch two more studios within the next year. By 2014, we had six studios across two states. Within the next four years, we would open almost 20 studios across 12 states. This year we will open a new Studio in Las Vegas powered by State Farm and Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco. We continue to pilot a mobile studio model at a few festivals, but are looking to custom build our own studio in a Tiny Home that will allow us to take our program to schools and other Boys & Girls Clubs that we’ve yet to reach. We are also exploring how we maximize all our studios by expanding hours and partnering with local schools to fill the void where they may not have any music for students or enhancing what they may have by adding the recording component.
What sparked an interest for N4N’s collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs?
When we moved from a city Teen Center into the first Boys & Girls Club back in 2008, we realized a synergy that was scalable. The Clubs have the space, community reputation, and youth. N4N has the cool “Studio” factor, musical expertise, and a program that is particularly attractive to teens. A lot of Clubs struggle with recruiting and retaining teens especially when they don’t have a dedicated space for them since teens don’t want to hang out with the younger youth. Enter N4N: a fully equipped, staffed, FREE recording studio environment open to all youth who want to explore, create, and record music.
How many students are typically part of the N4N program at each location and what does a typical recording session consist of?
In 2018, N4N served over 6,400 unique youth across all our studios with a per studio average of 276. A typical day at N4N consists of blocks of time for youth to learn independently and in groups across a variety of workshops ranging from instrumental to production and podcasting. Blocks of studio time, typically towards the end of the day, are open to all youth to book with an N4N producer who is there to guide, encourage, and push youth to be the best musically but also personally where music is a conduit to developing their identity.
As the CEO/Co-Founder, what is the most rewarding aspect of N4N for you?
I started out running our first studio where I was producer, engineer, teacher, mentor, janitor, contractor and more. I cherish my days in the studio where I had profound moments working with youth who grew through the experience of creating and recording music. While I still get to pop in our studios, I’m no longer in them every day, so I derive an incredible amount of enjoyment from hearing the music and stories behind them that youth create. Our 2018 Album featuring a track from every studio is our best yet and truly showcases the heights youth are reaching for with their music and how the studios are helping them get there. There are now thousands of youth benefitting from these studios because the need is great. Plus, within the past few months two of our members have signed development deals with major labels. I feel incredibly lucky I get to help make this possible every day alongside an amazing team that is passionate about music as a tool to change young people’s lives.
Do you have any other plans for the coming year that fans should know about?
In addition to opening Las Vegas and expanding relationships with local schools, we continue to innovate our mobile concept and develop bigger outlets for our youth’s music. However, none of our growth nor our sustainability of these studios would be possible without the generosity of our sponsors, foundations and patrons who believe in our mission to change lives through music. We ask anyone who resonates with our mission to consider supporting with a donation of time or money to help N4N serve even more youth. There are volunteer opportunities in every studio ranging from guitar teachers to producers to podcast coaches and remote mixing support. Your donation can help our studios sustain and give a young person the experience to explore themselves through music. More info is available at notesfornotes.org/donate.