Approximately 3 years ago, my love of music and business gave me the opportunity to take a risk and enter the music education industry by joining the Music Lab family as one of their location owners. With the new format that the Music Lab business model was taking on at the time, I wanted to take a moment and share my honest experience of what it has been like being the owner of the Music Lab Rocklin location. In 3 short years we’ve gone through so many changes, challenges, goals, etc… so I really wanted to share how unique the experience has been in detail.
Firstly, I wanted to give a little bit of background regarding the situation I stepped into. When I first asked the original owner, Serge Lysak, to allow me to take over the Music Lab Rocklin location, each of the 3 Music Lab locations were owned and managed by Serge on his own. The Rocklin location at the time had primarily just drum students with a few guitar students. When I stepped in, our vision was clear: expand the location to include all instruments, an upgraded facility, add tools for our students, and initiate a more focused marketing strategy for each Music Lab location.
When I first stepped in, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I loved music, business, and I was willing to work hard. Coming from a corporate background working 80-hour weeks in a large firm, I understood what hard work actually entails. The fact of the matter is that most people don’t understand that hard work includes true sacrifice. In the business world, the sacrifice comes in the form of finances, long hours (there is no 9-5), and a willingness to do what it takes to succeed. As cliché as it may sound, very few individuals are willing to put in this sacrifice. Everyone wants to start their own business but astronomically few are willing to do what it takes which is why 80% of small businesses fail and way more than 80% do not make a profit in the music lesson industry. I truly felt I had an advantage as the new owner of the Rocklin location by understanding that. I was ready to get my hands dirty.
The first major advantage that I immediately noticed in being a part of the Music Lab brand is the resources that were immediately available to me in ANY situation that I faced. If I needed a custom flyer printed, new equipment needed, logo’s designed, merch made, graphics made, etc… I immediately had a resource to turn to in the Music Lab online support portal. To say it was easy to use and work with would be a complete understatement. I’d put in what I needed, the quantity, what type I need, etc… and I’d receive it in days. I can say with absolute certainty that I have never heard of a music lessons school have a “one-stop-shop” that is designed by their own company for anything you need to help you succeed. Can a new business owner find someone to design and print flyers? Sure. Can they find someone to make t-shirts? Sure. Can they find their own website designer? Sure. However, they cannot find a one-stop-shop for ALL their needs AND practice their instrument AND teach AND effectively run social media, etc… not a chance. The reality is that there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything yourself and if you try, your competition that has a team is already 100 steps ahead of you. The Music Lab brand is now becoming a streamlined model of different people being responsible for a very specific area of the business to help it succeed and grow. Serge, his business partner Jason, and their team at are responsible for the website and marketing, individual owners are responsible for running the day to day operations of their locations, the instructors are able to focus on teaching their students and keeping the customer happy, etc…
The second thing I noticed was the strength of the brand itself. This is by far the most overlooked aspect of the music lessons business. This is due to the fact that most musicians are so passionate about their art form and love of music that they overlook the fact that they still have to actually sell their product. No matter how good your product or service is, it is completely useless if no one knows about it. For example, a type of ice cream can taste as good as you want it to but if no one knows about it or the brand then its useless. The brand and the marketing strategy to grow this brand are what help a business grow, with that comes public trust. and that results in sales. After becoming an owner, I started to wear Music Lab t-shirts and other merch. I would walk into stores and coffee shops around the city, and I’d be constantly asked if I worked at the Music Lab. This was such a pleasant surprise because what it showed is that we had actual major brand notoriety in our area stemming from our history. This is extremely difficult to achieve and takes time assuming you have a great brand. Music schools to this day make the obvious mistake of not standing out from their competition by using corny notes, bass clefs, treble clefs, and pictures of instruments in their branding. I was able to see pretty quickly that in the early Music Lab/Drum Lab days, this was a mistake that was not made. Our logo, color scheme, history, and reputation was fresh and modern from the major investment and effort made into it over the years. I quickly became extremely grateful that the brand I took such a financial risk on was not named “Joe Shmo’s Guitar Lessons” and wasn’t paired with a logo that included flying notes. The amount of referrals we’d have, returning students, etc… was second to none and very refreshing. If you don’t have a reputable brand with a historical track record, you have a very large hill to climb.
The third massive advantage that I’ve come to see is another advantage I truly believe no other music school has. That is a TEAM of owners that are all truly vested in each other succeeding due to the ownership share everyone has in either the revenue or the branding. This is an extremely unique structure that I’m extremely grateful for. Our business and industry in general has experienced some extreme changes over the years. We’ve had to deal with sudden instructor changes, law changes that did not allow us to have instructors as contractors, power outages, and a global pandemic. This is just scratching the surface. With every challenge may come a sense of panic but because the Music Lab has a TEAM that is vested in each other’s success, any challenge we came across led us to have meetings and brainstorming sessions to put many heads together and talk through how we will tackle the issue at hand. The reason I am mentioning this advantage of TEAM is because this not only helped me succeed but it helped me to THRIVE. In an era where individual music school owners were scrambling on how to deal with the contractor law change on their own, we were calm and collected as a team and made the switch easily due to the different skill sets and backgrounds we had within our team. In times where an instructor would leave one of our locations extremely suddenly, I didn’t have to scramble like an individual music store owner would. I was simply able to pull instructors from our TEAM of location owners. When the corona virus pandemic began, we simply did not panic. As businesses are shutting down, we are thriving thanks to our marketing resources and brand history that other businesses either simply don’t have or are having to spend an absolute fortune for.
In conclusion, my 3 year anniversary with the company is in about a month and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join the Music Lab team. The business world is a tremendously difficult endeavor to take on. The music education business world is even harder as far as becoming actually profitable, not just surviving. I never wanted to be part of a business that is simply surviving. I wanted to be part of one that is thriving yet challenging. To thrive in business you need a team. You need to learn to work with people that may not think the same way you do and drop your ego. Lebron James is the greatest basketball player on the planet yet even he would lose to a high school basketball team if he played alone against a team of 5 high-schoolers. This is such an overlooked aspect of business and in an environment where you need all the help you can get, I am more than happy with how amazing the Music Lab brand and team has been to me. I am beyond confident we will continue to win in the marketplace with our model. Here is to 50 more great years with the Music Lab.