Building a strong foundation
Updated: Jul 31
Last summer, we met Daniel Kelly II, the founder of M.E. Opus, a music and entertainment venture in the Northern Valley. M.E. Opus is the parent company for Daniel’s creative ideas like Flat 9, Winchester’s only jazz club, and his book “The Inner Musician” (read more about M.E. Opus here). At the time that we met, Daniel had big ideas for creating a space where musicians could practice and rehearse. He told us, “There are 75 bands in our area and the closest rehearsal spaces are in D.C. or Richmond. A lot of people need a space to practice music, teach lessons, and prepare for concerts or tours.” He recognized a huge need in his community and began brainstorming a solution. Now, just shy of a year later, Drum Orpheum, is open for business!
Drum Orepheum is a rehearsal hall where musicians can “be bold and be distinctive.” Since opening, Daniel has been holding practices for his drum students in his new space and is excited to expand and offer it to more musicians as they return to campus this fall, at the nearby Shenandoah University. The rehearsal hall, which consists of two medium-sized practice rooms and a larger grand hall, can be rented for musicians to practice, teach lessons, record, and prepare for concerts. But the space isn’t just for those with musical gifts, “I want it to be really community driven. Our lobby is called the ‘Art House,’ which features art that’s for sale by different local artists. We’re also working on a mural, made by the community, on the outside of the building.”
This isn’t Daniel’s first business venture, but it was still a learning experience for him, “This was my first big project that was all my own. I was responsible for renting the building, finding contractors, and staying on top of them to make sure things got done. Something I wish I had done differently is asking more questions, especially around logistics.” One of his greatest lessons learned from this project was patience, “I struggled with deadlines, and wanting everything done right away. But, if you rush a business into completion it will eventually fall. Time and dedication will build a foundation that’s stronger than ever.”
Now that the rehearsal hall is open, Daniel is focusing on getting the word out about the space, “I’m still learning how to promote it better. It takes ten times more marketing than you think. Yes, people know me, but they don’t fully understand what the space is.” His marketing concerns are a common theme for many entrepreneurs. It can be incredibly overwhelming to figure out where to start, what platforms to use, and where to spend your money. And, it doesn’t help that there’s no one correct way to do it! Thankfully, there are resources in the Valley to help. If you have the budget for it, numerous talented marketers in our region are passionate about helping small businesses and entrepreneurs. Or, thanks to organizations like the Virginia Small Business Development Center or the Small Business Administration, some free classes and webinars can help you build the skills to execute a marketing strategy yourself. We recommend checking out these available resources on Valley Business Compass, the map of the Shenandoah Valley entrepreneur ecosystem!
We’ve known Daniel for long enough now to know that even with three business ventures under his belt, there are still more ideas in his head. He laughed when we asked, “What’s next,” and said, “Oh I definitely have more ideas.” We don’t want to give too many of his secrets away, but a music festival or artist coalition might be on the horizon…
Whatever comes next, you should keep an eye out for Daniel. Follow the Flat 9 Jazz Club on Instagram or Facebook to stay up to date, and if you’re a musician or entertainer looking for rehearsal space, you can book time now at www.drumorpheum.com.