With its latest string of concerts, a downtown recording studio is adding a new note to the concept of business networking.
Carlos Chafin of In Your Ear studio has started a new monthly series called Shockoe Sessions, which aims to blend business networking with live music performances.
The series kicked off this month with a gathering of about 40 people at In Your Ear’s Shockoe Bottom facilities, an 18,000-square-foot space at 1813 E. Broad St. that also houses Dreams Factory Films, Flatland Animation Studio, Artesian Entertainment, Rex Teese Editorial and brand agency Initiate-IT.
The collective played host to local folk duo The Tide Rose, whose members – Whitney Cavin and Keilan Creech – have day jobs in the marketing field.
Chafin, who founded In Your Ear in 1990 with the late songwriter Robbin Thompson, said he was inspired to start the series after attending a recent networking event for small businesses in and around the Bottom. The studio has hosted and recorded more than 100 concerts put on by nonprofit JAMinc, and Chafin said he wanted to combine the two, with a goal of connecting businesses through music.
“We have tons of small businesses around Richmond that don’t really know each other and don’t have any idea what each other do,” he said. “I thought: why don’t we come up with an idea that mixes these two things? Let’s get people together that would normally not cross paths business-wise, introduce them to each other, and instead of just calling an event after work one day, let’s make it a little bit more special by sprinkling a concert in the middle of it.”
Where the JAMinc concerts are typically longer with larger crowds, Chafin is tailoring Shockoe Sessions to a more intimate group of about 50 to 60 attendees per show, and tailoring the guest list to small businesses – those below about 75 employees – in related fields.
A different sponsor would present each show and be given an opportunity to discuss their business before introducing the artist, and each event would be limited to about two hours – an hour for networking, and an hour for the show.
While the series is by invitation only, Chafin said he is open to entertaining requests to attend or sponsor. As the host for the series, In Your Ear served as the sponsor for the first concert, which was held March 11.
“I want to be able to make the guest list private and specific to the music or whoever the sponsor is,” he said. “We would be inviting people that we think would be interested in who else was there and also would be complementary to whoever the sponsored guest would be.
“In other words, we wouldn’t invite all their competitors,” he said.
In addition to primary sponsors, Hardywood Craft Park Brewery has signed on to provide beverages, and Chafin said he is in talks with Charlottesville-based public radio station WNRN to potentially broadcast the concerts on-air.
Cavin, a graduate of the Brandcenter, formed The Tide Rose with Creech, a fellow VCU grad, last year. Cavin runs consulting company Sound Wave Strategy, and was previously with local market research firm Feedback, which hosted its own in-house music event last year. Creech is a media and design manager for Good Neighbor Community Services.
Chafin said response to the concept has been strong, and he’s scheduled dates for the series through the rest of the year. Concerts will be held the second Thursday or Friday of each month, with the Thursday shows starting soon after 5, the Friday concerts later in the evening.