13 Ways to Attract More Music Students Without Paid Ads
If you teach music lessons, you might well be one of the lucky few who get to enjoy making a living by living your passion and sharing it with others.
Assuming you can keep those lesson slots full.
Whether a home studio, music shop, or music school, it can be really challenging to bring new students in and to grow your business.
You also want high quality students.
Students who want to be there. Who are excited about their instrument and want to learn.
And, ideally, you want students who want to learn the specific style or method of playing that is your joy and specialty.
You want to be visible to students and their parents, and attracting the ones who are most likely to be the best fit.
You may even want to grow your business to the point you need to bring in another teacher…
or two, or three.
Not only would growth like that increase your income, it would also allow you hand select which students you most want to teach yourself.
Marketing is the vehicle that drives you toward those goals.
What about word of mouth?
Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tools for those who offer local lessons.
Definitely keep it at the top of your mind and use your reputation, people you know, and some great business cards to leverage that avenue.
Marketing Individual and Group Music Lessons
If you want to really grow your music studio, then you’re also going to want to use other means to market your music lessons.
And if you’re like most of my clients, you don’t want to spend a ton of money on marketing.
You don’t need to.
At least 10 of the 13 tactics in this post require zero dollars of investment.
(Those other three depend in part on what you already have and which options you select, and could be free or could require a small investment.)
All you have to give is some of your time.
Try using or starting one tactic per week for the next 13 weeks, and see how quickly you enroll new students and better quality students.
13 Ways to Attract More Music Students Without Paid Ads
1. Check your business listing on Google.
One of the first places people search for music lessons is on Google.
Google has a business listings feature which pulls up a map and list of businesses that match the search.
Is your business on that list?
Is it on page one of that list?
If your music school is listed, you want to claim that listing and make sure the information is accurate and optimized.
If you’re not listed, then you want to sign up at Google Business and set up your listing.
Make sure your listing includes:
- Your address
- Your hours
- Your phone number and/or email address
- Your website, if you have one (see tactic number 2)
- Photos and videos
Even though they have way less search volume than Google, you might also consider checking or setting up your business listing on Bing and Yahoo.
Some people do still default to those search engines, and they are additional places you can collect reviews (see tactic #3).
At minimum, definitely make sure you have a strong listing on Google.
While researching for this article I came across a music school near me that was listed on both Yahoo and Bing business listings for “music lessons near me” but did not come up on the Google business listings at all.
Several years ago I spent a bunch of time searching online for musicians who teach flute lessons. We were new to the area so we weren’t yet connected with the music community. We know several great flutists now, and can highly recommend some of them as teachers. At the time I was searching, though, not one of them came up in a basic Google search. Even those who had websites and had been teaching in this area for many years.
You don’t want to be in their shoes!
2. Create a simple website.
A decade or so ago, this could be a little challenging.
That was then.
Today, with options like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix, you can have a gorgeous, simple website for free (or really, really cheap).
At bare minimum, I recommend setting up a single page that explains your services and why your ideal client will love them. It should include a simple “contact” form near the bottom, as well as your contact information.
You can even include a feature that allows new students to schedule their first lessons in available slots, or register for events or group classes.
Make sure your website is linked to your Google Business listing (see tactic #1).
(Note: Yes, SEO is important. So is good copywriting that will draw in your ideal clients. If you’re doing all this yourself, you can fine tune those things later. Having your website connected to your Google Business listing will help you tremendously, and something simple is a great start.)
3. Check your business listing on Yelp.
Local services like yours really benefit from review site listings and from positive reviews.
It’s a simple step you don’t want to ignore.
4. Collect reviews.
Ask current students to review you on Google and/or Yelp.
Either site is a good place to start.
If you ask your students and their parents in person, then have a postcard or handout to give them as a reminder. Make sure it includes the url of your business listing so they don’t have to search for it.
If you have your current students’ email addresses, you can easily email them asking for them to leave a review. Again, include the url of your business listing so they can click straight through.
Make it easy for them.
Moving forward, make it part of your routine to ask for reviews after every semester.
Take screen shots of the best reviews and save them in a designated folder. You can use them on your website and on social media.
If students and their parents are willing, you could even film short, informal video reviews.
5. Organize your email addresses into two lists.
I strongly recommend using a free email service such as MailChimp to start organizing your work-related communications.
Regardless of the service you choose, organize your work-related contacts into two lists.
The first email list is for current students and/or their parents.
You use this list for lesson-related communication and updates.
You can also use this list for an e-newsletter or other content and promotions.1
The second email list is for music-related connections.
This is for the local band directors, instrument repair shops, school music teachers, youth orchestra, and other people who interact directly with your ideal students.
You use this list for updates about your services and how you can serve these professionals and their students.
You can also use this list for a totally separate e-newsletter, content, or promotions.1
6. Start an email newsletter for potential students.
This email newsletter would go to a third email list, in addition to the two given in tactic #5.
It’s easy to have an opt-in box on your website.
There, people who visit your site and are interested in your lessons can enter their email address in order to start receiving emails from you.
You could choose to offer a free download in exchange for the email address.
Something like a printable pdf guide, checklist, or booklet.
If you can only focus on one list, this is the list to focus the bulk of your content marketing efforts.
This will help your prospects now (by giving them helpful tips and other content) and keep you at the top of their minds so they are more likely to come back to you later.
7. Start a blog.
Most of the basic websites you’d set up on the sites mentioned earlier include the ability to blog.
Blogging is a fantastic tool that can help you
- increase your website’s SEO ranking
- draw more qualified prospects
- build your email list
- build a faithful following
- increase enrollment in your music lessons
Write about the kind of things you find yourself needing to tell or explain to your students or their parents on a regular basis.
Those are the things your target audience will be hunting on Google and will appreciate.
8. Use Videos
If writing isn’t your thing, video content might be a great option for you.
It’s amazing what you can do with a smartphone and some good natural light.
You don’t need a fancy setup.
You don’t need expensive equipment.
You just need your awesome self, your personality, and some information that will educate, inspire, or entertain your target audience.
You can start a vlog or YouTube channel. YouTube videos can easily be posted on your blog, too, so you can reach out on both YouTube and your website. (And YouTube is a great platform if you want to boost your SEO!)
Videos can be really effective on social media, if you’re active there. (See tactic #12.)
If a channel is too big for you right now but you’re active on social media, try incorporating more videos into the posts and stories on your existing account(s).
Video interviews with your students, colleagues, or performance venues can be really fun.
Videos giving basic, introductory lessons, inspiration, and tips work really well for other music teachers.
9. Get involved in community organizations and events.
Many communities have organizations and events that promote music education. (I love the Music Resource Center here in Charlottesville!)
Make sure that your music studio is one of the names that pops up at these places in some way.
Sponsor a non-profit with proceeds from one of your gigs.
Teach a week of summer camp.
Accept special funding to offer lessons to children in the foster care system or other hardship situations.
At fundraisers or events, interact with potential students and parents.
10. Get involved in schools.
Reach out to all the schools in your local area that teach students in your target age range. (Don’t forget private schools and homeschool co-ops!)
Offer to give one-day music workshops. Leave lesson info with workshop participants. Pass around a sign up sheet so they can receive your emails.
Find ways to periodically volunteer or become involved in the school music programs or culture.
Volunteers are always needed to help with upcoming performances, and many volunteer jobs are great channels through which you can interact with potential students and their parents.
11. Be specific in your marketing.
In all your ads, fliers, and web copy, specify your target age group, preferred music style, and methodology.
Publish content that will appeal to your specific target audience.
Too broad of a net won’t catch the fish you want, if any. It’s better to reach less people who are actually interested than tons of people who couldn’t care less.
Plus, being specific shows people what makes you different than all the other music teachers out there.
12. Use social media – strategically.
Social media use should be very purposeful. If used strategically, it can boost your exposure in ways you’d find hard to believe before it happens.
Facebook groups are the way forward as far as Facebook exposure goes. You could create a Facebook group for students…
Or, since Facebook is the internet real estate of moms3, create a group for parents of music students. Share things they can share with their children, tips on practical things like getting kids to practice, encouragement, memes, and resources.
Moms are also active on Instagram, and there is so much you can do to engage them on that platform as well.
Survey your students to see where they hang out online and find ways to be present and interactive there.
13. Build long-term relationships.
Did you know that moms who have a good experience with their first child will come back to you with younger siblings?2
Don’t think of each student as a one-season client. Each household has potential to keep you busy for many years in a row.
Be the absolute best you can be, as a musician, a teacher, and a person. Do what you can to nurture community and those long-term relationships so families return to you again and again, and rave about you to their friends.
Time to take action
- Pick one tactic to use within the next week.
- Set aside a couple hours to read back through these tactics and make an action plan for your music studio.
Need a hand?
I specialize in understanding how to reach your target market.
I can write your web pages, e-newsletters, video scripts, social media posts, and downloadable content like how-to guides and ebooks.
If you can imagine it, I can get it written for you.
Email me now or click below to schedule a chat about how I can help you meet your goals.
1Note, you will need to be sure people have the chance to “opt in” to a business newsletter before using the lists for email content marketing, even if you already have their email addresses on hand for other communications.
2 96.5% of mothers surveyed said they would send all younger kids to the same business if her oldest child is treated well. “2018 Report Local Moms Online & Looking For You” HulaFrog, https://www.hulafrog.biz
3 96% of mothers surveyed reported using Facebook, and 72% reported that they log in to check Facebook multiple times every day. “2018 Report Local Moms Online & Looking For You” HulaFrog, https://www.hulafrog.biz