Sarah Clayman

While some children follow their parents to become doctors or lawyers – Sarah Clayman knew she wanted to follow her father’s example and work in the music industry. Born in Cockfosters, London, Sarah grew up watching her father work as a concert promoter for talents like The Moody Blues, Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, and The Carpenters. Still, Sarah’s father pleaded that she chose another profession, due to the industry’s once-rampant misogyny. After considering her backup plans (to either be a helicopter pilot or a beautician), a teenage went to Israel for Kibbutz; three years and several early-morning Hebrew lessons later, Sarah was fluently speaking Hebrew and working for a medical company in Tel Aviv. But childhood dreams die-hard. And so, only 17, Sarah returned to England and threw herself toward music entertainment.

Working on tours her father promoted, Sarah began touring the UK and Europe with Michael Jackson. It was there she met and worked as assistant manger to D-Influence and Motown signed act Zhane. A few years later, whilst touring with Julio Iglesias, that Sarah’s enthusiasm and resolute work ethic caught the attention of Paul Berger, the CEO of Sony Music. Berger hired Sarah as an International Promotions Manager where she helped UK bands find footing in European music markets. While working with the psychedelic English rockers, Kula Shaker, Sarah met Kevin Nixon, who was managing the band. Eventually, Sarah left Sony to work with Richard Branson, who founded the Virgin Group and was running Kevin Nixon’s recently sold management company.

Like all great British ideas, the concept of a music college began in a pub. For one year, Sarah would meet with Kevin and Bruce Dickinson at the local pub to work out the logistics of founding a college. It was a venture they suspected would never make money, but they wanted a personally fulfilling project. The unexpected death of their artist and friend, singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl, greatly effected Kevin and Sarah to build something of there own that could give back. This birthed the Brighton Institute of Music Education (BIMM).

Though BIMM began as a passion project, enrollment numbers skyrocketed. The first year’s enrollment was 180 students, the next year’s 320, then 480, 560, until suddenly BIMM’s enrollment had exceeded 1,000 students. The college was pioneering a form of music education that had never before existed. “There were moments where we’d stand on stage at induction week and look up into a crowd with a thousand faces,” Sarah said, “and we couldn’t believe something that happened so organically became so massive. It was obviously meant to be.” BIMM quickly became the primary focus for Sarah Clayman.

“It validated modern music education in a way we’d set out to do,” she said. “What we’d done was so from the heart. We were individuals who love music and recognize that the music industry can be an amazing place to work.”

Sarah is convinced that in five years’ time, people will look at DIME in the way they look at BIMM. “They’ll say, ‘DIME was the first place to put rigorous music education online and to bring modern music education to Detroit.’” To Sarah, it’s not a matter of setting her sights too high. It’s a matter of working on as ambitious of a vision as possible. That trademark work ethic and determination have allowed Sarah to work successfully and incessantly from the age of 16 in Tel Aviv to the present, where she’s proud and eager to lend a helping hand to Detroit’s future.

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