Lindsey Lerner, founder of Level Exchange in Pawtucket, may be young, but for what she lacks in age, she makes up for in experience and knowledge of the music industry. Having studied photography at The Delaware College of Art and Design and global business studies at Bryant University, she decided to combine her passions of art and business in Level Exchange. Her love for the music industry formed when she studied abroad in Chile in 2013, and was able to coordinate and book paying gigs for her friends, even without a total grasp on the Spanish language at the time.
Lerner brought her excitement for booking shows back home with her to Providence. With some learning experiences along the way, including pulling off a show without a soundcheck, she became familiar with the ins and outs of the industry, and quickly realized that she didn’t appreciate the “pay-to-play” model that many musicians had to endure on their tours. This was when she decided that she wanted to help foster the talents of artists with potential.
Building on a handful of earlier iterations, Lerner founded Level Exchange in December 2015. More than what some might assume is just a recording studio, Level Exchange provides a space dedicated to production and working with innovative musicians, artists, and creators to hone their craft. Lerner wants musicians to benefit from professional quality marketing and content, and is building the network to provide that.
“When we work with musicians, we want them to look at themselves as entrepreneurs," says Lerner. "It’s not, ‘Will you help me, please donate.’ Art is a business, and business is an art, and we want to help the bands learn how to walk that line and succeed.”
Level Exchange is housed in the corner of a large industrial building, neighboring The Isle Brewers Guild. With incredibly high ceilings and photo shoot-ready natural light, the space is a easy fit for creative inspiration. Bands rotate through the space every week, developing recordings, cover art, and videos.
“We have so many creative people in this state,” says Lerner. “Rhode Island is so small. We only have a million people. We want get a music video into the hands of those million people, so that they are able to say, ‘Wow, I like this music, and this band is from here!’”
“It’s about representing the local industry. We want artists to be proud of their Providence roots, and bring in artists from all over the world to see what Rhode Island is all about.”