Update 5/19/17: Dubspot CEO Dan Giove resigned from the company today. THUMP's previous investigation into Dubspot's business practices follows below.
Former students and teachers of the internationally renowned electronic music production and DJ school Dubspot have accused its CEO Dan Giove of fraudulent activities and erratic behavior, THUMP has learned. In emails seen by THUMP, over 55 students alleged that the school did not deliver the classes which they had paid for upfront, and in some cases have not issued refunds.
In the emails, students complained of poor communication on the part of the school's staff, and classes being rescheduled multiple times. Students also said that when they did manage to go to a class, there was often no instructor present because they themselves had not been paid their teacher's fee and refused to teach.
Nina Braith, from Austria, had paid $4,396 for an Ableton Live Producer Certificate course at Dubspot's New York location that was due to start in March. After not hearing from the staff about an official start date, she went to the school in April to see what was going on in person. "The school was a mess," she told THUMP. "There was hardly any equipment there anymore and I was offended by a guy who was [at the school], and rudely asked me to leave."
"I have spoken to two teachers who had worked at Dubspot before and can't believe how much money Dan Giove already owes to so many people, students and teachers, and for how long this situation is already going on," she added. After not hearing back about getting a refund from Dubspot, Braith was able to get her money back via her credit card company.
The school's two physical locations, its New York flagship and its LA outpost, have now both closed, but no formal announcement has been made by the company. Dubspot, which was founded in 2006 by Giove, is also currently the subject of ongoing legal action by students and staff who have taken their cases to court for amounts ranging from $150 to $10,000.
While some students have already won their cases in the courts, most of the students THUMP spoke with said they have yet to receive a response from staff regarding their refunds. Multiple top level employees at the company also appear to have left within the last six months, according to their public professional networking profiles.
As recently as April 2017, online support and admissions employees were still collecting fees from students eager to sign up for courses. Dubspot's online school, which offers remote learning, still appears to be taking reservations for classes. The company's social accounts are also still functioning, with no mention of the closed locations or cancelled classes.
Robbie Lumpkin—a former student and marketing employee at the company who currently works as a promoter, DJ, and stage manger at Output nightclub in Brooklyn—told THUMP about Giove's often erratic and volatile behavior, saying the CEO's decision to open a new space in LA was ill-conceived and the "nail in the coffin" for the company. According to Lumpkin, a number of senior staff at Dubspot tried to deter Giove from opening the school's LA location back in 2014 by pointing out there was not adequate funding for the expansion. As corroborated by other former employees at the company, at least six of those employees were swiftly fired by Giove after a team meeting in New York.
Mike Henderson (a.k.a DJ Endo)—a former early employee of Dubspot who helped design much of the school's digital DJing curriculum, including a Traktor class he taught with notable DJ Shiftee—recently quit the company. He told THUMP he was given audio gear by an apologetic CEO Dan Giove in lieu of owed paychecks and commissions.
THUMP has also seen a lengthy email thread originating from an email address called "Dubspotowesme" with numerous disgruntled Dubspot customers, who connected with one another to share their stories and discuss potential legal action they could take against the school. Among those on the chain include a mom who bought her son a series of classes as a postgraduate course, two Austrian natives who obtained visas and apartments in the United States to take Dubspot courses, as well as various other students whose stories seemed to follow a similar theme.
David Garber is on Twitter.