Sizing Up the Competition

If you’re trying to start or grow your music studio in a crowded market, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the other teachers and music schools in your area (geographic or virtual). These are your competitors.

In this post, I walk through how to do a competitive analysis AND how to use the insights you glean from it to build your studio.

Competition and Your Studio

The word “competition” can carry a lot of baggage for musicians. (That’s a whole different post!)

I should start by saying that I generally see competition as a positive thing for the musical community.

I’m not saying competition won’t have an impact on our studios. Actually, the opposite. I think competition should have an impact. And I think that impact can be positive.

My goal with a competitive analysis is to guide us to a complementary (rather than antagonistic) relationship with the other teachers and schools in our communities.

Analyzing the Competition

If you want the printable worksheet I created for this exercise, you can get it here:

Otherwise, grab a notebook and get started!

1. Identify Your Competitors

Put yourself in the mindset of a prospective student and look for music studios where they would look: Google search, Google Maps, Craigslist, Facebook, neighborhood social networks like

2. Evaluate Their Strengths and Weaknesses

Browse the studio websites to see what they’re doing really well and where they fall short. Read their reviews to see what students like and don’t like about the studio.

Take notes. Pay special attention to how the studios differentiate themselves from one another through the language the use on their websites. (Also pay attention if they don’t differentiate themselves.)

3. Find the Gaps

Using the insights you gathered on other studios, look for gaps and unmet needs in the music lesson market.

Is there a lack of professionalism? Are they all trying to reach the same type of student? Do they have identical teaching philosophies? Write down your observations.

4. Meet Real Needs

Keep in mind that there’s only a “gap” in the market if people are asking for something different than is being offered.

You may notice that every studio closes at 9pm on weekdays and you’re willing to teach until midnight. If people are clamoring for late-night lessons, you’ll be the go-to studio! But… if your target customer’s bedtime is 8:30pm, these extended hours don’t meet a need for them.

(Now, if you notice that no studios are open on the weekends, that might be a gap worth filling!)

Review your gap-filling ideas and rule out any that aren’t meeting “real” needs.

5. Consider Your Skills and Interests

Just because you’ve found a gap doesn’t mean you, personally, must be the one to fill it.

Let’s say you notice that no studios are focusing on teenage beginners. You know there’s an opportunity there, but the thought of teaching basic note-reading to adolescents makes you groan. This might not be the gap you want to step into.

Make a final review of your list and find the market gaps that align with your skills and interests.

(If you are looking to hire other teachers, keep these other “gaps” in mind. These complementary skill sets are just what you want to look for when interviewing!)

Turning Insights Into Action

By now you have a thorough understanding of the music lesson options your students are considering, you’ve identified a need in the market, and you’ve figured out a way to fill it.

Keep this at the top of your mind when you’re writing content for your website or talking to prospective students.

These distinguishing features are the things they want to know about!

Also, don’t be afraid to call up a competitor when you have a student who would be a better fit for their studio. It’ll give you a reason to introduce yourself, promote goodwill, and foster a culture of generosity and reciprocity in your local music community. It may seem idealistic, but I see it working all the time.

How competitive is your music lesson market?


In case you didn’t get it earlier, sign up here to get the Competitive Analysis Worksheet (and other music studio business tips!) delivered to your inbox:

Previous Episode
Creating a Personal Budget + Worksheet!
Next Episode
Creating a Music Studio Financial Plan