More on Musika

A few days ago I posted a piece detailing my attempt to suss out the services offered by Musika — according to their banner, “The nation’s leading music lessons provider since 2001!” Okay, I like to stir up a little trouble once in a while, and I’m naturally curious about the competition.

I also care about music students. Whether they’re studying with me or with someone else, or are only looking around for a possible teacher, it’s important to me that they get the best, most qualified instruction available.

Musika’s website claims to be able to line you up with a cello teacher in Livermore — someone who will come to your home, even. So I filled in the form with a fake name and told them I wanted cello lessons for my nonexistent daughter, Jessica.

Musika was entirely unable to find a cello teacher for little Jessica. They list two cello teachers on their site, but quite obviously these are fake names, not real teachers.

At least they were straight about not being able to line up a teacher. And prompt. And they didn’t ask for money up front. That’s the good news.

What mystifies me is how they think they can make money on a nonexistent service. On their Jobs page, the site says very specifically, “We are currently not accepting applications for teaching with Musika at this time. Please try again at a later date.” So … they claim to be able to hook you up with a cello teacher in Livermore, but they can’t do it because they don’t have one, but yet they’re not looking for teachers. What kind of sense does this make?

I’ll let you dream up an answer for yourself. Maybe they’re just terminally clueless. But they do seem very businesslike, so that theory may not hold water. What sort of people would operate in a businesslike manner, yet provide no visible services? Hmm…

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23 Responses to More on Musika

  1. Conrad says:

    An old one: Know the sex of your child! Or your money back!!

    Using the latest advances in astrology, etc..

    Half their customers demand their money back, of course. But the other half don’t.

    When they do have a teacher on staff, it pays off.

  2. midiguru says:

    I know enough about the economics of teaching to think that they’re unlikely to make money even if they _do_ have a teacher on their roster. First, there’s a limit to what anyone can charge for lessons. Second, since Musika’s offices are not local, they would find it quite difficult to keep teachers and students from simply cutting out the middleman. Think about it: If a lesson costs $50 through Musika, of which the teacher collects $40, the teacher can offer the student direct lessons for $45, and they both make extra money!

    Musika could prevent this only by offering services that were to the teacher’s advantage, such as a regular stream of referrals. But I see no evidence whatever that they provide any services to the teacher. Or to the pupil.

    • wheatstraw says:

      The services they provide to the teacher are marketing, for teachers who don’t want to deal with that side of the business, and billing and collections, for teachers who do not want to deal with that side of the business. Teachers sign a contract preventing taking students private who were obtained through Musika. I am a college educated professional who has been teaching for 20 years. It’s been a bit slow lately, and am giving them a try – just starting now, I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s a legitimate business model, and I am being paid fairly competitively for the situation. More, actually than I am paid at a very respectable long-time studio I teach at 3 days per week in-house. I get more for my private lessons, but have to handle all sides of the business. I’m not defending the silly sounding sityuation regarding the cello teacher… but the business model is legit. We will see how they do in practice.

      • wheatstraw says:

        And I will admit that as a musician and non-conformist who can be a bit jaded, it’s easy to let my personal feelings about a company “trying to take over the world,” so to speak, rear their ugly head. But it’s a free country and if I were doing it I would be wishing me all the success in the world. Once again, though… the business model IS legit.

      • midiguru says:

        Thanks for the comments. This blog post, which was more or less off-the-cuff comment more than four years ago, has continued to get quite a lot of search engine action. I’m happy to know that their business is legitimate … except that the contract you’ve described seems almost certain to punish students, and that’s a very bad thing.

        Let’s suppose, for instance, that at a future date you as a teacher have some legitimate beef with Musika. And you’re a terrific teacher, your students are learning a lot from you, and you’re the only teacher in town who offers your particular instrument(s). Your beef with Musika, whatever it happened to be, would then deprive those students of the opportunity to take lessons from you.

        That’s not okay in my book. I would insist on including in any such contract some carefully worded clauses that would protect my students in such an event. And my experience with corporations is that they tend not to be very flexible about rewording contracts, so … well, I don’t know. I don’t know what their contract says now, and I don’t know how flexible they are. I’m just saying, the student ALWAYS comes first, and if Musika’s contract doesn’t protect the student’s ability to study with a favored teacher, no matter what, then I would either refuse to sign the contract at all, or I would sign it and then, if there was ever a problem, invite Musika’s lawyers to kiss my wrinkly white ass.

  3. Conrad says:

    Yeah, could be. Might be a Mafia front for all I know. But there’s also a strategy, often used on the internet, of promoting products that are “in development” to buzz them up, and then only producing those that produce traffic.

    Could be that they’re doing that; could be they’re thinking to sell the name without ever giving a single music lesson.

    Has anyone ever gotten a teacher through them?

  4. Chris Rytower says:

    I am a Musika teacher and can tell you that I have had to turn down students because of scheduling conflicts and distance. Further, students turn me down because I am not the right sex. There are many variables that would explain the lack of teacher availability, not teachers. I can think of at least four more I could be teaching if I had a sex change–four students who may be untaught due to their preference. There is also contractual language re taking their students. I don’t know how common that is.

    • midiguru says:

      Interesting comments, Chris. Thanks for the feedback. I confess that I’m rather surprised that students would turn you down because you’re the wrong sex. I’m also surprised that they would tell you that this was the reason.

      I’ve had a few calls from people that I never heard from again, and I assume that may have been because they were looking for a less expensive teacher.

  5. Carl Lumpkin says:

    I currently teach with Musika. In some of the lesson requests that I’ve gotten, the parents specifically request only female teachers. What I don’t like is that I only get paid once a month which means that I have to wait 6 weeks to get paid for a lesson given during the first week of every month. There also seems to be a lot of secrecy going on. I can’t ask the parents what they’re being charged and I can’t let the parents know what I’m being paid. I’m dying to know what Musika is charging hourly for me, but they pretty much told me that it was none of my business when I asked. Does anyone know what they’re rates are?

    • midiguru says:

      I’m sure if you set up a fake gmail account so they won’t know who you are, you could claim to have a young student who wants lessons and find out what they’re charging. I could even do it for you if I knew where you were located and what instrument you teach.

      My own experience is that I’m doing as well as I need to do strictly by having a website so I can be found via search engines, and making sure the local school music teachers know who I am. If I were trying to work full-time at it, I don’t think this approach would necessarily serve me well, but I’m happy to be a part-time teacher.

      Some amusing games are played in the music teaching business. I had one local teaching studio that wanted me to teach, but they wanted me to sign a contract with an indemnification clause, in which I would indemnify them against lawsuits (and without any proof that I was actually guilty of misconduct) — but they were not proposing to indemnify me in the event that I got sued for something they did. I told them to go fly a kite.

  6. Marc Andrews says:

    I have recently moved to Florida and I am considering teaching for Misuka. Can anyone offer a clear answer stating whether they are a good company to work with / for ? Also, if I sign up and teach for them, do I need to purchase a permit / license ?

  7. Erika says:

    I’ve been signed up with Musika for a few months now and haven’t gotten any students out of them. However, I’ve spent quite a few hours of my life giving lessons that I haven’t been compensated for, as per their policy.

    Also, they say that you can’t take students from them, but when I looked in the contract it didn’t mention anything about whether the trial lesson (which involves no money) constitutes the prospective student belonging to Musika. I wonder if the prospective students are required to sign a waiver themselves?

    Has any Musika teacher looked in their contract and actually found the part that says they can’t remove leads?

    All-in-all, Marc, I wouldn’t bother with getting hired on with them. Maybe you can try takelessons, they don’t offer trial lessons so you’re guaranteed compensation for at least four lessons. They’re also much more transparent, in my opinion.

    • Marc Andrews says:

      Hello Erika,

      I appreciate you replying to my questions. Can you elaborate about how you gave lessons, but weren’t compensated for them? I’m not sure about your ‘leads’ question myself, I just know that I wouldn’t bother working on my own with any of their prospects. Also, do you currently work with “takelessons’ ?

      Thanks Again

  8. Geckohawaii23 says:

    I used to work for takelessons, and they’re overall a good, honest company. They pay you monthly, you get paid for same-day cancellations, there are NO free trial lessons (what a crock, Musika, we’re giving our time and our expertise, pay us!). I used to do fairly well getting students from them. However, due to takelessons’ overhaul in the past few years, I haven’t gotten any new students. They expanded their site to include ANY type of teacher, not just musicians, and now the teacher lists the price of the lesson (takelessons gets a 25% cut). Which is fine, but of course you’re going to get people who just go for the cheapest teacher out there, regardless of qualifications. Takelessons really does little more than advertise their site now, rather than specifically promote YOU. However, there is no mystery as to their prices and inner workings, they’re very up front, and I find it easy to work with them. Now if I could just get some students . . .

  9. james page says:

    I teach for both Takelessons and Musika. I much prefer Takelessons for the reasons stated above. Musika pays less and as mentioned, the length of time you wait to be paid is ridiculous. I also feel they are less accessible and they have been neither friendly nor helpful when I have called for support.
    But I think they changed their policy about intro lessons. I just taught one today and it shows they owe me $20. Whoopee!

    • jasper4bass says:

      I just spoke to a Musika rep and reviewed the Teaching Agreement, and as far as intro lessons go, it seems that they pay you only if the student decides to continue taking lessons with you. But if they “opt out,” they don’t charge the student and therefore you get stiffed.
      After reading the contract, as well as the impressions relayed here, I don’t think I’ll be signing up to teach through Musika. I’m still going to give Takelessons a shot though. They both have similar guards against poaching and indemnification clauses, so i’m skeptical about being beholden to more than one of these companies at a time.

  10. Charles Noel says:

    I taught for TakeLessons through BestBuy for about 4 months; TakeLessons charged $45 per lesson and paid me $12 per lesson. Local music stores charge about $25. For a recreational-minded beginner, TakeLessons can offer university-level education and still rarely be competitive at almost 2x the cost. For the teachers, if TakeLessons were able to offer a teacher a schedule of about 30 lessons per week, this job would have some value. During the tiime I was there, it was more like 5/week. Who looks at a business model like this and decides it’s worth investing? Maybe at California prices (home base for company) but not in Cleveland.

    • james page says:

      I believe that TakeLessons now pays the instructor between 60% and 90% of what they collect for a lesson. With your first few lessons with a student it is at the 60% rate but the longer you keep the student the higher the compensation rate. I currently have students at both the 60 and the 90 rate and inbetween. With Musika, the rate is frozen. I’m guessing its at 50% and they won’t budge. AT least when I have tried.

      • Madeline G. says:

        Musika shows the students’ fees on their website. The teacher’s rates stay the same throughout the contract period, but they accent rate increase requests between contract intervals. Musika’s cut of the students’ fees are between 30-40%, but not 50%. Whatever your rate is, that’s what you’re compensated. They don’t take a portion of your rate. You also don’t have to deal with the billing. You show up and teach! That’s the best part of the job! As far as the trial lessons go, it’s just to be sure the student likes the teacher. As an experienced teacher, this practice is industry standard and it’s a guarantee that that the students and teachers are a good fit.

        I’ve never used TakeLessons, but from my experience, Musika is a more solid, reputable, and professional company than other companies I’ve come across. Everyone’s experience differs, but I hope this information helps any teacher considering Musika. At least call them and see if it’s something that will work for you.

      • james page says:

        You are right Madeline. Our experiences do differ. I would like to know where you can find the student’s fees on the Musika website. And as for rate increases between contract intervals…. All I can say is that I have tried several times and they won’t even consider it. I refuse to take more students from them but with the one that I have, who has been with me over a year, my rates are stuck at $20 per 30 minute lesson. With Take Lessons, I would be up to $35 for that same student.

  11. Wolfgang says:

    This company needs to be shut down ASAP !!! for 8 months they have sent me e mails and not one student has materialized, they have the nerve to say i cant teach my family or friends i have earned my right as 40 plus years of practice and world travel experience they are in no way deserving of a dime for anything they do and should be shut down !!! This world does not need middle men Any great teacher go t their own students on thier own terms not A Scam They area A Scam hand down How do they think they can go on with this !!!

  12. Wolfgang says:

    This company needs to be shut down ASAP !!! for 8 months they have sent me e mails and not one student has materialized, they have the nerve to say i cant teach my family or friends i have earned my right as 40 plus years of practice and world travel experience they are in no way deserving of a dime for anything they do and should be shut down !!! This world does not need middle men Any great teachers get their own students on thier own term not A Scam, They area A Scam hand down How do they think they can go on with this !!!

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