Founders of CBY Music on Hitting the Right Notes in Business

Christian and Karen Bell-Young​ opened their home-based studio CBY Music in 2017 to offer personalized music lessons to all ages and abilities. The husband and wife team used Ownr to register CBY Music officially. The award-winning performers and music educators talk to Ownr about growing their music studio and why they believe in building their brand presence through word-of-mouth.



Ownr: Introduce us to CBY Music?


Christian: CBY Music is a private music studio in the heart of Waterdown, Ontario. We offer individual instruction in singing, piano, guitar, ukulele, musical theatre, songwriting and artist development.

Karen and I have been in music our entire lives. Now, as a husband and wife team, we’ve combined our 30+ years of music experience to offer both contemporary and classical music training across many disciplines. This enables us to keep our studio diverse and exciting.

We have a large roster of students across all ages and abilities, from classical RCM singers, to competitive musical theatre performers to up-and-coming singers and songwriters. Most importantly, we can nurture the interests of each student, regardless of their background, by supporting their goals, growing their confidence and feeding them into unique performance opportunities.

Images of Christian Bell-Young and Karen Bell-Young, founders of CBY Music Studio
Award-winning singer/songwriters, music educators and performers, Christian Bell-Young and Karen Bell-Young.



Ownr: Give us an insight into your background in performing arts and what led you to set up CBY music?

Christian: I spent my youth in musical theatre, before studying alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran and Newton Faulkner at the prestigious Academy of Contemporary Music in London, UK. This gave me a solid platform to launch myself as a singer/songwriter, signing a record deal at age 21 and going on to become a gold-selling recording artist. I graduated with a BA Honours in Music in 2010 and launched my own music production studio, coaching and developing new musical talent.

Karen: I also spent my youth in musical theatre before studying Music and Drama at Queen’s University. After graduating, I worked professionally as a musical theatre performer throughout Ontario before discovering my long-term passion was for teaching. I returned to Queen’s to complete the Artist in Community Education degree in 2010 and was hired as a permanent music teacher with the Peel board upon graduating. Throughout this entire journey, I maintained a roster of private voice and piano students.

Two students of CBY Music studio performing on stage.



Christian: When I moved to Canada from the UK in 2016, I had the goal of opening a new, private music studio where I could combine all of my professional experiences in music to create opportunity for the next generation, but also continue my love of teaching and coaching. Being a business owner in the UK music industry, I couldn’t wait to get started, but navigating this landscape in a new country was quite overwhelming.

When Karen and I met, she brought a wealth of knowledge of the Canadian musical theatre and private studio industries, having been a successful private vocal coach herself for a number of years.

Karen: We soon realized that our professional experiences complimented each other very well, giving us a complete package of resources – both highly educated musicians, with a strong background in theatre and individual expertise in classical and contemporary disciplines. With this combination, we were able to start a studio together that catered to all music interests, and as the studio grew from 5 to 35 students over the course of 18 months, our reputation for this methodology grew with it, leading to our students securing significant opportunities within the industry.

A student of CBY Music playing the piano.


“We realized that our value came from ourselves and our experience, and as soon as we started to market the business through this lens, we quickly built some serious brand presence.”

– Christian Bell-Young, Founder of CBY Music


Ownr: What has been the hardest part of running a business of this nature?


Christian: We operate in a saturated market; every town in the GTA has many music schools, some in store fronts, some in homes. One of the challenges we faced at the start was differentiating ourselves in this market.

We realized that our value came from ourselves and our experience, and as soon as we started to market the business through this lens, we quickly built some serious brand presence.


Ownr: What does a day in the life of Christian and Karen look like?


Christian: Busy! With a newborn baby constantly keeping us on our toes, we are never off the clock. I am so grateful that I run a full-time, home-based business, as it allows me to be at home during the day and spend time with Karen and our 2-month old son. During the days, I will often be doing administrative tasks for the studio. We get about four student inquiries a month right now, so there is a lot of connecting with prospective students and their families.

I teach music part time at a local private high school and am also a professional composer and producer, so any remaining time I have is spent working on project briefs and recording sessions, often with a baby over my shoulder! The studio opens at 4 pm every night of the week, so my evenings are completely dedicated to coaching our amazing students.


Karen: Right now, our days are all about baby (I’m currently on maternity leave), but as a full time high school music teacher, a typical day for me is spent working with students to further their musical education. I also teach a handful of CBY Music vocal students on Monday and Friday nights, training them in RCM and musical theatre practices.


“We now welcome over 35 students into our home every week, they play with our dog, dote on our baby boy and know us as both coaches and mentors.”

– Christian Bell-Young, Founder of CBY Music

Logo of CBY Music


Ownr: What do you recall of the initial days of setting up your music school? Anything you can share about your experience of using Ownr?


Christian: We weren’t sure what kind of set up we wanted at the beginning. After a bit of research, we decided to open CBY Music as a home-based operation, choosing to forego the store front option. While the obvious financial benefits to keeping the studio at home were a key factor, we mostly wanted to establish a sense of family, substance and high quality. We hoped that this would foster loyalty within our student base so that we could grow organically.

We started with just 5 students in the first year, but grew exponentially in year two. We now welcome over 35 students into our home every week, they play with our dog, dote on our baby boy and know us as both coaches and mentors. We have an incredible community of parents who have supported us in so many ways and advocate for us online and in the real world.


Because of this, we continue to grow month on month, which largely drove the decision to register the business officially with Ownr. The service was easy, clear and took out all of the heavy lifting. This made us feel very reassured in the process and we are so pleased that we have taken this next step just in time for year three.

Student of CBY Music Studio singing and playing a guitar on stage.


“The service was easy, clear and took out all of the heavy lifting. This made us feel very reassured in the process.”

– Christian Bell-Young, Founder of CBY Music


Ownr: How do you both view success as entrepreneurs at CBY Music? What’s your dream for CBY Music?


Christian: For us, success comes through our students. Some of our young musical theatre students have recently landed professional contracts, as well as earned leading roles in local musical productions. Some of our vocal students have recently won local and provincial singing competitions. We have students who are absolute beginners in singing, piano and guitar who willingly perform in our annual concerts, despite the understandable nerves! We have students as young as five who are building confidence through our early years program and are starting to recognize music notation. Whenever a student of ours, no matter how young or experienced, achieves a goal that represents progress for them, we celebrate that as a real success for CBY Music.


“Whenever a student of ours, no matter how young or experienced, achieves a goal that represents progress for them, we celebrate that as a real success for CBY Music.”

– Christian Bell-Young, Founder of CBY Music


The dream for CBY Music is to continue to grow our high quality student community and become one of the leading home-based music studios in the GTA for cross-discipline musical education. We are also in the process of launching a record label to facilitate the artistic development of our songwriting students, and hope that this will grow to become a thriving addition to our music endeavours.


Ownr: Are there any tips you’d like to share with other entrepreneurs looking to set up a business in world of arts? What is that one business lesson that keeps you chasing your goals?


Be patient! We chose to rely on word of mouth and customer advocacy to grow our business. It was difficult to do because there is never a guarantee that this will work effectively, but we believed in our approach to music education and hoped that others would too.

It was very tempting to spend money to advertise online and invest hours in the day trying to build a social media presence, but that just took us away from focusing on what really mattered – the students. So, to this date we have never advertised or self-promoted ourselves. We have grown entirely on the recommendations of our students and their families and just let the business come to us.

Ultimately, quality attracts quality and if you invest time and patience into building your brand strength organically, focusing on delivering the best service possible to achieve the highest customer sentiment possible, it will pay you back in dividends. There is no better feeling than getting a new student inquiry from word of mouth!


“Ultimately, quality attracts quality and if you invest time and patience into building your brand strength organically, focusing on delivering the best service possible to achieve the highest customer sentiment possible, it will pay you back in dividends.”

– Christian Bell-Young, Founder of CBY Music


Learn more about CBY Music:
Website: www.cbymusic.com
Email: cbymusic@icloud.com


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