to all music teachers

  • there is a relatively new music teacher referral service online that all music teachers should be warned about.

    the site is and here is what you should know about their deceptive business practices:

    in their terms of agreement, it states that “we reserve the right to use members' profile content to promote the website.” and of course “you agree to indemnify and its affiliates, agents, officers, employees and partners from any damages, losses, costs, or expenses incurred through the use of the site or any services contained therein.”

    you’ll notice that the provision “we reserve the right to use members' profile content to promote the website.” well, here is how they are using your profile data to promote their site.

    for each music teacher registered with them, they set up an ad with “google local” with your name and address, but with their toll-free number (866) 262-9336!  

    and they do it without your express permission, even though it states explicitly in their terms of agreement “if we propose to use this type of personal information for purposes outside of those described in this policy, we will give users the opportunity to opt out of the use of such personal information for these purposes.”

    if had given me the opportunity to “opt out” of their putting up an ad on google in my name with their phone number instead of mine i certainly would have opted out!

    this is not merely a naive oversight on’s part. during their signup process they never ever ask you for your phone number. this is all part of their errant business plan designed solely to increase their ranking.

    how does having a google ad in my name with their telephone number benefit me?  

    answer: it doesn’t!  

    a potential student finds me via the internet and makes the decision to take the plunge to take music lessons with me, then picks up the phone expecting to contact me (or my secretary) directly by dialing what they think is my phone number, instead they dial a telephone number that tells them to go to!

    if my correct phone number had been in the ad, i could have answered the phone, locked in the student then and there while they’re hot to get started, but it’s obviously more important for to promote their own business than it is for them to promote  mine.

    what has just happened is that i’ve had my business hijacked.  

    if the potential student logs onto, they are obliged to type in the same search string again that they typed into google to find me in the first place (instrument – city – state). once they have done that, they are presented with a list of all my local competitors who are also registered with, and then they still have to email me (via to contact me to make any inquiries about taking lessons from me.

    this creates more layers to sift through and more confusion for the potential student which has the effect of cooling their enthusiasm for beginning music lessons with me right away.

    if you have an ad on google promoting your business, shouldn’t it have your phone number (and not somebody else's)?

    in order to get rid of the google ad placed by on your “behalf”, you’ll have to create an account with google (if you don’t have one already).

    editing the google ad to change the phone number does not work. it simply creates two ads – a new one with your correct info and phone number, but the old one with the incorrect phone number still stays up.

    once you’ve set up your google account, you type in the information related to your business (address, etc) and you’ll come to a screen that asks you if any of the businesses listed at that address are yours.

    at this point you can choose to delete the ad posted by (and create your own correct ad).

    in about a week, you’ll receive two postcards from google. one with a pin number to delete’s google ad and another with a different pin number to confirm your new ad. within about two months you should have it all sorted out.

    google is supposed to have a system of checks in effect to insure that the person registering a business with google local is in fact the business owner (which is why they send out those postcards – which take about a week to come through the post). i have no idea how has circumvented google’s system to create the thousands of ads from teachers all over the globe.

    so what do i reccommend that you as a hard working music teacher do?

    if you have not registered with don’t.

    if you have registered with, send your email request to to ask to be deleted from their database (note: that even though they’ll delete your account they won’t bother to delete the google ad they posted in your name – you have to do that yourself).

    tell all your music teacher friends and acquaintances about’s business practices, and encourage them to refrain from joining or tell them to delete their profiles and to delete their google ads with’s phone number on it.

    repost this communication on any and all music teaching boards and forums that you can – get the word out! we have enough trouble getting students without some teacher referral service putting roadblocks in our way.

    file a formal complaint with google explaining that is creating profiles without the consent of the legitimate business owners.

    write a letter to’s local better business bureau better business bureau of greater maryland
    2100 huntingdon
    baltimore, md 21211
    (410) 347-3990
    [ is registered in rockville, md]

    and ask them to file a complaint with google on your behalf, for creating profiles without your consent.

    thank you.

    by 7 on 05/26/2007, 02:15:34 # 35247

  • it's nice to write a letter to the bbb, but they never get stuff done.  talk to a musician's union lawyer and make it happen.

    i'll put a warning about it on the main page next time i update.

    by Scot Ranney on 05/26/2007, 15:17:41

  • average).

    it just doesn't make sense to pay for leads that you can get without's "help" (translation: "hijacking your profile data").

    all the teachers that i know who have taken for a test drive have received very little "potential student feedback" from them and have simply let their membership expire.

    i have no idea whether takes the time to delete the google local ad if you are no longer a member.

    in any case, there's another so-called "teacher referral service" for you to avoid like the plague.

    by 7 on 05/26/2007, 18:04:47

  • another difference between these two sites is that does not use the business owner's name, only the business address and instrument taught for their search criteria.

    this way on zipcode searches their ad pops up with your address, but without your name at all. wow, thanks, they should let me return the favor.

    how is that helpful to the teacher? i mean honestly.

    why can't these guys just make legitimate profiles? it takes exactly the same amount of time.

    by 7 on 05/26/2007, 22:12:44

  • im not sure i understand what all the fuss is about. is it not naturaly a company want to make money on your name if the pay for an goggle add making your teaching skills avaliable to a lot of persons?
    is that not the normal process of most booking resources that the charge a fee and ask customers to phone them instead of the musiscians directly? if teachers or musicians got a phonecall directly from the customers they would probably "forget " to inform the booking agentcy and then how is that agentcy supposed to make money?

    by nihonjin on 05/27/2007, 07:40:49

  • the problem is that they are not making 7's teaching skills available to everyone with that google ad.  they are putting his info there but not his phone number, so when someone calls, it's likely they will either not choose 7 or they will not choose anyone.  if the number went to 7 instead, he could sell them on the lessons and get another student.

    it's a very shifty way of doing things for these web sites, but completely legal. i read the privacy agreement.  

    i guess the lesson learned is to always read the fine print and realize that there are people and organizations out there who earn a living by sucking the blood out of other people and if you're not like that, you better have your eyes open because the weasels are everywhere.

    by Scot Ranney on 05/27/2007, 08:35:16

  • policies.

    being as how they are violating google's rules and regulations against impersonation, they are likely to get blackballed and lose all their ranking.

    which is why anyone and everyone who has been a victim of this scam should be sure to file a formal complaint with google.

    by 7 on 05/27/2007, 15:45:24

  • 7p it is good you have a high moral standard, but i doubt that all musicians "remember" to inform their booking agentcy about a customers phone call. and therefor i just argue that it is understandable the booking agentcy put their phone number on the commercial instead of yours. i did not know google adds are free!
    can you then tell me what seems to be the benefit of signing up with pages like that if you could make your own adds for free?

    by nihonjin on 05/28/2007, 00:41:29

  • me.

    that is called impersonation. if the same happens to you online, for instance, you click on one link thinking it's taking you to your ebay account but then you find yourself being redirected to a phishing site, you'd be pissed off right?

    and you keep equating a teacher referral service to a booking agency. these are two different businesses with different approaches, different goals and different ways of doing business.

    you obviously are not a professional music teacher otherwise you would have a deeper understanding of the issues involved here.

    in the case of getlessonsnow, they (currently) do not charge their teacher-clients any money for their so-called "service".

    their motivation in hijacking teachers' businesses is to increase their google ranking.

    by 7 on 05/28/2007, 01:32:22

  • to 7p  
    "you obviously are not a professional music teacher otherwise you would have a deeper understanding of the issues involved here."

    for your information i am. i currently work with pianist horace parlan as well as a lot of well known danish jazz musicians that you would probably not know. you see i am teaching at the music conservatory (not full time) and therefore i have no need to get private students. obviously you have no clue to of how the things work here but we use usually get student because of our reputation and not because someone searches in google. if they already know you it should be fairly simple to find contact info (by the way im  a drummer if you should wonder)

    by nihonjin on 05/28/2007, 15:44:49

  • all right you two
    break it up!!!

    nihonjin, 7 is making a lot of sense here.  will all due respect, you are not here in this country and do not seem to understand what 7 is talking about.
    thank you, 7, for the heads-up, even though i am just teaching part-time.

    by CynBad on 05/28/2007, 16:45:57

  • hello all,

    my name is brian gilman and i am one of the co-founders of i have read all of the posts here and am obviously troubled by the concerns listed by 7. if you will all permit me, i would like to address these concerns and try to clear the air as much as possible.

    first, a little about  we are running with the goal of merely being a site where music teachers can be found by students.  as 7 pointed out, we do not charge any fees.  as this limits our finances somewhat, the end result is that we are providing this service entirely out of pocket.  however, we still would like to provide the best service possible to our teachers.

    one of the tools that we felt would be useful to our teacher members was to integrate their profiles with google local.  in this way, the teacher profiles on our site would be directly linked from a representative listing on google local.  thus, the teacher profiles would receive more traffic than they had before, and (hopefully) more valid student contacts.  again, our intent was merely to utilize a tool for our teachers' added benefit.  (as a side note, we weren't fully able to do this.  we had trouble adding links from the google local listing to the profile. i posted on google groups back in late march about this and never got an answer:

    now to address the concern regarding phone numbers: the reason we placed a phone number on the listings is solely, and let me repeat, solely because google requires one.  if we could have avoided it, we wouldn't have put one on there at all.  quoting 7: "how does having a google ad in my name with their telephone number benefit me?"  well,  

    i'll have to admit that the benefit was roundabout at best.  we couldn't link to the teacher profiles, and the phone number we provided simply referred the student to where they would have to perform another search to find the teacher they just found on google local.  this has not really panned out in a way beneficial to the teachers, so in light of what 7 has discussed, as of this evening we have terminated this "feature".  all listings have been removed from google local and we will no longer post any further listings unless we have received express permission from the teacher.

    i would like to add a final note.  we at provide our members with several email channels to voice their opinions and concerns, and we highly encourage them to do so.  our service exists for their benefit, so if they are unhappy with the service that we are providing then something needs to change.  we have made several major changes in the past solely due to input from our teachers (e.g. supporting international teachers, significant rework of our search algorithm).  though we would have preferred to receive 7's concerns directly via email, we would still like to thank 7 for bringing up a valid concern.  if anyone has any questions, comments, or concerns of any nature, we would greatly appreciate hearing from you at either or

    if there are any points in 7's postings that anyone feels i have not addressed (either implicitly or explicitly) please feel free to repost them and i will address them in turn.

    i look forward to hearing from and working with the music teacher community.

    kind regards,
    brian gilman

    by bgilman on 05/29/2007, 00:23:06

  • seems like a reasonable solution and a heads-up that you guys have the best interests of your teachers at heart to make such a change so quickly.

    i was wondering, why can't you link to a particular profile?  it seems that if you can change the image of the teacher you should be able to change the profile id in the link as well.  well, i don't know the google system for this stuff, but there must be a way to do it to make everyone happy?

    by Scot Ranney on 05/29/2007, 09:23:13

  • i would like to thank brian gilman for a clear comment on these issues. the comment" as this limits our finances somewhat, the end result is that we are providing this service entirely out of pocket"
    is actually just was i was saying. namely that i think it is only fair a company gets some kind of compensation for their efforts.

    by nihonjin on 05/29/2007, 16:16:23

  • speaking as someone who has worked in academia, government agencies and the business world (including self employment), i have to say that i continue to observe a gulf, if not simple misconceptions, remaining between these entities. in my experience, commercial enterprises of any kind do not continue to exist unless they actually get paid for the product they are trying to sell.

    on this site we are enjoying great benefits from other people’s experiences for free. let’s not get side-tracked.  posts warning us of possible harmful, or even just useless, offerings are useful – if only to have the matter aired. thanks for every contribution.

    by Kai on 05/30/2007, 06:42:23

  • hello all, and thank you for your replies.

    to answer scot's question about linking from google local: our best guess as to why we cannot link directly to the profiles has to do with the fact that the profile urls we supply to google contain query strings (the "?id=123" portion of the url).  google doesn't seem to like it when the url of the business does not match a root web domain.  pizza hut can get it to work because all of their local listings point to their base domain  i suppose pointing the base domain to for our teacher profiles would have been closer to the goal, but it still misses the mark a bit.  again, this explanation is mostly an educated guess on our part.

    to nihonjin and kai: thank you for your perspective on the financial aspect of the matter. we do hope to one day be remunerated for our efforts to keep this project going, but we haven't quite nailed down how to effectively do that and still keep everyone happy. it remains a delicate game of balance and trade-off.

    kind regards,
    brian gilman

    by bgilman on 05/31/2007, 11:06:13

  • i've been running ljp for over 10 years and have probably averaged around $20 a month in monetary returns from it :)  however i do it because jazz piano is a big part of my life and i enjoy the community here.

    regarding google.  you could make third level domains for the teachers you want to put on google.  most of the time your host or your registrar will let you do that for free.

    example, let's say you want to put a piano teacher on google named sam smith.  your third level domain would be:

    then you could make a page that forwards into sam's profile or put sam's profile on that third level domain, a copy of what the folks would see if they were in the straight site.  google might not like third level domains that auto-forward somewhere.

    just an idea.

    by Scot Ranney on 06/01/2007, 08:39:01

  • . we do not list a users name/address with our phone number. we do not 'highjack' a user's profile data to display a users address. we do not circumvent an instructor's ability to market themselves in any way. it's our policy to encourage our instructors to utilize their own efforts and other services to find new customers. i understand that jeff pulled his information from another unnamed forum, but it's unfortunate that he did not check his facts, or even bother to ask us.

    we do indeed have relationships with companies such as verizon,, yahoo, google, google local, superpages, daylo, and a host of others. if our listings or advertisements appear on partner sites, it is because we have employees, resident experts, or contractors in the general vicinity. these experts may be in dance, language, music, golf, karate, or any of our other categories. never do will fill out a google postcard in the name of another business. never do we list another business and associate it with ours. we use our own name, our own categories, our own phone, and our own general locations.

    perhaps jeff is referring to the display of google local maps we use on our site. if a user searches for piano lessons in chicago, they will be taken to a local area of our site:  ( where we display the generalized mapped location. a student may drill into a particular instructor's profile, in which we will display a more detailed view of their location: (  
    however, even in this case, we do not display the exact address, nor do we display an email. many of our experts are female, beautiful, and teach out of their home. this added measure we take helps keep the community secure and also prevents email harvesting by nigerian scammers (i'm sure we're all aware of those guys!). at the end of a student search, where we have collected validated information from a prospective student, we will then display an instructor's phone number. however, our experts may opt out of having their number shown. it is 100% up to the expert.

    i'll assume that since jeff 'heard or read a post on another unnamed message board somewhere on the net', that he wasn't purposely trying to be slanderous, but it is disappointing that he did not provide the decency and courtesy of asking us first. we have blogs, company emails, and our office is about an hour from jeff. he could have extended us the common respect of a simple inquiry. what bothers me as a community member is that i wonder who's next. how would it make you feel if jeff 'hears on an unnamed message board somewhere' that your studio hires past sex offenders, or that you overcharge your student's account? does that give him the right to not check his facts before posting? it's very very un-cool, unnecessary, unappreciated, and disappointing. in my humble opinion, he owes this community an apology.

    it seems that his issue with us is more of a business model issue. no problem there. we do charge, and will continue to charge because our service is worth it. in fact, by charging, it helps us weed out those teachers who are not serious. we do not charge an annual or monthly fee. we simply charge when a prospective student visits the site, reviews the potential profiles of teachers, and then selects a teacher to contact. after we evaluate the student's level of seriousness and validate their contact information, we then charge the instructor for the lead.

    using jeff's closing ratio in his first post, let's assume you close 2 out of 10 leads (which we find to be low). you would pay us about $45 for those leads, and over the life of those students, you would make anywhere between $250 - $3,000 (depending on your level of expertise, teaching ability, and general communication skills). i don't know about you, but if someone offered me $3,000 in exchange for $45, i'd take it. however, our site is not for all instructors. if your studio is overflowing with students, and you're a technical expert, quite frankly, you may not need our services. and we're completely cool with that. it's no biggie.

    ok, that's all. :-) thanks again to this wonderful community for letting me chat with you. if you have any questions, comments, please feel free to email me at steven (at) clickforlessons -dot- com. or, you can post on our blog at

    by ClickForLessons on 06/05/2007, 09:37:14

  • to be a liar), you wouldn't be reading this.

    by 7 on 08/05/2007, 18:17:21

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