As the first of its kind, REC (Resources for Every Creator) Philly, serves as both a creative agency and a creative incubator with a mission to connect, empower and educate the creative community. Co-founders, Dave Silver and Will Toms, thought of the idea after they both finished college. The two had initially worked together through their first company — Broad Street Music Group — by booking shows and creating content for many up-and-coming artists around the city. From their involvement in the creative community, they soon realized it was challenging for artists to find the local resources and opportunities needed to grow their music careers.
FROM IDEA TO CREATION
“I knew it was possible for us to be independent creators, but I realized quickly that the information, and the experts who had it, weren’t as accessible as I thought that they could be,” said Will. “I started to wonder about how to create that environment for myself.” Will began thinking of a solution so local artists won’t feel the need to venture to other cities to be successful in their creative sectors. “We just wanted to help creatives navigate their entrepreneurial journey in a simpler, affordable way,” he said. In an attempt to provide their friends with a local space to create and grow their artistry, REC Philly was born in 2014. The duo opened the first REC Room in a 600-SF space in a warehouse near 9th and Dauphin Streets in 2015.
The REC Room later grew to a 1,500 SF seven-room space complete with a recording studio, bar, lounge, co-working space, and visual lab. It soon became the go-to-spot for creatives in every genre — most spending long hours at the location on a regular basis while creating with friends and fellow artists. As the organization grew, Dave and Will decided a bigger space would better serve their needs, so they sought the help of PIDC about a year ago.
PIDC supported me as a founder in building my credit and connecting me to resources and financial coaches. -Will Toms, Co-founder, REC Philly
With financing from PIDC, REC Philly was able to expand to a 10,000 SF creative space located in Center City at 9th and Market inside of another PIDC client business — Fashion District Philadelphia. The new flagship REC Room location serves hundreds of creatives by conveniently providing the tools they need, all in one place. The company celebrated a grand opening on December 14, 2019.
Will shared that PIDC helped him in more ways than one as the entrepreneurial journey can get “lonely and weary” without all of the needed resources to get to where his company has grown. “PIDC supported me as a founder in building my credit and connecting me to resources and financial coaches,” he said. “I can’t speak highly enough of what PIDC’s support means to us. As a young, black entrepreneur, to be able to have such an innovative idea that I know is incredible for the folks that we serve is one thing, but to be able to have folks come to the table, understand the vision, and want to take a risk to support the project, that just means a ton.”
THE ULTIMATE PLACE FOR CREATIVES
As Will puts it, REC Philly is very much like “a gym membership for creatives” with yearly and monthly fee-based membership options that provide musicians songwriters, designers, podcasters, photographers, models, dancers, digital strategists, and more with access to resources and ample space for their craft. Members have access to four recording studios, a WXPN podcast studio, a design studio, photo/video studio and editing suite, coworking space, and two rehearsal spaces, a dance studio, and meditation rooms. There’s also a Live Nation venue which can hold up to 250 people for special events. Plus, the company hosts special events for its members and provides an educational curriculum to help members grow as creative entrepreneurs.
In addition, mall shoppers can shop at REC Philly’s retail store featuring art, clothing, and merchandise created by members and local designers. While the front of REC Philly is a publicly open retail space that is only in operation during mall hours, members have the benefit of after-hours access through a private 9th Street entrance for those who need to put in extra time to work on their craft.
“Being in the Fashion District is so much more convenient for us. Accessibility is discoverability,” said Will. “Every major transportation line comes through here, or is close by. In the mall, folks are also walking by, looking up, and seeing the interesting experience we created with the retail space. Then, we bring them into our world, offer a cup of coffee, and help them understand what is that we’re about. We also offer tours of our space.”
A BOOST TO PHILADELPHIA’S CREATIVE ECONOMY
REC Philly is boosting Philadelphia’s creative economy by reinvesting in the creative community in various ways. Since moving to their new location, the company has expanded its staff from six employees to 17 total full time and part time employees. Over the years, the company has worked with partners such as Live Nation, WXPN, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Red Bull, and PIDC client affiliate, Expressway Cinema Rentals, just to name a few. REC Philly has also been featured in Forbes, Philadelphia Magazine, Philly Voice, and other media outlets for shaping opportunities for the creative community in Philadelphia.
With the celebration of the opening of a new space, a multitude of recognition in the press, and a vast increase in membership from around 450 to more than 800, REC Philly has had a head start for growth in the new decade. However, it is successfully cultivating a sense of community and space where creatives can truly thrive that further drives its mission. REC Philly has been able to help independent creatives monetize their art by teaching them how to build, scale, and sustain their business through networking opportunities, educational programs, and opportunities to work with REC Philly’s partners .“Over the last few years, we’ve been able to pay out over $1.5M directly into the hands of creative entrepreneurs in the city, so that’s really what I get the most excited about,” said Will.
As for new plans on the horizon, in addition to recently growing their membership programs by offering corporate memberships, Dave and Will would also like to expand the company to different states as they plan to embark on a mission to work with other artists to change the world.