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As Private Music Teachers around the world are switching to exclusively online music lessons, they are discovering that the usual cash or check doesn’t quite work anymore.
The switch to online payments can be a difficult one, both for teachers and for students and their parents. There are so many options out there that claim to be “the best payment software for music teachers,” but it can be difficult to tell which one is the most secure, which offer the most bang for their buck (and if they’re worth the investment), and which will be the best fit for a particular studio or teacher.
I started teaching only online music lessons about two months ago, and I had to help my students and their parents make the switch to online lessons and online payments. For some, it was an easy switch that came with no push back – those I was able to convert to online payments before moving my studio online – and some was a little bit harder.
There really is no one-size-fits-all answer to which payment program will be right for you or right for you clients; you need to assess your studio and make the decision based on what you need, what your students and their parents need, and which will allow you to consolidate your income streams as much as possible.
I have gone through the 4 most popular and low-cost payment softwares available (Square, Venmo, Paypal, and Apple Pay), and have learned the pros and cons of each.
I make it clear below which one is the best fit for my studio, but you could very well come to a different conclusion for yourself. A few things to note about the services listed below:
- Each one of these platforms is completely secure and above-board.
- Each one of these is mostly free. There is often a service charge for transferring balances, but none of these services charge a monthly fee or anything like that.
- To simplify your life as a private music teacher, I recommend limiting the number of payment options you give to your clients. I use two of the four outlined below, and even that can get chaotic when tax season comes around. If possible, use only one of these platforms – I promise it will make your life easier!
Square is by far my favorite online payment software. Not only is it easy to use (and you can manage your schedule and students through them, for free), but they are extremely dedicated to helping out small businesses in times of need. During Covid-19, they are waiving all monthly fees for services such as marketing and payroll.
They do take a small percentage fee of each transaction paid, but other than that the service is completely free for individuals, and very affordable if you have multiple teachers in the same studio.
The invoice feature (they have recurring invoices, too. Great for weekly or monthly payments!) is easy to use for both teachers and parents, and the reporting makes it very simple to see your cash flow. They even offer a business debit card so you can house all your business funds in one place, and keep them separate from any other businesses or personal expenses.
Venmo is probably the most requested form of payment I’ve received from parents, for good reason. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and most people use it.
You can send payment requests on Venmo, or the parents can send the money themselves. It is almost like an overly-simplified invoicing program that gives you the bare minimum in reporting and features, but gets the job done.
Some online vendors do allow you to pay with a Venmo balance, but for the most part you will have to transfer your funds to your bank account. Typically, an instant transfer costs a percentage of the amount being transferred while a Standard Transfer is free. However, Venmo is waiving transfer fees during Covid-19.
I do have a few parents who are uncomfortable with paying invoices over the internet, so we do use Venmo. When it came time for tax season, it was a little bit difficult to procure all of the information I needed in Venmo, but it was possible. If you are looking for bare bones, and just want to get paid with very little set up, Venmo will be the best choice for you.
Paypal was all the rage before Venmo came along, and many people who were around for its heyday are still staunch supporters of the platform.
If you have an online store, or offer any online, one-time-purchase items like curriculum, recordings, or video classes, Paypal can be integrated with almost any shop or website system, making it a great choice if you are selling any products (other than live online music lessons) under your studio name.
They do make a distinction between personal and business accounts, and their business accounts do have some interesting tools built in like a “store cash” marketing campaign that is easy to set up when using Paypal checkout on your site.
I personally don’t use Paypal for much other than another degree of separation between myself and some of the people I work for or purchase from – it is very helpful when doing business over the internet where you don’t want your personal name or information being accessible. My Paypal is set up as a business account under the name C&S Music, and that’s all the people who interact with it can see.
If you have an online store and are not with Square, Paypal would be a very good program for you. Then, you can have your students pay through Paypal to keep everything in one convenient location.
Apple Pay is a great program to use… if you and your students both use apple products. Similar to the idea of using Facetime to conduct lessons (which we discussed in our post on video platform options for teaching online music lessons), Apple makes great products that are available for people who use their equipment.
That being said, Apple phones and computers are expensive. I love my new Macbook air, but it was definitely an investment. They are great computers and phones that do their job well and last a long time, but they just aren’t in the budget for a lot of people.
That being said, I love Apple products, but I don’t use Apple pay for anything business related. I use it on a personal level, and if I were to pay for services like lessons, I would be open and willing to do that, but as of now, I like using Square for all its extra features and keeping my funds in one place.
If you have an iPhone or Apple Computer and haven’t set up apple pay yet, here are instructions on how to do that.
Square, Venmo, Paypal, and Apple Pay are all completely viable options for online payment for private music lessons.
The bottom line is that it comes down to preference. Whatever you need for your studio will differ from what I need, from what your friend needs… you get the picture. Each software is safe and secure, and will help you get paid for your services.
Have one that you love, but we missed? Let us know! Leave a comment and help us make C&S Music a one-stop shop for music teacher resources.