10 min 4 sec

Part-Time Music Teacher Tunes Up Piano School to $100,000/Year

A music teacher learns to subcontract her piano lessons, radically increasing her annual income.
Education High Profit Music Service Student Hustle

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What It's About

A six-figure side hustle that's like music to your ears.

Business Model
Skills Required
Power of Observation & Piano
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Emilee's biggest piece of advice? Be decisive. If you have an idea, start it today. What Emilee has learned through her side hustles is that the success of a business depends on a person’s ability to just take the plunge and start their project… even if they’re worried they might fail. That acceptance of potential failure cuts down on the time you lose as you think about whether you should start your project and brings the day you make your first sale or earn money even closer.

Fun Fact

When it comes to instruments, the piano is a relative baby. The first piano was created in 1698 by an Italian named Bartolomeo Cristofori. While 320 years sounds like a lot, other instruments, like the flute, are over 1000 years old. But, what the piano lacks in age, it makes up for in sound—this instrument covers the entire orchestral range. Pretty noteworthy!

Notes from Chris

Episode 502
You could say that Emilee-Mae Feely is a full-time side hustler. Her list of roles includes property manager/art model/kid’s cake baker/musician manager/bachelorette party coordinator has always liked to stay busy, but she has her old high school boyfriend to thank for her most profitable side hustle to date. And that’s what we’re going to focus on today!

Emilee was 16 when she started her first side hustle, Feely Piano School, which began as a way to fill the gaps in her after-school schedule. In a problem that has plagued the world of music teachers worldwide, she noticed that her students weren’t consistently showing up to their lessons—which left her with free time, but no income. They were supposed to pay even if they didn’t come, but that didn’t always happen.

So, Emilee modified her high-school business plan and began offering in-home lessons to her students, instead of having them visit her. Emilee figured this would help cut down on missed classes because her students wouldn’t have an excuse not to show up.

She kept offering piano lessons into university and used her now long-distance relationship as a happy coincidence to expand her client base into a new city, while still offering lessons in her students’ homes. Although the relationship didn’t last forever, Emilee saw her business expand and used the momentum, and rave reviews, to branch out into other nearby towns.

How has she been able to be in more than one place at a time? Well, first consider this: in the five years since her university days, Emilee has grown her piano school side hustle into a $100,000 a year business, all without investing in any marketing, and all while starting other projects as well. She’s been able to reach that figure through subcontracting the lessons to other teachers, which also helps her add new cities to Feely Piano School’s repertoire.

How does the money work out? Emilee charges $400 per 8-week semester for one hour of lessons a week and pays each subcontractor about ½, or ¾ of that—depending on their level of experience. Because every lesson is literally ‘in-house,’ there aren’t any overhead costs to consider. Any printed materials, like music sheets, are covered by the students themselves, and her subcontractors pay for their own transportation.

Emilee spends roughly 10 to 15 hours a week either teaching lessons herself, or dealing with the administrative tasks that come with running a 5-city piano school. She’s played with the idea of expanding into more cities, but that also means it would add more administrative work for Emilee, leaving her with less time to focus on her other projects.

The multi-passionate multi-side hustler is looking for her next idea, now that her piano school is mostly passive income thanks to subcontractors. When we spoke to Emilee, she was participating in The StartupBus, where she was spending five days focusing on building (and launching) a music education app. She now has an idea to start a new online business every week, for the next 52 weeks, to challenge herself to create more ideas... All while continuing to cash the checks from Feely Piano School.


  • Feely Piano School: If today's episode struck a chord, learn more about Emilee and her project over on her website!
  • StartupBus: A competition that Emilee was involved in where she spent five days focusing on building and launching a music education app

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"When I’m working on coming up with a new side hustle, I generally think to myself 'if I were a client, what would be the most attractive thing for me, or the ideal situation?' Then I drive my business to cater to that need."
—Emilee Feely #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau