In this episode, Jared interviews Sam Reti, founder of Muzie.Live. They talk about how to get more gigs by using online platforms. He advises musicians to try different things until they find something that works for them. He also shares tips on how to use online platforms to connect with other musicians and music teachers.
What's up gigging pros. It's Jared Judge and welcome to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast. I'm so excited today we have a special guest coming all the way from the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, a guitarist. He is a music teacher. He went to Berklee College of Music Plays heavy metal. I don't know if he still does. We're gonna find out about that later today. But welcome, Sam. I'm so excited to have Sam ready here, founder of Muzie.Live today, Sam, thanks for joining us. Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, my pleasure. And for those of you who are just listening, I'm taking a look at Sam's wall. He has like five guitars. One of them's a bass guitar, a piano, a ukulele. You look, another guitar over there. I'm amazing. So you're, you're clearly one of us. And I'm excited to chat with you. Tell us about who you are as a musician. You know, how did you get started? What do you do now? Absolutely. Yes. So my origin story, I guess is kind of different because I actually grew up in a musical family, in a way. So my dad was a professional drummer, through the 1980s. Originally were from England. So he's been used to tour with like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and a lot of the bigger heavy metal bands in England back in the 80s. And so music was around the house all the time. And my dad had a drum set in the basement and used to play along to music every day. Ironically, I never touched an instrument till I was about 13, or 14. So I think it might have been like, the music was always there. So we sort of ignored it. But my parents never pushed us to pursue music. They never, never, my sister played piano for years before I ever even picked up a guitar. So it was kind of an interesting, like route to music. But when I got a guitar, I remember they said for the first year, no lessons, you just have to show us that you're going to actually play it. And I think within the first month I was I'd already got through like your, you know, the major, the main open chords, I'm sort of sitting there going, Okay, now what? And so they're like, alright, well seems that you've actually bought into this. So from then on, it became an obsession I was I was the kid that was playing five or six hours a day. And it definitely helped to my day to day growing up was pretty cool. Like, I would get home from school, you know, two or three o'clock, I'd go right into my basement, and my dad would he worked from home, so he would come downstairs and we would jam for an hour or so. And then I'd stay down there and practice for another couple hours. He'd come down again before dinner, another jam session, and then maybe one more before bed. And that was a pretty typical day. So you know, I was playing like with another person, you know, 10 times a week or something. That's amazing. Like, yeah, incredibly musical environment. Yeah, very, very lucky that and my neighbor, he got really interested in the drums kind of the same time. So my dad showed me a couple things on the drumset. And then he started taking lessons. So we formed our own band, you know, that was our first band, you know, just the two of us playing basic, like AC/DC knockoffs. And then, you know, just kind of kept going from there. through high school, I got some recording stuff, which is actually all still on my desk right now. Like, almost 20 years later, but the I use through high school, I recorded all the kids in school. So there's like, one of my friends was a rapper, to be fair is actually pretty good. You know, other high school rapper who thinks he's good? No, to be fair, he was actually very good. And so we recorded a couple of albums for him. And some, I probably record like six or seven albums before I graduated high school, nothing, you know, they weren't polished masterpieces or anything, but I got the experience of bringing people into a room miking up the whole thing and getting them to play to a click track and kind of taking on that producer role. And I thought that's what I wanted to do. So when I went, I applied for college at Berklee, and that was the only school I applied to my mom applied to other colleges for me, because I refused to and I knew that that was it was all or nothing for me. So I just spent everyday practicing and I worked on one song for almost five years to that was my audition piece. song called Glasgow kiss is really technical guitar song and, you know, so I worked on that and wanting to play heavy metal and record bands and that's what I assumed I was going to be doing and as you kind of alluded to, I do neither of those anymore. So is that a definitely a weird journey from from where you think you're gonna go? Yeah, for sure, though, and it's it's all the experiences on our journey that lead us to where we are today. It's funny when I grew up, my dad was big into Black Sabbath and I and Judas Priest, we went to us fast. We went to Isn't Judas Priest concerts? Which was kind of ironic for a violinist to go? But there are so many similarities. You know, music does crossover? Yeah, absolutely. I would argue that heavy metal and classical music are actually this. If Beethoven had a band instead of an orchestra, you would it would be basically the same stuff. Just he would have written heavy metal. Oh, yeah, for sure. But yeah, I kind of, you know, I, one of the things, say about being at Berklee and around all those musicians, and is that when I got to college, I was very much heavy metal, heavy metal, heavy metal. That's all I had ever grown up with. That's all I'd ever known. And when I got to school, I was like, oh, there are other genres of music, you can know. And that's when you start meeting violinists and or people who might be classically trained to wear and then you start merging them. And that's when you start seeing the real. The real magic happened. Oh, yeah. So you're playing started to change? Oh, definitely. Well, so when I got to college, as I had mentioned, the things I wanted to do a record and play in a band, so and my dad had actually given me a pretty solid piece of advice right before going to school. He's like, put your band together as fast as you possibly can. Because every other person at that college is going to be trying to do the same thing. So you need to go in, you need to scope out the best of the best, and you need to go and recruit them right away. And to be fair, it was good advice that on the second day of school, I heard this kid practicing his drum set. And I happen to know the song he was playing just by hearing the drumbeat. It's a very particular heavy metal song spy band called Dream Theater. Really particular song, right. So like, I knew exactly what he was playing. And I just knocked on the door and was like, hey, that's dance of eternity, right? And he's like, yep. And I was like, Okay, I've got a seven string guitar upstairs, like, is this what you do? He's like, yep. And I was like, okay, cool. So move your drum set into the bigger room over there. I'll be right back. And we that was the beginning of our first rehearsal. Wow. So it was literally the second day then we were we were jamming me and the drummer we're playing. And the kid knocks on our door opens it pokes his head and he goes, Hey, this is like, kind of heavy. I like it. And I was like, Yeah, I was like, you wouldn't have to know any bass players, would you? He goes, I play bass. I was like, You don't happen to have a five or six string bass. He's like, I have the six string bass. So he ran upstairs, grabbed his bass came down. And literally within 30 minutes, we had put together the core of what would turn into our band, which was called Zombie frogs. Does that have any reference to Rob Zombie? No, no, not really. So the way that name came about was actually kind of funny. I went to a music camp grant when I graduated from high school, so it's like a graduation gift. My parents sent me to one of those like ultimate guitar escapes, where it's like five celebrity teachers. And one of the good guys there as a teacher, or guitar is called Guthrie Govan. And he's a phenomenal guitarist. And one night everyone was hanging around, he just out of the blue was like, you know, a phenomenal band name would be zombie frogs. He's like that. That's a great band name. And he just said it. And then it just died away. And it just stuck there in the back of my mind. With what would the the hope and the long shot that one day he'll see it? And go, oh, that's a very good band name, and then listen to it. Oh, it's amazing. Yes, but that was sort of the same sort of fell together very naturally. And as we were just talking about different styles sort of converging. We were really looking for a keyboard player, because in our kind of music, that's sort of the crux. And we couldn't really find anyone, we tried out a couple of different kids at the school. And then we found this kid who's basically like classically trained prodigy. I like, very impressive playing. And he played one, you know, one little rehearsal with us. And it was okay, that's the guy. And then he brought in another guitar player who was a friend from from home, and that solidified the lineup. Yeah. And we did it for so we did it for a couple years. But we we were very lucky. So we played a couple of shows our first show was upstairs in a burger bar. So it played on top of a Russian called Be good. And I'm sure they were very angry. Because I don't think we told them it was heavy metal. We just kind of convinced them to let us play a game. So we did that for like 15 of our friends showed up. And then you know, a couple of other local things. And our sixth show ever as a band. We were actually invited out to go play the progressive nation at sea, which was a cruise cruise festival, so left from Miami to the Bahamas, and it was like a seven day festival. And it was all of the progressive rock bands that I'd ever idolized. And it was all being put on by the drummer from Dream Theater. And Dream Theater was my favorite band growing up. That guitar is actually their guitar. layers like signature model. Oh, cool. So I'm a bit I'm like the nerd for them. But so their drummer was putting this cruise on, and we submitted our music. And he picked us into a handful of other bands to go on what was called, like the Millennium stage. So it was like all the new bands. And we got flown down to Florida and, you know, hopped on a cruise ship with our VIP passes and everything. And, you know, we had like six days of, you know, that like mini celebrity kind of living out your dream of like, hanging out with the artists as an equal and not a fan. Yeah. So that kind of stuff that was, you know, the first glimpse into what it was what it could be like, to sort of take it further. And we kept so we kept the band going for a couple of years. And we got four or five record offers, we got a whole bunch of different opportunities. They were they were great. And we were doing well, we played on festivals, and we're getting we actually dropped out of college. And we're getting ready to go for a semester for touring. So this is when life sort of kicks you in the face. So we dropped out at me and the other guitar player dropped out of college on like August 20, like the very last possible chance you could so we drop out. And we're you were still in the city rehearsing and, and by the middle of September, our keyboard player has quit, because he felt like he he basically he didn't like the band name, which is sort of a which that could be rectified, I guess. But it just the personality started to clash. And so like most bands, that's usually what's the downfall of it is the internal problems. And unfortunately, it got too much and, and as I said the mentioned to you that, you know, once I started seeing this sort of crumble, and I could see it becoming more and more unstable. And I knew it was really falling apart when we had a really high profile gig. That was a showcase for record labels. So it's sort of like a private invite only, like a really one time opportunity. And we had to cancel it because our drummer wouldn't do it. Oh, so it was one of those where it was like, at that point, I was seeing it burn itself to the ground. And my mum had been the one and my my dad played in bands, and the same thing inevitably happened to him. So my mom had been the one that gave me the advice of this is not permanent, you know, make sure that you're planning on this falling apart at some point. Yeah. And so fortunately, I was sort of ready for it when it happened. I not mentally at all. That was like my world had been taken from under me. But I knew really quickly that I needed to come up with something more permanent. And for me, technology and software and always being in the background. After my dad was a drummer, he went off and did software development. So that had always been sort of in the in the world. So I went straight into building software for musicians. That's awesome. And I do want to ask about that. But before we move on from your experience as a gigging musician, would you you kind of implied it, but I guess I want to ask just so everybody's super clear on it. Did you mainly do originals? Or were you doing covers of like Dream Theater and some of your idols? Absolutely, yeah, we were pretty much all original. We did one cover song. And it wasn't really a cover song. It was just, we actually needed five more minutes of material. So we picked this Joe Satriani, it's just a Instrumental Guitar song. Basically, what we we knew is basically just a jam in E minor, and that we could just goof around, like half throw around solos. And that was like five minute Phil in the middle of the set when we were like, Oh, crap, we need a few more minutes of material. But yeah, we were always playing originals. Sure. I've never been in a cover band. Not in my wheelhouse is simply because as a kid, I just never learned any songs. So I might be like the one person out there. But my repertoire of like, songs I could play you right now is essentially zero. There's nothing I could grab that guitar and play you that you'd be like, I know that one. I can play you like a riff from something you'd know, right? But as a kid, I never learnt songs like that. I think I was always so interested in writing music, that I would try to learn something and then inevitably not be able to do it and sort of come up with something else. And then before I knew it, I was just working on my own thing, for sure. And so it took a little different approach for that kind of stuff. Yeah, and I don't think you're alone in that. But that does also highlight one of the things that I'm discovering about one of the challenges that original musicians have versus covers, which I made We work with cover musicians, even like a classical musician is a cover musician of stuff in the 1700s. But it's it's hard to swap out when you lose somebody in your original band. Yes, like they created the music with you. So it's like you're losing a part of your brain in a way. 100%. So when our keyboard player quit, the band was dead, right then in there, if I had had any common sense, I would have known that. But I was still the hopeless optimist that I tried for two more years to like, stick it all back together. But while I was trying to glue it back together, I was over there working on the software stuff, because I could just see it was going down the slope, but the keyboard player I mentioned, he's pretty much a prodigy, and some not far off the truth. He's one of those like, just pure gifted. And we literally could not find anybody who could play the music. To a point like the guitar parts were complicated, but not that complicated. The keyboard parts were on like another world. So we actually had a really hard time we found a keyboard player eventually, but he lives in Texas. And like so. I mean, that's how far we ended up having to search was across the country, and the only person we could find that was capable of actually playing the material. And that's so tough. Yeah. And to be fair to that kid that our old keyboard player, he is actually right now, his band is opening for Dream Theater on their current world tour. So to be fair, like it did it, you know, it worked out for them exactly as we had hoped it would work out for us, which is sort of why I kind of now know that my band was really close to being what I wanted it to be, because the guys from my band literally went off and did exactly that. So yeah, you know, it is what it is, though. Yeah, for sure. I know, what a great experience, though. I mean, it wouldn't have gotten you where you are, had you not had all those experiences? Nope. It would have been 10 more years of slogging in a in a cheap apartment in downtown Boston, which I don't know if I really would have been able to do that. Yeah, for sure. I have a similar story. But I'm not going to tell it because my listeners have heard it. But short story short, I took an audition for to be a conductor for the US Air Force band. And I made it to the final audition round where I actually got to go and conduct the US Air Force band. And I did my thing. And the commander pulled me into his office and said you were so close. You got second place, but we only take first place. Yep. That's the way the world works. It's the way the world works. And you know, I am better for that. Even though I didn't win it. Yeah, for me, isn't that the funny thing is that like, those punches, and we talked about this briefly before, it's like the fail hard, fail fast. It's the most annoying trope in entrepreneurship or whatever, you know, in everything. To me, it's the most frustrating trope where it's like, oh, well, you got to fail a couple times before you succeed. And you're like, throughout college, I heard it a million times. I was like, yeah, yeah. Set me I'm gonna do. And then when you inevitably fail a whole bunch of times you go, Oh, now I see what they meant. Okay. That makes a little more sense. Yeah, exactly. So tell us about your failures. I love hearing about them. Just for fun. So the firt Yeah, let's let's dive into your software. If that's cool with you. Yes. So I want to let everybody know, Sam runs a company now called Muzie.Live? Do you want to first tell us what it does? And then tell us how you got there? Yeah, so Muzie is a virtual music classroom. So with the pandemic, it became very useful. But to clarify, we didn't we we built music before 2020. So that's something that hit so I think needs to be clarified that this wasn't in response to a pandemic, this just happened to be good timing. Music is a platform for teachers to host online lessons. And I originally, the intent was actually for teachers to be able to do more like online tutoring, where you could, again, back to the college stuff, his students at college, might need a tutoring session in something and I remember this being my thought of like, I was stuck on something for a project. And it was a music thing. And it was one of those like you're Googling it all night. And you're like, nobody really has the answer to this. But five minute conversation with another musician would probably be more than enough. So we built music as a platform where you could actually log in and say, I need to, I need a lesson right now. And it would find a teacher who was online at that time and pair you with them in real time instantly. That's cool. So like on demand tutoring on the go, and it was pay by the minute so teachers were Making money based on how long they were helping people for. And it was a cool concept. Except we launched that in January of 2012. So that's ironically, the third failure in our line of our four products, I guess, even though Muzie sort of one. But basically what happened is sort of going backwards from theirs. We had had some previous products, and they all sort of built on top of each other to get to here. So when I was in college, the last two years when I was trying to put the band back together, I was also building what was called I want to practice, and it was a practice app, basically, for college musicians, or professional musicians. So it was under the assumption that you were looking to practice for, you know, many hours a day, and you're trying to organize Ross, like a schedule of needing to learn maybe a dozen new tunes, and five or six new techniques and a big requirement. So I want to practice with perfect for dedicated musicians. Then the the good thing about it is I got to do it in a class called The thing was called entrepreneurship lab or something, but it's basically a startup lab. So we were able to go in with our sort of concepts and actually workshop them with, with professors. The professors that we had in our class, were professors who had built and sold software products previously, and an MIT professor. So we had one Berklee teacher and one MIT professor, teach the class. That's a amazing class. I want to be in it. Yes, it was like, it was a powerhouse of like information. One of the cool things is the beginning. For the first hour, it was a three hour class and the first hour was always a guest speaker. And it was like the CEO of Nike, unlike the VP of Puma, and wow, like some of like, huge names, people that they must have obviously known personally, or something to get through the door. But the one that sort of made all the difference was Victor Wooten. So I'm sure you've heard of him. He's Yeah, amazing bass player. So Victor is a resident professor at Berklee. Basically, it means he's a part time professor and teaches a handful of classes, but also means he gets to go to any class he wants to, oh, no. So I bet I fortunately, had actually sat next to him in a couple of classes, which is surreal. And then fast forward, and I'm about to go and pitch my project at the class. And the speaker for the day is Victor Wooten. So, I get up and I'm like, Oh, crap. And it's also the chair of the bass department. Is there Steve Bailey. So I've got my two professors, and then the chair and the and Victor. So Mike, oh, man, this no pressure. Um, so I, I sort of pitched my project, what it was I was trying to do. And they all really loved it. And they thought it was a fantastic idea. So I brought it to my dad, who had been doing software development ever since his bands in the 80s. And he was like, well, I could code you up a little prototype of this. So we whipped together a little, you know, kind of example of how it could work, the professors and the teachers, they loved it. So we jumped right on it. And we just started going to town. And our first sort of sell or our first trial was the Berklee bass department. So Victor, and Steve had seen the presentation. And they actually came back at the end of the semester to see our final presentations. So when I did my final, they had seen how much progress had been made from proof of concept to an actual working program. And I was the only person in the class who actually built something that could work. And again, I cheated. Having a dad that can, you know, whip up software in a few minutes? Definitely, definitely an advantage. Yeah, I wouldn't call it cheating. I would just say leveraging your resources. That's the rules, right? I play by the rules, they just set them. But yeah, so that sort of got me like that whole experience of sort of taking an idea, showing it to, you know, some higher up people, you know, in my world, I've been looking up to them. And for them to turn around be like, Oh, we love it, like, do it. Like, oh, okay, and so we we built it and I said, we have Berklee be our first trial account, and I thought I had locked down the whale. Like, I thought I was done. I was like, sweet Berklee's in the bag. Now I'm just going to call up every other music school in the country and be like, hey, Berklee already uses it. Like come on Sign In. That's not exactly how life works. or marketing, which was the lesson to be learned. But basically, it inevitably failed. It failed a very long, slow four year decline to nowhere. And it was one of those things where, you know, at a certain point, I think you sort of mentally just give up on it, knowing that like, this isn't going anywhere. But for me and for my Dan, just the mentality behind it, it was sort of like well, that it was more of a, well, that didn't work. But I think I have an idea that might. And so we started working on the next project. And that was called Dex, and it was a flashcard app on your phone, and it would show you a chord scale or an arpeggio. And then you would play that whatever it asked you to play on your instrument, you could sing it, you could play, it didn't matter. And then the microphone would pick up your performance, and then grade it based on what it had asked you to play. And so the idea was that you could be like whipping through scale, practice and chords, you know, kind of in a flashcard manner. And it worked pretty well. But at the time, phone microphones were not great. And the technology was very much in its infancy of being able to accurately take that, you know, audio and transmit it, and grade it and all of that stuff that so we built a pretty cool prototype. And it never went anywhere. It never got released, it never saw the light of day, I think I was the only person that ever used it. And we spent like six months working on that. I mean, that wasn't like a, we didn't spend like an afternoon within the project. And then oh, that didn't work. We spent like a lot of our time building this thing. And and it never went anywhere. Yeah, never even gotten, you know, not even a beta version of it was released. Oh, wow. I just want to like pause and step outside this conversation for a minute because I feel like some gigging musicians might have heard that. And we just talked a little bit about software development in this and think, how does this apply to gigging? at all, but if you listen to it with open ears, those are stories of how do bands start and create products in the practice room that never get out and never see the light of day? 100%! I could not have been building it. Actually, the first company I ever ran was definitely my band. Without a question, because I was technically the CEO in a way where money would come to us, I would have to figure out what the money was supposed to be used for effectively, in a manner, you know, every ass like, I had a team of people that I each person had a job, we realized, like I was the transportation manager, so if had anything to do with getting us somewhere, my responsibility, we had another guy was in charge of booking, if the venue, if there was something wrong with the venue, that was his fault, you know, if everybody's had like, a domain that they were responsible for, and that is very much a business, they you have to be able to run your band and be able to argue, maybe not only but to be successful, as a musician in a band, you have to treat it like a business. Yes, you can't go into it being like, Hey, we're buddies, and we're playing music, that's fine, if that's all you're doing. But if you're if money is being exchanged, the second the first dollar moves from hand to hand, you've got to stop pretending this is just something you're doing with your friends. And you need to put down a plan and what like with BookLive, I love the fact that you can schedule practices, you can have a set of songs, like you can fill out the playlists that you guys are working on things like that. It's like, that is exactly what you need to be doing. And so for me, personally, my band fell apart. And I couldn't salvage it to where I felt comfortable going out again. So I put it down. And that was just my choice to then move to software. Most people I know, when their first band failed, they made another one and another one, and another one, and another one. And it's been almost 10 years since I started college. And my friends are now touring the world with some of the greatest musicians that I've ever seen, and are some of the greatest musicians I've ever seen. You know, and so that I think that like anyone who's listening to this, if you're just gigging and you're playing musician, and you're playing musician, if you're not thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur, and you're not doing all of the same entrepreneurial things that we're doing for our businesses, then you're dead in the water. You've got to really treat it like a proper operation. Yeah, for sure. You'll you'll definitely hit a ceiling much quicker than if you learn the way that businesses handle. Even issues like with your keyboard players thinking like, that is a fulfillment problem. He just reached a fulfillment problem where he was no longer able to fulfill on what he was selling. Yes, exactly, exactly what it is. And then then I had to when I cancelled that really high profile gig that wasn't simply just saying, oh, we can't go. It's like reneging a contract from some, like, you can't just not show up to things. That's not the way the world works. So like we had to make sure you know, do we go through channels to make sure that everything we were doing was proper and that we weren't going to get you know, screwed over in the end or anything like that. So yeah, yes. Put your business hat on if you're going to try to run a band. Yeah. Thanks for those insights there. I would love to know, hear about your recent success. Tell us about about Muzie. And you know, are you a music teacher yourself? I know in your bio you are. But tell us more about that. And how did you build it? And where is Muzie? At today? Yeah, absolutely. So music came about, as I mentioned, it sort of started off as a tutoring idea. But then January 2020, rolls. So for two months, we started the tutoring thing. But every teacher we had on our platform was basically echoing the same thing. This is really cool. I'd love to use this with my own students. And so that started be like, Okay, well, maybe this should be more of a hub, and then March hits, and everything gets locked down. So that became a pretty cut and dry for us like, Okay, we're going to shut down the tutoring business. And we're just going to allow teachers to bring on their own students. And when we made that flip, it was, everything became better, everything became clearer, the path became so obvious, the previous model was great in theory, but what we realized is all of our money was going to be spent on advertising to students, every penny we had was going to be trying to get more students through the door, so that they could go to you. And inevitably, when they had a good lesson with that tutor, they would then go and work with that tutor in private, and we would just lose the business. Sure, as being the middleman. So. So that was my third fail, I guess, into the success. So when we finally made that switch, and we shut down the tutoring, the numbers started to roll pretty naturally. From there, two people started coming in and understanding exactly what the product did. Because one issue was having a product that sort of did two different things caused a lot of confusion. So once we've kind of ironed out and simplified our messaging, that Muzie is a virtual music classroom. That's what we are. And that's what we do. And everything in our product is designed to help you teach music, or to help your students be more effective practices. Those, those are our two rules. So as a company is I can base I think, is working, because I have two solid sort of tenants that I live by, if it helps you teach, and if it helps you learn, then we're interested. So the things that we don't do our like billing and invoicing and like a fancy calendar and stuff like that, because at the end of the day, there's a million of those, and that doesn't really help you be a better teacher, that just keeps you organized. So what we work on is things like, we've tons of interactive games, we have content in the platform for you to play with your students, the audio video engine inside makes it so you can you can play together, whether or not your Wi Fi is fast enough to actually do a duet is totally up to your Wi Fi, we cannot control that shouldn't make very clear, a lot of people come to us under this assumption that we've like, sped up the internet or something. That's not possible. And if it was, I would have sold it to the military years ago. Yeah. So unfortunately, but you know, our our, what we do is we know that there's some problems with online teaching, like being able to physically move your students hands to help them out or to record to play together in a nice duet or something. So what we've tried to do is build technological solutions for each of those problems. So for like a duet, we have a cool thing called clips, and a teacher can play their half of a duet, it will record and then immediately share the recording to the student who can then record their half of the duet. And then you can listen back and hear the performance and everything like that. So a lot of what we do is filling in those gaps of what might not have been so strong about online teaching previously. And we try to fill it in, so that when you have an online lesson, the students walk away going, Well, why would I do anything different? Like this is this is the best way to learn? Yeah, for sure. That makes sense. to two things. When I moved from New Jersey to Wisconsin, I had been an elementary and high school band teacher in New Jersey, and went to Wisconsin to be an orchestra conducting master student. I took with me a couple of my private students who were still in New Jersey. And I made a mistake that you mentioned before we started recording, which is I did not adapt my teaching methods to the online realm. So I personally was getting burnt out a lot quicker than Had we stayed in person. Could you just talk a little bit about that conversation we had? Yeah, yeah, that's that's arguably the the most important thing we talk about now is is, is there's two schools of thought for online teaching. I love it and I hate it. And there really doesn't seem to be a middle ground. It's either the teachers have gotten in and taken the extra effort. And this is extra effort. This is this is new him some teachers have been online for with Skype for the last 10 years. Fantastic. But for most people, you're getting thrown in the deep end. And obviously 2020 was a mess for everybody. So everyone just did what they could. But what we saw pretty clear, was the teachers who took the time to really develop their online teaching skills, and and acknowledge that some things would need to change. Those teachers did very well. And now I mean, I have a whole presentation of like case studies we did a while ago of, of success stories of things like we had a teacher who was teaching six days a week, driving to every single lesson. They now teach online, they do group classes on one day, and then they teach individual lessons on the other two days, they now teach three days a week, and they have twice as much income. Oh, wow. And their car never gets driven. So it's not getting destroyed quite as fast. So, you know, things like that, that, to me are sort of the the obvious answer is every studio should be offering both. If you can, if you know being in person is an option, then you should still offer it, we should always offer an online option. Because there's and to be clear, Muzie does work for in person lessons as well, we do have an entire sort of set of features for that. Because we're not anti in person at all. No, we I still believe that is probably the very, very, very best way to teach is face to face. But in so many scenarios, that's not actually applicable, it's not really going to work. You know, I might live too far away, I might not have a car, I might be a kid, and have three siblings who have football, basketball and baseball practice. And, you know, so the ability to quickly be like, I'm just gonna do a music lesson online. And like me, I'm a teacher, I teach guitar lessons. And I run Muzie. So for me, I can only teach on I teach Thursday evening, and Friday morning. And that's it. But I do it all online. I do it from right here. I use my own software I use all my own, you know, I get to beta test everything with my own students. And, you know, for me, it's perfect, because I between my lessons I put my schedule is 30 minute lesson 30 minute break, 30 minute lesson 30 minute break, because I have to answer tech support on Muzie. Or I have to be emailing back with somebody else about something else, you know. So being able to juggle multiple things, I think online teaching is literally the only way I would be able to do it. Yeah. That's amazing. Because like you can't drive, you know, to every house all day, and still try to run your company. Oh, I know that firsthand. Like, yeah, yeah. Because I was teaching, you know, when I was teaching high school, the day started at 720. And then you'd get out at about 230. I would then teach marching band afterwards, then I would drive to some of my students. Yeah, it was a mess. I was like going to bed exhausted and wake up again the next day? Absolutely. If you're like, Oh, well, it's like how much work is a bad teacher? Like you really don't understand, like, you know, it's like, there's so much there. And that I think is exactly what we're trying to solve is, is we're trying to allow people to conduct their will really at the beginning, it was simply to keep your business. That was really what we were there for. We were there just to help you stay in business through 2020. Now we're on the other side of it. Everyone that we're working with is looking at us for Well, what else can we do? How can we make this even better? What are the enhancements that could be, you know, added to these kinds of platforms? Or what technology can be incorporated? You know, like, eventually VR headsets and full virtual classrooms is the plan. Yeah, that sounds amazing. Yeah. So you know, I, for me, I think with technology, like you, I'm sure you feel the same way is that once you kind of get on this path of like, you start to see the benchmarks. And it's even better when you actually start to hit some of your benchmarks. And you go, Okay, this seems to be working people showed up, you know, like, for me on I want to practice I think we never talked to more than, like, maybe 1000 users on the whole thing or something, you know, so like, clearly not going to work very well, after four years of work, and you only have if 1000 people and 90% of them weren't really using the product, you know, whereas within with Muzie, you know, we hit that benchmark within maybe three months, and then you're like, oh, okay, like this is starting to make a lot more sense. And then when people actually come back to you, and they're like, or when people are willing to pay you for something that you've done, and then how much is it $24 Oh, that's no problem. That sounds fair. Boom, and then they pay for it. And you're like, oh, okay, like this is working. It's like when you get your first gig as a band, you're like, Are you sure you want to book cuz like, we're not going to tell you that this is our first gig. But like, you know that like dance you're doing you're like they don't know where scam. But make sure that when we get there we're not a scam? Yeah, it's the same feeling, you know that imposter syndrome of being there and being like they're paying me to do this. Are you sure? Like, well, yeah, that's why that's why the case studies are so important. Yeah. And you know, when when I'm booking my string quartet or when I teach other musicians to do that, I say, like, highlight your testimonials, a case studies front and center, nobody wants to be the first to try something new, is definitely there needs to be some evidence that it has been used by other people. And we're actually we're actually in the middle of revamping our website. And that's actually a big part of it is in the middle right at the right in the middle of the main page or row of testimonials that just keep scrolling by. And that's exactly it is if you can have someone else vouch for your work, it's 10,000 times more than you vouching for your own work. Yeah, that's awesome. So we are wrapping up here pretty soon. But the second thing I wanted to bring up earlier, was just the power of marketing, because that That, to me, is kind of been the whole thesis of the last 10 minutes, is that by figuring out the marketing of Muzie, everything changed for you. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, for me, that's been the same for BookLive, too. And also for my own String Quartet. You know, before I realized I needed to market the string quartet, I just put out a website that looked like everyone else's website, talks about the cool teachers I studied with and yeah, things that me and maybe other musicians cared about. But not the actual people who are going to be hiring me. Yeah, stuff that they do not care about at all. Yeah, so I know exactly. I know exactly what you mean. Yeah. Would you mind just like kind of riffing on that a little bit with your experience? Yeah. So for us, it was actually a I could this is quite concrete, actually. So because one thing that always drove me crazy about marketing was the vagueness in everybody's answers. They're like, Oh, you got to do more of this and more of that, then like, what does that like? How does that How do I hold that? Like, what does it mean, at the end of the day? So for us, personally, like what was the catalyst that changed it was when we actually found the Facebook music teacher groups. So there's dozens of them, there's hundreds of them. Now, back when I started, I want to practice like, you know, back in college, I didn't even never crossed my mind that that would be a thing. Never not. For four full years of running a music teacher business. It never once crossed my mind that there could be a group on Facebook full of music teachers, which sounds painfully obvious, but it's, it's really not until it is. And we've started what when music came out, we jumped into all these groups, and we simply we had a rule that was you're only allowed to make like, comment, our product, if it was in direct response to a question. Yeah. So there was no, you were not allowed to just be like, check out our product. It had to be like someone was saying, Hey, I'm really frustrated with Zoom. Are there any alternatives? fair game, you can drop your comment in there. That alone for over a year and a half was our only marketing strategy. Wow. And that grew was to where we are. I mean, every we actually ran our first paid ad in January of this year. Oh, wow. And it was magazine ad ironically. So you know, but for and I actually don't even think that's the right avenue. The magazine's I think was cool. But that's not really nearly as effective as getting in on these groups. Yeah. And what became important and what I was saying is not spamming the groups actually becoming a valid member of the group. That's the single most important part. There are too many people who join these groups. And the first post is a post about their product trying to sell it to you, right, or, or the third, like, you can clearly see they did like to warm up posts, and now they're trying to sell you those people. It never works. You have to actually commit, commit to giving feedback, answer questions, don't all you know how to actually engage in those groups. They'll start to trust you. You start to befriend people, you actually start to realize you are part of the community you are you do have the same experiences like you are supposed to be there. Yeah. And for us, that was the thing like when when that ball started rolling, we started realizing that teachers heard already centralize themselves and gigs in musicians. It's very similar. Like there's the Colorado musicians. Facebook group I'm a part of. It's dozens. I mean, 1000s of people in Colorado who play instruments and I haven't Other common is like, Hey, I play saxophone. And I'm really looking to jam with some guys to do some funk music or something. And so if you're looking, if you don't have a band, or you're looking to put together another band, those groups are phenomenal. If you're looking for a sub for your band, you're playing a wedding band, and your keyboard player can't make it. Fortunately, you might be playing the top 40s. And there is somebody who knows the noise. And you can just hire them in to do the gig. But those Facebook groups as simple as it sounds, they were revolutionary for us. Like it's a it's probably the first thing in marketing 101 Go to Facebook, join some groups, but I can't say how effective it was. It was. Yeah, and, and in case like the musicians listening here who are like, well, this probably works great for marketing software, or for finding other musicians. But this could never work for getting a gig. I'm here to tell you the other side of that, which it totally does, because I get a lot of my gigs that way, because there are Facebook groups for Wisconsin brides. There are Facebook groups for Wisconsin event planners, like corporate planners and nonprofit leaders. And all you have to do is infiltrate them provide value do not spam, just like just like, you know, Sam, you're saying, and people will find you I get actually people tagging me and answering other people's questions just like I didn't even respond. They just tag you like, oh, Jared from Dream City Strings, you should go with history quartet. It's so cool. How that works. Yeah, absolutely. I that I think is exactly it is if, if you if you're about for my own guitar lessons, I got most of my students from my town is Castle Rock, Castle Rock mom's in the Facebook group, we posted once and just said, like, hey, you know, we're, you know, we just moved to Castle Rock who have a background in teaching. If anybody's interested in lessons, I would love to help you out. I got 13 inquiries from that single post. And then I've never posted anything ever again. I just now do referrals for that. But you know, is that by just joining the right groups and posting the right kind of stuff? It really is a game changer? Yeah, for sure. Um, we have to wrap up this episode. But this has been so much value, like I would have paid $1,000 For the last 15 minutes alone. Because if you've booked one gig from that piece of advice, like all of a sudden it's worth it. Absolutely. But kind of getting back to your point earlier is like, people have to take the plunge, you know, you, you just have to be willing to try something out and find out if it works, you know, don't just say like, this will never work for me. Try to figure out how can I make this work for you? And you know the results, people get results from these and you could be the next one. So Sam, Sam, thanks for coming on to The Gigging Musician Podcast. Could you let us know? How could our users you know find more about what you're currently doing and get on the music platform? Yeah, so Muzie.Live is is the website. So you just type that into Google. And it'll pop up that I'm, I'm on there all the time. So if you actually use our chat support, it goes to my cell phone first. So I try to respond to them personally, if I can't, it does get passed down to other humans. But you know, it's always real people. So you don't have to worry about the robot phone tree or anything. But we also have a group on Facebook called Music Teachers, you do not have to be a teacher. You don't have to use music. If you're a musician, and you are want to be a part of a community of other musicians. That's what it is, is a couple 100 teachers and musicians who just hang out once a week, I do live sessions in there where we do like a roundtable with whoever's available. So that's awesome. If anyone wants to come drop in, for sure. And I just sent you a live chat on your website. We'll see how fast you respond to it. But Sam, this has been so much fun. I cannot wait to connect with you further. And I hope that our musicians stuck to the end because that was some real gold nuggets that you just dropped there. So thanks for doing that. Awesome. Yeah, absolutely. Cool. So to our listeners, thank you so much for listening to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast. We just had Sam Reti founder of Muzie.Live get your free trial at Muzie.Live. Hop into his Facebook group and remember you are just one gig away