Webster defines incubator as …an organization or place that aids the development of new business ventures... Three-time Grammy winner Jim Chambers defines his incubator, “Jim Chambers Music Box” as “The finest music academy on the planet”. Which is located in Carrollwood, Florida at 4321 Gunn Hwy, just North of Tampa.
Saturday, July 28, Jim Chambers Music Box hosted an open house that I attended. I was immediately welcomed at the door by The Music Box’s mascot, a white terrier breed named Stixx. The shag carpeting, the fantastic bright colored walls in yellow, reds, blues, orange, and the staff were just intoxicating. A 1970’s mod vibe was going on here, and I immediately felt welcome and could hang out in this environment for hours maybe even days. The mood and vibe might be described as a 1970’s Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings. There was music going on in all the instruction rooms, hallways, and every corner. This space has a heart, and it’s beating 120bpm.
Each individual room had its own flavor, the percussion room is packed with drum kits, guitar room with guitars to the ceiling, keyboard room had an almost church feel, a welcoming conference room with oversized chairs and a mosaic on the wall, and my favorite the band performance room. The band performance room is where I sat down with Jim Chambers on a couch, across the room from the stage under a mirrored disco ball suspended from the ceiling in the center of the room. There was even a Marshall Stack on the stage!
Jim Chambers Music Box currently has approximately 80 music students that come through the doors weekly of varying ages and experience. Chamber’s vision is to educate and nurture the aspirations of his students and to expand their creative abilities to possibly grow into a career in the music industry much like he experienced with working with past bands “Maroon 5”, “Tool”, “Flyleaf”, and “Dave Matthews” to name a few. Jim welcomes and promotes his students to form bands under his roof where he uses is expertise knowledge of branding, promotion, stage presence, and the entire entertainment business experience.
The cost of one on one hourly music lessons is competitive for the area, if not lower. There is also a scholarship program in place that select students can qualify for that is funded by outside donors. The Music Box also gives band lessons by Jim Chambers himself. Currently four bands are under his tutalidge “Sick Hot” & “Favorite Habit”, alternative classic rock bands, and two additional Currently unnamed bands .
Once a band is ready, publicity shots are taken, a social media presence is formed, then they are taken out into the public to perform at local venues in the Greater Tampa Area to start building a fan base. From there they have access to recording, producing, and management under Jim Chambers watchful eye. To keep the incubator intact, Jim Chambers Music Box is expanding their location to include a concert venue “Shine Box” with the capacity of 100 fans.
Jim Chambers studied the music industry in college in Valdosta, Ga. Upon graduation, he moved to Atlanta and started working in the mail room at Sky Records. From there he became a merchandise rep at Sony/BMG, Sire Records, Octone Records, and finally landed a job as the GM of Warcon Enterprises where he won a Grammy with Loudon Wainwright III. Warcon folded in late 2008 and Jim Chambers was left to turn out the lights.
In 2009 Jim decided to start on a new career path, as did many individuals during the financial crisis (myself included), a Brooklyn Pizza restaurant owner in Belize. Upon his arrival, he realized the idea wasn’t as novel as he first envisioned, as there were many pizza joints already in Belize. So, he came back to the states and went back to the beginning, his parent’s home in Carrollwood, Fl and his high school bedroom. With the music industry blood still pulsing in his veins and needing a job, Jim started to teach drum lessons. In 2013, after his drum student enrollment reached approximately 25 students, a local investor contacted him and asked him what he really wanted to do with his vast experience in the music industry? From there, the early formation of the Music Box was hatched as Chambers rented and converted a house in a residential neighborhood and started giving lessons in the individual rooms in a “Houses at Hogwarts” fashion, where the living and learning are combined in the same space. Unfortunately, the home owner’s association of the community didn’t understand Jim’s creative vision and expelled the academy which relocated to the current commercial zoned location. The current Jim Chambers Music Box doesn’t accommodate sleeping quarters, but the welcoming family atmosphere makes it hard to say goodbye or leave at any time.