Music lessons guru Pete Gamber and Hal Leonard’s Dave Cywinski teamed up at The NAMM Show to illustrate the power of marrying music lessons with sales. They shared valuable retail and music publisher insights that got retailers thinking about the easy link between lessons and print music sales.
So how do you create profitable sales with your lesson program and print music? Here are a few key tips:
Sell print music with your lessons. “You’re so happy to have students coming in to take lessons, you often don’t sell them anything,“ Gamber said. Tell your students exactly what books they need to buy from you before they start their first lesson.
Be the best source for print music. “Everyone has a retail music store in their pocket with their smartphone,” Gamber said. “Show your customers you have what they want rather than lose the sale to online ordering or another store.” He added that customers need to be trained to buy print music from you.
Communicate with your teachers. Cywinski pointed out that teachers can waste time and money in your store by writing out music sheets for students. “Get them on-board, and help them change that pattern,” he said. Gamber added that he won’t hire teachers who don’t use books. He also suggested that you don’t let teachers download and burn a CD for students—it’s a copyright violation, and you’ll lose money on print music sales. Make sure your teachers are aware.
Use your publishers as a resource. Cywinski suggested sitting down with your teachers to find out what materials you can carry to support them and their students. “It’s important for your teachers to get comfortable teaching with books you can recommend,” he said. Teachers don’t always know what new formats are available. Share publisher updates with teachers, and encourage them to use new print music selections and stay engaged.
Come up with a list of print music for your store. Share it with your teachers to see if they’d be interested in adding these books with the method book. Get your staff involved in creating and promoting the list to parents and students. “Parents will support music education for their kids and go for whatever’s going to make that lesson work,” Cywinski said.
Offer songbooks with audio tracks. “If you’re waiting for lesson students to discover songbooks on their own, it’s not likely to happen,” Cywinski said. “In the meantime, your teacher might lose a student if they get bored, and you might lose a customer.” Cywinski and Gamber stressed that it’s important to offer songbooks with CDs. These packages help support what students learn each week in lessons. Even if the teacher says the student’s not ready, the student will still go home and play the CD.
Give students more reasons to play. Gamber stated that songbooks incentivize students to play. “Use method books but also use fun books, too. It represents a promise to the student that they’re going to play some cool music and be able to jam, so they’re self-motivated and will progress faster. It also increases lesson retention.”
Sell chord books to every student. Don’t forget the basics of a chord book, whether it’s for guitar, piano or keyboards—any instrument.
Train your staff to add on print music the same as they do accessories. Change your employees’ mentality. “You don’t rent or sell instruments without the add-ons, so why wouldn’t you tell your students exactly what they’re going to need for their lessons?” Gamber asked rhetorically. Always ask beginning students if they want to look at songbooks.
Test books before you buy them. “All publishers have programs so retailers can test books before you buy,” Cywinski said. Gamber suggested ordering a single copy of a book, then passing it around and asking teachers for feedback. If several teachers like it, order more.
Join the Retail Print Music Dealers Association (RPMDA). If you carry any print music at all, you can become a member of RPMDA. It’s a great organization.
Gamber’s and Cywinski’s final advice: Use print music to make sure your students have fun and become longtime players.