Grove Studios: Fostering Creatives in a Socially Distant Era

In 2018, Jeff Milo reported on Grove Studios, Ypsilanti’s rehearsal and work space for musicians and independent creatives. The brainchild of three music-oriented partners (Rick Coughlin, Breck Crandell, and Erich Friebel), Grove is the “only hourly self-serve production/rehearsal studio in Michigan (and perhaps the Midwest).” 

In the midst of the pandemic, unless you’re Jeff Bezos or a PPE manufacturer, business owners need to be nimble and provide a COVID-19-proof service in order to simply survive, let alone thrive. While Grove re-opened for business in early June, they’ve found an uptick in interest as of late through savvy social media marketing and the livestreaming boom. We spoke with Erich (via what else, Zoom), Grove’s Director of Community Engagement, to get the scoop.

Current Magazine (CM): It’s been almost three years since Current last spoke with Grove, give us a brief run-down of your services and the layout of the space. 

Erich Friebel (EF): We’ve been at 884 Railroad in Ypsilanti (near VG Kids) since March 2018. We offer work space for music creatives and podcasters. Our layout is five studios, two of which are band rehearsal and live-room recording studios, a production studio for music creatives (hip-hop producers, singer-songwriters, EDM artists, etc.), a DJ studio, and our new podcast studio. There’s also an outdoor courtyard for performances and rehearsals. The main thing for all our studios is that they are 24-7 self-serve, unstaffed, and all of the equipment is pretty accessible even for beginners.

Grove Studios
Image courtesy of Kyla McGrath.

CM: Obviously you were shut down like everyone else as the pandemic descended, when did you re-open?

EF: We did a soft open the second week of June. It was a little murky because we weren’t sure if we could be open. We wanted to make sure we had all the CDC safety precautions in place. We have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in all of the studios and a team that cleans and disinfects in between sessions.

CM: Would you say there’s been a boost in interest since you re-opened?

EF: Yeah. I would attribute a lot of that to Grove Sessions, which is our livestream performance and interview series that we started right at the outset of COVID. Aside from having the space and tools for people to do their thing (creatively), we are really striving to build a community at Grove, that’s definitely a big part of our mission. We were pushed into the streaming space perhaps a lot sooner than we would have hoped, but when the pandemic hit we were like ‘looks like we’re going live on Facebook next week.’ Rick Coughlin has really done a lot to learn how to run livestream content, and Max Price has been killing it on the social media side. 

Just to throw out approximate numbers, our Facebook reach in mid-March was just under 3,000 and now including Instagram and Twitter followers, we’re over 8,600.

CM: So your online presence has grown exponentially over the last few months but is the business getting there as well?

EF: Business is up, definitely, over last year but we’re still not where we want to be.

CM: What is the long-term vision for Grove?

EF: Long-term, we’re looking at the development of our shipping container studio pods, spearheaded by Breck who is a licensed architect. We’re working towards having the prototype built and in place on Railroad hopefully within 6-9 months. We’ll also look to expand our livestream efforts with more educational content like workshops and classes.

CM: Any particular demographics Grove is appealing to?

EF: We appreciate having known larger artists come through to lend to our notoriety but we also strive to be available to everyday hobbyists and so-called weekend warriors.

Rick and I were talking recently about our long-term goals: our dreams are to expand within the Midwest and nationally, but our headquarters and our home and heart are always going to be in Ypsi.

To keep up to date on the latest news and availabilities with Grove Studios, follow their Facebook and Instagram. Check out their website for more information on pricing and hours.

888 Railroad St, Suite B, Ypsilanti. 734-985-0838.

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