TakeLessons: Does the World Need a Marketplace for Music Lessons?

Uber helps you find a town car in your area. Airbnb will find you an apartment in an area you’re visiting. TaskRabbit will find an errand boy hovering in the vicinity.

But can that type of online marketplace transform music lessons, where the teacher-student relationship is critically important?  Is this the same as getting a ride or renting a pad?

  • Save

Enter TakeLessons, a search engine that finds teachers in your region and believes an internet marketplace can transform music education.  TakeLessons (at takelessons.com) now has more than $12 million in cumulative financing to prove it (with $4.4 million of it coming earlier this year).

The seemingly-obvious concept has been around since 2006, though net-connected marketplaces are finally entering their prime.  According to the company, TakeLessons in now doubling its year-over-year volumes, including a 124 percent increase in April.  Already, the San Diego-based company has hired 7,000 teachers, served 30,000 students, and delivered more than 400,000 lessons.

  • Save

All of which suggests that the age-old music lesson could be getting overhauled by the online marketplace.  Just like everything else.

Written while listening to Jay-Z, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life.

7 Responses

  1. Visitor

    No just another technology site that aims to make the founders and investors rich. The aim is to dominate the online teaching marketplace, ensuring they come first in online search enquiries, and push existing and established teachers and schools further down the search listing. The model provide a listing of teachers and then leeches a percentage off of the paid tuition. In otherwords yet another technology pimp that provides no substantive value to music education.

    • jw

      Wow. It’s amazing how resentful of technology so many within the music industry are.

      I think this is a great idea… generally it’s hard to find good teachers, having a go-to place with rankings set by students seems like a fine idea.

      • Visitor

        That is the same old tired reply. “Resentful of technology” is a logical fallacy and a smug way to put someone down.

        What the first comment says is completely true.

        This will drive teacher pay down probably. And the ratings system is going to favor those that appease rather than teach. To be a great teacher, you must do both. You have to lead the student through some difficult periods. And you have to keep it fun, too. The ratings system will make teachers hesitant to push their students. It is why they give professors tenure. To be be free of the pressure to placate students or administration.

        I’ve been teaching music fifteen years and have an extensive studio and referral base. It may affect me, but probably not. It will make it tougher for the truly independent new teacher to build.

        On the other hand, it might help a new teacher rapidly and cheaply build a clientele. The non-compete clause will be all but unenforceable and the teacher can eventually take students with him when he leaves the system. After a few years, no good teacher needs to advertise.

        This whole scared of technology thinking is weak. Weak and immature. Many tech companies are making money from others content, and helping to devalue this content at the same time. I don’t think this will stop. But I am looking forward to when their Frankenstein turns on them. Someday, it must.

        It could be argued that rather than level the playing field, the internet has allowed the powerful to dominate their respective fields even more completely.

        So, there is good and bad in everything.

        • jw

          It’s going to work for some people & not for others.

          Technology simply makes things more efficient. It’s like mom & pop stores versus Wal-Mart. Sure, the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart is probably going to break, but it’s cheap & convenient & it’s easy to find what you want. And every once in a while you get a great deal on a really great product. And if you’re successful in life you begin to value the convenience of Wal-Mart less & less. Despite Wal-Mart’s existance, there are other stores still keeping the lights on.

          It’s in the independent instructor’s blood to hate a service like this, but the truth is that it’s great for certain instructors & certain students. It’s great for the potential student who don’t know enough to do independent reasearch. And that’s probably not the student that a particularly reputable instructor really wants, anyhow.

          Of course I can’t speak for whether or not the idea is well executed. 99% of start-ups fucking suck. I’m just advocating for technology in general, because the 1% that don’t suck are fucking great. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

          Perhaps the bottom line is that being a music instructor is a business, just like any other business, & just because someone is competing with you doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing anything wrong, especially when there’s a market for it. You’re not entitled to your Google search ranking.

          • Visitor

            Musicians in general are not “resentful of technology”, in fact they are generally the first to embrace technology. But this is not about technology, it’s about a website that seeks to make the founders and investors rich by leeching off a percentage from all the “teachers” that sign on to the service.

            Technology may make things more efficient but that does not mean it makes it more effective. If we have a process that produces crap, and we apply technology to it to make it more efficient, all we are doing is creating crap more quickly.
            For example, using pen & paper versus typing on computer, researchers have found that writing and drawing, activities you do with a pen or pencil and paper, help the brain to understand concepts, especially concepts that have to do with language. A functional MRI study on the neural substrates for writing confirms this. Because we are set up to learn in large part through what our hands do, thus hands-on forms of learning tend to be more effective. So writing things down helps us to remember more than making a virtual online to do list would because we get our hands more involved.

            The problem with sites like this is like the issue with Walmart. It is not a level playing field of sites like this versus independent instructors. Independent instructors do not have the financial muscle to even the playing field against sites like this with their overwhelming internet marketing and advertising power. Great instructors focus on teaching their students and not on building a business that leeches off of tuition. The end result is that the aspiring musician looses out on finding great teachers as these kinds of sites buy their way to internet dominance.

  2. Kharu Drummer

    This service is terrible news for independent music instructors. I worked for them as an instructor, and have a friend who works on their support staff. They pay less than half of what a private instructor can make on their own, which is why I eventually stopped working for them– it was hardly worth the time and hassle. You’re getting paid less for more work in fact– you have to fill out their lesson journals and mark your attendance and availability each week, which at the time were considerably time-consuming tasks carried out via a confusing/glitchy web-interface. Plus I was actually the one reminding my students when their billing was due anyways! Their “support staff” usually were well behind in the communication loop at any given time. The billing was another issue as I heard multiple client horror stories of disputes involving credit cards being charged without authorization, which can certainly sully the student-teacher relationship in a hurry! It just puts a middle man between the independent instructors and the market, and pushes those independent instructors down the Google rankings. I’d encourage anyone who finds a teacher on the TakeLessons site to research the teacher on Google first and go to them directly– otherwise half the money you’re paying goes to staff pool parties for TakeLessons instead of in your teacher’s pocket, motivating them to give the best lessons possible! OR better yet, don’t go to TakeLessons at all, because any teacher of value will not need to settle for half of their regular rate just to teach a student.

  3. clinton

    It’s a Wall street flip / scam. Students have zero interest in taking lessons online. They only prefer 1 on 1 personal lesson’s at a reputable school. Students don’t want strangers in their houses anymore than teachers do. I have put it out there to all of my students even if they are sick or just don’t feel like traveling and still, ZERO interest. Online lesson will never work. Why would it when they have YouTube completely free? The whole point of taking lessons from a private instructor is to show them what they are doing wrong, something the internet (at this point) cannot do and that involves physically being in the same room. It’s a nice idea but will never work. People are social creatures. People look forward to going to places that inspire and teach. It’s what separates them from the rest. It’s like taking online martial arts classes or dance etc. It just won’t work.