What role should Freeware (Free Software) play in managing your music studio or music school?
As always, it depends.
So lets take a look at some of the available freeware and how they fit into the overall job of managing a music school or studio.
Music studio freeware comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here are the areas where I think it is, or would be most useful:
- Teacher Websites: Lots of options here. My favorite is wordpress, as it also combines the blogging tools you will also need.
- Social networking: You will need accounts on facebook and twitter, but there is freeware that will let you keep them up to date without needing to log in every day. I like TweetDeck, but there are many others like the popular HootSuite. You will also need to be blogging, and blogger, blogspot and wordpress will all give you a free blog.
- Email marketing: It's tough to find free mailing software unless you include your PC/Mac mail program (which works fine for small lists by the way). There are lots of free trials out there of course (ConstantContact, iContact, MailChimp...)
- Class scheduling: This is even more difficult to get for free. One or two sites like createappointments and meetup can be coerced into service at a push, but the result is not very professional. Again, some of the studio management systems have free trials, but that is not what I call "free".
- Payment processing: This is never free. Really. I like PayPal, as the closest thing to free you are likely to find, but as soon as you use it as a business you will pay their transaction fees (not that they are out of line).
I am a big believer in FREE. However, in my experience there are two major things to consider as you piece together a collage of free services for music studio management:
- Is it free - forever?: Those free trials can be very enticing, but the danger is that you easily get locked in to a service that does not represent the best value for you. Once you have invested your time to set up a "free" system, and loaded all your customer details (beware of privacy issues here), it may be difficult to walk away when the free trial ends. Only use free trials if you have already decided you are willing to pay.
- How are you going to manage the coordination of all your free software and services? The time and effort needed to cut and paste, and re-enter, and upload, and download your business information from one system to another is not free. Would you be better off to find services that integrate these things to avoid all the syncing and coordinating?
Wouldn't it be nice if someone could pull everything together in one, free, integrated package?
I'm working on it. If you want an update when we get close, let me know!