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  • Davis Dorrough

Optimize Your Music Studio: Technology Tips to Save You Time, Energy, and Money

Mac computer and iPad with calendar on screen

In my first few years of teaching, I was plagued with an array of spreadsheets, paper records, and repeated trips to the bank.

I also spent far too much time on email and other forms of communication--usually just repeating myself again and again!

As Angela and I have adopted more efficient technology systems one at time, there has been a liberating trend in our day-to-day work. So much of the tedious stuff is running in the background now. Instead, we have more time to do the things we love!

Here are five ways new technology and automation can help you move from “task-oriented” work to passion-filled activities:

  1. Virtual Assistants

  2. Studio Management Software

  3. Electronic Payment Methods

  4. Automated Bill Pay

  5. Quickbooks Self-Employed

1. Virtual Assistants and Smart Home Technology (Alexa and Google)

Virtual assistants are quickly gaining popularity as artificial intelligence and integrated technology become more and more accessible. Alexa and Google Home are two such assistants that can complete tasks via voice command.

This past summer I decided to purchase an Amazon Echo Dot (Alexa). I have to admit that the device was doing little more than collect dust for the first few months in my home, so I decided to learn more about its capabilities and try it out in my music studio instead. I have also read quite a bit about Google Home and several of my family members use that instead and really love it!

Both Alexa and Google Home have the capability to add events to your google or apple calendar, call contacts hands free, play music, answer general knowledge questions or define terms (although Alexa still struggles with Italian music terms a bit), and even purchase items (although you may want to turn off this feature when using it in a public space). Oh...and, one other cool feature is that you can control lights and other devices using wifi plugs such as those sold by Wemo.

I now have all of my lights, office equipment, stereo system, and other electronics setup to power on and off via voice command. All I have to say when I enter the studio in the morning is “POWER ON” and everything magically snaps to life.

Keep in mind that privacy may be an issue for some students during lessons. Fortunately, you can always mute Alexa or pull the plug completely if that’s a concern.

You may also wish to disable “drop-in,” which works like an intercom system between contacts. You won’t want any friends or family interrupting during lessons.

Whether I’m adding a new appointment to the calendar or calling up a recording for a student during a lesson, my digital assistant is proving to be a really valuable tool in my music studio.

2. Studio Management Software

Studio management software is possibly the single most important piece of technology that I currently use. In the old days, I tracked everything manually through either hand written records or spreadsheets.

With sixty students enrolled at the time, this was nothing short of a crazy-making situation. I needed some help!

After trying several different studio management systems, I finally settled on MyMusicStaff, which is only $12.95/mo for one teacher, unlimited students, and unlimited storage.

MyMusicStaff application displayed on computer, tablet, and smartphone

When I say it does everything except wash the dishes, I’m being pretty honest. The capabilities are robust and include:

  • Attendance and make-up lesson tracking

  • A studio calendar that also syncs with my google and apple calendar

  • Auto Invoicing that is integrated with PayPal so that students can pay online.

  • Lending library tracking

  • Free studio website

  • Enrollment form that puts student information directly into your student database (no more data entry!)

  • Email and text reminders (automate reminders so students won’t forget lessons and events)

  • A portal that students and parents can login to in order to see important lesson and payment information

  • Ability to save email templates so you no longer have to type the same thing over and over again

  • And...really...so much more…

MyMusicStaff can be automated in so many ways. With this system in place, I spend no more than ten minutes a day on the book-keeping aspects of my business.

3. Electronic Payment Methods

Customer making a near field communication transaction with square reader