Former Incline teacher helps music company evolve |

Former Incline teacher helps music company evolve

JamPro Music Factory founder Chris Sewell at the facilities concert stage. Sewell is refining the JamPro concept in Reno before expanding to other cities.
Rob Sabo / |

In the short time JamPro Music Factory has been open — owner Chris Sewell brought the facility at 9300 Prototype Drive online August 19 — initial response from the music community has been more than Sewell expected.

Which is good, because Sewell plans using the Reno JamPro Music Factory as a model to hone and refine before branching the concept out to 20 or 30 target cities across the country.

JamPro has three lines of business: education, recording and retail, and it draws a percentage of its revenue from those three areas in that same order.

Music education is JamPro’s primary focus, starting with early childhood education programs for children ages 3 months to five years followed by private, semester-based programs that follow the Washoe County School District schedule.

The programs include recording sessions and an end-of-semester professional studio recording session and concert on the JamPro stage. Students also are immersed in the latest recording technology.

Terry Pitman, JamPro’s director of education and a former teacher in the music department at Incline High School, has brought aboard 11 instructors who work as JamPro employees rather than rent space at the facility.

Sewell expects to have between 20 and 30 on staff as business grows. JamPro also plans to capitalize on the new balanced schedule for the WCSD and run weeklong rock, jazz and choir camps during school breaks.

In addition to musical instruction, Sewell says JamPro will roll out up to 20 instructional classes, such as music theory and other areas of music education in coming months.

“Some of our instructors have master’s degrees in music theory,” Sewell says. “We have an amazing amount of talent here, and we plan to utilize all that talent to help develop our programs here.”

For its second line of business, Sewell built two commercial-grade recording studios. One will be used primarily to record students and to host recording and production classes; the other will be used to record professional musicians. The control room has full tracking, mixing and mastering capabilities.

“We can actually master work that is sent in from all over the world here,” Sewell says. “We will probably use this as our flagship recording studio, and as we develop and produce talent across the country, we will probably bring them here to produce them.”

Lastly, there is the small retail outlet when customers enter the facility that includes lesson materials, instruments and equipment and music accessories.

Sewell’s plans for expanding the concept don’t include franchising — the business is too large and complex for that, he says.

Instead, he envisions many corporate-owned stores in target cities opened and operated by key employees. Reno is fertile proving ground for the concept, he says, because lease rates on commercial space are low, labor is relatively inexpensive, and there are few competitors.

“Reno struggles on the resources side,” he says. “The way we make this successful is developing programs that work in cities like Reno at a price point that works.

“We’ll make sure that this can work as a standalone entity before we duplicate it in other cities.”

Timeline for expansion is limited by how quickly JamPro staff can roll out and refine new concepts — they’ve actually slowed down a bit in the initial stages of the business as a means to control quality, Sewell says.

Sewell has gained a lot of traction from word of mouth and some direct email campaigns, but he plans on developing an ad campaign in coming weeks. An initial radio advertising campaign brought in a flock of new business.

The concept is self-funded; Sewell was a derivatives-securities trader on Wall Street for years before moving West to become a partner in a hedge fund in Incline Village. It was there he found a love for music and instruction after getting all three of his children involved with music.

JamPro currently employs 14, with many employees performing dual roles: Piano teacher Kayla Johnston is the company bookkeeper; guitar teacher Benjamin Riley is the company handyman; and Josh Whelchel is the company’s IT guru.

Sewell says to truly “get” the JamPro concept people need to visit the facility.

“We have a very high conversion rate when people come in. They recognize the value of the facility and quality of our programs. It is just not music lessons. There are so many resources here.”

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