Marketing Private Music Lessons Through Community Relationships and Social Media

by Kelly Riordan

Date Posted: June 27, 2024

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To create sustainability in our music lesson business, we need predictability in our student lead sources and marketing. Building community around the studio through organic local outreach and social media are fantastic strategies.

Organic Outreach

If you ask in a musician Facebook group how to find private music students, the overwhelming responses will be “word of mouth”.

This is great advice, in theory, but how do we start getting student referrals through word of mouth if no one knows we exist?

When I relocated my studio again four years ago, I was in exactly that situation. I had a few contacts, but not enough to fill my schedule and reach my goal of creating a full-time revenue through private music lesson instruction.

My marketing background has always focused on organic strategy - I am a strong believer in free marketing. Ideally small businesses and individual teachers establish an effective brand identity and proven sales process before ever spending money on advertising.

How to Build Referral Partnerships for Private Music Lessons

Building referral partnerships in the local community is a fantastic way to make this happen. School music teachers, for example, are already in direct contact with students who may be aligned with our lesson offers. Music directors at church and other religious centers, scout troop and youth organization leaders, homeschool co-op organizers, and other business owners in our community are also excellent connections.

When reaching out to these individuals and programs, we want to form a relationship. Many teachers before joining Outside The Bachs share that they have tried emailing band directors or met a local music store owner and never received a response, let alone a referral.

When we analyze their strategy, there is one common thread: they led with an “ask”.

Start with an Offer

Relationships are best established with an offer, rather than an ask. Offering support to an overworked school music teacher or providing resources to a homeschool co-op can open more doors than an email with our lesson flyer attached. Ideally, it also provides an opportunity to get in front of their students and show that individual how capable we are.

We all prefer to refer business to friends or colleagues we really enjoy working with. It’s important to become ‘that’ person in your community.

Building Community on Socials

For those less enthusiastic about promoting themselves on social media, it is a great way to keep in touch with colleagues and maintain relationships with our local connections.

A bit of food-for-thought if you’re unsure about using social media beyond those real-life contacts: posting on social media doesn’t have to be “salesy” to be effective.

Creating community through social content can support currently enrolled students and attract aligned students to enroll. The reach that social media gives us, as individual musicians and business owners, still blows my mind. It’s an incredible, free way to showcase our skill and passion to potential students (or their parents).

What Social Platforms to Use

There are so many social media options, that it can cause overwhelm. Start by choosing 1-2 platforms to post on consistently, and focus on platforms your ideal students use regularly. For my own studio and Outside The Bachs, this has typically been Instagram and TikTok.

While we can make posts specifically about our services, that’s never been my style. The effectiveness of those content pieces is also diminishing. Content that supports and inspires current students and potential students alike is key to expanding your reach and growing a following.

Here are a few ideas for relevant and engaging content:

  • Tips for effective practice and performance preparation

  • Personal practice snippets and progress updates

  • Teaching samples from lessons (no need to include your students in photos or videos to be successful!)

  • Performance recordings and videos

  • Studio events and student successes that parents want to share

Marketing Your Lessons

When we are marketing private music lessons, we are not selling the experience and background we bring to the table; we are marketing the experience we provide to our students.

Potential students and parents want to know that your studio gets results, and that the lesson environment is inspiring and fun! Sharing student testimonials is a fantastic way to illustrate the value you provide to students. Above all, highlight the unique aspects of your pedagogy and teaching style to help set you apart from other teachers in the area and attract aligned students.

Kelly riordan bio

Kelly Riordan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Outside the Bachs, LLC - a program designed to give musicians the skills to create their own private music studios and deliver the highest quality instruction to their students.

Her work has brought her to the forefront in music business education. In addition to hosting The Outside the Bachs Podcast, Riordan presents regularly at conferences and universities, with recent appearances at The NAMM Show and The Ultimate Music Business Summit, in addition to lectures at the University of Tennessee, Miami University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Kelly Riordan holds a Master of Music (MM) in Performance and Literature from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music from the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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