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Why I built the Music Teachers’ Marketplace

By Tim Topham | Studio Business

Sep 05 2020

Introducing the TopMusicMarketplace

As many of you know, topmusic.co has just unveiled a brand new marketplace for music teachers – the TopMusicMarketplace.

This is your new one-stop-shop for all your music teaching resources including sheet music, camp programs, workshop ideas, games, lesson plans, incentive programs and much more.

Just browse or search the site, add products to your cart, check out and we’ll deliver your goods instantly (if a download).

So what’s the motivation behind putting this together?

In today’s article, I wanted to let you behind the scenes in my thinking process about creating the marketplace, how it aims to benefit music teachers and content creators and what I see for the future of the platform.

Why build a marketplace?

During 200 episodes of my TopCast Music Teachers’ Podcastwhich started back in 2015, and participation in many conferences around the world over the same time frame, I’ve met hundreds of music teachers who are doing amazing things in their studio.

Many of these inspired teachers have also wanted to share their ideas with other music teachers by creating products, services, coaching, courses – you name it, music teachers have created it.

I’ve always been blown away by the readiness of teachers to freely share their material and ideas.

There was Tracy Selle and Sara Campbell who joined forces and created UpBeat Piano Teachers, put together webinars and interviews and sold them as packs on various topics.

There was Mayron Cole, who created a huge beginner group method and, soon after our podcast, decided to retire and give all away for free!

There’s Daniel McFarlane of SuperSonics Piano who was barely getting started when we connected around 2012 and is now an established self-publishing composer. Similarly with Julie Knerr and Katie Fisher – the developers of the Piano Safari method, now firmly established in its own right.

Then you’ve got wonderful creators like Joy Morin, Jennifer Foxx, Marie Lee, Susan Paradis and many others sharing resources, running online and in-person events and generally helping teachers be amazing.

Episode 206 - introducing the TopMusicMarketplaceRelated: Listen to our podcast introducing the TopMusicMarketplace

Goodby to the closed-door music teacher

Just ten years ago, people used to ask my why on earth I was giving away all my teaching ideas for free. Why was I recording and sharing all these videos that they could use? And why would I record and share videos of my own teaching?

But now, everyone’s doing it.

The long-closed classroom doors are swinging open, and teachers are sharing more than ever before.

music teachers marketplace PPL Paul Myatt

Paul Myatt leads an interactive seminar at Piano Pivot Live conference.

In fact, there is now so much great content out there, it’s hard to find what you’re looking for. (And if you’re a content creator, even harder to be seen.)

The thing I’ve learnt over the last five years is that music teachers have increasingly opened their doors and welcomed both feedback and new ideas.

They’ve refreshed their teaching, tried new things and used new resources and books with excitement.

I don’t think there’s ever been such an exciting time in music education.

But while there is a massive amount of information available to music teachers around the world, if you’re creating things to share with others, getting found can be truly tough.

Helping Content Creators

Another trend I’ve observed over the last ten years of working in online music education is that more and more teachers are creating content.

Teachers around the world have now:

  • Composed and published sheet music
  • Created entire methods
  • Built online courses
  • Run webinars
  • Shared their lesson plans
  • Created apps
  • Designed and produced physical products
  • Written books
  • Launched memberships
  • Upgraded their websites
  • and much more…

But the biggest challenge for any teacher creating resources like these and hoping to sell them to other teachers has always been: marketing.

Online Marketing for Music Teachers with the Marketplace

Building an audience that might like your product or service can take years.

You need to create fantastic content across a number of channels including video, social and a blog (like this), give things away in return for email addresses (what’s called lead magnets), and then build an email list that you can notify when you’ve got a product or service to sell.

This challenge is one of the biggest facing anyone trying to build an online income stream.

startup course about music teacher marketplace
In fact, it formed the basis of a number of modules in my MusicTeacherStartup Course.

(Related: Take a peek at what I’m doing with teachers who are building side income streams in my Evolution-level membership tier which just launched.)

But — not everyone has the time, or inclination, to learn the strategies of online marketing.

Most content-creating teachers just want to “do their thing” – i.e. create great resources for other teachers and not worry about the marketing.

But without marketing, you won’t have sales.

Avoid launch failure

One of the hardest things to watch over the years has been teachers spending hours and hours and sometimes hundreds of dollars creating excellent courses, downloads and resources for other teachers and then launching to… the sound of crickets.

It happens all the time.

Sadly, it doesn’t matter how unique your idea, product or service is, if no one knows about it, the launch is going to be a flop.

And even if you do make a few sales, how much more impact could you have and sales could you make if you only had access to a bigger audience?

launch without worry music teachers marketplace

Offering creators an “instant” audience with this music teachers marketplace

That’s precisely why I created the marketplace.

I wanted to give all those hard-working content-creating teachers out there a place to share and sell their products, downloads and resources, without the time-consuming hassle of building an audience.

 

Carly at PPL music teachers marketplace

A workshop with our live audience at Piano Pivot Live conference.

Thankfully, over the last ten years of blogging, podcasting and running my TopMusicPro Membership, I’ve built a sizeable audience of global music teachers.

Imagine if you’d composed some fantastic sheet music, written an amazing lesson plan or built a course and could share it with all those dedicated, committed, interested teachers.

Do you think you’d have more success?

Well, that’s what the TopMusicMarketplace is all about: offering a platform upon which teachers around the world can share and sell their great resources to other teachers without worry about all the marketing.

Leave that to us!

vision about music teachers marketplace

Benefits for music teacher-creators

So, let’s summarise the benefits for those of you who are creating resources for other teachers:

  • We sort out the tech so you can focus on the content.
    • No need to build and host your own website, keep it maintained and work out how to upload and sell things
  • Build and run your own “shop.”
    • We let you handle how you want to sell, what products, what price, etc. If you want to update a product, you can quickly and easily edit it online. You don’t need to ask us permission or get help – you can do everything yourself. We really are just providing the real-estate for your venture, much like a shopping centre. You can do whatever you’d like in your store 🙂
  • Access an instant audience of engaged music teachers around the world.
    • No need to slowly build an audience by writing hundreds of articles and recording videos. We’ve already done the hard work. The best part is that teachers who follow us at TopMusic tend to be super pumped, innovative, dedicated, motivated and always eager to learn and improve their practice – just the kind of people you want to be selling to.
  • Enjoy selling to a curated audience.
    • Most other marketplaces online are not designed specifically for music teaching. That’s what makes TopMusicMarketplace so special. So you won’t end up on page 134 of a search result in amongst classroom maths and science resources! Be seen, be found and make sales.
  • Enjoy the power of recommendations.
    • We have a recommendation engine on every page of the site, including checkout, that displays other products that teachers who are browsing may like. This means that even if you’re not the thing that someone is looking for, being on the marketplace means that you can much more easily be found.
      music teachers marketplace
  • Get added to someone else’s cart.
    • Another huge advantage of selling on a marketplace is that you can be just one of many products in a buyer’s shopping cart. While they may have jumped on for a quick bit of sheet music, they saw your product recommended and simply added it to their cart. No need to visit multiple sites – they can do it all on the marketplace.
  • Automated payments directly to your account
    • No requirement to set up payment gateways, send invoices, email digital goods – everything is automatic
  • “Set and Forget” sales systems
    • Once you’ve uploaded your products, you can relax and watch the money come in as sales are made. While it’s a good idea to tweak and improve both your product listings and products themselves over time, you can do this at your own pace.
  • Enjoy reviews
    • We always ask buyers for reviews of products as this is really important for building an online presence. This is again all automated, so you don’t have to even ask!
  • Low commissions
    • In order to provide the services of the marketplace, we take a small commission from sales. For our premium sellers, this is just 22%, meaning you keep almost 80% of all sales.
  • Talk to us directly
    • As a seller on TopMusicMarketplace, you can contact us personally if you need to at any time. Try doing that on Amazon! We also regularly look through our sellers’ listings and suggest ways to improve and get more sales.

If this sounds like something you’d like to be involved in, you can sign up as a seller here.

If you’ve already got some digital products ready, the process will take less than 30 minutes.

Benefits for music teachers as buyers

music teachers marketplace shoppers at PPL

One of the biggest challenges we all face these days is information overload.

Between newsletters, emails, social media, notifications, is any wonder any of us can focus at all.

One of our biggest challenges in the last few years has been managing distractions from all this buzzing and beeping technology around us.

So it’s understandable that many of us simply ignore emails – especially newsletters. We try and switch off social media and stick to our trusted sites and relationships.

What if there was just one place that you knew you could go online to find quality resources that will appeal to students at a great price and with no hassle?

That’s exactly my goal for the TopMusicMarketplace.

Simplifying shopping for music teachers

Here are some of the ways I believe this marketplace will simplify the lives of music teachers:

  • Save time. Don’t go trawling the internet for that new piece for a student, that summer camp curriculum or workshop theme. Browsing the internet can quickly waste hours. Hours we simply don’t have.
  • Save money. My goal is to bring you quality resources at a reasonable price. If you’re not happy with what you’ve purchased, then let us know!
  • Quick search. A marketplace is only as good as it’s search algorithms. We’re continually working to improve the search results you see so that you find things as quickly as possible.
  • Find inspiration. Browse our product listings as a way to get fresh ideas. See what’s top-selling and work out how you could use it in your own studio.
  • Purchase from multiple sellers in one place. One of the reasons that department stores and shopping centres and places like Target in the USA exist is to make it simple for people to get everything they need in one trip. No need to visit five different stores – park your car once and get everything from one shop. That’s also the beauty of a marketplace. Perhaps you want a piece by Bradley Sowash Music, a NoteMatch from Cascade Method and a ladybug toy from Music 4 All, just add them all to your cart, pay in one transaction and enjoy using them.
  • Enjoy safe, secure checkout. We run our backend systems on Shopify, the biggest online e-commerce company on the planet. If you’ve ever bought something online, there is a very good chance you’ve already interacted with a Shopify store. Shopify payments are 100% secure and encrypted and TopMusic stores none of your payment data on our servers.
  • Save your payment and address details for faster checkout. No more searching for your credit card and remembering weird card codes. When you checkout, you can ask to save your payment and shipping details so that next time you purchase and enter your email, you’ll receive an SMS with a code that will allow you to pay without reaching for your purse or wallet.
  • Create an account. While you can always check out as a “guest”, it’s a good idea to create an account (just two extra steps after checkout), so that you can log in and track your orders, download receipts, etc. This is free and super easy.
  • Become a seller. If you’ve enjoyed the buying experience and have something of your own to sell, you can easily convert from being a buyer to a seller. Just sign up for a seller account to get started.

Sound good?

music teachers marketplace sticker

One item you’ll find there: the Removable Circle of 5ths Piano Sticker (perfect recital gift!)

If you’d like to browse what’s on offer at TopMusicMarketplace, click here to explore and don’t forget to bookmark it in your browser.

Once you become a buyer, we’ll keep you up to date with new products, offers, sales, promotions, etc. by email.

Final thoughts on establishing a music teachers marketplace

It’s been well over two years since I first thought about creating a new marketplace just for music teachers.

It’s taken an enormous amount of work to build. Still, I know that connecting awesome resources with awesome teachers is a one-way ticket to student motivation, success and teacher happiness.

We’ve already seen over thirty sellers join us, and there are already over 300 products to choose from.

And remember that you’re purchasing from a marketplace that has been built by music teachers for music teachers. Who knows you and your studio’s challenges better? 🙂

But you might have a final question – what about all the other marketplaces out there? Why would I go to TopMusicMarketplace when there are other options.

Well, the simple answer is that, until TopMusicMarketplace, there was no marketplace built specifically for music teachers out there.

Sure, there’s Amazon, but that’s a massive behemoth, perfect for everyday items, books and technology, not so good for great teaching resources.

And yes, there’s TeachesPayTeachers but, as I mentioned above, trying to get your products found amongst the hundreds of thousands of classroom teachers selling all their classroom resources will leave you little chance for being found by those teachers who need you most.

We can’t wait to hear about your first purchase.

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Tim Topham

About the Author

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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