Retail Disruptors – Michael Cathrea, Resonate Music School & Studio (2019 Summer NAMM)
Michael Cathrea opened Resonate Music School & Studio in 2012 and has since grown the music lesson program to 1,200 students. His strategy was to embrace changing consumer habits and adapt music lessons to this new reality. During “Retail Disruptors” at 2019 Summer NAMM, he shared his business model with NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond. (Watch the video for the full interview.)
For starters, Cathrea did away with the notion that music lesson programs are tied to the school year, September through June. “With us, it’s month to month,” he said. “It’s a membership-based system. You start when you want. You finish when you want. There’s no contract, no term, no school year. We basically tried to be as flexible as possible. Often, [lesson businesses] try to avoid makeup lessons; we went to unlimited makeup lessons.”
Cathrea said he also wanted Resonate Music School & Studio to have a look and feel that inspired learning. This included investing in proper sound treatment in rooms, offering students a free hour in a professional recording studio every three months and putting iPads in the waiting area. “That’s the best babysitter in the world,” he added with a laugh.
Plus, he was able to get teacher buy-in since instructors had an opportunity to stay busy year-round. “What would often happen in our market … [teachers] would get laid off in the summers and have to find seasonal work, and that didn’t make a bunch of sense to me. So, they get to stay busy 12 months of the year, and their students stay with them a lot longer. We find the retention is much better because we’re giving them the flexibility that they’re getting everywhere else in all the other services and products they consume.
“I think we have to realize that we’re not just in the education business. For us, we look at it as we’re an experience business. You have to take all those aspects into account.”