New Technologies to Grow Your Lesson Program

Music retailers are increasingly using video as part of their online marketing toolbox. Among them, Billy Cuthrell of Progressive Music Center started shooting video music lessons and distributing them to students before YouTube, Facebook and Instagram even existed. Fast-forward to 2017 Summer NAMM, where Cuthrell and his company’s social media manager Barrett Certoma shared their know-how on using new video technology to get more people and students in the store.

Here are their best ideas. (Watch the video for the full session.)

Get Video-Inclusive
Smartphones now give you video making capabilities and content in your pocket. Cuthrell mentioned that you can have good video channels and still have low subscription rates. “The measure is how many people are turning into a customer and coming into your store and taking a physical lesson,” Cuthrell said.

He used one of his company’s music teachers to illustrate his point. Chuck Barchuk has a YouTube channel that draws in students from all over the world. The channel lets Barchuk sell customized lessons and pre-recorded packages, convert viewers to students, and assist in-house students with private lessons.

Certoma commented that video is a good way for people to see your staff up close and personal, especially for the Yelp generation. Cuthrell said, “We use our YouTube channel to pre-introduce a teacher to a student,” and added, “It puts people at ease.”

Have Video Tech Criteria for Your Store
Cuthrell advised what to look for when choosing video technology:

• Inexpensive. (YouTube is free.)

• No long-term contracts or wordy service agreements.

• Easy-to-use with a low learning curve. The technology must be intuitive and fast.

• Offers benefits to teachers, students and staff.

• Will be here next year. The technology must have a proven track record.

• Compatibility. Will the product work with other products you use or offer future integration?

Consider Gadgets and Apps
Cuthrell commented that there are so many platforms now that you can’t use just one. You’ll want to be on iOS and Android. Don’t let that be an excuse to not use video technology.

WiFi Camera
- Inexpensive.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Great for grandparents or parents who want to check in on lessons from another location and time zone. They can log in and watch on their iPads.
- Parents can watch from the waiting room.
- You can monitor your teaching space remotely.

Google Chromecast
- Inexpensive. Cuthrell uses Chromecast on all of his company’s TVs. (He opted out of cable TV a long time ago.)
- Easy to set up and use. It should take 5–10 minutes at most.
- Great for streaming your YouTube channel to any television. Cuthrell creates playlists and streams to his TVs in-store.

- Very inexpensive and easy to set up.
- Regular email correspondence can help parents stay updated on lesson progress. Cuthrell sends emails to parents with links of video clips, asking, “Did you watch the video lesson last week yet?” He also sends video clips to teachers to update and help them with corrections.
- Lots of great apps.
- You can share files via Google drive.

Google Drive
- 15 GB of free online storage. (Video files are large.) Cuthrell uses Google Drive to deliver videos to students.
- Can be accessed from any phone, tablet or desktop.
- Great to share documents and files with multiple users.
- Great to collaborate.
- It’s free!

Boomerang for Gmail
- Schedule email messages for specific times and dates. (This is ideal for lesson scheduling to send appointment reminders). Examples: “Did you watch the video we sent to you last week?” “I’ll see you tomorrow at lesson time.”
- Set up read receipts. Make sure the student opened it.
- Click tracking.
- Salesforce and CRM integration.
- It’s free for the basic package. Cuthrell pays for it because he wants add-ons, such as AI apps.

- Free 30-day trial, then low rates thereafter.
- Can be used for larger files that email does not support. Cuthrell uses Dropbox for larger videos.

- Great for Apple/iOS users.
- Encrypted.
- Uses Bluetooth between devices.

Use Live Video
Cuthrell said he had used Skype and FaceTime but has switched to Zoom. (Watch the video clip of one of his teachers giving a lesson on the platform.)
- HD screen-sharing and hardly any lag times. You can have as many as 50 people in a lesson room with you, or you can have meetings and webinars. Teachers can have their students log on via their iPads and follow along. There are no distortions in sound, especially with drum lessons.
- Compatible with Mac and Windows.
- Multiple users. You can assign staff and teachers as administrators.
- Webinar tier. Cuthrell uses his company’s Zoom account for webinars. His staff can log on remotely for meetings instead of coming into the store.
- Lots of helpful features, such as Annotation, Highlighting and Chat Box.
- The basic package is free. Cuthrell wanted some of the add-ons, so he pays.

Cuthrell recommended recording your webinars, so people who can’t participate can still watch the webinars at a later time. A few applications include:
- Staff trainings and meetings.
- Special studio events. Get creative, including events such as fundraisers.
- Introducing new teachers or teacher spotlight once a week recorded live.
- Sales meetings.
- Product demos.
- Vlogs.

Video Email
- It’s email with embedded video, so you can send any size video to whomever you want. (25 MB is the cutoff for Gmail.)
- BombBomb can help design your email, so your audience is more likely to watch the video. BombBomb can insert YouTube videos or create videos on the fly (try the BombBomb app on your phone), provide clickable links to your website, respond with video options, and track open rates and link clicks.

- Facebook Live. Cuthrell livestreamed one of his in-store rock camp concerts and received numerous email inquiries.