One of the things I have helped people with is turning their passion for music into a business. I am a musician myself, so it’s easy for me to relate to how passionate most musicians are. Whether a total novice, hobbyist like myself, or a seasoned pro, playing music tends to be one of the most cathartic things someone can do. As an aside, sure, lots of children are “forced” into lessons by their parents; I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative sense, as these parents have great intentions. Some of these children may not love playing instruments because of this reason. Aside from this, I find people that play music find it one of the most rewarding, exciting, and fulfilling things they have ever done. And even those kids that are disgruntled at being forced into it end up loving the fact that their parents made them do it, once they realize the joy their musical talents bring to the world around them.
So what does this have to do with business? Well, lots of things. It can be hard to turn passions for playing music into a money making venture. The path most people romanticize is “making it” as a band or solo artist. This is not something I’m going to cover here, as it’s a complicated topic that does not really have a how-to guide written for it. Rather, I want to talk about something I have been able to mentor some of my mentees on, that is, starting a business by *teaching* music to other people.
Specifically, I’m talking about teaching people online, not in person. Becoming a music teacher (whether part time or full time) means renting out your time by the hour, and establishing a local client-base by word of mouth or advertising. This is quickly becoming an antiquated notion in my opinion, as the world is shifting towards being able to accomplish more and more things from your laptop or smartphone. By teaching music lessons online, the beauty of it is that you invest time and money in creating the audio and video material once, and then it can be enjoyed by countless people in perpetuity. Your client base is then limited by the amount of people on the internet who may or may not even know they want to take your music lessons! It can become a totally passive stream of income if you are able to put in the work it takes to pull this off well.
Several students of mine are guitar players. Mind you, one of them is not even that advanced of a guitar player… and yet, she was able to put together an online lesson package which is selling quite well, and is well on its way to replacing nearly half the income she is making from her day job. If it can replace half soon, it will surely replace 100% of it soon.
The trick here is that you want to target your lessons at more of a niche, rather than compete with the big guys offering online guitar lessons. What do I mean by niche? Well, you don’t want to compete with what’s currently at the top of the game for generic things like online guitar lessons, video guitar lessons, etc. Instead, try focusing on a smaller segment of the market – guitar lessons for country music fans, guitar lessons for blues fans, British rock guitar lessons. You can even get more creative! If you want to do more technical guitar lessons and maybe talk about some modern guitar and recording gear, you could say Guitar lessons for geeks! Or even Guitar Lessons for Girls, by Girls! I think the point is you want to carve out your own space where you can compete. Not only will you then be able to focus more and generate lessons faster, but when I get to the point where I talk about advertising your music/guitar lessons online, you’ll see how much easier this makes getting clients.
In the meantime, make sure you have all the gear you need to get started. An electric guitar, some basic accessories like a tuner, and perhaps a small practice amp, and a decent microphone and camera so you can record yourself giving these lessons. If you are in the United States, you can shop at Guitar Center for all of these things.
Stay tuned, I will cover the next steps in future blog posts! Until then, your thought exercise is to come up with a dozen ideas about niche music lessons that get you excited.