Most studio owners offer half-hour or hour lessons with pricing that reflects the type of instruction and services they or their teachers are providing. For example, lessons on technique and general instruction are often priced differently from those that include choreography (which usually makes the cost go up). You may wish to offer private or semi-private coaching options at a reduced price for students in your performance company who want feedback on their solos and duos.
Before you decide what to pay your teachers, it is important to know your liability and responsibility as the studio owner. You might think you’re saving money on administrative costs or taxes by letting students pay teachers directly or paying teachers as independent contractors, but the risks associated with this may be more costly in the long run. If this is the protocol at your studio, you are essentially letting your teachers run a business within your business—and they should provide their own liability insurance and/or pay you a studio rental fee to use the space. We recommend you consult with your insurance agent to know what is covered by you and what should be required of your teachers.
At our studio, we charge students $30 per half hour and $55 per hour for private lessons. We also offer a discount incentive: If parents pay for 10 lessons in advance, they receive 10 percent off the total price. Our teachers are paid as employees with standard tax deductions at this agreed-upon rate—they earn $20 for a 30-minute lesson and $40 for an hour lesson. The studio keeps the remainder to cover the cost of commercial and liability insurance, utilities and office administration.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.
Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety