LessonFace is a recently launched platform for online music lessons that looks like a very solid contender in the space. In particular, they appear to be offering a much larger range of instruments and related areas of music than other such platforms. Aggregating diverse niches is a bonus not just for students but for teachers with special skills who are seeking teaching revenue beyond their locale. LessonFace is clearly a startup to watch.
LessonFace joins a growing list of online lesson platforms, such as ZOEN and Bandhappy, which are all competitors but may all be able to build successful businesses without having to kill each other off.
Every online business model that includes businesses funded by venture capitalists tends to enter a copycat stage in which the market becomes glutted with lookalike products, a phase that is then inevitably followed by a trail of dead companies and lost investments.
This model is still at a place where all the major contenders that can successfully build and maintain their two-sided markets have an opportunity to create solid businesses. Whether that will satisfy VC's is another matter entirely.
So far LessonFace seems to be rising to the challenges of a two-sided market with a well-designed site that's easy to navigate and plenty of information for new students trying to figure out what's up with online lessons.
Orientation tools for students include:
Find Me a Teacher - a simple form for students to fill out that will help LessonFace suggest appropriate teachers.
Create a Learning Plan - another smart option that not only helps LessonFace know what to suggest to the student but also educates LessonFace about their market while helping the student begin a much needed self-evaluation process.
From what I've seen, every page of the site, including the homepage, has a directory of both lessons and instructors at the bottom of the page.
The lessons directory shows by default and it reveals some really interesting options beyond the typical offerings including:
Evaluating such a broad range of teachers must post some interesting challenges.
More importantly it sends a clear message that there's not only a space at LessonFace for any competent instructor who has a relevant skill to offer but that students may one day be able to learn even the most esoteric of musical arts via LessonFace.
Being able to serve what are potentially tiny niches even in large cities is one of the more exciting aspects of the web and suggests the potential power of LessonFace if they can successfully aggregate such niches across the board.
LessonFace's Brandon Simes shared some information for teachers via email including how they are evaluated:
"Teachers control their pricing and availability, and we charge a flat 15% per lesson (with some exceptions for promotional reasons)."
"We approve each profile and have a multi-step process that includes meeting with them on the platform and fitting our high standards, which generally includes at least one of these three categories:"
- 3+ years of music teaching experience
- Music degree AND 10+ years playing an instrument
- 5+ years of being a professional musician with your principal source of income derived from music
Such evaluation processes are key to maintaining quality and a good sign that LessonFace is taking their platform responsibilities seriously.
One of the things you may miss from browsing LessonFace is that they've attracted some exceptional teachers.
For example, as LessonFace's Brandon Simes emailed, the teachers appearing in their launch party video include:
"Lalana Martin, who runs her own vocal school and has worked with P Diddy, Barry White, and Patti LaBelle, Berklee grad and drummer Eric Kalver, and lead guitarist and frontman Dave Heumann of Arbouretum, who is about to leave for a European tour."
So, though they do have a well-designed site that's easy to navigate and has plenty of information to help students understand what's happening, they're missing the opportunity to forefront some of their bigger brand teachers. Such information is anther validation measure that can attract not only students but other teachers as well as the media.
That said, if you're considering getting into this space in any role whatsoever LessonFace is both a platform to investigate for your current needs and one to watch for future developments.
Interested teachers can apply here after registering with the site.
On a more technical note, LessonFace appears to be using FuzeBox to power their platform. I haven't previously discussed this aspect of online lesson platforms but it's a smart move because rather than building the platform themselves and facing additional challenges, they can turn to their service provider to take care of the inevitable issues that will arise.
Given their niche aggregation of diverse music offerings, this choice allows them to anticipate expenses and both focus on building their teacher roster and attracting students at a phase in which critical mass can become a huge competitive advantage.
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