Hidden away in a corner of North Capitol Street near Howard University is 7DrumCity. It is one of many local businesses that were tremendously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miles Ryan, founder of 7DrumCity, sought to provide an inclusive platform and outlet for musicians, and aspiring musicians alike, to collaborate and partake in the joys of creating music.
Named after the city of Washington, D.C., 7DrumCity or 7DC, offers band practice rental spaces, a venue for band performances known as The Pocket, as well as music lessons in drums, piano, vocals, guitar and more local residents. The business currently has 276 students and 36 active employees.
Originally known as 7DrumLessons, 7DrumCity features a modern vibe with its bright yellow exterior and vibrant colors adorning every practice room. The Pocket also displays a cheerful and lively mood with its array of lights and neat interior.
Kennedi White, a freshman mechanical engineering major, told the Hilltop, “I like the youthful energy of the place and like how the instructors don’t push only one way to practice and enjoy music. I look forward to the opportunity to freely practice loudly and without any judgment,”
“We provide an ecosystem for musicians, from somebody who wants to learn how to play all the way to someone who wants to get paid to play,” Ryan said in an interview with The Hilltop. “Having every resource in one place glues people together and brings a sense of community for everyone.”
Ryan was an environmental science and Italian double major in college, but his love for music stems from his family, who not only encouraged Ryan, but provided him with the resources to learn the piano and drums while young. Following college, he worked at an environmental firm, but left to start a house painting business. From there, he realized that he immensely enjoyed teaching and working with his hands, and combined the two hobbies to begin teaching drum lessons.
Like many small and local businesses that were adversely affected by the pandemic, 7DrumCity suffered financial bumps along the way.
“When the pandemic first started, it was a shell shock memoment for us,” Ryan said. “Our place is open seven days a week and the place was completely empty. Walking around there in silence without the music and drums playing was eerie.”
Due to social distancing and other COVID-19 preventative measures, many local bands canceled shows and other performances at 7DrumCity. As a result, the business suffered several financial losses from the loss of revenue. Additionally, The Pocket was temporarily closed down due to the lack of bands and performances.
On the other hand, the business was able to adapt and pivot music lessons to an online setting via Zoom. This approach helped the business continue providing lessons and generate revenue. For that reason, 7DrumCity was able to retain about 70 percent of its students and continue to help them practice its motto of “learn, rehearse, perform.”
During this time, Ryan was able to provide mentorship and guidance, not only to students but to teachers by emailing them instructional guidelines and materials to help streamline the process of moving lessons to an online platform.
Despite the income produced from lessons, 7DrumCity had to find alternative ways to support the business financially during the pandemic. Due to the decrease in students and band performances at the Pocket, the business accrued some debt to keep it running.
He was able to secure funding in the form of a low-interest loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) which allowed the business to retain its employees, as well as refinance some of the debt the business had accrued.
Through some additional microgrants and other funding sources supported by the federal government, Ryan was able to help the business financially rebound by February 2021. The Pocket was also revived and welcomed musicians and bands to perform after almost a year of quarantine.
Following the pandemic, 7DrumCity expects to continue its online lessons and live streams to reach a larger musically inclined audience.
Copy edited by Lauryn Wilson