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
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

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Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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