This is the first in a series of stories featuring businesses in the first cohort of Brock LINC’s incubation program, the LINCubator. The program supports a small group of early-stage businesses as they work to reach the next stage of business development. The eight-month program combines workshops, mentorship, networking, business coaching and partnerships with local investor groups. For more information on the LINCubator, visit brocku.ca/lincubator
The Beatles said it best: “I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.”
It’s with that notion in mind that musicians Joe DeLuca and Pat Kelly are pressing forward with their latest initiative.
Music is deeply ingrained in the pair’s more than 20-year friendship. DeLuca and Kelly began playing music at a young age, and have written, recorded and performed with several bands over the years.
The two friends started working in the social and rehabilitation sector and noticed how music played an important role with their clients. After developing some early music-based initiatives, DeLuca and Kelly formally launched Melody Minds, a social enterprise that delivers arts-related programs to brain injury survivors and individuals with special needs.
“We noticed the majority of people we were working with had an interest and passion for music, video, radio and art, but had few opportunities to showcase self-expression and creativity in these areas,” said DeLuca.
Melody Minds is a non-medical service that focuses on creativity, expression, catharsis and fun. What began as an expressive music outlet for brain injury survivors has grown into a full program schedule for a variety of individuals with special needs, including participants ranging in age from five to 70.
“We strive to be open, welcoming, supportive, inclusive and accepting of all people who come to us,” said Kelly. “We aim to continually innovate and embrace new ideas inspired by those we work with.”
One of their most successful programs is the four-person band, where they help participants form a musical group. This covers everything from naming the band, choosing and playing instruments, practising, developing stage presence, and writing and recording original music.
Kelly said Bad Business, one of these bands that grew out of the program, has become hugely popular.
“Pre-pandemic, we played two sold-out shows and cleared out all of the Bad Business merchandise. They are a force to be reckoned with,” he said..
While juggling their full-time careers and managing their business endeavours, DeLuca and Kelly saw an opportunity to further develop their marketing and growth plans and decided to seek out external support to help move Melody Minds forward.
“Pat and I are continually looking for ways to expand our reach and find opportunities for our artists and creators to showcase their talents and passions to a wider audience,” said DeLuca.
With the resources offered through the LINCubator program, Kelly and DeLuca are looking to expand their business by bringing in more creators and services. The hope is that guidance from program mentors will assist them in structuring the business for long-term success.
Throughout the pandemic they have transitioned their programs successfully online but are eager to eventually return to in-person programs and have bands back on stage for more sold-out shows.
For more info on Melody Minds and its programs, visit melodyminds.ca