Music specialist undergoes revamp after pandemic almost saw it fold

A Kenilworth-based musical company helping schoolchildren see the fun in history is undergoing a major revamp after the pandemic almost saw it fold.

Educational Musicals, run by husband-and-wife Tony and Anita Dalton alongside artist Anthony James, provided packages to schools where pupils could learn about various periods of history through performing songs and music.

The business had customers in 40 countries, and had built up an impressive range of songs covering a huge range of topics and periods for schools to use.

However, the pandemic all but wiped their customer base out with the switch to online lessons leaving Educational Musicals’ existence hanging by a thread.

Tony Dalton said: “COVID almost killed the business – we’d been going for almost 20 years and it virtually undid all of our hard work.

“When restrictions were lifted, we essentially had to start from square one, and many of our customers had shifted their priorities.

“But we didn’t want to close Educational Musicals. We just needed some support in helping us get back on our feet.”

After searching for potential sources of funding and support, Anita Dalton came across Business Ready at a networking event by meeting Gaynor Matthews – a business growth adviser on the programme.

Business Ready delivers support to expanding companies managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park, and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

Matthews later met with the team at Educational Musicals and looked at ways to improve the business model to make it more attractive to schools.

A switch to a subscription model was suggested, whereby schools could pay a monthly fee to access an entire range of teaching materials for history – not just music – rather than one-off payments for packages.

Business Ready growth specialists Mark Wisniewski and Hannah Price guided Educational Musicals through the initial processes and encouraged them to attend Business Ready workshops around business development and creating competitive advantages.

Following their advice, Educational Musicals is set to launch its revamped website with the subscription model at the heart of its business proposition.

Tony Dalton said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the support Gaynor and the team at Business Ready have given us.

“We’re now feeling much more confident about the future. Schools love it if they can teach children in a fun and engaging way, and that’s exactly what our packages provide.

“With Business Ready’s help, we have made that core idea much more marketable and we can’t wait to see where we go from here.”

Matthews said: “Tony and Anita are both excellent businesspeople, but needed a little bit of support to give their business the boost it needed after the pandemic.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with them and we’re sure plenty of schools will soon be keen subscribers to Educational Musicals.

“Business Ready works with many businesses like Educational Musicals to help them reassess their offering and come up with ways they can improve and grow. We’d encourage any small businesses looking for advice to contact the team.”

WCC Business Growth & Support programme manager Gillian Dale said: “It is great to hear that Business Ready support has helped Tony and Anita to stabilise and strengthen their business. The Business Ready programme has provided highly effective support for many small business and Warwickshire County Council is pleased to continue to support it.”

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