The Founders Series
A series of podcast episodes with the founders of the top software platforms for online music lessons.
A deep dive into Rock Out Loud Live, Muzie.Live, Musicology and Blink Session Music.
The goal of this series and this associated post is to help you compare and contrast these platforms with what you’re already using for music lessons. But before we get any further, I want to make sure that you know, there is only so much we can do with software to create amazing music lessons.
A lot of what will make your lessons stand out and be memorable for your students and families is what you put into them. Long ago are the days where a music teacher would sit down with a student and go line by line through a piece of music to get that piece learned. And the best lessons are ones that are more interactive, draw on curiosity and creativity and instill a love for knowledge… truly.
With all that being said, I present to you a deep look at these four platforms for your online music lessons.
Let’s start with the standout features of each platform:
Muzie.Live: student portals including practice room, asset library (both at a school level and individual student level)
Rock Out Loud Live: highest possible audio quality
Musicology: fantastic student interface, designed for use by children with or without adult participation
Blink Session Music: robust platform already proven within the therapy space; extends into all-in-one for scheduling, payments, messaging and reminders.
As you begin to evaluate the software, here are a few questions to keep top of mind:
- What are my must haves or deal breakers?
- What features would I be interested in within 3 - 12 months?
- Who are my students, and what do they need most?
- How much time do I have to invest in setting the software up in the first place (hint: if you cannot invest at least 10 hours, then it’s not the time to get started, come back when you can allocate a full 10+ hours in a matter of one week!)
Ready to get into the side by side comparisons?
Good, then let’s start with pricing!
|Free Trial or Free Tier?||YES Seven day free trial||YES 14 day trial on PRO account -AND- Free account option||YES 14 day trial And promo codes available to extend||YES Free Plan option|
|Price||2 tiers $9.95 (access to one instrument/ whiteboard/ all audio features) $13.95 (access to all instruments, etc.)||Options Free account $14/month (standard account) $24/month (pro account) Institutional Account $25 for the admin and $20 per teacher||$19.99/month||3 Options Free Plan Unlimited Plan Pro Plan|
Immediately on the heels of pricing, let’s throw together a comparison of features on the most popular plans.
Note: These features are pulled directly from the respective websites effective November 22, 2021.
|Duets||YES||Via Clips||No info available||No info available|
|Waiting Room||YES||YES||No info available||YES|
|Groups||Concert Mode||10 Person Rooms||NO||YES|
|Interactive tools for piano, ukulele and guitar||NO||NO||YES||NO|
|Multiple Cameras||YES||YES, Teacher can use 2 cameras||YES, via Web App||YES|
These are many of the features, at a high level, to give you some idea of what you’re looking at.
There is a lot of behind the scenes information that I would be remiss if I didn’t include it here; doing it in paragraph form to break up the tables 🙂
The team at Muzie.Live has been working on online music platforms since 2017 and launched the current product in early 2020. The platform is a blend of open source and proprietary software and is developed in house. Sam Reti is the CEO and his father is the principal developer. The software is not only designed for high-quality HD audio and video, but also contains a full suite of tools. These tools can be used inside and outside of lessons to create engaged students and organized teachers.
Rock Out Loud Live was the first Virtual Music Lesson Platform to offer an interactive Virtual Experience. With a secure P2P layer of encryption for a safe Video Music Lesson and access to the tools you need to teach. CEO Michael Grande’s goal is to provide the highest quality audio for online music lessons.
Musicology came about entirely because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. CEO Rebecca Featherstone and her team of musicians/developers, have developed an app specifically for teaching music to all ages. Many of the features were designed for the youngest of learners who are empowered to take on their music lessons without parent involvement. It’s all about making teaching music a more intuitive, effective and engaging experience online!
Blink Session Music's mission is to equip music teachers with tools which make teaching online and running their busy studio excellent and easy. The platform was released in the summer of 2021, but don’t let the newness fool you, the origins go back to 2016 with Blink Session (Health.) Eric DeGrove is a musician and developer; once the platform worked in his wife’s vertical, it was time for him to bring it to his passion.
Let’s get a bit geeky (because this stuff is important!)
Software as a Service (SaaS) is the most common type of software available right now. Basically, you pay a monthly fee (or annual) to use the software and you’re paying that fee to not only use the software but help it continually improve and provide more value to your business.
To use a SaaS platform, you’re required to have an internet connection, but that is a moot point when it comes to providing an online service through the software. I call it out though because there are features in these products that you’ll use outside of lessons and you’ll need an internet connection for those too.
Speaking of internet connection -- while these SaaS platforms are designed to provide you with the best possible teaching experience, that doesn’t mean they will remove the limitations of internet connectivity issues. For the optimal experience, you’ll want to make sure that you are using the best internet you can and encourage your students to do the same. When there is more traffic on the internet within your home or your students’ homes, that will degrade the experience.
The best online music lessons will occur when there is great audio quality. Rock Out Loud and Muzie have both discussed the need to degrade video in favor of audio and I completely agree. I’d forgo perfect images to make sure that my students can hear me and I can hear them properly.
And another benefit of separating out audio from video is that there is less cutting out of sound from one side or the other. This means that while a true perfectly timed duet might not be possible, both sides will be able to hear each other while playing/singing/talking/performing! This is a major goal of Rock Out Loud and Muzie.
If that is important to you, then I would recommend looking at those platforms. They differ in a number of ways, which I’ve called out in the tables above, but those would be my picks for lessons geared towards intermediate and advanced students.
Musicology has put itself in a position to be the leading contender (in my mind) for students under 10 because the interface is so easy to use and feel comfortable with.
If you are just getting started online and want to manage your entire studio in one place, look at the PRO option of Blink Session Music.
Oh, and to keep things really simple, all four of these SaaS products are going to run extremely well on Google Chrome. So as long as you and your students are using a device with Google Chrome installed, you’re good. Musicology’s iOS app should be used when on an iPad or iPhone over Chrome, but otherwise, Chrome all the way.
Updates to SaaS products are done mostly seamlessly to you; you’ll be in the software one day and the next there will be a new feature or button or option that wasn’t there before. That’s the beautiful thing -- and with that, you’re going to want to make sure that you bookmark the relevant KB (Knowledge Base/Support Articles/Tutorials -- because those get updated regularly too.
Getting into lessons!
I know you’re going to get comfortable with whatever platform you decide to use, so let’s talk a bit about how your students are going to access your lessons.
Your online classroom will be accessible via a website URL, inside a portal, with an access code or any combination of the above. Once your students get the hang of it, it really doesn’t matter what the method is… so don’t be deterred if the platform you choose requires them to create an account or uses a master teacher code or otherwise.
A student onboarding process should be used with whatever platform or platforms you use online. You’ll want your students to know if/how they are getting reminders, where/when to click links/access your portal and so on. Your students and families are familiar with Zoom, and we want them to be familiar with the platform you choose as well. The best way I know how to do that is to invite the platform into the conversation.
Use language like “Lessons will be delivered through the Musicology App” or “My online teaching portal is called Rock Out Loud Live” or “Everything you need for lessons is located in our Muzie student portal” or “My studio runs on Blink Session Music.”
How do I decide what to replace Zoom with?
It’s going to be a personal choice, that’s for sure.
- Was there something that you heard from one of our founders that stuck with you?
- Is there something on the feature list that helps to narrow your options?
- What does your current student roster look like? Can you absorb the cost associated with the software?
- If you sign up for one of these platforms, what will that eliminate from your current processes? Is there any expense that can be reduced or eliminated to offset the cost of the better option?
Any one of these software options can change your business. They give you the confidence that when you teach music lessons online you are giving the best product to your students. It’s all about setting them up for the success that they want out of lessons.
Sam, Mike, Eric and Rebecca have put your music studio at the forefront of the work they do daily on their apps and in their respective communities. They look at technology as an opportunity rather than a barrier so that you can be successful.
Whether you decide to look at Muzie, Rock Out Loud Live, Musicology, Blink Session Music, or any new platform that comes along (like Forte which I found out about during editing!) my goal with this series is to bring you answers to some of the most important questions that you have about them and how they compare and contrast with each other.