marketing your music studio

contract

My top tip to any new private teacher would be to get a policy drawn up with your students. Everyone will be much happier for it! Pupils and parents need to know how you run things and your business will benefit from establishing some ground rules.

A feature I love about Music Teacher’s Helper is the “studio policy” web page that is part of the included music teacher website package. This gives us an opportunity to explain to prospective students, who might want to register for lessons, how we run our teaching businesses.

When I first started giving private music lessons I had no contract with my students. Things were casual. Some weeks pupils would turn up and pay for that lesson, other weeks they didn’t. It became very frustrating as I waited to see whether they would attend and pay and as a consequence, my earnings were extremely erratic. I began to quickly realise that I needed a solution otherwise I would simply run out of steam. Enter the contract!

I remember the night before I was planning to present my newly drawn-up contract to my students I was feeling rather anxious. What if they didn’t like the idea of a formal agreement? Would I lose pupils? A couple of parents grumbled but most, to my surprise, were very understanding and agreed that it was a good idea to get things into writing. The improvement was immediate! People were now paying for  [···]

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marketing your music studio

“Every day people spend more for products and services that they believe have been created or designed specifically for their particular needs or situations. –Sydney Barrows

If you’re like most music teachers, you’re probably resigned to the fact that certain types of students are attracted to your studio, and others aren’t. And as long as enough of these students come along, you may be content with this situation.

There’s nothing wrong with this. But what if you tweaked your marketing and your teaching approach to find and serve one or more niches that you don’t currently reach, perhaps even developing a unique way of teaching them (or at least a unique way of describing how you teach them)?

Along with the extremely helpful step of articulating your unfair advantage, developing one or more specific niches can be a powerful way to build a music studio. There are countless ways to do this. Here are a few ideas:

Reinvent What Music Lessons Are

Music teachers, like most business people, often assume that there is a finite group of customers that we are all competing for. But what if there were a group of potential students in your area that no one is competing for because no one has yet captured their interest in music lessons?

For example, have you ever considered that there may be potential students who have the idea that music lessons are only for those who are willing to practice for hours every day with the goal of becoming a world-class virtuoso?

What if you reached out to this group by marketing lessons that are focused on cultivating personal creativity and expression, rather than high-pressure performance expectations?

And if you like teaching those budding virtuosi? Your studio could have two learning tracks – the serious “virtuoso track” and the more fun “creative track.”

Create a Proprietary Version of Lessons For Your Instrument

You’ve probably seen music teachers and schools that claim authorship of the very special Method X. But consider how unlikely it is that they’ve developed something truly original. In fact, all they’ve probably done is combine pedagogical techniques and other methods in a novel way. (Combining already-existing information is the basis of creativity generally.)

How could you develop something proprietary for your studio? I‘ve personally taken steps in this direction by developing a piano method that I use with many (though not all) of my students. While I originally began developing it as a creative outlet and to fill a gap that I perceived among published methods, it also differentiates my studio from others, and helps me to reach a specific niche – beginners who are interested in blues-style piano.

Find underserved niches and develop unique approaches to teaching them, and watch your music studio thrive.

Might there be a certain demographic in your area that no other studios specifically market to? For example:

  • Boomers/Recent Retirees
  • Preschoolers
  • Homeschoolers
  • Teens who want to become professional musicians without following a formal track of college-based music education

Once you explore whether such underserved niches exist in your area, figure out how you can most easily (yet profitably) reach them, and how you might present your teaching approach as unique, maybe even exclusive. Marketing guru Dan Kennedy puts it this way: “People want and respond best to whatever they perceive is for them, preferably exclusively for them, relevant specifically to them, and offered by somebody who really understands, respects, and appreciates them.

Find underserved niches and develop unique approaches to teaching them, and watch your music studio thrive.

Doug Hanvey writes about music teaching and marketing at The Piano Lab Blog.

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marketing your music studio

You most likely decided to pursue a career in music education because you love music and you want to share that passion with the world.  To be surrounded by music every day and to be completely immersed in that world, while shaping student’s lives, is what makes music education such a rewarding career.  Maybe you are just starting or maybe you’ve been in business for a while, and you’re waiting for that moment when the phone starts ringing and your business really starts taking off.  Then the reality sets in.  You’re not sure how to get students or how to make your business profitable.  If you plan to make this your main source of income, then being profitable is important.  The truth is that you can be extremely profitable in music education whether you teach independently or you own a studio with several teachers working for you.

I’ve built my studio several times from the ground up.  As to why “several times”….well, it is a long story.  But the short story is we had to pick up and move to a different state a couple of times and start all over, and I’m happy to say that each time, within a couple of months, I would have my studio built up again to full capacity with wait list and all.  Now I help other music educators to do the same as a music business consultant and coach, and through my music teacher’s database.

So how did I do it?  How did I start from zero and explode my business every time?  I’ve narrowed it down to 4 key things that you can start doing to grow your studio’s profitability and quickly.  Here they are:

Branding

I have a business background, so I tend to use terms like “branding” a lot when I am coaching or consulting with my clients.  It helps to think of yourself and your studio as a product, just like any other product that someone would create, package, and sell, because whether you like it or not you need to be able to sell your services to clients or you will never be profitable.  In order to get the attention of potential students, you will need to let them know why you are the person that they will want to invest in.  This all starts with branding yourself and your company.

How does one do this?  You need a Unique Selling Position (USP).  Start by making a list of all the things that make you or your studio unique.  Perhaps you have a doctorate in music, with years of performance experience.  Or maybe you teach in-home lessons to working, busy families.  Or maybe you were a contestant on a tv talent show or are a recording artist.  Or maybe what makes you unique is that you offer games, pizza parties, and a fun music summer camp each year.  Whatever it is that makes you unique, figure it out and write it down.  Then let people know about your particular expertise.  You have now positioned yourself as an expert and given people a reason to call you.

Know Audience

Now that you know who you are and what makes you unique, you should spend some time thinking about who your potential students are.  This will help you figure out where you should advertise and also what to say to get them interested in working with you.  For example, if your ideal client is someone who is looking for a discount, the location in which you place an advertisement will be very different from if you live in a wealthy neighborhood or if you will be working with students studying for competitions or who are recording artists, etc.  Figure out who your “ideal” client is and then you will know how to reach them.

Some great places to advertise for music students: local music stores, Craigslist, newspapers, handing out flyers, online through teacher databases (i.e. Takelessons.com or ilovemusiclessons.com, etc.), social media, and I also highly recommend having your own website in which you can have a photo of yourself and highlight your skills and qualifications.  Once you are established, you should create a referral program, such as offering a free session to any of your current students who helps you sign up another student.

Be Organized and Professional  

One of the top complaints I received from my students regarding past instructors was that they were not organized and were not professional.  Unfortunately, many music instructors do not take their businesses as seriously as they should.  Whether you are teaching kids in your apartment or you have a large studio, you have a business.  And potential and current clients will know whether or not you see it that way or if you are simply teaching as a hobby.  Either one of those things is fine, but if you want to be profitable you need to treat it as the actual business that it is.

The most successful teachers and studios treat everything they do as a business and they take it seriously.  They answer their phones, promptly return phone calls, plan lessons in advance, keep detailed records, keep their schedule organized, print out the materials they need on time, keep studio policies, make sure their students are kept informed of changes, are on time for lessons, and are consistent from week to week so students know what to expect.

Be Young at Heart

Although students range in age from 3-99, most of the students you will have throughout your career will be young, in the 5-12 year-old range.  The more that you are able to accommodate that age range, the more you will have a marketable business.  Letting students play musical games, offering fun parties for students, giving prizes and stickers, and in general simply being upbeat and energetic go a long way.  Even if most of your students are adults, most clients will prefer to work with someone who is fun, interesting, and enthusiastic about what they are teaching, and gets them excited each week as well.

Amanda Becker is a musician, a music business coach, and consultant and is the founder of ilovemusiclessons.com, a music teacher database for teachers nationwide.  She holds a bachelor of arts in music and psychology, and a masters degree in business administration.  She is passionate about music, writing, and education.  For more tips and strategies or to ask a question about making your music teaching business successful and profitable: facebook.com/ILoveMusicLessons

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