Transcript 101 – Andrea Miller on 100 Episodes of Music Studio Startup

Transcript: Episode 101 – Andrea Miller on 100 Episodes of Music Studio Startup

Transcript for Episode 101 – Andrea Miller on 100 Episodes of Music Studio Startup


[00:00:00] Andrea: Hey, it’s Andrea with Music Studio Startup. The podcast about the business of teaching music. Learn from the startup stories of music teachers who are doing incredible things with their studios. Be inspired by creating musicians who are branching out and thriving as entrepreneurs. Be empowered by the insights of experts who will help you grow your own studio.

Let’s get started.

Many years ago, I came across an illustration titled “The Emotional Journey of the Entrepreneur”. The illustration was just one continuous black line that showed a tall mountain on the left that immediately plunged into a deep deep valley, and then slowly rose up again toward the right, with little bumps and dips along the way.

The illustrator had marked four phases along the path describing the emotional state of the entrepreneur through these highs and lows. I can relate to these moments in my own journey. And today, as I look back on the previous 100 episodes of Music Studio Startup, I’m in awe of how generously the teachers and guests on the show have shared their stories through each of these phases.

Today’s episode is going to be a little different. I’m going to reflect on each of these phases and share some clips from interviews that illustrate that time for a particular entrepreneur. There’s the first phase, that mountain top. That time when we’re living on nothing but a dream. We’ve just started a new endeavor or chasing a new idea.

Everything is so fun and exciting. And we’re on top of the world because this idea, this one is incredible. It’s the one that will change the world and nothing can bring us down. I like this clip from episode 83, with Alyssa O’Toole reflecting on the early days of building her luxury music studio, Musician’s Playground.

[00:01:54] Alyssa: So for like the first five years of my existence, I was like, I think we’re making money. I think we’re good. So someone was like, you know how much I would have never known, I don’t know what the cost of services are. Let’s just have a good time. We’re good. I want to buy everybody everything like we’re okay to do that. Like I was much more in the, in the line of passion. Like, oh, if you love it, it’s going to work.

[00:02:25] Andrea: I think it’s no coincidence that when entrepreneurs reflect back on themselves in this phase of their business, they laugh. This phase is marked with unbridled, optimism and enthusiasm. It’s fantastic. The next phase is when reality starts to hit. It’s the downward slope from the mountain into the valley. Things aren’t working out quite the way we imagined. That idea or plan isn’t as perfect or foolproof as it once seemed. Things just seem harder now. The honeymoon is over. In episode 25, Stephanie described this moment in her voice studio.

[00:03:00] Stephanie: So on that I stepped out of corporate America about. I think it’s been about eight years, eight years ago. And so it took me a couple of years of just my own sort of trial and error. I was building up my studio and it got to that point where I was having, I had 35 students and working all the time. I was working every Saturday, which I hated because I thought to myself, oh, you know, some students, they need weekends. They don’t have availability during the week. I have to give up my Saturdays, you know. And I had a lot of limiting beliefs around what I could charge, how my business had to look, like I had to work in the evenings. I had to work on weekends. And it was really not fun. It just took the joy out of teaching.

[00:03:45] Andrea: In this phase, we start to question if we even like our ideas anymore. Things aren’t working. Entrepreneurs sometimes describe the depths of this phase as the pit of despair. This is when a lot of entrepreneurs contemplate quitting. And some do. But others don’t. Those who don’t quit enter the third base. This is the long shallow slope out of the valley.

And the third phase, there’s a renewed sense of determination, but it’s different from the determination of the first phase, because it’s backed by experience. This phase is still full of challenges and we’re not naive to them anymore, but there’s a sense of conviction that drives us to face them hed on. There’s something about going through the pit of despair and coming out the other side that gives a person the stamina to make the hard choices and go through the discomfort of growth. Here’s Chris Swan talking about this period in the development of his multi teacher studio..

[00:04:38] Chris: Yeah. So in 2018 I’ve been doing it for almost 10 years now. I was getting to the point, honestly, where I was getting a little burned out on having 35, 40 students to kind of run your life. You know, it was like all day, about four days of my week was just all day long lessons. And then I was still gigging on the weekends and stuff like that too. And it was just kind of getting to a point where I was a little, much.

Um, and I just had to make a decision around this either needs to grow to something bigger, or I need to make a change or something. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I’d also been learning a lot about business and marketing and stuff like that. So that’s when I just kind of started getting the idea around, well, what if I was able to hire some awesome teachers because you get to the point where your time is kept, right. 40 students. I was like, I can’t do any more than that. I have no more time. And even this feels almost too much with only the stuff I had going on. So it was like, how can I leverage this and make it bigger? I am out of time. So it was like, all right, I need to think about maybe turning this into a real business and hire some other teachers so then we can grow beyond what I can just do. So then private, I think it was the end of 2019 where I was like, okay, I’m ready to transition. I’m going to give all my students to these other teachers. Cause at this point I had six or seven teachers now it would just kind of people reaching out to me. I didn’t even really have to do a whole lot to find teachers.

They have just kind of finding us and word of mouth, friends of friends, stuff like that. But I had enough, I was like, okay, I think I’m ready to make this transition. So in that period was, that was tough because it was like these students I’ve had for a long time. Having to go to them and be like, love you. I’m so proud of you. I have another teacher that’s really great for you, but I need to step down from teaching so that I can focus on building this business. So in late 2019, I started having that, those conversations, which was really, really hard and sad. There are a couple of students, especially that were just I’ve had for a long time. And it was, it was really a most more emotional than I realized it would be, you know, but I knew that it’s just, I had to do it, or we were just gonna be stuck where we were. We were never going to grow beyond where we were.

[00:06:44] Andrea: Phase three is marked by intentional choices and deliberate practice. We might know what we need to do, but it’s not natural yet. I want to share another clip here from episode 85 with Susanna Klein, talking about the way she practices business.

[00:06:58] Susanna: So I consider in a way, all of these things, as long as I’m not drowning in debt and losing a lot of money, these are all like practice things for me, for like the long game. Because what I don’t want is to develop some really groundbreaking technology for musicians. And be a complete idiot in space. Have no business savvy, not know how to communicate with people, not know how to run a budget, not know how advertising, like at least the principles works, not know how press works, how you get people to write about you. I mean, I love these things that I’m doing to give me energy, so they make me happy. So that’s all good. But I also consider them sort of business practice.

[00:07:40] Andrea: And then there’s phase four. In this phase, we have a sense of intuition about our businesses. We’ve seen the business through a few cycles, navigated through the most common issues and can generally handle any surprises that come up without a big to-do. There’s still highs and lows, but we know those come with the gig and we’re not shaken by them as much because we have some experience to navigate them. Truth, be told we don’t hear from many people in phase four on this podcast because my guests tend to be the type of people who don’t sit in this spot for very long.

They immediately find a new challenge for themselves and jump back into phase one. So those are the four phases. Today, as you listened to this, which phase are you in? Are you in the thrilling startup phase? The challenging and sometimes discouraging reality check phase? Are you trying to make the climb out of the pit of despair or are you feeling restless from being in the fourth stage for too long?

What’s next for you? Over the last 100 episodes, we’ve gotten to be part of a lot of entrepreneurial journeys. It’s been such a privilege to share these stories with the world. I’m so grateful for the entrepreneurs behind them. Although this episode marks a personal and business milestone for me, it’s really a celebration of all the insanely creative entrepreneurial music teachers out there and their journeys.

Thank you for being a part of this. Here’s to the journey ahead. And one announcement before I go, if you are in the beginning of your music studio journey, or know someone who is you’ll want to check out the Studio Launch Grant Competition. Thanks to generous donations from Duet Studio Management, Alamo Music, Cascade Method, Dynamic Doodle Co, and Steve Hughes Virtual Piano Studio we’ll be awarding, a new or newish teacher, a $1,000 cash grant. Plus other gift certificates, trainings and teaching supplies to jumpstart their new studio. The deadline to apply for this grant is May 15th and you can find all the details at or in the show notes for this episode at

That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back next week.



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