Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price visited Parkville Sounds and met with Founder Stephen Cusano in 2018 to learn more about his startup, which provides space for Hartford-area musicians and artists as well as touring bands passing through the city.

NAN PRICE: How did you develop the business concept for Parkville Sounds?

STEPHEN CUSANO: It started out with a personal need. I went to the University of Hartford Hartt School of Music where I studied jazz specifically for just drums. I had a practice room at the school, but once I graduated I had to move my drums into my West End apartment. I couldn’t play there. I needed to figure out how I was going to practice. And I needed a place to make music whenever I wanted.

I wanted to stay in Hartford because I love Hartford. I found this place on Park Street in the Parkville neighborhood, which has allowed me to meet those goals. I can play 24/7 and I can make as much noise as I want.

I guess the entrepreneurial part of me had a vision. I saw bands needing a place to practice, needing a facility, and needing the services we offer. I saw a need in the Hartford area for local musicians and people passing through needing a facility where they could create.

I realized I could really help other artists and musicians hone in on their craft. For bands passing through, Parkville Sounds provides a space to practice and get a good video session. And it gives them another reason to stop in Hartford.

NAN: Did you base the idea on any other business model?

STEPHEN: Not particularly, but I knew there was no practice facility in Hartford for musicians. Growing up as a musician, I once took a lesson from a well-known drummer in New York City. We went to a rehearsal studio with many rooms. That was the first time this seed was really planted. I had never seen anything like that before. Usually my lessons were at a teacher’s house or at the school.

NAN: At what point did you realize this business model was viable and sustainable?

STEPHEN: We provide practice and rehearsal space, video sessions, and instrumental lessons and we also rent sound. It’s sustainable for me because I give lessons, I run this, and I perform. I’m also a touring musician. I’m out playing on the weekends with a lot of different bands.

Parkville Sounds is home to multiple musicians who live in Hartford. It helps them out because a lot of our lesson teachers live in a place where they can’t bring students in. For example, it’s been great to see people want to take lessons from Mike DiPanfilo, the guitarist for Hartford-based funk/soul band West End Blend.

And renting out the space for band practicing is a huge part of our business. Some people just want to make some noise or get together and play with each other. I love that! There’s a guy who comes here twice a week and plays bagpipes at 6:00 a.m. There’s no other place in Hartford where you can do that!

NAN: Parkville is becoming a hub of creativity and innovation. There’s so much energy with places like reSET, Hands on Hartford, and the Café at Fifty Five, Hog River Brewing, IdleWilde Printing, and Hartford Denim. Do you see it building?

STEPHEN: Absolutely. I’ve always seen it as a stomping ground for artists. We’re in a niche market—Hartford is not like New Haven or New York City. Anything you can put your mind to is really possible. It wouldn’t be possible for me to do this in New York City.

Hartford has so many talented artists throughout this entire city. They’ve been living here, working here, and touring the world using Hartford as their home base. I see the love they have for the community and what everyone is building around the neighborhood. It’s inspiring to see all these musicians and artists work here and live here and try and hustle their businesses.

Read the entire interview at Innovation Destination Hartford