Sponsored by The Studio Director

A Studio Management System Could Make Your Life Easier—Here's How to Choose the Right One

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:


Class Registration and Customer Management

People love to be able to book classes online, and this feature allows current and prospective students to do just that. They can look up your class schedule, enroll and pay online, as well as request a spot on the waitlist. The system can also help you chart attendance and keep track of the students who are active in the database.

Bonus: Google Search Integration

The Studio Director also offers Google search integration, which is a great way to fill spaces in your existing class offerings. This functionality allows new clients to easily sign up for trial or drop-in classes right from the search page—bringing them into the studio quickly and easily.

Cloud-Based Systems

Cloud-based studio management systems provide accessibility from anywhere there's an internet connection. The Studio Director's system is mobile-friendly and can be viewed on any smart device, computer, tablet or smartphone, allowing you the flexibility to keep your studio running smoothly from wherever you are. You don't need to worry about installing software updates, or losing students' information in the event of computer trouble either, because data is automatically backed up on the cloud.

Payment Acceptance

Your studio management software should be able to accept payments directly. This not only saves you money, but reduces the amount of time you spend collecting, tracking and reconciling payments. Being able to handle all of your billing needs in one place (whether for classes, events or merchandise) prevents you from accidentally duplicating or losing track of entries. And online payment is often the easiest for clients, too!

Bonus: Event and Costume Management

The Studio Director provides event and costume management, a unique capability that comes in particularly handy during recital season. With this feature, you can assign costumes to classes, store students' measurements, collect payment for costumes, and input your event timeline so that everything arrives in time for the performance.

Email Communication

Instead of dealing with a separate platform for email, you should be able to communicate with current and future clients through your studio management system. This allows you to write and send both individual and group messages, so you can keep prospective and current students up to date on your latest schedule updates and offerings. You can design email templates and schedule messages to automatically go out at certain times, or create messages for smaller subgroups (like specific classes, age groups, the dance team, etc.).

Bonus: Specialized Marketing Communication

When it comes to email marketing, you can do even more than you think. The Studio Director's system allows you to target your promotions or specials to certain customers. For instance, you might send seasonal specials to your frequent clients, and introductory offers to your new or prospective customers. This can help you drive more traffic to your site and studio, while also catering to the needs of different types of clients.

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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