Classically-trained violinist DuMarkus Davis fell in love with music in middle school. But while studying music, he noticed that many of the organizations that offered music lessons didn’t pay a fair wage — teachers getting $20 an hour for a class that billed at $80 an hour, for example.
“Where did that extra money go? That’s when I started hiring my friends to come and teach music lessons for me and giving them a bigger cut,” he says.
At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he saw that same problem, and also realized that music teachers and prospective students were having trouble finding the perfect match in terms of personality and learning level.
“A lot of people don’t realize that music lessons are a lot like dating. There’s a four-to-six year retention rate and it’s very important for the student and teacher to have the right structure,” says Davis.
He founded Musicbuk to solve these pain points. After spending a summer in beta, the startup is publicly launching the app at the A3C Festival & Conference in Atlanta this week.
The app helps music teachers match with students, book lessons, set their own wages, and simplify scheduling and payments.
“The customer discovery process turned into us generating revenue through word of mouth before we even had a product out,” Davis says. The startup now has customers in a high schools and middle schools around Atlanta and at the Atlanta University Center.
On the parent end, Musicbuk helps them choose the teacher filtered by instrument, price range, and location.
Once a teacher is selected, the profile displays their experience, rate, and availability. The teacher then receives the request.
“A large portion of our teacher base are professional musicians, and some of them don’t have the most conventional backgrounds. For example, some of them worked under great teachers and went on tour with Stevie Wonder or another musician,” says Davis.
Before on-boarding, the teachers go through a four-step vetting process including a background check.
There’s also wage reporting available to help the teacher budget, pay taxes, and set business goals.
“We’re bringing together a lot of technology to streamline a shadow economy that’s been operating for hundreds of years in the same way,” Davis says.
The app will soon incorporate AI capabilities to recommend the best instructor for each student.
Musicbuk charges the teacher an annual membership fee to cover the background check and other admin fees. The first lesson with a new student is split 50/50 with Musicbuk, but after that, the teacher keeps 100 percent of what they earn.
Parents pay a flat transaction fee for every lesson booked.
The Atlanta-based startup has opened a $1.5 million funding round to grow their engineering, marketing and sales teams.
“We believe that people should be able to find a quality music instructor regardless of their background or their financial situation,” says Davis.