Renting Commercial Space for Your Music Studio
Renting Commercial Space
Interested in renting commercial space for your music studio?
“So, you wanna start a business. How do you start? What do you need? Well, first of all, you need a building….”
–Michael Scott, The Office, “Business School” (Season 3, Episode 16)
In the sitcom “The Office,” Michael Scott, the inept but sincere manager, gives this advice in a lecture to college business students.
Of course, this is the absolute opposite of what you need to start a business. This is especially true for you as a private music teacher. In fact, one of the last things a music studio needs is to rent commercial space. But you might get to the point where you really do need it.
Once you get to this point, you likely have a thriving teaching studio. Congratulations!
If you’ve followed the steps on our blog, your studio is growing. And probably quickly!
At this point, it may be time to start renting commercial space. You’ll know you’re ready to take this step when at least some of the following things happen:
- You are making enough money to easily afford a more expensive location. Remember that rent should be no more than 30% of your monthly gross income.
- Your number of students is so large that it’s driving your family crazy.
- You want to hire additional teachers to share the large student load.
- You want to branch out to include instruments other than the one(s) you teach.
- Your current location no longer enables you to expand.
Pros for Renting Commercial Space
Respect as an established business
When we started renting commercial office space, we felt that some people started thinking of what we did more as a legitimate, mature business. Of course, many people make lots of money and have 40 or more students in their homes each week without the extra overhead. However, one benefit of renting space is that you will probably get more respect in the community as a visible business owner.
More advertising potential
With a brick-and-mortar location, you have the ability to put up visible signs that serve as permanent advertisement of your studio. You have the benefit of drive-by advertising—people seeing your studio sign as they pass, giving them the idea that they need music lessons, and they already know where you are located! You can also put up signs with special offers or discounts during strategic times of year.
Freedom to come and go as you please
When you rent space from another organization, like a church or school, you will have certain limitations as to hours you may be in the building. But when you start renting commercial space of your own, you choose when and how long you want to be there. If you want to teach an unusually late or early lesson, you have the freedom to do so.
Freedom to hire additional staff
Most churches and schools will put a limit on who can work there. Obviously, they need to keep track of who has keys to their buildings and confirm that their assets are safe and secure. Even though organizations might be ok with you as the business owner working there, they might not be as comfortable with your other teachers coming and going. This problem goes away if you’re renting commercial space—now you are in charge of whom you hire and allow to use your space.
Freedom to share your location during non-teaching hours
Your music studio schedule is somewhat limited in the amount of time that can be spent teaching students, as most of your students are in school for about 6 hours each day. Because of this time constraint, your studio will probably have some downtime during the middle of the day. So as the renter of this space, you could allow others to use it during your non-peak hours.
Perhaps a photographer needs a place to meet clients during the day, or a therapist needs a daytime location to meet patients. Now that you are renting commercial space, they could sublease it from you for a few hours a week, giving you extra cash and helping them meet their need as well.
Oh, and did you know that the therapist has a nephew who would like to start piano lessons? And that the photographer has a class he can teach children who are interested in taking better photos?
Boom! Smith School of Music just became Smith School of the Arts!
If you’re renting commercial space, you can customize the studio to look just how you want, including wall decorations that make the studio look uniquely “you.” Also, seasonal decorations make a nice, welcoming touch. If you have student achievements you’d like to post, you can do that freely in your own space. Each student could be highlighted in a special birthday corner.
You can also maintain your own library containing books and games to check out. If you have a spare computer, you could have that available for students to use to play theory or other music games. This is all in a safe, locked environment that is personally supervised by you.
When you’re renting commercial space, you’ll have better storage capabilities as well. This is a distinct benefit to renting from a church or school. Having to haul your teaching supplies with you every day can be challenging. A built-in closet or an added freestanding closet can go a long way, and the best part is that you don’t have to move your supplies!
A huge perk we can offer our teachers is a daytime practice location, since we’re renting a commercial space. When the studio isn’t being used for lessons, they can come and use our venue as their own practice room. For the teachers who live in apartments and can’t do much practicing at home, this is especially useful.
Cons of Renting Commercial Space
Growth of any kind brings new challenges. Here are some of the downsides to renting commercial space for your studio.
It’s true that it takes money to make money, but with your own space, more expenses come as well. Remember rent, utilities, décor items, supplies, a vacuum, and other items will add to your budget each month. Also, if you need more than one piano, that will add significant cost as well.
You may have increased responsibilities if you start renting commercial space. You will probably need to remove the snow in front of your door. You may have to pay part of the cleaning service for a shared restroom. You will need to clean your studio or hire an outside company to clean it.
If your workspace isn’t soundproof, and most commercial spaces are not, you need to consider sound pollution and the impact it will have on your neighbors. Be aware that you will probably have to invest in some dampening materials to help absorb the sound of your lessons. This is less of a problem for quieter instruments, like cello or viola, and more of a problem for high or loud instruments, like violin and trumpet.
While renting or borrowing space from a community center or church, you probably didn’t need to worry about furniture or decoration for your room. But when you start renting commercial space, you’ll probably need to provide everything other than the four walls. Remember the need for furniture (desk, chair, teaching chair, waiting chairs, bookshelves), wall decorations, doormat, doorstop, cabinets, music stands, soundproofing material, and possibly a computer.
Tips to make it work
So you can see that renting commercial space must fit a fairly specific list of requirements. Keep these final points in mind when looking for a space that’s right for you.
- Right size (Big enough, but not too big)
- Restroom accessibility
- Waiting area for parents
- Ability to fit a piano
- Soundproof enough to not disturb neighbors
Be sure to crunch the numbers to make sure you can afford rent and the other added costs listed above. Your first contract will likely be a two-year lease, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you sign. While it’s thrilling and freeing to have one’s own space, there are strings attached that need consideration.
Of course, you could do the bare minimum and offer lights on a music stand with two chairs, but it probably won’t produce positive results in client retention. If you make your space friendly, professional and comfortable—and you can afford it—your students will love your new location!
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