Dance & Fitness Teacher Survival Kit during Lockdown
The coronavirus has damaged more than just our health: for the average performer, dance teacher, cheer coach, and fitness instructor, it's also put an end to our ability to earn a wage.
Unless, of course, you take your classes online. This is something I have been doing since 2008 for my dance and fitness businesses CheerConditioning.Academy and ZooRiot.co.uk.
There are four significant issues to consider if you are considering going down the online training route:
1) Which platform should I use? Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Vimeo, etc.
2) Pre-recorded or online streaming?
3) Am I allowed to use music with my regular PPL license?
4) Does my insurance cover my teaching activities with public liability?
As this is a question a few friends and colleagues have asked me - I wanted to share some experience in this area, especially with our friends & colleagues in the UK. There are a few things to consider before getting in front of a camera and taking your classes online.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
To ensure I was in full compliance, I also contacted the PPL/PRS licensing head office regarding this matter. Please note that this is NOT legal advice or a definitive guide. These are just some general guidelines for the UK, that we have found useful to share with our colleagues at this time. Please contact your appropriate insurance provider, music provider and licensing agencies for specifics.
Firstly, you need to consider three crucial things:
IT DEPENDS ON THE PLATFORM
IT DEPENDS ON THE COUNTRY
YOUR AGREEMENTS WITH SERVICE PROVIDERS
Every platform has its individual licenses and rules. The same goes for the music you have purchased and individual publishers. It's the same with geography: each country has different laws and agreements in place for different songs, and insurances and licences have different laws and licence agreements.
Saying that, here are some things to help you get started on the right track:
TO CHARGE OR NOT TO CHARGE?
Offering taster classes for free is a great idea to promote your paid-for activities and to test your product out before releasing it to the wider public. However, if all of your content is free, consider the damage you are making. If students start to expect all these services free of charge, consider the issues with the long-term sustainability own business, your colleagues, and the dance/fitness industry as a whole.
How much you charge should be proportionate to your regular classes; live classes are usually between 50-70% of your normal prices considering there is no studio hire. However, you can also sell a monthly subscription for pre-recorded classes and workouts.
There are a lot of ways you can use to charge for your classes: if you don't have an online store you can quickly set up a Paypal.me account to receive payments and list the details of your classes. Other alternatives include using Eventbrite and the MindBody app.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE MUSIC?
Are you streaming music in the background? Choreographing to a particular piece? Remixing the tracks together? If you are - you will need to purchase specific rights for performance that allow you to either synch or adapt the music. In this case, these require a separate licence or the purchase of pre-cleared tracks/covers of your song. You’ll need to find a specific music provider for this such as our friends at Power Music.
FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM ONLINE CLASSES
These are the most accessible platforms because your audience is already there. You can set up a private Facebook group that requires a membership payment or stream your classes for free on your page and public profile. CONS: Interruption in streaming, you can't charge directly on the platform, so will be difficult to earn an income from your class unless you do this via private group/account. Plus Instagram/Facebook have existing music license agreements in place which you need to abide by. There is an increased risk of having your audio muted.
YOUTUBE ONLINE CLASSES
Same as above but more reliable streaming, and you can ask for a subscription with a private Youtube channel. Reasonably easy to set up. Music has fewer chances of being muted (though some tracks may get muted in some countries due to particular license agreements). CONS: You might start seeing ads on your videos, and you will not be able to monetize videos that you are using music with (unless you're using original music that you have purchased from the artist).
ONLINE CLASSES ON PRIVATE CHANNELS
There is plenty of private channels/video hosting solutions, including Zoom, Skype, Vimeo, your website provider, etc. Where you can choose if you want to pre-record or live-stream your classes. However, these private hosting channels do not have a license/agreement in place, so to be in full compliance (and not risk having your videos blocked/removed by the platform or the music publisher), you should have the following options in place:
Permission/Licence from the Music Company OR purchase your tracks through a license-free/license-cleared company - especially if you plan to modify/use mixes etc. Always ensure you're purchasing your music and you read the T&Cs of what you are/not allowed to use the music for.
PRS Limited Online Music License for a small publisher/individual using the music as "INTERACTIVE WEBCAST" usage type license under Band A usage (less than 6500 streaming hours per year). The annual cost is of 142+VAT GBP/year allowing you to use music online as part of your entertainment activities. HOWEVER, pay pro-rata temporarily if you are only offering online content during these months, subject to a minimum fee of £73 + VAT. More information about this license is below.
PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE
This is a legal requirement as well as a cover for you as a teacher. It's to prevent your students from having the misfortune of hurting themselves when training online with you, and the potential consequences if they do:
Contact your insurance provider to check if you are covered for online teaching. Check that this is stipulated in your policy. Some insurance providers may verbally give you feedback but choose to omit this from official paperwork, leaving a grey area in case of an incident. You can ask them to update your policy documents to reflect this change.
As a professional, ensure you act accordingly: your students put their health and safety into your hands. Launching your online classes is a great time to brush up on your H&S notes from your original training to ensure you're following recommended teaching guidelines and avoid negligent teaching practices.
Request all students to either read or sign a disclaimer. For this, you will need to write your disclaimer, which students can read before accessing your class. You can do this by:
Showing the disclaimer before purchasing or registering
Showing the full disclaimer at the start of your video
Showing the agreement in your video and adding the full disclaimer under the video or an accessible link.
SAMPLE TEMPLATE FOR ONLINE DISCLAIMER
Any student who participates in dance classes provided by ___________ shall do so at his/her own risk. He/she shall assume all risk involved, including but not limited to all cost, claim, injury, damage, or liability sustained while participating. ___________ will not be held liable for any misfortune that may occur.
By purchasing this online class and enrolling into the (live/pre-recorded) session with the teacher, you agree to the above, waive all claims and are certifying that you are in good health and have consulted a doctor before beginning this dance class. We take the safety of all our students very seriously.
Now all you need is a room, and a stable wifi connection (and perhaps run some tests before you charge for your classes). As friends and colleagues, we wish you the best of luck with your online classes, and that we speedily return to our day-to-day activities after this extraordinary ordeal of the "Corona Quarantine".
More now than ever, we should stay united and support each other as a teaching community!