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Advice needed re: starting baby music classes PLEASE!

(7 Posts)
WannabeMusician Tue 05-Apr-11 20:08:28

I am really keen to start up baby music classes in my area but am worried about doing it from scratch. I am a SAHM so cannot afford a franchise but don't know anything about running a business, such as copyright regulations for using music CDs in the classes, and as for doing my own taxes... [faints]

I am confident about the content of the classes as I have been a primary school teacher and have a music degree but as for the organisation and legalities, I am stumped. I know there are no music classes in my area currently and have researched the ones in the surrounding areas, don't think I would be treading on any toes.

I am not looking to make a fortune, just to earn a living doing something I really enjoy. Any advice or words of encouragement welcomed. Even if you have no advice, please tell me your success stories so I can feel positive!

Also, if you have any advice on practical things I should be doing to move forward, all the better. At the moment it is a vague notion because I have no idea where to start, but would love to get going.


tinytalker Tue 05-Apr-11 21:36:26

Have you looked at a Tinytalk franchise? The cost is a fraction of other music franchises and they give you all neccessary business/book keeping advice.
I am an ex primary teacher and have been with them for nearly 8yrs now.

Thornykate Wed 06-Apr-11 16:17:23

Hi have you looked on business link or on your local chamber of commerce websites?

Although there has been/ will be cutbacks there are still some free/cheap advice services for those looking to start own business. I have had free start up course, seminars & business advisor none of which were means tested.

good luck!

ShellingPeas Wed 06-Apr-11 21:22:17

I am an instrumental music teacher who also runs pre-school music classes on an independent basis - I've been doing it forever (or so it seems) so I can probably shed some light on some of your queries.

Firstly, re tax - at this stage it's most logical to set yourself up as a sole trader and then register with the tax office as self employed. You need to do this within 3 months of beginning trading or you could be liable to a £100 fine. If you don't earn anything, you don't pay any tax. You need to keep sensible records of incomings (ie class fees) and outgoings such as hall hire, insurance etc. Keep all your receipts, for absolutely everything. Set up a bank account for your business and keep this separate from you personal banking - there are some which are free for small businesses.

Make sure you get public liability insurance - Michael Morton or Blackfriars are good starting points or you could try the Pre-School Learning Alliance.

CRB checks - not necessary but would assume as a primary teacher you already have one.

Regarding using pre-recorded music in your sessions... well, it's a little bit of a minefield. You can get a Public Performance Licence (PPL) which would cover you for people who have registered with them, but a lot of pre-school music isn't covered by this. Some people require you to take out an annual licence to use their music, others may grant you free use if you sell their products. I now produce and use all my own music so can (thankfully) avoid this issue. Best idea is to contact the producer of any CDs or downloads and make sure first.

You are freely able to use any music in the public domain such as nursery rhymes or action songs if you sing them yourself unaccompanied or provide your own backing music, either pre-recorded by yourself or if you play guitar or keyboards for example.

Making a living from it is perfectly possible but do allow yourself around 18 months to two years before you make any reasonable profit from your efforts. I've been running my classes for around 8 years and have a good 5 figure turnover, but would lose around a third of that in costs such as hall hire, insurance, transport, equipment etc. It takes time to build up a market presence and even then you have fluctuations in how 'popular' your group is depending on which uber-mum is attending whose sessions - it's very word of mouth driven and sometimes one person will send everyone in one direction, which is great if it's yours... not so good if it's not!

Anyway, before I send you off to sleep - it's fab job, but bloody hard work. You need to spend time, money and effort to get it off the ground and don't expect instant results. Give yourself time to grow into the role and develop a good product.

Best of luck and if you have any specific queries do ask.

WannabeMusician Thu 07-Apr-11 16:17:30

Thanks all! tinytalker, have emailed TinyTalk to find out initial costs so am looking forward to info. Thorny, great advice about the free seminars, I will look around and find my local business link (am guessing I can just google and go from there? See, I am totally cluless!) Shelling, some very practical advice. I have a CRB check but don't know if you have to have one for each seperate institution, also whether it is current if I have not worked for 18 months. Will contact as you suggested about the cost of insurance as this, I am assuming, would have to be paid upfront.

I could play guitar and sing but would love to have a CD so I could be more interactive with the children, another cost to consider. I don't have much in the way of available funds at the moment as have not worked for ages so although I am not looking for a massive profit to begin with, I cannot afford to make a loss for more than a couple of months. Am I being unrealistic?

I know I could go back to work for a few years, save and then start a business but I really want to do something outside of the classroom and work around my son to avoid childcare costs as well.

Thanks again, a big help.

ShellingPeas Thu 07-Apr-11 22:15:02

Using backing music or singing unaccompanied is definitely helpful for interaction with the children - you can't do actions or demonstrate anything when you're playing a guitar or keyboard. But I still do use live instrumental playing for at least one song in my classes because the children (and parents) really like it, so you wouldn't lose out in that respect.

Re unrealistic expections about making a living, well it depends where you are, whether you have a captive audience who are willing to pay, how much you charge, how much your costs are, how many classes you run, what the demand is... Lots of variables!

To be perfectly honest I'd say that if you need to earn more than just pin money in the first 18 months then you are probably unrealistic. Say you start by running 2 classes one morning a week - best case scenario of full classes of 14 children at £4 each, then you could earn £112, but you need to deduct your hall hire (£10-£15 per hour) and other costs so make it £70 after expenses. But this is on a best case scenario and doesn't include your start up costs of purchasing equipment (say £300 for instruments and puppets/props), advertising, insurance etc. In the start you're unlikely to have full classes, so you need to factor your costs on 6 to 8 children per session rather than 14 and then things don't look so rosy at £30 for a morning's work. And none of this includes your time in lesson preparation or research. Don't forget too that unless you run sessions through the school holidays there are 13 weeks of the years with no income. You might break even but you won't be wealthy initially.

Sorry if I sound negative but I think you need to be realistic about earning potential - sometimes there is a view (not necessarily one that you hold!) that people running pre-school classes are making shed loads of money when in fact there are an awful lot of hidden costs. Unless you happen to be the owner of a nationwide franchise you're unlikely to be driving round in Rolls!

Having said all of the above I started out running one class a week, with a minimal financial outlay so it is possible to do it - it just takes time and perseverance so it depends on how quickly you need to get a good return on your investment.

crowface Mon 19-Sep-11 14:58:14

Just to back up what ShellingPeas said, I looked into a franchise (I won't mention who as it may look like sour grapes!) and worked out it would take a least a year to get the money back. I know someone who has the franchise and after 2 years they feel they finally have 2 established classes a week, but they operate at around 50% of the recommended class capacity. At max capacity you'd earn about £2300 pa.

I was rejected for running the franchise, for a couple of rather woolly reasons, but having looked again at the figures then I think I've had a lucky escape! Definitely try and set up on your own as even a franchise is only successful if you have the drive and determination. And that way you get to keep all of the money!

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