Category :

Career Advice

Musicians, the gig economy, and online learning... a happy (but dysfunctional) family.

- by Jake Sharp

In the current landscape of education the importance of online learning is clear. It's convenient, relatively inexpensive and fits the 2016 lifestyle perfectly especially the musicians lifestyle. Musicians in the last 7-10 years have had access to a multitude of resources that help them to hone their skills, discuss important issues with peers and engage professional educators. They constantly utilize free online content like tutorials, software downloads, marketing tools etc. A musician can go from free tutorials to online classes to recording their music in their home studio to distributing it through a multitude of web platforms (getting paid for it is a different story!) all while working with social media and other marketing tools to get the word out. This is the most power that has ever been in the hands of the average musician. Not everyone wants to do it all themselves but the D.I.Y. ethos has never been stronger in music than it is now.

Some services and tools for the modern musician work flawlessly but many are in need of updating. Online classrooms are falling way behind other digital services which is a shame because it's the starting point for many aspiring artists. Propping up a camera in the corner of a live classroom and giving occasional access to the instructor is a disservice to the student that verges on insulting. All while the student is being charged a hefty tuition that's nearly as high as attending the live class! Prerecorded videos with static, impersonal presentations will not inspire the student either. What's needed is a system that's in line with the gig economy, freelancing and informal learning environments. Face-to-face instruction is the only way to really feel engaged and the ability to simply raise your hand to ask a question is huge. The technology is no longer the bottleneck, multiple user video chat with high quality is becoming the standard. It's the platform/learning system that limits innovation.

A freelancing platform for independent instructors gives an opportunity to present the material in an engaging, entertaining and intimate setting that emphasizes the personal teaching style and curriculum of each instructor. What draws a viewer to one 30 minute mixing tutorial over another on YouTube? It's the unique presentation, content and style of the instructor! Everyone learns differently so any chance to present the materials in a dynamic way that tailors it to the student is a win for both student and instructor. All the trends point to a new emphasis on informal instruction and learning-by-doing. This is not an option in a traditional school format where the school must pay every instructor and stick to a preset and static curriculum. This approach is only possible in a freelance environment that allows instructors the freedom to set their own curriculum, schedule and rates. Pair this approach with live video chat and a direct-from-soundcard audio stream and you have a recipe for the next generation of online learning for musicians.

A solution is coming! Your voice will be heard and your questions will be answered.

Jake Sharp is the Founder of Profound Studio and a Jazz Composer/Guitarist/Luthier

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