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Tag: tech

Find the Right Dance Studio Sound System

Don't be intimated by the thought of setting up a dance studio sound system. Instead, read through our simple guide to finding the right system for you.

A dance studio sound system is an essential – the success of your dancers depends in part on whether they can practice and perform to music with a high sound quality. Unfortunately, many people are intimidated by the technical jargon associated with sound systems and may not be using the best one for their studios. Don’t let feeling overwhelmed stop you from getting the best sound system for your money. Instead, read through this simple guide to finding the right sound system for your dance studio.

The Basics

Studio sound systems should include a music player, speakers and at least one amplifier. The music travels from the player and is amplified through the speakers to effectively fill the room. When possible, you should select equipment that is specially designed to work with the unique characteristics of a dance studio, recommended Kenleigh Industries, a sound equipment provider.

Studios have tricky acoustics because of their many hard surfaces, so general sound equipment may not be effective. The number of speakers and amplifiers you need for your studio depends on its square footage and ceiling height and on your class size, since the presence of people also affects how sound travels. The bigger your classroom space, the higher your speaker and amplifier power should be, advised Kenleigh.

According to Fitness AV, 80 to 200 watts is generally enough power for small studios, while bigger studios will need more.

Choosing a Music Player

If your studio is still playing music off of vinyl records, then it’s probably time for an upgrade. Your two main music format options are CDs and MP3s. A CD player is easy to use and connect to speakers, and ones with built-in recording and editing features will enable you to put compilations together or adjust songs to better fit with choreography.

Using MP3 files for your music saves a lot of space, and they won’t skip when dancers jump around, noted the Royal Academy of Dance. The source recommended purchasing a dual CD player and MP3 system for the most flexibility. You can play MP3 files without a docking station by directly connecting the player to the speakers via an auxiliary cord, however, you’ll miss out on remote capabilities, recording and other convenient features that come with a specially designed player.

Installation

It’s important to give some thought to how you install and set up your dance studio sound system to get the most out of it. The Royal Academy of Dance provided the following guidelines:

“Hi-fi separates should be wall-mounted at the front of your studio around 1.5m [4.9 feet] off the ground, away from the fingers of young children. Speakers should be wall-mounted around 2.5 metres [8.2 feet] from the ground on the front wall, at least 1m [3.3 feet] from each of the side walls. Basic loudspeaker cable is adequate for dance studios – make sure you get enough to run from the amplifier to both of your speakers. PA equipment can be mounted in a 19″ rack which can be portable (with wheels if possible) or attached to a wall. Be aware that powerful PA amplifiers can be extremely heavy and will require substantial support if wall-mounted.”

Depending on your prowess with tools, it can be wise to hire an AV specialist team to ensure your equipment is safely and correctly installed.

Add-ons

In addition to your music player, amplifier and speakers, there are other equipment and features that may be beneficial for your studio. One is pitch control, also known as varispeed, that is included with some CD players. According to the Royal Academy of Dance, pitch control is useful because it allows you to slow down or speed up songs.

However, the source noted that it may double or triple the cost of your music player. Another piece of equipment you might want to purchase is a wireless microphone so you can give instructions to the class over music without being restricted by cords. If you opt for a microphone, Kenleigh noted that you should also purchase a simple mixer, since it allows you to talk through the microphone while music is playing.

Additionally, it’s worth considering whether you want active speakers or passive speakers, according to the Royal Academy of Dance. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers, which make them heavier than passive speakers, so choose passive ones if you need your dance studio sound system to be easily transportable.

Cost-saving Options

While music players are relatively inexpensive, amplifiers and speakers tend to come with a heftier price tag. However, consider amps and loudspeakers an investment. The Royal Academy of Dance stated that these two types of equipment “will often work perfectly well for 10 years or more if they’re not pushed beyond their limitations.”

While you’ll likely come across “integrated sound systems” in your search – music players, amplifiers and speakers that are sold together as a package – it’s more cost-effective to by the components individually, according to Fitness AV. This way, you can buy each piece of equipment and any add-ons over time, according to your budget, and can easily update or expand your dance studio sound system as your studio size or resources grow.

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Secure Credit Card Processing for Dance Studios

secure credit card processing

You’ve put together your class schedule and written your studio policies, but one of the most important tasks still has to be done: deciding how you will process payments. As using cash and checks has fallen by the wayside, credit cards have become the preferred form of payment. Her are some tips for secure credit card processing for your dance studio!

Why you Should Accept Credit Cards

Accepting credit cards helps ensure your studio generates as much revenue as possible. One way it does this is by making it convenient for parents to pay tuition and other fees. Paying with a credit card takes just seconds and, depending on your system, can take place almost anywhere, whether online or from a mobile phone. Parents are already using credit cards for their children’s other activities and expenses, and by accepting credit cards you make sure parents can pay the way they prefer and don’t see your studio as that one difficult business they have to deal with.

As more and more dance studios accept credit cards, it’s important that your business remains competitive. Jon Koerber, software expert for dance studios and gymnastics classes, cited that online credit card transactions increased from $2.8 billion to $4.8 billion between 2006 and 2012, and they are only set to grow even more. Credit card processing is no longer weighed down to a clunky machine – they’ve been released online and in mobile applications. As Koerber wrote in a blog post for Capterra:

“You’ll also be losing business to your competitors if you not are doing business around the clock … And all the more so if [parents] can go ahead and sign up for classes from their living room after dinner. If your competitors have online registration and payment processing but you don’t, guess which dance studio will get the new customer after hours.”

Beyond providing convenience for your clients, accepting credit cards also makes everything easier for you. All the payment information will be stored in one place, which makes it simple to view or print revenue reports and quickly access the payment history of certain customers. All the complicated tasks involved with handling and depositing funds is left to the credit card service, which leaves you more time to run your studio.

What You Need to Get Started

You first need to identify which credit card providers you want to accept. Most business accept Visa and MasterCard, while some choose to also accept American Express. Then, you need to select a merchant account service. DanceExec explained a merchant account as “a kind of bank account designed to enable your business to accept payments by debit cards or credit cards. Your merchant account establishes an agreement between you the merchant and the merchant account bank on how to settle money you receive in the form of payment card transactions.”

Make sure the merchant account service you select enables you to accept credit card payments in multiple ways – ideally in-studio, online, over the phone and via smartphones. This way, parents can have a variety of payment methods available to them and can choose the one that’s most convenient for them, wherever they are.

Once you have chosen a merchant account and bank and have been verified, you can begin accepting credit card payments. While you can track and manage credit card payments on a separate system, most major dance studio management software companies enable credit card transactions in their overall system. This is a great option because the credit card transaction program is already fully integrated into the rest of your studio’s systems, which saves you time and headaches!

Security Precautions

If you’re accepting credit card payments, you’re dealing with sensitive financial and personal information. So, you need to make sure you’re following the highest measures for security and privacy. Make sure the merchant account service you select has a strong record of PCI, or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, compliance.

Another security consideration is where the credit card payment information is stored. The information should not be kept on your computer or on servers owned by credit card transaction software that you use – instead, the data should be stored securely on an independent server.

Costs to Be Aware Of

Accepting credit card payments comes with several fees. One is gateway fees, which are the fees that merchant accounts charge each month for verifying that the credit card used in each transaction is in good standing. Other merchant account fees include a monthly fixed management fee and PCI compliance fee.

Additionally, there are small fees placed on every individual credit card transaction. These include an interchange fee, which depends on the type of credit card used, discount fees and per-transaction fees. The specific fee amounts vary from provider to provider, so make sure you compare these figures when choosing a merchant account to get the best value for your money.

Though setting up secure credit card processing requires some initial research, the benefits for your dance studio make it well worth the time.

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5 Tips for Shooting Better Dance Studio Videos

Dance Studio Videos

A viral video can do wonders for any brand. However, even if you don’t film the next YouTube sensation, you should still be using clips of life at your dance studio to engage your social media followers and reel in new customers. Video Brewery estimated that website visitors are 64 percent more likely to purchase services or products after they watch a branded video, and many marketers tout video marketing as one of the best ways to engage viewers. That’s all great in theory, but the truth is that some people are all thumbs when it comes to filming videos. If you’re struggling to capture clips that reflect well on your studio and capture the interest of online viewers, use these five tips to produce better dance studio videos.

1. Quality is King

A video that is unfocused, pixelated and shaky isn’t going to be enjoyable for viewers to watch. You don’t need to have professional video equipment, but try your best to shoot high-quality clips. The latest generations of smartphones have impressive video capabilities, so be sure to focus the lens and frame your subject when capturing video. If you’re working with a camera, you may want to pick up an inexpensive tripod to help stabilize your shots.

Que Publishing noted that shooting the right size video can also make a big difference in your results. YouTube’s default size is 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels tall, so this should be your minimum constraint. Whenever possible, shoot clips horizontally so you’re filling up a viewer’s entire screen.

2. Aim for Short and Sweet

10-minute dance studio videos of rehearsal might be enjoyable for parents, but that’s probably the only people who will watch it. Video Brewery noted that you’ll quickly lose viewers after your videos hit the one-minute mark. Short, impactful videos are also shared more frequently. Try to cut your clips down and frame only the highlights for viewers. This will help deliver your message with a powerful punch.

3. Shoot Often

You’ve probably told your students that practice makes perfect, and the same holds true for your video skills. The more frequently you work with your recorder, the more comfortable you’ll become and the more great shots you’ll capture. Try to pick up your camera or phone at least once a day and shoot a few frames. You’ll quickly build up a library of great clips that showcase the best parts of your studio. These are valuable to have stored away if you ever decide to compile in-depth marketing videos.

4. Show, Don’t Tell

The best videos capture some sentiment or activity that wouldn’t be adequately explained in words or pictures. One Market Media explained that you shouldn’t use videos to simply dictate information to viewers. The content should be instrumental in giving people insight into your studio’s culture or services. Some good examples might be a particularly well-executed combination or a great client testimonial. However, be sure that testimonials aren’t overly scripted, or else they may come across as phony.

5. Be Sure to Share

The ways your promote your dance studio videos are as important as the quality and content of the film. Don’t expect people to find your YouTube account – instead, share videos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you create longer films, you may want to imbed them in your website’s landing pages to supplement your promotional material. When more people see your videos, they’ll be more likely to share with friends and family, thereby optimizing the impact of the clip. However, don’t forget to have students and their parents sign release waivers so you can use your videos for promotional purposes.

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Dance Studio Management Software Reviews: Studio Owner Survey Results

Dance Studio Management Software Reviews: Studio Owner Survey Results

Editor’s Note: Check out the results of our most recent annual dance studio management software survey here.

Because we deal with a lot of dance studios, we try to stay in tune with ways we can help them out in their day to day operations. Recently, we’ve noticed a recurring theme among our dance studio owner friends: questions about dance studio management software.

Should they use it? Which one is the best? How expensive is it?

Dance Studio Management Software Reviews

Working with several studio owners and dance industry experts, we created a survey to help answer these questions and more. The survey was deployed in late 2014, and garnered over 600 complete, verified responses. Here are some of the key things we learned:

  • About two thirds (67%) of dance studios use studio management software.
  • Features rule. 35% of respondents say that they chose their particular software based on a feature set that met their needs. Also important: inexpensiveness (17%), ease of operation (16%), and recommendation of others (16%).
  • The three most important features of studio management software are billing and payment processing, class management, and email or text communication. The three features ranked least important were staff scheduling, website maintenance, and staff time clock.
  • Jackrabbit Dance is dominant, with 28% of the respondents indicating that they used it. Other popular software providers were Studio Director (18%), and Dance Works (14%).
  • Studio owner operators are generally satisfied with their studio management software, with 76% indicating that they were either “extremely satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” ClassJuggler, DanceStudio-Pro, Studio Director, and Jackrabbit Dance ranked the highest in satisfaction.

Read the In-Depth Report on Survey Results

To see the full summary of these dance studio management software reviews, please enter your email below.

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How to Choose the Right Music Editing Program

There are so many audio editing programs on the market, so how are you supposed to find the right one? If you’re looking to take your dance classes’ performances to the next level, you probably want to create some snazzy music mash ups and tweak some recital tunes (just make sure you have appropriate music licensing). There’s a music editing program for just about every skill level and budget that can help you achieve your audio goals. Use these steps to guide you through the process of choosing an editing program.

Start Slow

If you’re new to audio editing, there’s no need to drop big bucks on software. Video Maker explained that you should start out with a inexpensive or free program that fits your most basic needs. Make a list of the tasks you want to accomplish with the music editing program and look for those features. It’s also important to take into account the operating system that you’ll be using to do your editing. There are separate programs for Macs and PCs, and all applications will need a specific processor speed and space on the hard drive. The computer you use needs to be fast enough to run your editing software, else you’ll end up with a lot of frozen screens and headaches.

Try Free Demos

The workflow and design of a music editing program is just as important as its specs. Before you spend money on software, take advantage of any free trials or demos. Most companies will offer a limited version of the program or a timed trial, but you can get a good idea of how user-friendly the software is. You should be able to accomplish your goals quickly and efficiently, with limited help from the instruction manual. Look for a program that feels natural and intuitive for you – those are the ones that are worth spending money on.

Professional Recommendations

If you’re not sure where to start in the search for editing software, ask other studio owners for recommendations. Your peers probably have valuable insight into the pros and cons of different programs.

In an interview with Dance Teacher magazine, Barry Blumenfeld, a dance teacher and professor at New York University, recommended that dance teachers check out the following editing programs.

Free Software

Dance Studio Life listed these programs as good options for dance teachers as well.

Mac Programs

PC Programs

It might be a process of trial and error, but as long as you take your time and do the necessary research, you’ll find the perfect music editing software. Before you know it, you’ll have the hottest tracks for your students and be the star of your next competition.

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5 Free Marketing Tools for Dance Studio Owners

As a dance studio owner, the responsibility of marketing classes and events probably falls on you. It’s a big task and much more complicated than some people realize, especially if you want to do a great job. To make the most of the time you spend on marketing, you should use any and all resources available, especially when you can find free marketing tools to lower your budgeting needs. These five free marketing tools can be extremely helpful to your marketing strategy, and the best part is that they’re free!

SurveyMonkey

If you want to get feedback from your students and parents, you can go the traditional route of handing out questionnaires. However, then you have to print them out, distribute them, hound people to fill them out, and manually record the results. It’s a time-consuming process to say the least.

Enter SurveyMonkey. This free tool lets you create questionnaires and surveys online that can be easily shared with your customers. You can include multiple choice, open-ended and optional questions, and respondents can be anonymous if you choose. Once you’ve gotten responses, the program generates graphics to help you easily understand the results.

Blog Topic Generator

If you have a blog set up for your studio, you should try to post content regularly. Some days it will be easy to come up with topics, but other times you might be stumped. On those tough days, BufferApp recommended using Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator to get yourself writing. All you do with this tool is enter two or three words that pertain to your topic. For example, you might enter “dance” and “techniques.” The program will then provide you with five potential story ideas, such as “10 Quick Tips About Dance.” Use these titles for inspiration, and you’ll be writing in no time. It’s a convenient way to brainstorm new content ideas when you’re in a rut.

MailChimp

Of the available free marketing tools online, MailChimp is a must-have for any studio owner who wants to start a newsletter. This program stores all your contacts, helps you build custom emails and provides detailed analytics on each campaign you send. There are pre-made templates available that are great for beginners. It’s short work to send out a professional newsletter to your parents and students. Once you get more comfortable with the software, you can build your own personalized template from scratch. You can also integrate your MailChimp account with your Twitter and Facebook profiles so people can easily sign up for the newsletter and read the latest updates.

HootSuite

If you can’t find time every day to update social media, HootSuite will be your best friend. It allows you to create Facebook posts and Twitter updates ahead of time and schedule them to go live at a later date. You can easily curate a week’s worth of content on Sunday and not worry about posting anything during the week! HootSuite also brings all your social profiles together on your dashboard. This allows you to reply to commenters from one place, instead of bouncing back and forth between social media sites.

Pixlr

Finally, make Pixlr your go-to site for photo editing. There’s really no need to purchase expensive editing programs when you have this tool in your belt. There are different versions of the software to choose from: Editor, the most comprehensive program; Express, which provides the most basic tools; or O-Matic, which allows you to add fun effects and borders. These different programs will prove invaluable when you need to crop, rotate or remove blemishes from pictures. It will ensure that all the photos you include on your website, in newsletters and in marketing materials are high quality.

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5 Crucial Elements for a Dance Studio Website

dance studio website

In the age of digital advertising, a small business’s website is one of their best marketing tools. Whether you’re opening a new dance studio or revamping your old website, put in the time and effort to make it an accurate representation of what your company has to offer. The following elements are essential when creating a great dance studio website.

1. Simple Navigation Tools

When designing a dance studio website, it’s important to take navigation and user experience into account. To The Pointe Marketing recommended that all essential information is included on your site and easy to find. Every page should be relevant to your message and clearly labeled to keep your website from becoming a maze. Aim for just one navigation bar with drop-down menus if needed. Make sure a visitor can easily navigate back to your landing page. If your website is confusing or glitchy, you’ll send potential students running.

2. A Great “About Us” Page

Once a potential customer makes it to your home page, the next place they’ll likely click is on the website’s “About Us.” If you don’t have an information page, it’s time to make one. According to Dance Studio Marketing, a well-written “About” page can inform visitors of the studio’s credentials, history and philosophy, and begin to establish a rapport with potential students.

To make the most of this page, try to inject some personality into your description and be honest. Telling a short, witty anecdote about your studio or yourself can help visitors get a feel for your personality. You should also include your credentials and experience and those of your instructors. If you have a large staff, it might be best to have a separate page about faculty. Finally, include your phone number and email address on your “About” page. Even better, put contact information in your website’s footer so it appears on every page.

3. High-Quality Pictures

Students and parents will want a look into your facilities, so include a lot of high-quality pictures. These photos should be in focus (not blurry) and high-resolution. If possible, avoid using pictures taken with cell phones, as they are generally lower quality. Throughout the site, you’ll probably want to include images of the practice rooms, performance space, changing rooms, offices and staff. You can include photographs of students, but make sure you have their parents sign a release first. Videos and pictures from your best performances are another component that will encourage new business and help you get a leg up on the competition.

4. Internal Links

Dance Studio Marketing also emphasized the importance of including internal links on your website. Linking key phrases will help your site to appear higher in search engines. A good example is to have links to your class schedule and faculty profiles on your “About” page. Don’t go crazy with linking though – two or three per page is enough.

5. Analytics

Once you’ve put the time and effort into customizing your dance studio website, you want to be able to track its effectiveness. To The Pointe Marketing emphasized the importance of an analytics setup for online marketing. Analytic tools can tell you where your visitors are coming from, what pages they’re looking at, what links they’re clicking and how long they stay. Many web hosts like WordPress, SquareSpace and Blogger have analytic tools included, as do social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It’s a powerful tool that can help tailor future marketing efforts and make the most of your budget.

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