REPUBLISHED FROM OUR FRIENDS AT SHOUTOUT MIAMI
You can read a copy of Jake’s interview with Shoutout Miami below or view the original publication by visiting https://shoutoutmiami.com/meet-jake-douglass-founder-and-ceo-practicing-musician/.
We had the good fortune of connecting with Jake Douglass and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jake, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
To understand my thought process behind starting Practicing Musician, you must understand the importance of music.
Music is a spiritual tool found in every culture. Learning to play music expounds upon the traditional expressiveness integral to other art forms because playing music is the process of syncing an individual’s mind, body, and spirit in the present moment. In addition, when an individual has acquired a sufficient skill set to play with other musicians, each syncs up their mind, body, and spirit with each other. Understanding how our behavioral patterns affect our relationships is the fundamental nature of self-realization and, subsequently, self-actualization.
I started taking music lessons starting at age 4. Developing disciplined focus and attention on a positive behavioral pattern led to an observation that I had become an addict when I was 23 years old. My passion for playing music, coupled with my observation that my drug and alcohol use diminished my capabilities, gave me a desire to remove my addictions systematically. Everyone should be able to access this type of tool for transformation.
Despite the spiritual wellbeing that music facilitates, access is elusive for many people. Practicing Musician is the catalyst that allows everyone to learn how to play the instrument of their choice. Our current EdTech platform focuses on K-12 music programs since nearly 4.5 million new students have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument each year. Eventually, we will offer courses for all genres of music that will be applicable in all learning environments.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Founding Practicing Musician has been a testament to my will and perseverance. I originally raised $210K from friends and family to produce 2,000+ video tutorials spanning 15 instruments, compose/arrange 3,000+ pieces of sheet music, and develop a custom online learning management system. However, the $210K was the last investment I received… and it was gone by January 2018.
Then, I beta-tested in schools for an entire year while I waited tables. My mom allowed me to live in her basement, which allowed me to invest most of my ~$3,000/month earnings into Practicing Musician. We have functioned off my income for over four years at this point.
Creating content is expensive. However, I learned that the average educational video tutorial costs $1,500 per minute. Our cost was about $100 per minute. Realizing that my logistical process for content production was far superior to other processes spurred an idea to crowdsource peer-reviewed content within the context of multimedia instructional sequences. I also realized we could crowdsource assignments and assessments in addition to the video tutorials and sheet music we already included in our sequences.
On July 19th, 2020, I posted the opportunity on Facebook. 140+ music educators volunteered. Even though we’re still operating on the same ~$3,000/month budget from my income, we’ve grown in orders of magnitude. Now, the giants in open learning want to work with us to build technology that will automate this process. Doing so will allow us to crowdsource peer-reviewed content for all fields of education.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As cliche as it may sound, my mom is the most important pillar of support, mentorship, love, and encouragement. No one has matched my mom’s unwavering guidance. Her support was taken for granted for quite some time. Once my mom helped me obtain sobriety and found Practicing Musician, her unconditional love and support was abundantly clear – especially when compared to the parents of people I know who still use and/or abuse drugs and alcohol.