Hello. My name is Michael Kohn, the founder of ChoirFarm. Thank you for considering subscribing to my newsletter for choir entrepreneurs. It's aimed at anyone who runs choirs or singing coaching businesses, and who is looking to turn their business into a sustainable and profitable undertaking, and free up their time to do more of the creative things they love. It should also be valuable to anyone thinking about starting a similar venture, and where the idea of community is central to its success.
Here's a little more why subscribing might be a good idea.
My credentials and expertise:
I'm a keen singer (tenor) and I was a chorister as a boy in my local church choir. And I enjoyed singing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring at people's weddings, and collecting 50 pence in a little brown envelope from the choir director each week (I guess I've always connected the joy of singing with some the commercial aspects of choirs and singing).
In 2016, I joined London City Voices, a central London community choir, primarily in order to make new friends, but also on the realisation that I had forgotten how much I liked to sing. I've now been singing on and off with this choir for over 5 years, and in this time as a community choir member, I've observed how happy being part of a choir makes so many of the people around me, and also noted how and why the choir grew each term as its community evolved.
For my professional career, having started as a qualified practising architect (of buildings), I've always been interested in how things work together. After a brief return to university to pursue a masters in Computing and Design I journeyed into the technology sector where I have been working for over 15 years now. During this time I have developed a wide range of business, technical and marketing skills en route, founding my own cloud software company which sells to architecture, construction, local government and communities. Most recently, I've developed several large no code websites and prototypical software projects, and also started consulting and helping a number of small businesses and startups.
I founded ChoirFarm during lockdown in 2020, initially to provide virtual choir video services to both choirs and individuals, and working with the help of expert video editor and guitarist Jason Read. Throughout 2021 I worked on a mix of videos, websites and membership sites for community choirs.
During my five years engaging with choirs, I have realised that one of the biggest problems that all choir owners face is attracting and retaining paying members. That coupled with reducing the amount of time spent on a whole range of administrative tasks - like chasing term fees and or membership payments and communicating at scale to different groups, both to members and marketing the choir to the wider public - in order to buy back the time that all musicians need to create or arrange music and engage with others in practice and performance.
Now there are already tons of business tools designed to help the small business get organised and automate various tasks, but putting them all together in an efficient way that matches the business operation takes time and know how. And many business owners compromise their set up which restricts their growth.
There are also dedicated SaaS softwares built for choirs and chorus management - and these are great of course if your choir fits their model perfectly. But many don't.
So what appears to be missing from the choir economy is independent advice and expertise for choir business owners which is focused on growth on their terms, and helping to build solutions that work for the type of the choir business, its competitive context, the stage it is at, the scale and budget, and resulting in solutions which are designed to perform as a sustainable growth machine for the business.
The business and entrepreneurial world is currently buzzing about the so called "Membership Economy" and the value that a community brings to any business.
On the face of it, I think the community choir model is potentially an amazingly strong business model. It mixes face-to-face, hyperlocal engagement, and supports collective, community activity where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Members get to see and hear the improvement and achievement each and every week throughout a term. Referring friends to join the community is also a strong common member acquisition method.
But choirs also supports individual learning paths and progression for members. Some, not all, are interested in investing in their progression and learning new things. Public performances give a sense of achievement for members, and the performance itself creates an event-based promotion opportunity for an audience considering choir membership next term . And regular social events create more value and a degree of porosity, where outsiders see the community spirit and want to be part of it.
On top of the in-person engagement experiences for members, various forms of digital offer can be created to support the remote community, or support the in-person community with online learning resources in between rehearsals. This was explored by many choirs before the pandemic by sharing resources online, but the pandemic has reinforced a choirs ability to support online practice, and whilst this was not be the optimum singing experience for most people, it is still proved a viable back up for many, and even supports some members looking for online experiences from further a field where they can still join and be part of a community.
To support all the different activities and experiences that a choir offers its community, choir business owners need their systems in place.
With wider investment in well designed processes and systems, community choir businesses have great potential for widespread hyperlocal growth. The Rock Choir model may have forged this opportunity, but there are in fact 1000s of small independent choirs who could all optimise their growth with a little work.
In fact, I firmly believe is that there are millions more potential choir members in the UK, and globally, who could be enjoying the many benefits of singing in a choir, whether a small choral group, a larger a local community choir singing contemporary pop/rock music, or a special music interest group. And a further increased percentage of these members who would naturally progress to take singing lessons.
In order to reach this wider market, there is some learning work for the average choir owner or singing teacher. Success requires development of strategic thinking around how to become more visible amongst the competition, more customer-centric, and how to present a more professional brand and value proposition to potential paying members, not just for the current and next term, but of future years to come.
With my unique interests and experience in singing and technology, I believe I can help choir business owners and singing teachers do just that, by understanding the stage of their business and community, by harnessing the latest tools and thinking around the membership economy and applying it to the specific business context of their choir and singing businesses.
Sharing what I know:
So starting in January 2022, I aim to send out just 3 newsletters per term, 9 per year.
I'll be covering a wide range of topics relevant to the tools and thinking for scaling your choir business, Aimed at choir owners initially, but some information of relevance to those selling singing lessons or add on courses. The topics revolve around mastering efficient and personalised member communications at scale, best practice when designing and building choir websites and membership sites, to exploring and understanding your own pricing and business models, and its resultant metrics.
The email newsletters will be a list of short summaries of these relevant subjects, but then linking back to articles posted on both public and protected areas of ChoirFarm.com, or straight to other relevant resources on the web and social media. I will draw on experience running technology and membership businesses, and I will shamelessly pinch the best ideas from the smartest thinkers and ideas from marketing and technology spaces, translating this to make it relevant, comprehensible and actionable for choirs and singing coach business owners of all sizes across the community.
These newsletter insights will always be totally free. I will never spam you, nor hard sell to you if you subscribe to this list. You may however be the first to see any special offers to products or services that ChoirFarm develops offer at the bottom of the newsletter or in our blog posts, and these may be of interest if you feel you need more of my help.
And of course, if the newsletter is not relevant or interesting to you, you can unsubscribe at any time. So there's really nothing to lose to see if what I know and will share freely could help you.