TakeLessons CEO Discusses Chromatik Buyout, Why it’s a Good Fit

San Diego-based TakeLessons set out nine years ago to create a Web-based platform that helped match music students with qualified instructors.

Since then, TakeLessons has raised a total of $20 million in venture capital, and expanded into new markets and services. The company’s last VC round in early 2014 raised $7 million.  TakeLessons also acquired Chicago-based Betterfly, which offered online vocational classes, DIY projects, and self-improvement courses like public speaking and personal life coaching.

Now TakeLessons has completed another acquisition, buying Chromatik, a Santa Monica, CA-based provider of digital sheet music. As TakeLessons CEO Steven Cox (above) said recently by phone, “They were doing for sheet music what the Kindle did for books.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Cox said it has not been determined yet whether Chromatik will maintain its office or how it will be combined with TakeLessons. Chromatik has five or six employees, Cox said.

TakeLessons, which has about 46 employees, Cox said, enables enables students to search for a teacher by location, instrument, availability, background, and age. Students can arrange an in-person lesson or schedule one online.

In announcing the deal, TakeLessons said Chromatik powers “millions of musicians playing, learning, and sharing their favorite music.” Those customers will be joining the TakeLessons community. Chromatik customers will get special access to TakeLessons Live, a subscription-based service that enables users to watch any of more than 200 live, online classes offered each month.

Chromatik was founded in 2010 and raised seed funding from the singer-song writer Bruno Mars, 500 Startups, Launchpad LA, Kapor Capital, and others. Chromatik raised a total of $7.7 million, according to CrunchBase. Venture investors included Rustic Canyon Partners, Learn Capital, and Plus Capital.

Cox said the deal reflects a larger trend he’s seen in TakeLessons’ business, with more people seeking online classes. For example, Cox said a new online education offering called TakeLessons Classroom enables students to use a browser-based system to watch online lessons, and to record the lesson and other students’ questions-and-answers with the instructor. “It allows for a deeper integration in the teaching gap between free tools and a university experience,” Cox said.

Cox cited three reasons to explain why the Chromatik deal is a good fit for TakeLessons: People who want and use sheet music also want and need music teachers, and people who want lessons also want sheet music; People who like to learn using sheet music “tend to be life-long learners,” so they are interested in other TakeLessons offerings; Music teachers make up the largest segment of sheet music buyers.

Although TakeLessons is not yet profitable, Cox said, “We do not expect to raise additional [venture] capital.”

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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