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The Ultimate Guide to Starting & Running a Music Lesson Business

This guide will provide you with all of the information that you need to start and run a music lesson business successfully. Depending on where you are in your journey, feel free to read all the way through or jump to the sections that are the most relevant to your needs.  

If you are looking for more support in running your music lesson business, Sawyer can help. Schedule a free demo with our specialists today.

Updated on
August 17, 2023
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How to open a music lesson business

A lot goes into opening a music lesson business, but it is so rewarding in the end. Watching your students become stronger musicians and better people makes each step of the process worthwhile!

We will go over each step in the process of starting your own business so that you will get a full understanding of the timeline, necessary funds, and legal requirements you need to follow. Before you know it, you will be ready to start teaching music lessons to children and adults in your neighborhood and online. 

If you are looking to start a music lesson business, then you have come to the right place. The team at Sawyer has worked with hundreds of businesses to create and build children’s activities all over the country. 

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Requirements to start a music lesson business

What do you actually need to start a business teaching music lessons? Before you think about lesson plans, materials, and marketing, you need a business plan, budget, and so much more to get your business off the ground. In this beginning phase, it is also essential that you meet the legal requirements for your state, city, and county. These vary, so look up exactly what is needed in the location that you wish to start your business. 

Music lesson business plan

Before starting a business, you need to write a business plan to organize your goals, make important decisions, and keep track of analyses. Plus, if you are looking to apply for funding assistance (small business loans or grants), they often require a business plan as part of the application.

Business plan template

  • Executive summary: This section opens up your business plan and gives your reader a quick look into your goals and ideas. Outline the problem your business is trying to solve in your executive summary. Then, include a brief description of who you are and the necessary financial information about your business. Someone short on time should be able to read your executive summary and get the basic information about your business.
  • Description of your business: In this section, describe the services you will offer. Will you be teaching just children or adults as well? Will you have after school classes and summer camps? Are you offering private music lessons, group lessons, and/or open practice time? Make sure to include information about how you are planning to operate as well. What state will you teach in? Are you an LLC or a non-profit? Give your readers a detailed explanation of who you are.
  • Market analysis: Outline your target audience, how you will find customers, and how you’ll deliver your services to them. Are you looking for families in your community? Or maybe customers you can reach virtually in different cities? In addition, take a look at what your competitors are doing to get a sense of the market.
  • Your team: Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur who will be teaching as well or a room full of wonderful instructors, it’s important to talk about the team members standing alongside you. How is your business organized? Who is in charge of the different responsibilities? Why are they right for those roles? Include their credentials and background so readers can learn more about them.
  • Financial plan: This section should be a detailed overview of all of your finances: Budget, projected (or current) profit, overhead costs, and more. These financial plans will help you forecast your growth and give your reader a more detailed look into the health of your business.

Use our guide for more support on creating your business plan.

Business budget and investment

In order to run a business successfully, you need a budget. Use your budget to stay on track with your goals and objectives, maintain your day-to-day operations, and, when the time is right, scale and grow.

What to include in a business budget?

  • Sources of income: How much money are you planning to bring in (projected income) or currently bringing in (income)? Make sure you take into account all of your revenue sources. For example, if you teach classes in-person and online, if you sell instruments or sheet music, or if you provide private lessons. If you tend to see seasonal trends in sales, make sure to take these into account. Everything should be tallied in this section. 
  • Fixed costs: Once you know how much money is coming in (or projected to come in), you can begin to determine how much will go out. Fixed costs like rent, insurance, employee salaries, utilities like Internet, and platform subscriptions stay the same each month, so they are a good place to start. 
  • Variable costs: Unlike fixed costs, variable costs change each month. This makes them slightly trickier to budget, but you need to try. Variable costs can include consumption-based utilities like gas and electricity, commission on item sales, holiday gifts for employees, shipping costs, or travel. Even though they are different month to month, keeping good track of these variable costs will help you determine their seasonal averages, so you can keep that in mind as you budget.
  • One-time costs: If you have any planned one-time costs, like buying a new computer and microphone for better online classes, then you can include that in this section. However, most people use this section of their budget as a buffer. That way, you are protected from large, unexpected costs like broken instruments or equipment, damage to your space, slow months because of a global pandemic, illness, or something similar.

Review our guide for more information and guidance on building your business budget.

Music lesson business license

There are a few different licenses that are needed to start a business teaching music lessons. Beyond these licenses, all businesses also need to pay taxes and adhere to regulations and laws at the federal, state, and county level.

  • Company registration: Your company must be registered as a legal entity before you can begin teaching music lessons. A small business is usually registered as an LLC while larger businesses and franchises are usually C Corps.
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN): After registering, all businesses are issued an EIN from the IRS. This helps the IRS keep track of businesses when tax season comes around.
  • Certificate of Occupancy (CO): If you plan to rent or buy space to teach lessons, you will need to ensure it passes inspection and receives a CO before you can legally see students there.
  • Music licenses. If you plan to use licensed music in your performances, you will likely need to acquire public performance licenses issued by music rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

Registration and management software

Class registration and management software like Sawyer can help your business as you get off the ground and grow. Even though software is an added cost at the start of your business journey, it is worth it. 

When you use class registration and management software, you don’t need to spend time manually accepting bookings over the phone or via email. Instead, you can take bookings 24/7 so you never miss a sale. Plus, software helps you make schedules easily, keep track of important student information, seamlessly take payments, and analyze financial reports.

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Music lesson plans and curriculum

Once you have taken care of all of your legal and business requirements, you can get started on the fun part: building a music curriculum and writing lesson plans! Success with your students is dependent on strong lesson plans that keep your instructors (or you) on track when teaching.

How to write a music curriculum

Whether you are teaching private or group lessons, a curriculum is important. Planning your curriculum puts you in a great position to establish your goals, write lesson plans, and come up with exciting hands-on activities for your students to keep them engaged and learning. Use these curriculum development and design tips to get started.

  • Determine your goals: The first step in curriculum development is to establish your goals. Your goals will likely depend on what you teach, the type of lessons (group or private), and the age of your students. Make sure you choose realistic goals so that you can set yourself, fellow instructors, and students up for success. 
  • Sketch it out: Once you have determined your goals, you can begin to sketch the course out. How many lessons do you have? How long is each lesson? This information is important as you begin to write your curriculum, and later, your lesson plans. When planning a music curriculum, make sure you give yourself and your students enough time to understand each section before moving on. 
  • Review previous lessons and curricula: Go through what has worked (and not worked!) in the past. Where have students struggled when learning this instrument or song? What lessons and activities really helped them master the tricky sections? Use these experiences to write your new curriculum. If you are a new teacher, use the Internet to see what others have done or speak with other educators to get their advice.
  • Write lesson plans: Once you have the structure for your curriculum, write the lesson plans for each class. Each lesson should have a micro goal, which will help you accomplish the overarching goal. You should also include information about how you will assess and evaluate your success so you know what works and what doesn’t. Use our guide for more details on how to write a lesson plan, including templates and examples.

More questions on how to write a curriculum? Use our guide!

Music lesson plans

Not only do lesson plans help the instructor stay on track while teaching, but also they ensure that students can learn effectively and efficiently. We suggest writing a lesson plan before every class. Each lesson plan should include a learning objective, a list of the materials, instruments, and music needed, the activities you will be doing and the time allotted for each one, and space for assessments and evaluations. These are the sections of a music lesson plan to keep in mind when you write your own.

  • Lesson objective(s): What is the goal or goals of this lesson? What are the students going to learn or be able to do at the end of the class? Make your lesson objective(s) as action-oriented and measurable as possible because this is how you will measure progress before moving on to new lessons. For example: learn 30 seconds of a song or understand 5 new chords.
  • Materials needed: What materials, supplies, instruments, and sheet music are needed to teach this lesson? How many of each item? Be specific and feel free to check each item off as you bring it into the classroom.
  • Lesson activities: What will you be doing to help your students accomplish their objective? Break your lesson down into individual activities that will help your students learn what you want them to learn. Try to incorporate games and fun elements to keep them engaged. 
  • Timing: Include a time estimate with each activity description. It is best to add a little extra time to each activity in case students are having difficulty mastering something.
  • Assessment: It is helpful for instructors to include a measure of assessment in their lesson plans. It can be as simple as blank space for the instructor to write whether or not the objective was met. The goal is to remind the instructor if the lesson was successful so they know where to start in the next lesson. Plus, it gives them important knowledge for the next time they teach this lesson.

Review our guide with even more information about teaching music to children for music activities and more!

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Marketing your music lesson business

Marketing is an important part of starting a new business. You need to get your name out there! With the right marketing strategies, you can let your community know about your offerings and build your customer base. Say hello to your new band of loyal fans!

Email marketing for music lessons

If you have spent time in the community or run previous programming, you might already have email addresses of families. If so, email marketing is a great place to start! Start by announcing your new business and try to include an incentive in your first email. Remember: You are fighting for visibility in busy inboxes. Keep these tricks and tips in mind to be successful with email marketing for your music lessons.

  • Use a strong subject line. A good subject line will hook your reader and get them to open your email. Create a sense of urgency, intrigue the reader, and showcase your value with a strong subject line. Here are a couple of examples:
  • ~~ Only 10 spots left for beginner guitar!
  • ~~ Book now! Band camp is almost full!
  • ~~ See what families have to say about our infant music classes
  • Provide incentives. If you can offer incentives like discounts, early access, or promo codes, highlight them in your email subject line. Then, go into more detail on these incentives in the body.
  • Keep it short. People get hundreds of emails every day. Therefore, you should get right to the point with marketing emails. Tell them why you are emailing, show them your value, and give them an easy way to purchase.
  • End with a call-to-action (CTA). At the end of your email, use a strong CTA that encourages the reader to make a decision. Sometimes, the decision will be registering for your classes. However, other times it might make more sense for the CTA to be “schedule a call” or “learn more” if the reader is not yet ready to make a purchase.

Review our guide for more in depth information on email marketing for small businesses.

Social media marketing for music lessons

Social media is a very important platform when marketing music lessons for children and adults. Pew Research found that 83% of parents use social media. Most of the time, they are looking for recommendations and making decisions based on what they see on Facebook and Instagram (the 2 most used platforms for parents). Therefore, social media is an important medium for reaching potential customers. Consider these recommendations when you use social media for marketing your music lessons.

  • Use high quality photos. The images that you post on social media can be the first impression a customer will get of your business, so make sure they are full of smiling faces! Smartphone photography is a great, cost-effective alternative to professional photos. Remember: If you use photos of children, always get written permission from a parent or guardian beforehand. 
  • Showcase user-generated content (UGC). Millennials trust UGC over brand-created content every time. Ask customers to share pictures in photo contests, reshare positive reviews, and get the excitement flowing with social media takeovers. Check out our full guide on user-generated content to see even more ideas.
  • Cultivate connections with potential and current customers. Social media is such a great tool because you can easily interact with your community. When you make connections with potential and current customers, you are increasing the likelihood that they sign up for your classes and refer friends. 

For more guidance on social media marketing, check out our article, which includes helpful information about setting up business accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

Advertising for music lessons

Google Ads help you get your business in front of interested customers. When you create Google Ads, you follow a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising model. That means you bid on search terms and pay for the clicks that your ads receive. There is no spending requirement, which means you can set your own budget and keep it cost efficient. Follow these steps when setting up your Google Ads strategy.

  • Start with research. Decide which keywords you want to target. Keywords are the words or phrases that people search for on Google that trigger an ad. The first step is to see which keywords your competitors are targeting. You can find this information by searching those words to see what ads appear.
  • Choose your level. Google Ads have two different levels: campaigns (higher level) and ad groups (lower level). Creating different ad groups for the keywords will help your ad be more effective with customers. 
  • Set your budget. You need to consider two different elements that go into your account’s overall spend: The amount of money you spend on each campaign each day (daily budget) and the cost when someone who searches for your keyword actually clicks on your ad (bid).
  • Choose your keywords. Google Ads has a free Keyword Planner tool, which can generate a helpful list of keywords for your campaigns. The Keyword Planner helps you see if certain keywords are too expensive. You also need to decide the match type, which refines where your ads appear. 
  • Pick your devices. Do you want your ads to appear on mobile, desktop, tablet, or all three? In our 2022 Children’s Activity Business Trend Report, we found that 60% of parents booked activities on mobile, 39% on desktop, and 1% on tablet.
  • Write the ad copy. Write catchy ad copy that catches your customer’s attention and, of course, includes your keywords. Plus, be sure to add a call-to-action (CTA) like “Sign up today” or “Learn more”.
  • Activate and monitor. Turn your ads on and then see how they are doing with Google Analytics, which is free and connected to Google Ads. For more advanced tracking, you can also install a Google Ads pixel on your site. 

Looking for more details on setting up Google advertising for your classes? Check out our guide!

Making connections with schools

When you teach classes to children, making connections with schools can help you increase your enrollment numbers, build customer trust, and find new families in your community. And, for a new business teaching music lessons, school connections can help you get your first batch of students. Here are some of our top tips to help you make connections with schools.

  • Find the right contacts. Try reaching out to members of the school board, administrators at the school, and/or the PTA to start the conversation.
  • Write a strong outreach email. Be polite, but straightforward. Use a strong subject line, then in the body, introduce yourself and explain what you are offering. Let them know why the students would benefit from your classes and how you can make life easier for the school, too. End your email by thanking them for their time and let them know how they can get in touch with you to continue the conversation.
  • Use our outreach email generator. With our outreach email generator, you can easily input the above information and create an email that will help you make strong connections with local schools.

Use our guide to learn more about how to make connections with schools.

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Common challenges of running a music lesson business

As you start and continue on your journey to setting up and running a music lesson business, you might be wondering what you are missing. What other elements should you consider that you might not be thinking about from the get go? 

Luckily, at Sawyer we work with children’s activity business owners every day to make starting and running a business more simple. We’ve outlined some of the common challenges of running a music lesson business and how you can solve them. It’ll be music to your ears!

Managing rosters

Managing rosters is one of the biggest challenges when you run a lot of different lessons and classes. Rosters help you and your instructors keep track of everything you need: Registered students, attendance check-in and -out, and important information like pronouns, allergies, and more. If you do not have a system in place, rosters can become overwhelming. We recommend using a class registration and management software like Sawyer to keep your rosters organized. 

Auto-generated rosters

Once a student is registered, they are automatically added to the roster along with all of their information like parents’ names, pronouns, birthday, allergies, t-shirt size, instrument, and more. Instructors and administrators can also track attendance at drop-off and pickup online on the roster or by exporting and printing. And if something comes up, instructors can email everyone on the roster to keep them in the know. 

Learn more about how Sawyer can make managing rosters simple for your music lessons.

Managing waitlists

If you have more interest in your classes than space in the room, that’s a great sign! Waitlists help you capitalize on this demand and ensure you don’t leave money on the table. Plus, waitlists are a great way for you to see which specific classes resonate with your audience more strongly.

Sawyer provider Oh! Canary, which offers art camps and extracurricular activities for young children in New Jersey, explains that waitlists are beneficial because they also act as a growth projection and planning metric. Lacey, founder of Oh! Canary, explained that “waitlists are helpful because we can really see in real time the demand for our classes. In some weeks, our camp waitlists are up to 70 kids! It shows us the potential of what could be possible.” Read more about how Sawyer helped Oh! Canary grow and scale in our case study.

Taking online registrations

Millennials are tied to their devices because they are digital natives. That’s why it is important to make sure your classes can be booked online, 24/7, without the need to make a call or send an email. In our 2022 Children’s Activity Trend Report, we reviewed 7.2 million activity bookings and found that 42% of parents book outside of typical business hours (9am to 5pm). Plus, over 60% booked on mobile! To capture this business, you need to be available for online bookings and mobile optimized.

Selling semester and drop-in options

By offering registration options for customers, you can increase your enrollment numbers. People are looking for flexibility when they make booking decisions. However, it is difficult to offer options like semesters, camps, and drop-in classes unless you work with a class registration and management software that has these capabilities built in.

With Sawyer, you can choose to offer semesters and summer or school break camps as well as drop-in classes and private lessons. You can even offer multiple options for one class, so some customers can choose to pay for the whole semester or month while others pay by week or even by day. 

Allowing transfers

Transfers help you meet your customers where they are and offer flexibility for life events. Sometimes bookings need to be changed due to unforeseen circumstances. Class management software makes transfers an easy process. You can allow customers to choose whether they want to transfer into a different class or program or request a refund. With a few clicks, the booking has been updated!

Getting the information you need

Without registration and class management software, educators need to ask each customer to print and fill out registration materials, consent forms, waivers, and more documents before they can participate in lessons and classes. Then, you have to file these papers and keep everything organized. Instead, you can use class management software like Sawyer to seamlessly collect information about each camper and access it easily from anywhere.

Custom form fields

Require custom forms for registration to keep track of  important responses about instrument choices, medications, allergies, and pronouns, consent and waiver forms, and emergency contacts. This information is then exported automatically into the roster so that instructors and staff have access to everything in one place.

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Do you need to use class registration software?

Class registration software makes starting and running a music lesson business successfully much easier. Rather than relying on phone calls and email, handwritten forms, and spreadsheet rosters, you can have everything organized and accessible. (See how Sawyer helped Shredder get organized so they could manage their six locations). 

Software keeps you and your staff more organized and efficient. In fact, class registration software Sawyer can save you 28 hours per month on administrative tasks, so that you have more time to spend planning lessons and activities, growing your business, working with your staff, and teaching your students.

Features to look for in class registration software

There are a few different class registration and management softwares on the market. How can you tell which one is right for your new business? Here are some questions to ask yourself and features to look for so you can find the perfect class registration software for your music lessons.

  • What is your goal? Why do you need software? Do you want to free up your team’s time to focus more on connecting with students? Are you hoping to improve staff experience? Do you want to appear more professional to your customers and provide an easier way to register? Are you looking to process payments or dive deeper into business analytics?
  • How are the reviews? What do current and former customers say about the software? Check reviews on sites like Capterra to hear firsthand from business owners about their experience with certain softwares.
  • Do they have great customer service? As a new business starting on a platform, customer service is incredibly important. Do they help with onboarding and continued education? When and how can you reach out to the customer service team? These are important questions to ask when considering a registration software.
  • Can they help you grow? How will the features and options on that platform help your business grow and scale? Do they accept customer feedback and make changes so that they grow with you? You don’t want to be stagnant and neither should your software.

Check out our guide to learn more about how to find the perfect registration software for your camp.

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Still not sure if starting and running a music lessons business is the right decision for you? Making the jump is a big endeavor. Check out these frequently asked questions about running a music lessons business to see if it is the right choice for you.

How much does it cost to start a music lessons business?

According to Newfoundr, it costs about $10,500 to start a music lessons business. Rent, instrument purchases, licenses, insurance, registration software, and marketing materials make up this number.

However, it is very important for new business owners to look at their own expected expenses and income to determine the cost of running a business for themselves.

Do I need a license to teach music lessons?

There are a few different licenses that are needed to teach music lessons. First, you must register your company as an LLC, C Corp, or nonprofit. Once this is done, you will be issued an Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which is also necessary to start a business. Likewise, if you plan to do performances with your students of licensed music, you need licenses that are issued by music rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

How much do music teachers make?

According to Indeed, the national average salary of a dance studio owner is $81,030 or about $32 per hour. However, this number is not set in stone. Expenses, location, and other elements should all be considered when determining salary.

When should I invest in class registration software?

If you want your music lessons business to start off on the right foot, you should invest in class registration software like Sawyer from the very beginning. You want your first customers to have a great experience when they register for lessons and classes so they keep coming back for more. With a class registration system, you can ensure your bookings are seamless, payments are always taken, and important information is organized.

We hope this guide has provided you with all of the information you need to start and run a business successfully. At Sawyer, our mission is to help children’s activity businesses thrive. With our suite of tools and helpful resources, we can help you spend less time on administrative tasks and more time with your students. Want to learn more? Talk to a member of our expert team and see how Sawyer can help your business grow. Or get started with a free trial.

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