Music & Sound Retailer January 2018, Vol 35 No 1

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January 2018 Volume 35, No. 1


MI vs Amazon Manufacturers concerned about website’s return policy, as well as counterfeit products

By Brian Berk

Amazon is a 600-pound gorilla. Whether through organic growth, the entry into new industries or via acquisitions, Amazon, which now retails most anything you can think of, as well as being an original TV content powerhouse, has become a true goliath. For its fiscal 2016 (the most recent full year of results available), Amazon achieved a whopping $136 billion in net sales and $2.37 billion in net profits. And these results do not include the acquisition of Whole Foods Market, so expect these numbers to rise significantly. And who’s to say where these numbers will reach should Amazon enter the pharmacy market or other areas? For its most recently reported fiscal third quarter, ended Sept. 30 (the company plans to report on fourth-quarter results in days), Amazon saw net sales increase 34 percent year over year to $43.7 billion, with net profits coming in at $256 million. On the day following this earnings announcement, the company’s NASDAQ National Market’s market capitalization increased by $62 billion in just one day. To put that in perspective, Amazon’s market capitalization rose approximately the entire equivalent value of General Motors in a single session. (continued on page 90)

Pro-Audio Services 101 A guide to starting your own pro-audio installation and rental service Retailer Rebel Visits EarthQuaker: P. 60

By Anthony Vargas

One of the most pressing questions in MI retail — a question that will be asked in countless conversations throughout the Anaheim Convention Center during the upcoming NAMM Show — is “How can a music store compete with online giants like Amazon?” Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. But that doesn’t mean there are no answers. Here at the Music & Sound Retailer, we’ve asked this particular question to retailers, manufacturers and other industry insiders many times throughout the years, and the answers all seem to converge on one central idea: You need to offer your customers what the Amazons of the world can’t. And, when it comes to the realm of pro audio, there is a ton your store can offer that a website can’t. Maybe you’ve already heard all about the bottom-line benefits of pro-audio service offerings and you’re interested in getting into small-scale audio system installs and rentals, but you just don’t know where to begin. With this in mind, we asked music retailers who have had success in the pro-audio market, as well as representatives from pro-audio-focused industry organizations, for some tips on how you can get your own installation and rental business off the ground. For starters, The NAMM Show offers a wealth of educational opportunities for music store owners who (continued on page 54)


NAMM Foundation Creates Bill Collings Memorial Fund The NAMM Foundation and Collings Guitars are teaming to create a memorial fund in honor of legendary luthier and longtime NAMM member, Bill Collings, who passed away in July at the age of 68. Collings was the founder and leader of Collings Guitars, a maker of acoustic, electric, and archtop guitars and mandolins. The memorial fund aims to honor Collings’ legacy, as well as to foster the next generation of guitar players and teachers through The NAMM Foundation’s beneficiary organizations. Steve McCreary, general manager of Collings Guitars, first met Collings in 1980 after he moved to Austin from Houston, where he had been repairing and building guitars. “Bill had an engineer’s mind, a machinist’s hands, a designer’s eye and an artist’s heart,” he recalled. “He even had his own math. We called it ‘Billgebra.’ When he had a concept brewing in his head or a tool near at hand, whether it was a chisel or a CNC mill, he was a creative machine and loved the marriage of art and industry. He had

Gibson Finds Buyer for Memphis Factory

Gibson Brands sold its Memphis guitar factory to real estate investment firms Somera Road and Tricera Capital, reported The Commercial Appeal. The transaction involved a 150,000-square-foot factory and showroom south of Beale Street between Second and Third and a 350-space parking lot. “We’re especially interested in markets with a growing and buzzing millennial population, and we continue to invest in those urban cores,” said Scott Sherman of Tricera Capital in a news release. “Memphis checked all of the boxes we look for in new markets. With the continuously growing downtown population, we are eager to use this transaction to open the door to additional opportunities. We want to capitalize on Memphis’ narrative and economic growth. We’re excited to be here.” “We’re excited to get to know the various stakeholders here and explore all viable development options for the property. We want to be great partners to the city and are eager to engage the community to determine what is best suited for this site,” added Ian Ross of Somera.

an innate understanding of how things worked and he tirelessly pursued ways to make things work ‘better.’ He always pushed the envelope to offer the most he could to a customer, a friend or someone he was mentoring. He helped a number of high school students build instruments for school projects and got deeply involved in a long-term project with a group of fourth-year architecture students to design and build 12 custom guitars. He was brilliant, funny, demanding and generous. He was also a bit insecure, and I think he would be very embarrassed, but humbly honored, by this memorial as a way to preserve and promote the ‘art’ of guitar. I Bill Collings sincerely thank NAMM and Chris Martin for making the decision to do this. It is a very fitting tribute for a very deserving cause.” The fund is led by the efforts of Martin, chairman of The NAMM Foundation board of directors, and CEO of C.F. Martin & Co. Inc. Martin offered the following comments on his friendship with Collings: “I noticed a small booth diagonally across from the Martin booth. There was one guitar on display. I was curious because it looked like a new Martin Dreadnought. I walked over and a scruffy looking character popped up from behind the guitar and gave me a quizzical look. He said, ‘Chris Martin.’ I smiled and said ‘yes,’ and complimented him on the quality of the guitar he had on display… Bill was a master luthier, a somewhat reluctant business man and a real character. Every time Bill and I talked was a memorable discussion; I miss that wise guy.” Industry members who would like to honor the life and legacy of Bill Collings may find additional information on The NAMM Foundation website:

Letter to the Editor “Just want you to know how much I appreciate the new issue of the magazine. It is SO positive, really very touching. The coverage of the VH-1 anniversary [November’s ‘Latest Buzz,’ page 10] is awesome, as is the emphasis on less recognized products. It is so enjoyable to read. “Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful you are a part of our community!” - Jessica Anne Baron, executive director, Guitars in the Classroom MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER





Features ON THE COVER MI vs. Amazon

Amazon has built quite the business, but not all MI manufacturers are smiling. We take an in-depth look at what concerns manufacturers have regarding the online behemoth, if retailers can benefit, and Amazon’s response to these concerns.

ON THE COVER Pro-Audio Services 101 66


You need to offer your customers what the Amazons of the world can’t. And, when it comes to the realm of pro audio, there is a ton your store can offer that a website can’t.

Columns 24 The Nifty 50

We shine a spotlight on 50 products being featured at NAMM.

47 NAMM University Schedule 58 The Music & Sound Independent Retailer 60 Retailer Rebel Visits EarthQuaker Gabriel O’Brien took an in-state Ohio trip to find out what’s behind the company, which is experiencing massive growth. Amazingly, several of EarthQuaker’s popular products were discovered accidentally.

64 Five Minutes With

For our NAMM issue, we spent some time (admittedly, it was more than five minutes) with Mike Matthews, founder of Electro-Harmonix. Discover his connections to both Jimi Hendrix and Russia, as well as the aftermath of his decision to discontinue his relationship with Amazon.

68 MI Spy

Yes, this is The NAMM Show issue, but this month MI Spy traveled to the home of Summer NAMM, Nashville. Find out what Music City had in store for him/her.

70 Front & Center

Laura B. Whitmore, founder of the Women’s International Music Network, sits down to chat with Sharon Hennessey, president of The Music People, to find out what makes her company special and if there are any challenges working in a family business.


72 Retailer Rebel

Disruptive trends have grown and created tectonic shifts in how MI retailers do business, explains Gabriel O’Brien. Have stores been able to keep up with these changing times?

74 In the Trenches

Most MI retailers get the big things right, relays Allen McBroom. But what about the little things? That’s when it gets trickier.

76 Retailing Better

A&G Central Music’s Robert Christie pens his first column for the Music & Sound Retailer. He discusses one of the most important things in our industry: customer loyalty.

78 Not Your Average Column

Also authoring his first column for the Retailer is Spicer Music’s Tim Spicer, who provides a complete gameplan regarding what he plans to accomplish at The NAMM Show.

80 Confessions of a Retailer

Donovan Bankhead describes how to “keep the pipeline moving” when it comes to staff and services.

82 Shine A Light

Gary Kramer, owner of The Guitar Exchange, unfortunately had to deal with something too many MI retailers suffered through in the fall: a natural disaster. Hurricane Irma struck his south Florida store, knocking out the power and cancelling lessons. But, as he explains, a silver lining was definitely found afterward.

20 84 Veddatorial

Dan Vedda hired a new employee around Thanksgiving time. Learn the great qualities she possesses and how they make her a tremendous asset to his (or any) MI retail store.

86 Under the Hood

For this special edition of “Under The Hood,” we take a long look at a special product debuting this week at The NAMM Show: Casio’s CT-X line of portable keyboards.

94 The Final Note

This month, we debut our back-page editorial column. The Final Note will take a different look at key MI figures by learning more about the people behind the companies. First up: Garth Gilman, corporate vice president, Yamaha Corp. of America.


3 Latest 16 People 20 Products JANUARY 2018


B O OT H #42 2 0


The Magnificent Seven No matter whether it’s “the Music & Sound Independent Retailer,” “Shine A Light,” “Veddatorial,” “In the Trenches,” “Retailer Rebel” or “Confessions of a Retailer,” the Music & Sound Retailer has always taken the word “retailer” seriously. I’d like to announce we are going to take this mantra even more seriously this year. To bolster our fantastic stable of retailer columnists, Dan Vedda, Allen McBroom, Gabriel O’Brien and Donovan Bankhead, we are adding three more standout retailers to our pages in 2018. Let’s meet the new authors: Tim Spicer, co-owner of Spicer’s Music, winner of Best Marketing and Sales Promotion, as well as Best Store Design at Summer NAMM’s 2017 Top 100 Dealer awards in July. Spicer is well-known in his Auburn, Ala., community for living up to his store’s motto of “Not Your Average Music Store.” The retailer often has three to four events every month and at least one major event every quarter, all of which have been receiving outstanding feedback. Next up is Robert Christie, president of A&G Central Music, winner of NAMM’s “Music Makes a Difference” award, as well as its Dealer of the Year at the same July award ceremony. A&G Central Music is one of the most respected full-service band and orchestral music stores in the Detroit area. Christie’s employees truly care about the store, its customers and the surrounding community, some keys to its tremendous success. Last, but certainly not least, is Will Mason, owner and CEO of Mason Music, operator of four MI stores in the Birmingham, Ala., area, who will join us in February. After graduating from Mountain Brook High School in 2001, Mason studied at Furman and Birmingham Southern before pouring himself completely into the band Moses Mayfield. Mason and the band signed with Epic Records, recording an album in Los Angeles and touring the country with a number of national acts,

including Switchfoot, NeedtoBreathe and Pete Yorn until 2007. After settling back in Birmingham, Mason began teaching guitar by working with his wife Sarah’s increasing surplus of students. Despite growing up in a family of teachers, Mason didn’t fully realize that he too had become a teacher until two years after he and Sarah started Mason Music. In addition to teaching, Mason works as a producer and engineer in his home recording studio. I’m certain these three additions to the Retailer will make a strong magazine even stronger. Each will be penning six columns per year, upping the magazine’s retailer columnist lineup to a magnificent seven. Being that this is a new year and the Winter NAMM issue, we didn’t stop there, however. I’d like to introduce a new column beginning this month. “The Final Note” will be our last editorial column to appear in each issue this year, as the name dictates. The goal of the column is to take a lighter look at things, so MI retailers can get to know the people behind the manufacturer products you buy and sell. Each participant will be answering several questions, such as who their influences were, the best advice they ever received and the coolest concert they ever attended. We start things off with Yamaha’s Garth Gillman and will follow that up with Roland's Tony Price and Fender's Andy Mooney in February and March, respectively. No matter if you are perusing this magazine at The NAMM Show or at your store, I hope you like what you see. As always, feedback is always welcome to be sent to I wish everyone a happy new year and hope you enjoy your time in Anaheim.

January 2018 Volume 35, No. 1

BRIAN BERK Editor ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor MATT VAN DYKE Assistant Editor



ROBERT L. IRAGGI Advertising Director

JANICE PUPELIS Art Director STEVE THORAKOS Production Manager CIRCULATION FRED GUMM Digital Art Director

RICKY PIMENTEL Art/Production Assistant


ROBIN HAZAN Operations Manager VINCENT P. TESTA President/Publisher TIM SPICER DAN VEDDA LAURA B. WHITMORE Contributors

Editorial and Sales Office: The Music & Sound Retailer, 25 Willowdale Avenue, Port Washington, New York 11050-3779. Phone: (516) 767-2500 • Fax: (516) 767-9335 • MSREDITOR@TESTA.COM. Editorial contributions should be addressed to The Editor, The Music & Sound Retailer, 25 Willowdale Avenue, Port Washington, New York 11050-3779. Unsolicited manuscripts will be treated with care and must be accompanied by return postage. Sound & Communications • DJ Times • Sound & Communications Blue Book The Music & Sound Retailer • The DJ Expo • IT/AV Report The Retailer’s Vnewsletter • Convention TV @ NAMM • InfoCommTV News VTTV Studios The Music & Sound Retailer (ISSN 0894-1238) (USPS 0941-238) is published 12 times a year for $18 (US), by Retailer Publishing, Inc., 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779. Periodicals postage paid at Port Washington, N.Y. and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Music & Sound Retailer, PO BOX 1767, LOWELL MA 01853-1767



Yes, She Does Rock!

The She Rocks Awards is back with a vengeance this year, plunging ahead with a new venue and a roster of artists and industry folks that are sure to inspire. This year’s event, honoring women in music and audio, takes place on Jan. 26, at the House of Blues Anaheim beginning at 6:30 p.m. With the goal of shining a spotlight on deserving women in the industry, the She Rocks Awards will be co-hosted by KROQ’s DJ Kat Corbett and the Women’s International Music Network founder Laura B. Whitmore. The wide variety of honorees include Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge, Grammy Award- and Academy Award-winning artist; Katie Pierson and Cindy Wilson, original members of the B-52s; Karla Redding-Andrews, executive director for The Otis Redding Foundation; Exene Cervenka, vocalist for the iconic punk band, X; Amberly Crouse-Knox, senior director of creative and business development, BMG Production Music; Jean Millington Adamian, June Millington, Brie Darling, Patti Quatro and Alice de Buhr of the pioneering all-female American rock band, Fanny; Candace Stewart, studio manager, EastWest Studios in Hollywood; Dawn Birr, channel manager for the Americas, Sennheiser Business Solutions; Fabi Reyna, founder and editor of She Shreds; Vanessa Mering, marketing manager, Harman Professional; and Kristy Porter, Guitar Center’s direc-

tor of merchandising, general accessories and media. The She Rocks Awards brings together industry professionals, music icons, artists, fans and media to celebrate women in music. This high-energy evening includes live music, awards and speeches, celebrity appearances, a silent auction, food and beverages, giveaways, and gift bags. To find out more, and get tickets to the event, go to

BandLab Launches Education Platform BandLab, the cloud-based social music platform, has released a beta version of its platform created specifically for schools and institutions. The new platform, BandLab for Education, will offer features that allow students and teachers to create, review and work together on music education across all their devices. The technology will be available to all music educators and schools at no charge, according to the company.


Meng Ru Kuok, CEO of BandLab Technologies, commented, “Teachers have a huge role to play in nurturing the next generation of musicians and artists. Access to free, safe and easy-to-use technology can help get more students engaged with learning in the classroom and beyond. With BandLab for Education, we hope to make music learning easier and more accessible for all, encouraging more students to continue creating and expressing themselves in the long run.” BandLab for Education offers built-in digital instruments, including keyboard, drum pads, strings, wind instruments and 2000-plus free music loops on its web platform. BandLab is also fully MIDI compatible. The teacher-only interface view allows educators to clearly set, manage and track assignments. Any instrument that can be plugged into a computer or recorded is also supported. BandLab for Education supports all file formats, meaning it’s compatible with other classroom tools, such as Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton, Garageband, etc. BandLab for Education offers a robust mobile platform, allowing students to take their work with them across any device (mobile phone, desktop/laptop, tablets) and operating system (iOS, Android). BandLab plans to include further integrations with learning management systems, such as Google Classrooms and Canvas, in the near future. JANUARY 2018


Molly Fannin

Reverb Launches Non-Profit Foundation

Reverb has launched the Reverb Foundation. The non-profit, in coordination with Reverb, will create more musicians by supporting programs and initiatives that increase access to music education, gear and opportunities to play, stated the company. “At, we’ve created a platform that makes it easy and affordable to buy and sell music gear and, as a result, we’ve helped get more instruments into the hands of musicians all over the world,” said David Kalt, founder and CEO of Reverb Holdings Inc. “The Reverb Foundation will enable us to further our mission to make the world a more musical place by supporting the people and programs that are making music a possibility for aspiring musicians from all walks of life.” The Reverb Foundation will utilize the Reverb platform and community to raise money for programs that put instruments into the hands of aspiring musicians and create opportunities for everyone to learn and experience the benefits of music. Beginning this month, the Reverb Foundation will accept grant applications, giving organizations working to increase access to music the chance to apply for funding. To lead the launch and day-to-day operations of the Reverb Foundation, Reverb has hired Molly Fannin as director. Fannin brings nearly 10 years of experience in fundraising, donor relations and more,


having previously worked at the YMCA and DePaul University. As a company, Reverb has supported non-profits ranging from Guitars for Vets to Girls Rock! Chicago and, under Fannin’s leadership, the Reverb Foundation will continue supporting the music community on a larger scale. “We’re excited to become a resource for the amazing non-profits, education organizations and other peers that work every day to make the world more musical,” said Fannin. “There are endless studies and stories around the positive impact that music can have — it’s an incredible tool for happiness, healing, confidence, growth, development and so much more. We want to help more people experience it.”

Music & Arts Names Educator of the Year

Music & Arts named Christine Belle Cumberledge as the winner of its 2017 Music Educator of the Year award. Cumberledge was selected from among approximately 1,500 nominees nationwide for the annual distinction, which recognizes a full-time music educator for his or her outstanding achievement in music education. Cumberledge is currently the head band director for 250 students at Central Junior High School in Euless, Texas. She has been an eduChristine Belle Cumberledge cator for 20 years, and has received numerous accolades from her district and other educational organizations, including TMEA. Cumberledge was selected for her successful track record in measurable program growth and superiority in performance, and for her strong leadership and influence in the community. She is also a champion for her students, mentoring and motivating them to become the most productive citizens they can be. She was honored at the annual Music & Arts Midwest Gala Reception during the Midwest Clinic International Band & Orchestra Conference in Chicago on Dec. 21. “We are so excited to honor Ms. Cumberledge as this year’s winner,” said Steve Zapf, president of Music & Arts. “Just as important as her professional qualifications, we were struck by her personal interest in striving to help each student be the best they can be, as well as her desire to win the award in order to pay tribute to her students, in turn, for their hard work and efforts.” JANUARY 2018

H OT R O D D E V I L L E ™ 212 I V | H OT R O D D E L U X E ™ I V | BLUES JUNIOR™ IV | P R O J U N I O R ™ I V LT D


©2018 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. All rights reserved. FENDER, FENDER in fanciful script, are registered trademarks of FMIC. Registered in the U.S. and foreign countries. HOT ROD DELUXE, HOT ROD DEVILLE, BLUES JUNIOR and PRO JUNIOR are trademarks of FMIC.


Peavey Makes Big Donation

Peavey on Dec. 15 donated a $3 million 125,000-square-foot facility in Decatur, Miss., to the Newton County School District. “My public education in Mississippi opened opportunities for me to explore my interest in electronics and woodworking,” said Hartley Peavey, founder and CEO of Peavey Electronics Corp. “Those skills were crucial for building the amplifiers and sound systems that put my company on the map 52 years ago and led to creating thousands of jobs right here in Mississippi.” Peavey presented the facility and 38 acres of land with lighted parking to the Newton County School District. The company worked with state and local officials led by Sen. Terry Burton of Newton to complete the donation. The facility will be called the Peavey Annex. “Innovation happens when students have the tools to pursue and achieve their dreams,” added Peavey. “The highest purpose of education in our society is to provide a vehicle for these young minds to discover their own talents, and to gain the skills needed to realize their potential. This facility will be an asset to Newton County schools and

Mary and Hartley Peavey

students for many years to come.” “I would love to see a renewed investment in arts education as a result of this donation,” said Mary Peavey, president of Peavey Electronics, who has served on the Mississippi Arts Commission and the board of directors of the National Afterschool Alliance in Washington, D.C., an initiative focused on the importance of afterschool programs for students throughout the U.S.

F. E. Olds To Acquire Phaeton Brass, Sax Dakota Brands David Benedetto, president of F. E. Olds, and Peter LaPlaca, president of Phaeton Brass and Sax Dakota, have reached an agreement for F. E. Olds to acquire the Phaeton Brass and Sax Dakota brand names. “Peter has an amazing and successful track record in the band and orchestra industry,” said Benedetto. “Working with Pete continues to be very rewarding. His passion for our industry, even after nearly 50 years, is very inspiring.” LaPlaca added, “David and I have been both very close friends and business associates for many years. His impeccable business acumen is, without a doubt, a major factor in our agreement to reach this consolidation of three major band instrument brands under one banner. I feel totally confident that his leadership will add considerable value to our future business plans.”

LaPlaca, an accomplished saxophonist and flutist, began his career as a professional musician/educator and retail school music manager in New Jersey. He has a long list of corporate roles and new business launches: Gibson, Leblanc, Holton, Martin, L.A.SAX, Kramer and Barrington Guitars to name a few. F. E. Olds has long enjoyed a school music presence. Adding these two brands enables the company to now offer products to advancing, aspiring and working musicians, stated the company. Benedetto will become the president of all brands and LaPlaca will continue on as general manager of sales and marketing for Phaeton and Dakota.

Hal Leonard Named U.S. Paiste Distributor

Hal Leonard was appointed premier distribution and marketing partner for Paiste cymbals and gongs and related accessories in the United States, effective Jan. 1. Paiste, in business for more than a century, specializes in the creation of cymbals, gongs, and other idiophones from various copper alloys. Headquartered in Switzerland, with subsidiaries in Germany and the United States, Paiste’s endorsement artists include Patrick Carney, Nick Mason, Larry Mullen Jr., and Alex Van Halen. “We are very pleased to enter into a partnership with Hal Leonard, a company with traditions and values similar to ours,” said Erik Paiste, CEO of Paiste. “A mutual desire for collaboration in building brand strength quickly became apparent. The resulting marketing-oriented spirit clearly transcends a mere distribution relationship.” Long known as the world’s largest publisher of music education materials, songbooks, and sheet music, Hal Leonard is now also a leading distributor of musical instruments with a diverse lineup of products. Hal Leonard-distributed brands include Gretsch drum sets, Gibraltar hardware, Tycoon Percussion, and many others. “Hal Leonard is thrilled to be working with Paiste,” said Brad Smith, vice president of MI Products at Hal Leonard. “Our sales and fulfillment team are ready to offer these world-class drum instruments. We also now have options to bundle cymbals with our complimentary drum lines like Gretsch, Gibraltar, and Vater allowing us to provide complete solutions that will support our dealers and their customers.”




Yamaha, NAMM to Host Night of Worship For the ninth consecutive year, musical artistry and inspired worship will converge at the NAMM Night of Worship, presented by Yamaha. Featuring performances by Christian music artists Lauren Daigle and For All Seasons, and hosted by Worship Musician magazine and Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), this session will take place in the Pacific Ballroom of the Hilton Anaheim on Jan. 25 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Grammy-nominated Centricity Music artist Lauren Daigle has been recognized with multiple GMA Dove Awards, including New Artist of the Year, 2015 Song of the Year for her single, “Can It Be,” as well as Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year with her 2016 single, “Trust in You.” Southern California-based For All Seasons received immediate acclaim for their debut single, “Higher.” The song hit the Top 4 of iTunes’ Hot Track chart for the Christian & Gospel genre on its release date, has enjoyed exten-

sive airplay and has been added to popular streaming playlists such as Spotify’s Top Christian Hits. “Higher” currently has over 300,000 listens on Spotify, and its lyric video has over 40,000 views on YouTube. Night of Worship highlights a range of technical, musical and artistic offerings at NAMM, geared toward the unique needs of houses of worship. Participants interested in attending the Night of Worship must have a NAMM badge.

Transom Acquires LOUD Brands

Transom Capital Group acquired all brands from LOUD Technologies Inc., including the Mackie, Ampeg, EAW and Martin Audio brands. The new company is called LOUD Audio, LLC and is led by the executives of LOUD Technologies. “This transaction presents a great opportunity to work with the LOUD team to achieve the next stage of growth for these iconic brands,” said Ty Schultz, managing partner of Transom Capital. “These brands are positioned well with major retailers, installers and production companies and bring with them an outstanding legacy of innovation and category-defining product introductions. We have been working closely with LOUD’s leadership to ensure continuity of the supply chain, channel relationships and LOUD’s employee base. We look forward to realizing the compelling growth opportunities for these brands, both in the retail and professional audio spaces.”



The Music Begins Here e Note From Jo


An Industry Unites Around Music

The Music Begins Here. The Future of Music Begins with You. Thank you for being a part of the passionate music community of NAMM members and industry colleagues who have made The NAMM Show an important part of their new year’s success strategy. Whether you are on your way to Anaheim, in the thick of the show experience, or headed back home, we want to express our sincere thanks for your support. (And, if you were unable to make it this year, please know you are missed!) Our annual family reunion once again brought friends and peers together, from all segments of the trade and around the globe, as if it were our own musical United Nations. We have members who focus on serving the music education market, others on music technology and still others that want to view the latest innovations in virtually every instrument category imaginable. And if that weren’t enough, we have a growing part of our membership expanding into the event technology market, including live sound, theatrical lighting and video. I imagine many of our members have found success in specializing in just one area, while others are diversified in many of these products and services. Regardless of your business strategy, we all contribute to how music is made, experienced and enjoyed and, what I believe, is a force for good in this world. Bringing everyone together in Anaheim to launch new products, improve our professional skills through the best education offered anywhere, and to immerse ourselves in the endless options to network with peers in a fun and inspiring musical environment, helps strengthen our industry; a fundamental part of NAMM’s mission. But just as essential to this mission, is

funneling trade show revenues back into market development and music education, or what I call our “Circle of Benefits” business model. Your participation in The NAMM Show not only helps drive your professional success, but also helps create more music makers, impacting millions of people around the world year-round, including some of our most at-risk youth for whom access to music education can make all the difference. The NAMM Foundation invests these funds to maintain and grow our industry for generations to come, using a multifaceted approach. It provides funding for emerging programs that serve as our industry’s venture capital fund as well as grants to deserving students— the future industry leaders of tomorrow. NAMM and our members lobby our policy makers to make the $600 billion public education spending pool more accessible and to increase funding for music and arts education. Funding is also being used to research the benefits of music on the brain as a way to measure the value of music in our lives. None of this would be possible without your attendance at The NAMM Show. We gather in Anaheim, representing virtually every aspect of the music, sound and event technology ecosystem—truly the music begins here. While we come from different parts of the industry, we can learn and grow by working together on our vision of a more musical world—a vision that begins with each and every one of you. Wishing you much success in 2018!


View show highlights, live stream broadcasts, photo and video galleries online at

We envision a world in which the joy of making music is a precious element of daily living for everyone. Through our Circle of Benefits business model, trade show revenues are funneled back into market development programs and support of music education. Your participation in The NAMM Show not only helps drive your success, but also (perhaps as importantly) powers NAMM’s year-long efforts to create more music makers.

Grants that fund music making service programs for people of all ages

Advocacy to ensure policies, funding and support for music learning access at every stage of life

Research on the benefits of music education


Full Compass Points to Johnson

Full Compass named Craig Johnson its chief executive officer. In his role as CEO, he will be responsible for setting the future strategy and direction of Full Compass Systems, as well as building and leading the senior executive team. “Susan and I first met Craig Johnson 16 years ago,” said Jonathan Lipp, co-founder of Full Compass. “We both had an immediate sense of comfort and respect, which has only been reinforced over the years. Our discussions regarding business philosophy always left me with valuable and interesting insights, which have led us to pursuing working together in some context. The stars have aligned, we have created the right opportunity and we couldn’t be happier. We feel privileged to announce that Craig is joining our team in the role of CEO.” Johnson comes to Full Compass with many years of experience in the pro-audio, video, lighting and musical instrument markets. He spent more than 12 years at Musician’s Friend, where he held several senior positions including president/chief operating officer and CEO. He was then appointed chief supply chain officer of parent company, Guitar Center. He has also served as chief operating officer of Gibson Guitar, where he was responsible for the company’s worldwide manufacturing operations. “I am very excited to join Full Compass Systems, a company with such a rich history and great brand in the professional audio, video and lighting industry,” said Johnson. “The company is well poised for continued market growth and expansion. I look forward to working with Jonathan, Susan and the talented management team and employees to continue delivering the unparalleled customer service Full Compass Systems is known for, and helping to accelerate growth in the direct, online, wholesale and retail channels.”

Mr. Smith Goes to D’Addario

D’Addario appointed James Smith as key account manager — western U.S. Smith reports directly to Chris Scialfa, director of sales, North America. Most recently, Smith was a marketing consultant/owner of NetPro, based in Los Angeles. During his time there, he helped companies develop end-to-end marketing campaigns, sales training programs and special projects. Prior to NetPro, Smith held a series of progressively higher-level roles at Guitar Center, where he developed a very successful career spanning more than 15 years. After working at the retail level, Smith elevated to the corporate office where he held various titles from associate product manager, promotions manager, director of merchandise operations, and finally the director of marketing and business development. In his last role, Smith managed a team of seven employees, which were split between marketing and sales. As one of his achievements, he led his sales team to revenue growth of $1.5 million in a span of 2.5 years. Furthermore, he was responsible for managing business-to-business sales while he directly managed some of Guitar Center’s largest accounts, including D’Addario.

Baking Up a Promotion

Robert Baker, Schmitt Music’s chief financial officer, has been appointed to the position of chief operating officer, effective Dec. 1. Baker has several educational and professional designations, including being an active CPA, graduating summa cum laude from Creighton University and earning his MBA from University of St. Thomas. Baker has served as Schmitt’s CFO for 15 years. He previously held positions in the banking, insurance and advertising industries and earned his CPA with a Big Four public accounting firm. During the most challenging financial crisis since the Great Depression, Baker kept the company solvent, led banking relationships and has guided the company at a strategic level, as part of Schmitt Music’s executive team. Tom Schmitt, Schmitt’s CEO, called Baker an “outstanding manager. I have every confidence that he will do his normal superb job in his new responsibilities, managing the daily activities of the company, building our team and brand and meeting our goals.” Baker has been involved in a variety of organizations. He is currently treasurer of the Hennepin County Sheriff Foundation and a member of the City of Lakes Rotary Club, Financial Executives International and Institute of Management Accountants. He lives with his bride of seven years in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis.

TURN OVER A NEW LEAF. MAPLE. Guaranteed for life.




Passing of the Torch

Super-Sensitive Musical String Co. has announced a passing of the torch. Jim and Susan Cavanaugh are now the new owners spearheading the company. “In response to many years of

Grazi’s New Gig

Gig Gear LLC, maker of Gig Gloves, has named Evan Grazi its new national sales manager. A graduate of Brooklyn College, Grazi has held sales positions in both retail and wholesale, including vice president of sales for a high-end artificial flower importer and distributor. An accomplished musician, Grazi plays piano, guitar and drums. “I’m very excited to join the incredible Gig Gear team,” Grazi said. “I believe fully in the products and look forward to joining the company on its mission to protect the hands of our diverse clientele.” “We at Gig Gear are thrilled to add Evan to our team,” said Danny Shatzkes, founder of Gig Gear. “We know his diverse background in sales and music makes the perfect combination to help us move forward in new areas and expand our quickly growing portfolio.”

Jim and Susan Cavanaugh

careful succession planning, John and Ellen Cavanaugh are now enjoying retirement and have handed over the torch to Jim and Susan,” the company wrote in a statement.


In Memoriam: Mark Kelly

Tom Dougherty

Doreen Daley Skopp

Rami Yanni

Guitars in the Classroom’s New Trifecta

Guitars in the Classroom named three new board members: Tom Dougherty of TKL Products Corp., Doreen Daley Skopp of Inside Track and attorney Rami Yanni. Daugherty launched TKL Products Corp. with his wife, Donna, naming the company after their three children, Tommy, Kevin and Laurie, who are all still active in the business. With the goal of introducing value-engineering, advanced product design and technological innovation, along with the concepts of supply-chain partnering, coupled with a guerillawarfare marketing philosophy, TKL quickly grew in the case and bag category.

Skopp is vice president and controller for Inside Track International. Inside Track is a sales and marketing firm that focuses on accessory products in the musical instruments industry. Its clients include D’Addario, Lollar Pickups, Musopia Mobile App Studio and several others. Yanni is partner at Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, with more than 24 years of experience advising multinational companies, emerging growth companies and individuals. Yanni’s expertise comprises intellectual property transactions, licensing, portfolio strategy and management, enforcement, and anti-piracy matters.

Mark Kelly passed away at the age of 91. He served on the Midwest Band Clinic board for more than 30 years, beginning in the 1980s, and played a vital role in the growth and popularity of the clinic and its programs. He attended his first Midwest program in 1954 and recalled with great detail watching Harry Begain’s school band perform. The event was a source of great inspiration, and, years later, while involved with the Midwest Band Clinic, Kelly became a friend of Begain. As a schoolteacher in southern Iowa, he strongly believed that musical discipline was the key to his success, next to showing respect to his students to gain their respect.

Award Winning Brands World-Class Service We are dedicated to Music Retailers We are St. Louis Music T: 800-727-4512 F: 314-727-4710 E: W:

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music and arts education. Dr. Earnhart has been the director of fine arts for the Arlington (Texas) Independent School District (AISD) since 2013. Educating more than 63,000 students, AISD provides musical, visual

Revving Up with Earnhart

Dr. Jeremy L. Earnhart joined Music for All as chief operating officer this month. As COO, Dr. Earnhart is a member of Music for All’s executive leadership team and oversees Music for All’s programs and events and implementation by its 30 full- and part-time employees. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Music for All Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 educational organization that annually presents more than 30 scholastic music and arts education programs and events across America and is a voice advocating for student participation and access to

and kinesthetic arts programs. “Jeremy will bring unprecedented skills and value to Music for All,” said Eric Martin, Music for All’s president and CEO, “supporting its mission in the design and operation of the programs and

events that provide ‘positively life-changing’ experiences for our participants, model success, and advocate and advance the cause of scholastic music education and local, state and national commitments.”



In Memoriam: Charles Slater

Charles Slater passed away on Dec. 2. Slater had a rich background in music publishing, having worked with a number of companies before arriving at J.W. Pepper. At Pepper, he worked on many projects over the years and expanded his interest in the accounting department to the level of becoming chief financial officer. His passion for finding automated ways of completing tasks has helped the company usher in computerized programs in several areas. He applied his knowledge to several organizations and was also involved with the Music Publishers Association.


Inner Circle, our new B2B Ecommerce experience, is designed to make your D’Addario buying experience more personalized and efficient than ever. It can process orders in a flash, recommend new and top-selling products to keep you ahead of the competition, and is optimized for all devices to deliver the most convenient ordering experience possible.


Good Day, Sun-Chime

Over view: Sabian’s Tollspire Chimes Specifics: Sabian’s Tollspire Chimes — a set of five conically shaped micro-splashes sized in quarter-inch increments from 4.75 to 5.75 inches — are crafted from Sabian B20 Bronze, rolled and tempered from splash thickness blanks, and then formed into a cupless, conical shape. The result is a combination of chime, bell and splash. Although the chimes are not tuned to specific notes, they provide melodic movement utilizing differences in pitch and size. Additionally,

their distinct white-noise factor, a function of the conical shape, provides a warm “church bells in the distance” effect. Tollspire Chimes include a mini-tree mount with universal multi-clamp to fit most common cymbal and percussion stands. Street Price: $579 Ship Date: Now Contact: Sabian, 888.587.9333,

Artfully Done

Over view: RCF’s Next-Generation ART 7 Series Specifics: RCF’s next generation of ART 7 Series two-way active speakers feature FiRPHASE technology in the DSP processing, providing more transparency, clarity and linearity of sound reproduction. The series now offers seven cabinets, including eight-, 10-, 12- and 15-inch active two-way cabinets with one-inch high-frequency compression driver, as well as a 12-inch model with twoinch high-frequency compression driver, and 15-inch models with three- and four-inch high-frequency compression drivers. The larger drivers on these models allow lower crossover points down to 650 hertz (650 hertz for the four-inch and 900 hertz for the threeinch). This allows for better vocal reproduction, better impulse response, fast decay and increased efficiency. All cabinets are equipped with a new generation of Class-D amplification, along with high-powered woofers and compression drivers. Street Price: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: RCF, 732.902.6100,


It’s Alive!

Over view: Frankenstand’s Generation Five Hybrid Speaker Stand Specifics: Frankenstand’s latest product, the Generation Five, is a hybrid speaker stand utilizing both steel and aluminum construction. The new generation features rolled leg ends to protect rubber feet from being cut, stronger knob adjustments, and bigger pull ring plunger for positive locking and increased lifting power in the F1 version. The speaker stand comes in two powers: F1 for speakers weighing between 35 and 50 pounds and F2 for speaker weights between 55 and 80 pounds (80 pounds being a judgment call by Dr. Frankenstand); the stand has been tested up to 330 pounds. Frankenstand is available at a select few dealers across the U.S. and is taking applications for additional dealerships. Street Price: $149.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Frankenstand, 619.223.7587,

Starting Lineup

Over view: Heritage Guitar’s H-137, H-150 and H-53 Specifics: Heritage Guitar is introducing a new standard lineup of guitars to dealers and direct customers worldwide this year. The new standard lineup will include three of Heritage’s most popular styles, H-137, H-150 and H-535, in a range of iconic colors, including TV Yellow, Antique Natural, Cherry Translucent, Antique Cherry Sunburst, Chestnut Sunburst, Old Style Sunburst and Vintage Wineburst. This is Heritage Guitar’s first standard line. Every guitar is handcrafted to the highest standard, with precision, care and strict quality assurance throughout the entire line. Street Price: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Heritage Guitar, 269.385.5721, JANUARY 2018

Photographed in the original Martin factory, built in 1859.


“We have selected the finest features of the D-28 from both my grandfather’s and my father’s eras. We’ve brought forth this guitar’s rich history and married it with modern innovations.” — Chris Martin IV, Chairman and CEO


Provincial Player

Over view: Seagull Guitars’ Overhauled Maritime Solid Wood Series Specifics: Seagull Guitars’ newly overhauled Maritime Solid Wood Series (SWS) features an all-solid-wood experience with a select pressure-tested spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The new line includes a variety of acoustic body shapes in natural semi-gloss custom polished finishes. Along with a shadowed burst finish on the body and headstock, other special features include cutaway models and a Godin EPM Q1T preamp. Street Price: $719-$979 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Seagull Guitars,

Stick to It

Over view: StickItStand Stick-On Guitar Stand Specifics: StickItStand’s new Patent Pending stick-on guitar stand was invented by professional guitar player/teacher Denny Gerard, who simply wanted a safe and easy way to stand up his guitar. Players can stick it on to use it, or easily peel it off. Upon removal, it will not damage the surface of your guitar (deteriorating guitars excluded!). It stays on your guitar in your gig bag or case, so it’s always at the ready. Made from a high-grade silicone rubber, it sticks on a guitar with a peel-off, electronic-grade, double-stick adhesive. When players are done playing, they can simply lean their guitar against a wall or an amp. Its “one size fits all” design means StickItStand works easily on most acoustic or electric guitars. Street Price: $14.95 Ship Date: Now Contact: StickItStand, 818.419.7338,

Patch Perfect It’s Electric!

Over view: Yamaha Drums’ EAD10 Module System Specifics: Yamaha Drums’ EAD10 is a standalone drum module system, which enables drummers to capture the sounds of an acoustic drum set with a single microphone/trigger component attached to a powerful digital processor. The innovative EAD10 module system allows drummers to reproduce the natural, dynamic sound of the entire kit, while adding any number of effects, including flange, phase and several varieties of reverb, with the module. Players can record high-quality drum performances easily with a single mic on a sensor unit attached to the bass drum, and record drum tracks on top of their favorite music, while at the same time capturing a video of their performance, with the free Yamaha Rec ‘N’ Share iOS app. MSRP: $629 Ship Date: Now Contact: Yamaha, 714.522.9000,


Over view: Bittree ProStudio 9625i 2x48 TT Audio Patchbay Specifics: Bittree’s ProStudio 9625i 2x48 TT audio patchbay provides the ProStudio family’s benefits in a space-efficient 1RU rackmount form factor. The PS9625i offers 96 TT (bantam) jacks in a high-density 2x48 configuration with DB25 rear interfaces for Avid ProTools and TASCAM connectivity. The unit’s metal front panel and sturdy, fully-enclosed, seven-inch-deep chassis provide durability, while its full-frame jacks, gold cross-bar switching contacts and internal digital AES wiring deliver solid connectivity, lower noise and the cleanest possible signal paths. Circuit normalling, grounding and bussing on the PS9625i can be reprogrammed via internal, professional-grade shunts accessible by opening the top of the 7.6-pound units. Front designation strips over each row of jacks (“over-over” orientation) enable circuit identification. The designation strips can be reconfigured to “over-under” orientation, revealing silk-screened numbering between the rows, or augmented with an optional third strip. MSRP: $1,095 Ship Date: Now Contact: Bittree, 818.500.8142, JANUARY 2018


50 Fantastic Products Being Featured at The NAMM Show

The Nifty

Smashing Pedal Electro-Harmonix has reissued its late-1970s-era Op-Amp Big Muff Pi. Sometimes also referred to as the IC or V4 Big Muff, the original circuitry has been faithfully recreated, while several practical enhancements have been added, including a compact, die-cast chassis and true bypass switching. The Op-Amp Big Muff was popularized by Billy Corgan, who used it on the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1993 album “Siamese Dream.” It relies on op-amps rather than transistors and three gain stages rather than four to create its signature sound. The Op-Amp Big Muff Pi features standard controls: sustain, tone and volume, plus a tone toggle switch for bypassing the tone circuit. It comes equipped with a nine-volt battery or can be powered by an optional nine-volt AC adapter. Booth #5249

Look Ma, No Wires CAD Audio’s CADLive 4000 series digital wireless system delivers RF performance, audio quality and operational flexibility. To provide frequency agility and RF stability, CADLive 4000 operates in the 902 and 928 megahertz bands. It features proprietary CAD ScanLink technology with an infrared-transmitter setup to precisely scan, select and link to the optimum channel in any RF environment. CADLive 4000 series employs True Diversity operation to minimize multipath interference, along with CADLock Automatic Tone Encoded Squelch that eliminates unauthorized transmissions in the signal path. The receiver and transmitters are equipped with a high-definition LCD display and full RF, AF, battery life, mic sensitivity and RF power metering. The handheld transmitters feature all-metal construction and a CADLive D90 Supercardioid dynamic vocal mic element intended to provide a powerful, smooth and highly articulate sound in high-SPL live situations. The handheld and body pack transmitters also include SoftTouch multi-function on-off and mute switches. Booth #11110

AP Style Casio’s Celviano AP-470 digital piano boasts a redesigned cabinet with all of the controls located on the side panel. The cabinet includes a top panel that can be manually raised and lowered. The lid’s position not only physically affects the sound coming from the speakers, but also works in conjunction with the “Lid Position” setting to accurately duplicate the characteristics of the adjustable lid on an acoustic grand piano. This new model is also equipped with an 88-key tri-sensor scaled hammer action keyboard with simulated ebony and ivory textured keys to reproduce the touch of an acoustic piano, while the keyboard provides the depth and integrity of an acoustic piano. The AP-470 also offers 22 tones, including a New York Grand Piano, a Key Mechanical Noise Simulation, new String Resonance System and an upgraded 40-watt speaker system. Booth #9502



The 2018




50 The Nifty

Let’s Get Loud Fishman’s Loudbox Mini Charge battery-powered acoustic instrument amplifier reproduces the sound of acoustic instruments with absolute fidelity and sonic impact. Lightweight, portable and equipped with a rechargeable battery, the Loudbox Mini Charge has dedicated instrument and mic channels with input gain controls. It also includes Bluetooth wireless connectivity that allows players to add a variety of backing tracks and vocal or recorded accompaniments to performances and jams on the go. The amplifier includes digital reverb and chorus, mic and 1/8-inch aux inputs, master volume, and phase controls and a balanced XLR DI output. A full line of Loudbox Mini Charge accessories includes a carry bag, 12-volt car charger, and U.S. and international wall chargers. Booth #4810

Kiss From a Rose Floyd Rose’s FR-32 3D wired headphones were designed and engineered in Europe and the USA. Each headphone cup has two drivers (one for bass/mids and the other for highs) with multiple moving sound coils, a new technology that gives the listener 3D sound that has a broad range and respectable highs, mids and lows. The speakers adapt to the music played to offer 3D sound. Features include durable fabric headphone cable, lightweight design, metal construction, stylish fabric finish, soft forming earpads and fabric zippered carrying bag. Available in black or grey fabric finish. Booth #5629, 5530



Master of Disguise Cympad’s new Chromatics SE (Special Edition) cymbal washers are now available in a camouflage special edition. Developed to reveal the sound of cymbals and enhance the look of your drum sets, the Camouflage Chromatics are 40 millimeters by 15 millimeters and come in convenient five-packs. Cympad’s Chromatics are available in eight standard colors, including orange, blue, red, purple, yellow, crimson, green and white. Along with Cympad Optimizers and Moderators, the advanced, cellular foam cymbal washers provide greater consistency and a better sound from all cymbal types, sizes and brands. Booth #6436

Paul Melancon, Sales Rep

Years at Alfred Music: Three Instruments: Composing, Trombone, Guitar, Uke, Keyboard, Bass, Mandolin, etc. Best Perk of Working at Alfred Music: Building relationships with wonderful people who are passionate about music Favorite Genres to Play: Music of films and video games Favorite Artist: Nobuo Uematsu First Concert Experience: B.B. King, 2005

Heavy Pedal Handmade in Laney’s UK Black Country Custom shop, and commissioned by renowned Black Sabbath guitarist, Tony Iommi, the TI-BOOST recreates Iommi’s original sound from his Range Master that “disappeared” in 1979. The TI-BOOST pedal emulates the front-end boost used on all the early Black Sabbath recordings, with the addition of more gain and EQ options. Booth #5344


As a composer, keeping quick resources handy is a great way to keep your creativity going on the fly without having to spend too much time thinking about chord voicings or music theory. Speed is always a factor when incorporating new instruments into my music. These guides are small enough to keep in the case of an instrument making it easy for me to reference at home or in the studio.

50 The Nifty

Special K The K Zildjian Sweet Collection extends the K Family into a new direction of tonal colors that are dark, sweet and responsive, available in a full offering of crashes, rides and hi-hats, including larger and thinner cymbals. K Sweet cymbals feature the random hammering of a K Zildjian with a traditional finish. The rides, available in 21 and 23 inches, deliver darker overtones than the A Zildjian Sweet Ride. They are mediumthin in weight, crashable and have a fully lathed appearance. The crashes, available in 16 through 20 inches are extrathin in weight with an unlathed bell and feature the traditional K style hammering technique that helps to deliver a darker sound with a fast attack and excellent response. The hi-hats are available in larger sizes at 15 and 16 inches. These hats have a thin top, extraheavy bottom and an unlathed bell, giving them a dark sound with a solid chick and fully body wash. Booth #7222

Well Versed

Point of Sale + Website + Rentals


cloud-based system • POS & Website (Integrated Inventory) • Rent to Own • Reverb Integration • Product Data Integration (Alfred & D’Addario) • Class Management • Service/Repairs Tracking • Automated Marketing

"The best part about Rain is the level of integration. Before we switched to Rain it took twice as long to get the same job done." ~Miles Stewart, Store Manager, MusicianSupply • (801) 893-3680


See how it works for you!

Peavey’s mid-size, powered Versarray Pro is a fully articulating line array, which means maximum coverage and audio quality can be achieved in a wide variety of applications, and the company’s FlyQWIK hardware allows the VR system to be deployed quickly. These cabinets include network control for the advanced user, as well as quick and easy push-button control for setups where time is of the essence. The Versarray Pro delivers high-end clarity via Mark III ribbon drivers and proprietary CLEAR FORM Waveguide. Booth #201AB, 200E

Booth #3917


50 The Nifty

No Substitute

Thumbs Up Graph Tech Guitar Labs’ TUSQ Thumb Picks, with Graph Tech’s proprietary blends of TUSQ pick material, are available in three distinctive tones: bright, warm and deep, and in three shapes and two gauges. The three tones add a whole new dimension to a player’s style and tone. They are available, along with the TUSQ original picks and TUSQ pick display boxes, from Graph Tech distributors around the world. Booth #3520

QSC’s KS112 powered subwoofer is a great choice for anyone needing high-output, low-frequency extension in a compact and portable package. Powered by a 2,000-watt class-D amplifier module, KS112 features a single 12-inch transducer in a sixth-order bandpass birch cabinet. Onboard DSP provides variable crossover and savable/recallable “Scenes” for commonly-used applications, while Intrinsic Correction tuning and loudspeaker management maximize performance and protect the subwoofer’s components. Two M20 threaded pole receptacles provide a positive, wobble-free connection to a threaded speaker pole in either vertical or horizontal deployment (pole not included). An optional KS-LOC security cover prevents unauthorized tampering of controls. Rugged, low-noise casters are included. The KS112 also includes the QSC Global six-year warranty with product registration. Booth #14911

Flexing Its Muscles




CHAUVET DJ has launched two 100-percent wireless battery-operated fixtures, the Freedom Flex H4 X6 and Freedom H1 X4. H4 features a quick-change battery pack for easy battery charges and changes. The system includes six fixtures, batteries and charging road case. Each light has four hex-color (RGBAW+UV) LEDs for color-mixing capabilities. It is temporary outdoorrated for all-weather applications. H1 is a compact version of the Freedom pars, perfect for pin spotting and accent lighting. The fixture features a single hex-color (RGBAW+UV) 10-watt LED. Its magnetic base makes it easy to mount the light to most metal surfaces. The system includes four fixtures, four diffusers, a carry bag, multi-charger and IRC-6 remote. Booth #11133


Talking About My Generation The Audio-Technica fourth-generation 3000 Series wireless systems offer the power and flexibility to operate within the congested UHF spectrum. 3000 Series systems have an operating range of 300 feet and are available in two frequency bands that provide a 60-megahertz tuning range, each, which is more than twice the range offered by the previous 3000 Series models. Frequencies can be scanned and selected on the receiver and then synced with the transmitter via IR sync functionality. The 3000 Series even lets you set a backup frequency that can be swapped by pressing the transmitter’s multifunction button. Available system configurations feature a receiver along with a durable metal bodypack or handheld transmitter. The bodypack is equipped with A-T’s CH-style screw-down four-pin connector. The ATW-T3202 comes with either an ATW-C510 dynamic or ATW-C710 condenser interchangeable cardioid capsule, and its industry-standard thread allows for the use of other compatible capsules. Booth #15311

Cool Cabinets RCF’s NX Series active two-way sound-reinforcement cabinets feature much of the power and accessories of the TT+ series, including the rigging points and FiRPHASE technology in a durable cabinet design made for everyday use. The cabinets are multi-function birch wood with pole mount cup for either standalone use or coupled with a subwoofer, along with built-in rigging points for installation use. The NX 32-A (12 inch) and NX 45-A (15 inch) two-way bi-amped active touring systems are designed for medium to large events, indoors and outdoors. The cabinets feature a 1,400-watt, two-way, class-D amplifier and onboard DSP with limiters and protection. RCF has also incorporated the new FiRPHASE filters into the DSP to achieve linear and coherent distribution of sound without phase distortion. Booth #18310



50 The Nifty

Pipe Dream Synesthesia’s Pipes, a compact sound module, features 48-kilohertz 24-bit stereo sample playback and is WAV, AIF and MDA compatible with up to 20,000 samples always loaded and ready to be triggered. One of the more interesting aspects of the product is the introduction of its “Tweaker” onboard Pure Data patches, which can be used to modify and transform MIDI, creating many possibilities for new and custom sounds. Effect and Tweaker parameters are also controllable in real time. MDA instrument files on the device include position, velocity and round-robin samples with associated trigger data. Additional features include a five-inch, full-color touchscreen; 64 max stereo voice polyphony; four-millisecond latency from MIDI trigger input to analog audio output; extensive onboard instrument and sound library; multiple USB MIDI inputs and assignable internal stereo channels, which are called “pipes;” multiple effects per stereo channel: slicer, panner, pitch, compressor, equalizer (four-band), reverse, delay, flanger, reverb, filters and distortions; master effects: stereo compressor, equalizer (4-band) and reverb; MIDI signal input record and playback capability; analog audio output; stereo headphone output; digital audio output; a USB memory port; and an open-source user interface/front end for full customization. Booth #9701


Pop Sensation MXL Microphones’ MXL POP LSM-9 is a brightly colored dynamic vocal mic designed to give onstage performers an eye-catching handheld microphone that cancels vibrations and minimizes handling noise for a clean, clear performance. At launch, the POP LSM-9 will be offered in four bright colors: blue, green, magenta and yellow. The MXL POP LSM-9 features a super cardioid polar pattern to deliver a strong vocal presence while also negating feedback, and its low handling noise makes it great for high-energy stage performers. The mic’s all-metal construction ensures that the POP LSM-9 will withstand the rigors of nightly use, according to the company. Booth #14301


Inside Information

The biggest names in PA load their cabs with Celestion Pro Audio Drivers

You already know that Celestion is the voice of rock & roll when it comes to guitar speakers. But did you know that leading PA brands choose Celestion Pro Audio Drivers for their best-selling products? Our innovative approach to design helps us develop great sounding speakers that deliver class-leading performance and reliability at truly competitive prices. And our integrated distribution network means you can count on stock availability and excellent customer service. Give your customers the industry choice - stock Celestion Pro Audio Drivers.

Find out more

50 The Nifty

High Standards Martin Guitar’s reimagined Standard Series guitar is the most significant update to the company’s flagship line of guitars in its 185-year history. The most notable updates to the line include the addition of a modern high-performance neck that is thinner and more comfortable for the player, and vintage appointments, including aging toner and opengear tuners. There have been changes to internal features, as well, that include forward-shifted scalloped top bracing, depending on the model. The bottom line? When you put all of the changes together, the result is a Martin Standard Series line that looks, plays and sounds better than ever before. Booth #5602

MC18_4.125"x6.75"_The Music & Sound Retailer_AW.pdf



3:45 PM

My Forté The Bergantino forté bass amplifier is the newest member of the Bergantino Audio amplifier family. The forté is a flexible bass amplifier in a compact, portable package. It has a no-compromise design and utilizes the same studio-quality circuitry and power section employed in the B|Amp. Many familiar B|Amp features include four bands of tone controls, bright switch, effects send/return, auxiliary input, headphone jack, tuner out, studio-quality DI, 8/4- and two-ohm operation, and a universal power supply (UPS). The forté also has an onboard VRC (Variable Ratio Compressor) adjustable from the front panel. Additional specs: Bass: +10 decibels at 63 hertz; Lo-Mid: +10 decibels at 250 hertz; Hi-Mid: +10 decibels at 1 kilohertz; Treble: +10 decibels at 3.5 kilohertz; Bright switch: +6 decibels at 6.5 kilohertz; Power Section: 700watt RMS at four ohms, 800-watt RMS at two ohms. The forte measures 10.5"W x 8.375"D x 3.75"H, and weighs six pounds. Booth #2944











Earned Our Truss SNAP is a new tool from GLP designed to make cable management on trusses a snap. Compatible with all standard two-inch (48- to 51-millimeter) truss cords, SNAP is a plastic, single-molded, highly flexible tool that attaches to a truss in seconds and uses a side holder to maintain order with all cables. SNAP is highly durable and completely reusable, making it an alternative to tape or zip ties, when it comes to managing cables. SNAP is available in black and silver to match standard truss colors, but can also be purchased in various color options, such as red, blue, green and yellow. SNAP is designed and manufactured in Germany and distributed in the U.S. exclusively by German Light Products. Booth #10940

Light the Flame Lanikai’s Flame Maple ukuleles feature a satin Flame Maple top, back, and sides with rich bloodwood rosette and binding on the fingerboard and body. The Flame Maple series includes an acoustic concert and tenor sizes, and acoustic-electrics with a cutaway. The electric models are equipped with a Fishman Kula pickup with a convenient onboard tuner. Like all Lanikai ukuleles, the easyplaying neck profiles are accented by a wider nut for added player comfort. Other features that highlight this series include chrome open-back tuners, Nubone XB nuts and saddles for increased tone and projection, a walnut fingerboard and bridge, and D’Addario strings. Each Flame Maple ukulele ships with a Lanikai 10-millimeter padded gig bag and a limited lifetime warranty. Booth #7820



50 The Nifty

Negate the Noise Roland’s Noise Eater drum hardware is a new line of accessories for electronic drums that attempts to solve the age-old noise and vibration problem faced by electronic drummers. Roland’s Noise Eater technology is offered in an assortment of drum pedals and stands, including Noise Eater Single Kick Pedals, Noise Eater Double Kick Pedals and Noise Eater Hi-Hat Stands. The Noise Eater hardware’s built-in anti-vibration system helps reduce unwanted noise and vibration sounds from electronic drums by up to 50 percent and works by using an air channel and rubber system to suspend the hardware off the ground. Booth #17420, 17221 and 17218

Hang Ten Dream Cymbals’ Limited Edition 10th Anniversary cymbal is a 24-inch small-bell flat ride modified with a special patina finish that the Dream Cymbals Team in Toronto creates by hand. Each 10th Anniversary cymbal is entirely unique with an individual look and sound depending on the artist’s patina design, while maintaining the defining characteristics of the company’s 24-inch small-bell flat rides. The anniversary cymbal also includes a laser-etched logo and unique serial number. Only 100 anniversary cymbals will be made. Booth #7239

lightsforlife4_12x4_37.pdf 6/8/2017 9:29:42 AM

Roaring Raptor You’d look a little beat up too if you spent the last 30 years on the road. If you purchased a Littlite in 1986, chances are it still works. And if it doesn’t, chances are it is still under warranty.









Gooseneck Lamps & Accessories Made in Hamburg, MI USA 36

The Jensen Jet Raptor is a powerful speaker with smooth and warm sound. It has excellent definition in the upper midrange. When presented with overdrive distortion, it exhibits a silky, full-sounding lead tone. The Raptor’s 100 watts of power and its ceramic magnet make it a real workhorse. As with all the Jensen Jets, it offers modern tone for the modern player. Jensen works very closely with musicians and engineers to create speakers that are efficient and tone pleasing. The Raptor will be available this Spring. Booth #5133


Lite-en Up DrumLite, maker of custom LED kits for drum sets, has released triggered LED lighting kits for drums. Designed specifically for the everyday drummer, these new trigger systems will allow for DrumLites to react when the drum is struck. The triggers are designed to be adhered to the drum shell itself, picking up the vibration and eliminating cross talk between DrumLites in multiple drums. The system combines all of the staples of previous DrumLite controllers (static colors, preset flashing/fading modes, brightness and speed adjustment) along with the ability to toggle in and out of trigger mode with a touch of a button. Two trigger packs are available: a bass drum trigger pack and a five-drum (full-kit) trigger pack — each include DrumLite strips, triggers, power and cables for their respective setups. Booth #7436

HAVE CHARGE WILL TRAVEL Get out and play the new Loudbox Mini Charge The Loudbox Mini Charge is

Open the Doors

the latest Loudbox from

Alfred Music’s “The Doors: 50th Anniversary Songbook” is a comprehensive guitar-tab hardcover edition, featuring the complete studio recordings from 1967-1971 of The Doors. “The Doors: 50th Anniversary Songbook” features authentic transcriptions with guitar tabs, lyrics, vocal melodies, and signature keyboard and bass parts of all 62 tracks from the band’s six studio releases with legendary frontman Jim Morrison. This songbook also includes an introduction from Guitar World’s Jimmy Brown, a color photograph section and a select band discography. Titles include “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar),” “Back Door Man,” “Been Down So Long,” “Blue Sunday,” “Break on Through (To the Other Side),” “Cars Hiss By My Window,” “The Changeling,” “The Crystal Ship,” “Do It,” “Easy Ride,” “The End” and more. Booth #11102, 394

that runs on a rechargeable


Fishman. It’s a Loudbox Mini battery, combined with unique power management circuitry specifically designed to maximize output levels and playing time. With 60 Watts of power, dedicated instrument & mic channels, and Bluetooth connectivity for playback, the Loudbox Mini Charge can go anywhere you go. Where are you going to take it?™ CONNECTIVITY

Contact your Fishman Representative at 800.FISHMAN to learn more. NAMM booth 4810, Hall D

50 The Nifty

Top of the Rock Hal Leonard has announced the next evolution of one of its bestselling guitar songbook series. The Deluxe Guitar Play-Along series will give guitarists the ability to play along with interactive sound-alike backing tracks. Each volume will feature nearly double the songs from the original Guitar Play-Along series. The books include unique codes that let users go online to access an interactive audio interface with backing tracks for each song, and the audio tracks are professionally recorded by a live band to emulate the original recordings as closely as possible. In addition to letting players see and hear the score as it plays, the interface lets users customize the tempo and pitch, loop passages and isolate instruments. The tracks can be streamed or downloaded and played offline. Each book includes notes and tablature for 15 songs. The songs are carefully arranged to consolidate multiple guitar parts from the original recordings into one full-sounding, yet playable, guitar part. The Deluxe Guitar Play-Along series is launching with seven volumes: “Acoustic Songs,” “The Beatles,” “Classic Rock,” “Really Easy Songs,” “Red Hot Chili Peppers,” “Ed Sheeran” and “Top Rock Hits.” Booth #8910

Pedal to the Metal The dUg Pinnick DP-3X Signature Pedal is a super-compact adaptation of Doug Pinnick’s Tech 21 Ultra Bass 1000 Signature head. Both recreate the sound dUg developed way back in the ’80s, merging high-end distortion with low-end bass. This involved running a guitar amp and bass amp together, along with a rack full of effects. Wanting to streamline his gear, for occasions when his full Tech 21 rig isn’t practical, dUg collaborated on developing the DP-3X pedal. The DP-3X has the flexibility to provide traditional bass amp sounds, as well as the distinctive dUg tone. Mix mode engages Drive to bring in distortion and Chunk for upper harmonics. Gain provides additional distortion and compression. In clean/full-range mode, Drive and Chunk disengage, while Comp and Gain remain active. Other features include three-band active EQ, master volume, chromatic tuner, headphone capability and XLR Output to go direct to a PA desk or studio board. The pedal is made with an all-metal housing, measures 7.75"L x 2.5"W x 1.25"H and weighs 12 ounces. Booth #5635

Skin Deep Remo’s Colortone drumheads feature proprietary Skyndeep Imaging Technology for visual appeal with powerful projection, tone and durability. Colortone drumheads are offered in Powerstroke 77 snare, Emperor and Powerstroke 3 Bass in six vibrant colors: orange, yellow, red, green, blue and smoke. The Powerstroke 77 Colortone snare drumheads are constructed with two-ply Mylar film with an added five-mil Controlled Sound Dot on top and a seven-mil dampening underlay ring for a powerful, focused attack, available in 13- and 14-inch sizes. The Emperor Colortone drumheads are also constructed with two-ply Mylar film, available in eight- through 18-inch sizes. The Powerstroke 3 Bass drumheads are constructed with a single-ply 10-mil Mylar film combined with a 10-mil underlay dampening ring, available in 18- through 26-inch sizes. Booth #6822



On the Mark Promark’s FireGrain drumsticks are individually passed through a flame tunnel and receive an exterior char. In addition to creating a unique aesthetic, the open flames crystalize trace amounts of tree sap resin that remain in each stick, which builds an “exterior armor.” This delays denting, chipping and fraying, which ultimately prolongs the life of each drumstick. FireGrain drumsticks are available in the following models: Classic 7A, Classic 5A, Classic 5B, Classic 2B, Rebound 5A, Rebound 5B, Forward 5A and Forward 5B. Booth #7002


All That Jazz Alvarez Guitars has added a new bluegrass model to its Masterworks Series, the MD60BG. The model was inspired by the success of Alvarez’s genre-specific Jazz & Blues Series. The MD60BG and MD60EBG are specifically designed for flatpicking, and the bracing system enhances the bass and mids, making the guitar responsive to play with a plectrum. Part of the all-solid-wood Masterworks Series, the MD60BG and the electronics model MD60EBG feature AA-Grade solid sitka spruce tops, with solid african mahogany backs and sides. The bracing system is a back shifted scalloped X brace, perfect for flatpicking. MD60BG is finished in a natural gloss, and the MD60EBG features LR Baggs electronics. Booth #7414


Epic talking-pedal vowel sounds, wah effects and a fully featured fuzz that can be added before or after the filter section. Like getting three very potent pedals in one!

Control just about any device with an expression input. Range knob fine tunes your sweep. Reverse button flips the direction. Polarity switch and TRS cable included. Affordable and versatile!

The award-winning sound of the Crying Tone Wah in a rugged, rack and pinion style pedal. Super-affordable and, at about 1.5 pounds, a huge weight savings over most popular wahs.

Control two devices from a single source. Each output has independent range and reverse controls plus a polarity switch. Two TRS cables included. More control, less space!


BOOTH 5249

Transpose your pitch up, down or both over a +/- 3 octave range. Staggering, high-quality whammy effects, dive bombs, harmonies, bends, cross-fades... a polyphonic powerhouse that’s your ultimate pitch shifter/harmony pedal.

Ultra-smooth action with EHX’s unique taper for the best effects and precise dynamics control anywhere in your signal chain. Two impedance options (25K or 250K) for universal compatibility.

50 The Nifty

Match Game Apex Tube Matching’s proprietary power tube matching system has been enhanced to four-point matching. This enhanced version now matches additional control points. Apex Tube Matching is performed entirely in-house on the company’s custom-built tube matching system using custom-designed software testing and matching methodology. Apex’s systems are extremely accurate, as stated by the company, measuring current and voltage to provide the best possible matching for our tubes. Power tubes are electrically matched, so each tube will have the same amount of “idle” plate current and amplification characteristics when plugged into an amplifier. This is done so the tubes can work together in an amp, giving optimal sound quality and tube longevity. Matched tubes also receive extra quality checks to reduce the possibility of getting a faulty power tube that may have slipped by the manufacturer. Booth #5133

Stock Up Ibanez has refined the AX design to include updated features, while also providing a classic appearance. The AX120 sports an AR-style headstock, white block inlay, new pickguard design and a reworked body shape. Also, the new AX series adopts a 40-millimeter body, which is thinner than the previous version. This lightweight body delivers powerful live performance capabilities on stage. While reimagining this guitar, the company did not stop at the visuals. Electronics were also upgraded from one volume and tone control to two volume and tone controls for added tonal flexibility. It features a double-cutaway body, making higher frets more accessible, and the Full Tune III bridge allows for superior intonation and sustain. Available finishes include Metallic Forest, Baltic Blue Metallic, Metallic Light Blue and Candy Apple. Features include a maple neck, poplar body, treated New Zealand pine fretboard with white block inlay, medium frets, Full Tune III bridge/tailpiece, Classic Elite (H) neck pickup, Classic Elite (H) bridge pickup and chrome hardware. Booth #4620

Shell Yeah Dixon’s Fuse Swiss Ebony four-piece shell kit features a Swiss Ebony exotic laminate, a six-ply hybrid 7.3-millimeter shell, a 45-degree bearing edge and Swiss Ebony finish. The kit comes with an eight-lug bass drum, ball L-rod tom mount, mini isolation system tom mounts and chrome drum hardware. The four-piece shell comes complete with an 8"x10" tom, a 9"x12" tom, a 14"x16" floor tom and an 18"x22" eightlug bass drum. Booth #7414



Electric Slide Bourns’ low-profile, motorized slide potentiometer line is specifically designed to meet small space constraints and repeated automated console adjustment requirements, and to have a longer product life. Offered in 100-millimeter and 60-millimeter versions, the Model PSL measures 25 millimeters high, enabling audio, broadcast and lighting console engineers to reduce surface height, resulting in a slim and sleek console design. The Model PSL features a power-saving five VDC Mabuchi motor, so it can be used with more energy-efficient circuits. The new product line also utilizes a highly durable contacting carbon resistive ink element that delivers extended wear characteristics of up to 500,000 cycles. The element design also produces very low noise output for an optimal signal-to-noise ratio that allows improved audio quality. Available in a variety of resistance values and standard taper options, the motorized slide potentiometers feature a touch sense lever, a servo track option for console automation and an easy-to-use, snap-in connector. Booth #12506

I Wanna Rock Rock House’s three new complete course titles for guitar, bass guitar and piano by John McCarthy are great for learning on your own or with an instructor. Each book combines three levels of the Rock House Method series and comes with hundreds of audio backing tracks and playing examples and a downloadable digital eBook version to view the book on any device. These new course books include free video lessons focusing on techniques; audio backing tracks and demonstrations that correspond with each lesson in the book, where players can hear each lesson played slowly or at regular speed and play songs and melodies over full-band backing tracks; and a free membership to the Rock House Method Support System on the web. Booth #8910


50 The Nifty

Get Your Motor Runnin’ Fender has redesigned the Hot Rod DeVille 212 IV, a 60-watt 2x12-inch combo, and Hot Rod Deluxe IV, a 40-watt 1x12-inch combo, which feature 12-inch Celestion A-Type speakers that provide powerful, well-balanced output with smooth highs, laid-back midrange and full, round lows. The amps now feature modified preamp circuitry, which improves overdriven note definition, so players will have sonic clarity no matter how hard they push their amp. The onboard spring reverb has been modified to add smoothness for both amps, as well. The updated aesthetic includes a lightweight pine cabinet, improved control panel texture and graphics, ivory pointer knobs, steel-reinforced strap handle and lightly aged silver grille cloth. Booth #300E, 304BCD

Shell Game Yamaha’s Tour Custom Maple drum set is designed with features that emphasize an organic sound and look, combined with durability. The Tour Custom Maple drum sets are constructed with 100-percent maple six-ply shells using the company’s proprietary staggered diagonal seam shell construction, building a thin drum shell that will start round and stay round. Other features include 2.3-millimeter vintage inverted Dyna Hoops that help focus the sound and keep the drums in tune longer, solid and durable hardware including one-point lug attachments on all shells to enhance the drum’s sustain, and Remo heads. The series features five new satin finishes: Butterscotch Satin, Caramel Satin, Candy Apple Red Satin, Chocolate Satin and Black Licorice Satin. Booth #100, ELITE3, OCB 1 and OCB234

Seeing My Reflection Majestic Percussion’s Reflection Series Marimba presents a new design featuring a central truss system with a modular frame that enables quick and easy setup and agile movement through any door. Integrated bar geometry in combination with newly designed free-floating bar posts provides for a responsive feel to each tone bar. A new tunable resonator design features a full three octaves of tuning capability from C2-C5 with a dramatic 3D curving profile for a modern aesthetic. Further enhancements include a single side “Uni-Lift” height adjustment with an optimized gear ratio, insuring smooth, unassisted operation by the player. Booth #7820



Amp It Up The P3100 is a next-generation two-channel amplifier designed for both studio recording and audiophile listening. The P3100 produces 150 watts per channel into eight ohms, 200 watts per channel into four ohms and may be bridged mono to produce 400 watts. With extensive heat sinks on both sides, it does not require noisy fan cooling. It employs Hafler’s trans•nova lateral MOSFET topology that reduces the length of the signal path, while providing stability. The power switch is equipped with a “soft start” circuit that prevents sending potentially destructive turn-on and turn-off transients to the speakers. A thermal sensing network monitors the heatsink temperature and shuts down the amplifier to protect from excessive operating heat. The need for internal fuses has been replaced with a sensing circuit that monitors the output and shuts down operation when it detects a short in the output load. The rear panel sports a choice of balanced XLR and ¼-inch TRS inputs and gold-plated, unbalanced RCAs. The speaker connections are No Touch binding posts, compatible with modern safety standards. Booth #11915

Revenge of the Synth Riversong Guitars’ “smart synth” guitar, the Tradition 2 Stage Guitar TP, is an acoustic guitar in an electric-size body with built-in iPhone synth integration. At less than two inches of depth, this guitar feels “fast.” The top is responsive and braced just like an acoustic. With adjustable neck angle and a new intonation system, the Tradition 2 Stage Guitar is built for the serious stage musician. Bridging the gap from studio and live, Riversong teamed up with Fishman Electronics and installed an OEM Triple Play wireless guitar performance/ midi system. Think of the guitar as a 133 touch-sensitive pad that can play any sample and interface with programs like Ableton or any midi device. The knob on the front works as a digital encoder and can control any parameter of analog or midi signal just by running the guitar output through a channel on a DAW. The Triple Play software can run on its own or operate as a plugin VST. Booth #7918


50 The Nifty

Head of the Class Evans Drumheads by D’Addario Percussion has expanded its UV coating technology to a new line of bass drumheads, the UV1 Series. The drumheads feature a UVcured coating that provides durability and consistency of texture, making the drum heads extremely responsive for brush playing, while the 10-millimeter film delivers strength and versatility for a full range of musical applications. The UV1 Bass series will feature a 10-millimeter, single-ply bass drumhead, as well as EQ4 and EMAD variations, available from 16 to 26 inches. The UV EQ4 features a fixed internal overtone control ring that focuses the tonal response of the drum, while the UV EMAD heads have the benefit of adjustable damping for added attack and focus. Booth #7002

Case by Case Jupiter’s “MyCase” for 700 Series Student Instruments is a lightweight case featuring enhanced durability using upgraded components, including captive hinge pins, enlarged valance and scratch-resistant ABS material. All cases, including trombone, stack securely and allow students to customize their case to match their personal style through the application of interchangeable decals. With the ability to change the look of their MyCase often, student musicians will find several of the most popular decal designs available exclusively through Jupiter retailers. A multitude of additional designs can also be purchased online. Booth #7820

Fall Flavors Seagull Guitars has updated the look of its Entourage series. The Entourage line will feature a variety of body shapes in the new warm and vibrant Autumn Burst finish. Other special updated features include a Godin EPM Q1T preamp and the addition of two parlor-sized models in Natural Almond and Natural finishes. The revamped Entourage series will feature the following models: Entourage Autumn Burst; Entourage Autumn Burst QIT; Entourage Autumn Burst CW QIT; Entourage Autumn Burst CH CW A/E; Entourage Grand Natural A/E; and Entourage Grand Natural Almond. Booth #211AB



Bucking the Trend Seymour Duncan’s Dave Mustaine Signature Thrash Factor humbucker recreates the unique tone of Mustaine’s favorite JB, used to record some of his most iconic albums. The company worked closely with Mustaine to recreate the tone and feel of his favorite JB, ultimately altering the winding process in order to achieve the tone he was looking for. Compared to the standard JB model, the Thrash Factor’s low end is tighter, the mids are slightly scooped and the highs are more aggressive. The set includes Mustaine’s preferred neck pickup, the SH-1n 59 model, in matching matte finish. The Dave Mustaine Signature Thrash Factor is hand built in Santa Barbara, Calif. Booth #4344

Good Vibration Yamaha’s FG TransAcoustic Series comprises two guitars that combine the durability of the FG and FS Series instruments with TransAcoustic technology. The FG-TA dreadnought and its concert-size counterpart, the FS-TA, are built on the design of the company’s FG820 and FS820 models. An integrated actuator, a small metal device, is completely hidden inside the guitar. When the instrument’s strings are played, they cause the actuator to vibrate, which is then conveyed to the guitar body and the air around the guitar. This movement creates authentic reverb and chorus effects without needing any external amplification or effects. FG series acoustic guitars are built to last, known for offering solid performance over many years. Booth #100, ELITE3, OCB 1 and OCB234


50 The Nifty

Speak Up Celestion’s F12-X200 loudspeaker is designed for use with profiling amps, modeling software, impulse responses, and all technology for emulating guitar amps and speaker cabinets. Guitarists who use this popular technology require full-range, flat, accurate frequency response. General-purpose pro-audio speakers offer flat reproduction, sound clinical and lack the immediate response guitar players want. Traditional guitar speakers deliver the immediacy at the cost of accuracy because they are built to generate more harmonic resonances the harder they are driven, which can undermine the work the profiling/modeling rig is already doing. The F12-X200 combines the best of both worlds without the problems of either. In terms of accuracy, the F12-X200 is a true full-range speaker, with frequency response from 60 hertz to 20 kilohertz. In terms of immediacy, the F12-X200 employs proven design principles, such as straighter cone sides and a lighter moving mass compared with pro-audio speakers. The result is that by using the F12-X200 in a monitor wedge, backline cabinet, or in any stage or studio application, guitarists can enjoy the instant fingers-to-music connection of their favorite amp setup. Booth #7602

The Main Event D.A.S. Audio has expanded its Event Series of line arrays and bass systems with two new powered models: the Event-212A line array and the Event-121A subwoofer. The Event-212A is a powered, three-way line array employing two D.A.S. 12-inch loudspeakers in a dual band configuration. The loudspeaker units have been teamed up with a single M-75 compression driver and purpose-designed injected aluminum high-frequency waveguide to provide performance, sensitivity and coverage in both the 90- and 120-degree formats. The Event-212A line array incorporates the DAScontrol interface, offering quick, hassle-free setup of the systems in arrays and easy alignment with the Event-218A and Event-121A subwoofers. The Event121A is a direct radiating, rear-loaded, powered subwoofer system incorporating a single 21-inch neodymium loudspeaker for exceptional low-frequency reproduction. The combination of direct radiation and rear loading provides a high-output, tight and accurate sub-bass response. The Event-121A employs the new D.A.S. 21LFN loudspeaker, which offers a four-inch sandwich split winding voice coil, an FEA-optimized neodymium magnet assembly and an FEA-optimized suspension system with double silicon spider. An aluminum demodulating ring benefits lower distortion, and effective forced ventilation of the voice coil gap provides a high thermal rating and reduced power compression. Booth #18616

Stocking the Armory Mapex has added two new color upgrades to its Armory drum series. Using Olive Exotic veneers, Mapex is releasing the colors Desert Dune and Black Dawn. These new finishes are being applied to the Armory Series Hybrid shell, which is constructed of birch/maple/birch, in a six-ply, 7.2-millimeter thickness. The Mapex SONIClear bearing edges allow for a direct transmission of sound, reducing unwanted frequencies, and provides a strong fundamental pitch and easy tuning experience, especially at lower tunings. With this latest finish addition, all current Armory finishes now feature this Exotic Olive veneer. Booth #7820



(Courtesey of NAMM)

NAMM University Schedule The 2018 NAMM Show

NAMM University is proud to offer the ever-popular free Breakfast Sessions each morning of the show at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel. Come listen to top industry insiders share opportunities and challenges facing our business today. Once the show opens, NAMM has focused sessions every 30 minutes in the NAMM Idea Center to help you maximize your time on the show floor. Each session is loaded with great information and is free to all attendees.


11 a.m. Do You Have the Answers Google Is Looking For? (Double Session)

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Retail Boot Camp Hilton Anaheim Hotel, Levels 2 and 4

Larry Bailin, Single Throw Marketing

Get ready for retail success in 2018! Get to The NAMM Show a day early for Retail Boot Camp. This year’s Boot Camp includes two forward-thinking education tracks, delivering the best intensive one-day training for your music retail business. Registration and coffee will be from 8:30 – 9 a.m. (Lunch will be served at noon.) Retail Boot Camp is free to all NAMM retail members, but you must sign up. Go to and log in to register.

Track 1: Retail Boot Camp – Sales, Marketing & Websites Shep Hyken, Customer-Experience Expert, and Larry Bailin, Digital Marketing Pioneer

Track 2: Retail Boot Camp – Financial Management Alan Friedman and Daniel Jobe, Friedman, Kannenberg & Co.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 25 NAMM U Breakfast Session 8 – 8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Session Hilton Anaheim Hotel, Pacific Ballrooms, Level 2 Breakfast of Champions Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO, and Guests

One in four of your customers’ online searches is a question. Do you know what it takes to have the answers they’re looking for? Between Amazon Echo (Alexa), Google Home, Siri and Windows Cortana, your customers are becoming conditioned to use voice search to find anything at any time. Is your store’s search engine optimization strategy accounting for the extreme growth of natural language search? On the heels of his Retail Boot Camp presentation, Larry Bailin of Single Throw Marketing will reveal how to answer the questions your customers are asking, and upgrade your company’s SEO today.

12 p.m. 5 Hacks to Make the Most of YouTube Dan Abel, Your YouTube channel is an invaluable tool for building your customer base and improving your online visibility, but are you using it to its full advantage? Join Dan Abel, director of marketing for and former content partnerships manager at YouTube. In this session, he’ll explore five little-known tools and features that will help you create better content, get your videos in front of a larger audience and more.

12:30 p.m. Website Makeover: What I’ve Learned Tracy Leenman, Musical Innovations (Moderator), and Panel Does your website need an all-out makeover, or are you just looking for good ideas to update your site? Tracy Leenman of Musical Innovations, NAMM’s 2015 Dealer of the Year, recently gave her website a successful revamp, and during this session, she’ll lead a panel of music retailers who’ve done the same. They’ll share their best

Imagine if Leo Fender stuck to building radios and never took a chance on the electric guitar. And in your own business, imagine if you never took that pivotal risk — the one that powered your biggest breakthrough. Behind every music-business success story, yours included, is someone who hedged a bet on something new. This opening NAMM U Breakfast Session, hosted by NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond, will explore the importance of taking risks in a series of up-close interviews with the biggest industry thought leaders. Hear real-life stories about when risk has paid off, and when it hasn’t. And most of all, get new insight and take-home wisdom to grow your own business in 2018.


10:30 a.m. NAMM Top 100 Tactics: Beacock Music Gayle and Russ Beacock, Beacock Music Beacock Music took home NAMM’s Dealer of the Year Award in 2013 for exemplifying best practices in all areas of retail. Five years later, the company has even more successful ideas to share. Join power duo Gayle and Russ Beacock for a roundup of the biggest retail tips, tactics and advice you’ll take in all year. They’ll look at everything from the customer experience to merchandising to operations, covering new ideas and tried-and-true best practices you’ll want to know about — plus underused fundamentals that can make or break you. Don’t miss this must-see session from an indie retail leader.



practices for navigating a website makeover, discuss what they learned in the process and also share tips you can use to improve your own website — even if you have no plans for a redesign any time soon.

3:30 p.m. Simple Tricks to Improve Your Website

1 p.m. 6 Essential Strategies to Grow Your Lesson Program

Looking for simple tips and tricks to take your website to new heights? In this exclusive NAMM U interview, Music Villa’s Paul Decker and Dustin Tucker will share their best practices for a successful website with John Mlcynzak of Noteflight. Decker and Tucker, who have one of the most effective (and hippest) online businesses in independent retail, will call upon tried-and-true examples from their own site. They’ll look at everything from proven online content ideas to guidelines for taking great product photos — yes, it can even be done with an iPhone. Find out how they’ve made online work, and walk away with helpful, new ideas for your own website.

Noel Wentworth, Wentworth Music Wentworth Music has expanded its lesson program from 90 to nearly 1,000 students — and in a mid-size city of less than 200,000 people. In an essential session for anyone with a music lesson program, NAMM Top 100 finalist Noel Wentworth from Wentworth Music will share the six strategies that made this possible. He’ll dive into proven ideas for student retention, team development, teacher interviews, lesson do’s and don’ts, and more! Find out how to grow a lesson program, even in challenging times.

1:30 p.m. Retail Makeover Tips: Before-and-After Store Design Lauren Haas Amanfoh, Royalton Music Center What do you do when your business changes and you run out of space? In this beforeand-after session, Lauren Haas Amanfoh of Royalton Music Center will delve into how she effectively redesigned her store to accommodate its growing lesson program and product offerings, while still maintaining versatility in the layout. She’ll share ideas for growing your own business without increasing your footprint, covering everything from repurposed fixtures to custom solar shades. Before-and-after photos will be included!

2 p.m. The Top 5 Mistakes in Social Media Marketing Link Walls, ChannelAdvisor Doing social media is easy — anyone can open a Twitter account and spew out 140 characters of spam. Mastering social media marketing, on the other hand, is an art, and a science. And it’s achievable for music businesses given some direction. Join Link Walls, vice president of digital marketing strategy for e-commerce giant ChannelAdvisor. He’ll walk you through the top five mistakes you’re probably making in your social media marketing, and offer tips and strategies to fix these mistakes. Make social media marketing work for you!

2:30 p.m. How to Motivate a Cross-Generational Workforce Tim Spicer, Spicer’s Music (Moderator); Sammy Ash, Sam Ash Music; Robert Christie, A & G Central Music; and Tim Pratt, Dietze Music At any given time, you’ll have multiple generations — from Gen Z to millennials to baby boomers — working side by side at your store. How are they representing your brand? Are they working together to present the same consistent experience to every customer, every time? In this powerful half-hour, Tim Spicer of Spicer’s Music will host a panel discussion with music retail leaders Sammy Ash of Sam Ash Music, Robert Christie of A & G Central Music and Tim Pratt of Dietze Music. They’ve developed their own successful ideas for motivating and building great teams, across different generations. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear their advice, and start building the team you want today!

Paul Decker and Dustin Tucker, Music Villa, Interviewed by John Mlynczak, Noteflight

4 p.m. 10 Space-Saving Merchandising Secrets Chris Miller, Pacific Store Designs In this fast-moving session, expert store designer Chris Miller will reveal 10 triedand-true ideas to increase the selling space in your music retail store. Miller, who has designed more than 3,500 stores worldwide, will cover new and improved fixture ideas, how to add up to 75 feet of wall space to any store and cross-merchandising tips to boost impulse buys. He’ll also identify key selling space and lost space that can be used more effectively and, most of all, share ideas to help increase your sales.

4:30 p.m. How Norman’s Rare Guitars Mastered YouTube — and You Can, Too! Norman Harris, Norman’s Rare Guitars, Interviewed by Mitch Joel, Mirum Agency and Digital Marketing Visionary Norman’s Rare Guitars has more than 50 million views on YouTube and 225,000-plus followers on Instagram. But more importantly, the guitar shop harnesses the power of these online platforms to boost sales, create a global customer base and drive profitability. Here, company owner Norman Harris discusses his strategy for success in an exclusive live interview with digital marketing pioneer Mitch Joel of Mirum Agency. Find out how Norman’s Rare Guitars does it, and get powerful takeaways for your own business.

Mitch Joel

5 p.m. 5 Proven Promotions for Your Lesson Program Tom Hemphill, Music Lessons Expert You’ve built a successful lesson program, but do you still have room to grow enrollment in your existing space? Could more people in your community know about your program? In this session, Tom Hemphill, lessons expert and Yamaha marketing manager, will reveal new and effective ideas to promote your lesson operation. This will include zero- and low-cost tactics to engage the local market through media, events, social networking, customer referral plays and community partnerships. Walk away with new promotions you can execute right away.

3 p.m. How to Double Your Lessons by Retaining Your Students


Rand and Cindy Cook, The Candyman Strings & Things

NAMM U Breakfast Session 8 – 8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Session Hilton Anaheim Hotel, Pacific Ballrooms, Level 2

Nothing will stunt the growth of a lesson program faster than low student retention. How can you turn this around? Join Rand and Cindy Cook of NAMM’s 2014 Dealer of the Year, The Candyman Strings & Things, as they share their best practices to keep students coming back lesson after lesson, year after year. The Cooks will reveal new activities, strategies and techniques for engaging students, parents and the community. Walk away with new ideas to create an addictive learning environment; build trust in student and teacher relationships; and use technology to streamline administration and accounting, enhance student benefits and develop systems to track retention.


Disrupting Disruption: Future-Proofing the Music Industry MItch Joel, Digital Marketing Visionary and President of Mirum Agency We live in a culture of change and disruption, where everything is Uber-ized. Many of us have already made massive shifts to our business models, and there are still


more dramatic changes on the way. These will force us to rethink our commonly held beliefs about what works today and what the future will look like. If you want to stay ahead, join digital marketing visionary, best-selling author and bassist Mitch Joel for a forward-thinking NAMM U Breakfast Session, and bring an open mind. Joel, whom Marketing Magazine called “one of North America’s leading digital visionaries,” counts such companies as Google, Starbucks and Shopify among his clients. Find out how to become a leader in the digital world — and why disrupting disruption is your compass.


10:30 a.m. How We Got 75 Million Views on YouTube Lee Anderton, Andertons Music Andertons Music’s YouTube channel has more than 75 million YouTube views and 315,000 subscribers. Join Lee Anderton for an insightful look at how he did it — and what it means to your business. In this fast-moving presentation, Anderton will show how he grew his store’s YouTube channel, how it’s expanded his customer base and what you can take away from his best practices. Expect helpful online marketing tips, proven advice and more than a few entertaining examples.

11 a.m. What Google Wants (Double Session) Scott Dailey, Single Throw Marketing Are your web pages ranking on Google? No? Then join online marketing expert Scott Dailey of Single Throw Marketing and find out why — and what you can do to improve your search engine optimization. This special double session will feature a step-by-step introduction to creating a web page that Google values enough to reward with good rankings. Discover how to get to page one on Google, and how to stay there. Find out how to be found, how to be chosen and how to maximize your SEO efforts.

12 p.m. Retail Web Design: Small Decisions for a Huge Impact Michelle Schulp, Inbound Audio Video Music retailers and web designers alike can get caught up in the look and functionality of a store’s website, forgetting that every decision made needs to be supported by an underlying business strategy. In this hard-hitting session, Michelle Schulp, website developer and lead designer for Inbound Audio Video, will help you identify your website’s primary call to action and create online experiences that support that goal. Discover how seemingly minor web design choices have a huge impact on how people interact with and understand your website — and how that can affect your company’s bottom line.

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12:30 p.m. The 2018 Store Design Summit Chris Miller, Pacific Store Designs (Moderator); Catherine Nordloh, Chicago Music Exchange and All Things Esque; and Scott Mandeville, Tim’s Music Looking for innovative and effective store design ideas to give your showroom a new look for 2018? Or, how about just some helpful merchandising tips? If so, you’ll want to be at this high-powered panel, hosted by Chris Miller, merchandising guru and head of Pacific Store Designs. He’ll lead a discussion with your successful peers from different parts of music retail, and they’ll share their most powerful design and display concepts. Expect stunning visuals, helpful examples and more than a few ideas you can use.

1 p.m. Lesson Program Do’s and Don’ts Carol Cook, The Music Room Lesson programs need constant fine-tuning to stay relevant and successful. During the past 24 years, The Music Room has regularly refined its program to keep up to date with customer trends while also protecting its bottom line. Here, company owner Carol Cook will share her biggest takeaways and hard-earned wisdom from more than two decades of working and reworking her program. Discover essential do’s and don’ts for running a successful lesson business and, most of all, how you can apply them to your own program. Whether you’re a veteran or new to the lessons market, you’ll want to be at this session.

1:30 p.m. The Top 7 Ways to Increase Online Sales Peter Malick, Inbound Audio Video

Do you set the lesson rates for your independent-contractor music teachers? Do you provide the tools for your contracted repair techs? Do you have non-compete agreements for any contract labor at your store? Then you’ll want to be aware of the potential liability from an ever-increasing surge in labor audits. In many cases, classifying music teachers, repair techs and other employees as independent contractors can literally bankrupt your company. In this eye-opening half-hour, music industry accountants Alan Friedman, CPA, and Daniel Jobe of Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. will illustrate the potential cost of a labor audit gone wrong, and the steps you can take to prevent it.

4 p.m. NAMM YP Presents David Kalt of (Double Session) NAMM Young Professionals At this special session, NAMM Young Professionals (NAMM YP) welcomes guest presenter David Kalt, founder and CEO of Kalt founded in 2013 when he became frustrated trying to buy and sell guitars online. He began with a simple idea: an online community created and run by musicians where buying and selling musical gear is easy and affordable. Join NAMM YP to hear from Kalt about his career path — and his advice for you. After the session, join NAMM YP in the NAMM Member Center (also in the Anaheim Convention Center lobby) for a networking reception. This event is open to all industry professionals and NAMM attendees.

5 p.m. Groove — The No Treble Podcast Live Recording With Special Guest Mitch Joel, Digital Marketing Visionary, President of Mirum Agency and Bassist, and Special Guest

Are you frustrated by weak sales from your e-commerce store? Do you want your website to increase in-store business? In this session, Peter Malick of Inbound Audio Video will provide a roadmap to generate more revenue online. You’ll leave with seven actionable techniques and technologies to grow your business. Ignore your online presence at your own peril! You can compete in the future of retail, and this is where you’ll get started.

In the past few years, Groove — The No Treble Podcast has become one of the biggest audio shows for bass players, and is building one of the largest oral histories of the bass in the world. Past guests have included Victor Wooten, Jeff Berlin, Tony Levin, Jerry Jemmott, Michael Manring and many more. In this session, Groove goes live at NAMM. Join Mitch Joel, president of Mirum (a global digital marketing agency), best-selling author and bass enthusiast, as he goes deep with one of the world’s most recognized bass players (TBA). This is an event you won’t want to miss!

2 p.m. How to Grow Your Audience on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook (Double Session)


Ashley Atz, Premier Guitar (Moderator), and Panel Already have a presence on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook? That’s just the beginning. Now find out from the experts how to grow and engage your audience, create excitement with online promotions and use your social profiles to highlight your store’s advantages. Join Ashley Atz of Premier Guitar for a special double session as he moderates this panel of high-profile, savvy music retail marketers. They’ll look at proven ideas for video, live streaming, advertising and more. Discover best practices for maximizing your social media presence, no matter your budget.

3 p.m. Powerhouse Events That Drive Sales and Traffic Tim Spicer, Spicer’s Music and the Music & Sound Retailer columnist In just five years, Spicer’s Music has gone from startup to go-to store — taking home multiple NAMM Top 100 Awards, including Best Marketing & Sales Promotion in 2017. Here, company owner Tim Spicer will share his award-winning promotional events, how he made them work and how you can, too. Discover tips and tricks on how to plan, coordinate and execute in-store and out-of-store events that unite the community and boost your profits. Get creative event ideas, ranging from open mics to world-record attempts, that will create new and return customers. Find out how you can generate massive growth for your retail business while perfecting the art of event planning.

NAMM U Breakfast Session 8 – 8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Session Hilton Anaheim Hotel, Pacific Ballrooms, Level 2 The Digital Consumer: How Buyers Have Changed and What to Do About It Marcus Sheridan, Marketing Guru and Founder and President of The Sales Lion More than any time in the past 100 years, consumers have made a dramatic shift in the way they reach purchasing decisions. Has your business adapted? Are you prepared for the ever-evolving digital consumer — and today’s noisy business environment? In this can’t-miss Breakfast Session, NAMM welcomes international marketing thought leader Marcus Sheridan, who’s been called a “web marketing guru” by the New York Times and one of 20 “Speakers You Don’t Want to Miss” by Forbes. Sheridan will reveal how buyers have changed, how you can evolve with this shift and powerful examples from forward-thinking companies. Find out what it means to you and your business in this Marcus Sheridan high-energy start to Saturday morning.

3:30 p.m. Employee Versus Contractor: What You Don’t Know Could Bankrupt You Alan Friedman and Daniel Jobe, Friedman, Kannenberg & Co.




10:30 a.m. Proven eBay Success Tips, Secrets and Hacks

1 p.m. 5 Unconventional and Incredibly Effective Store Events Rick and Alexis Thacker, Plum Grove Music Find out how Plum Grove Music drives foot traffic though its doors and forms priceless connections with the community — and what it means to your business. Join the company’s Rick and Alexis Thacker as they reveal their five most effective, and unconventional, store events. Their proven ideas will help you deepen your connections with

Matthew Stoecker, Quinn the Eskimo Vintage Horns In the past decade, Quinn the Eskimo Vintage Horns has become a major online seller of used and vintage horns, due in large part to its success on eBay. Here, company owner and eBay guru Matthew Stoecker will share his top tips, secrets and hacks to help you increase your own eBay business. He’ll cover how to make an attractive listing, photography pointers, best practices for eBay’s condition categories and much more. This session is designed for new and seasoned eBay sellers alike.

11 a.m. 5 Ways to Upgrade Your Facebook Ads Ryan Sargent, MakeMusic, and Billy Cuthrell, Progressive Music Center Be sure you’re getting maximum return on your Facebook ad budget. In this session, Ryan Sargent, social media manager for MakeMusic, and Billy Cuthrell, founder of Progressive Music Center, will show you how to improve your Facebook ads. They’ll cover every step of the ad process, from ad objective to ad creation to ad image. You’ll find out how to use Facebook’s tools to build lookalike and retargeting audiences, tie Facebook ads to your website analytics and optimize your ad’s message. This session will have tips for both experienced and novice Facebook advertisers.

Let Red Label help shape your music.

11:30 a.m. How to Increase Your Sales With Music Lessons Pete Gamber, Music Inc. Magazine Columnist and Music Lessons Expert The competition for your customers’ business is fierce. How can you stabilize and boost your sales? Look no further than your music lesson program! Your lesson operation can significantly increase your retail business, and vice versa, but it requires a conscious effort. Here, music lessons authority and Music Inc. magazine columnist Pete Gamber will offer proven, real-world ideas to grow your retail business with music lessons. Don’t miss this opportunity to take your lesson program and your sales to new heights!

12 p.m. Instagram Power Tips for Music Retailers Jenn Herman, Social Media Strategist Instagram is the third-largest social media platform, behind only Facebook and YouTube, and provides a powerful way to connect with your customers and drive real business results. In this jam-packed session, presented by the world’s leading Instagram blogger, Jenn Herman, you’ll discover the best tips and tactics to turn your Instagram account into a lead-generating tool. Walk away with actionable ideas to update your Instagram profile for maximum results, take advantage of business profile tools to drive conversions and use calls-to-action effectively. A must-attend online marketing session.

12:30 p.m. Millennials and Gen Z: Motivating the Next Generation CJ Averwater, Amro Music, and Ryan West, West Music The future of your workforce depends upon how you hire and engage the next generation of talent. Are you ready? Join CJ Averwater of Amro Music and Ryan West of West Music as they discuss the new realities of finding and motivating millennial and Generation Z employees. Averwater and West will look at proven best practices, including how to attract the best prospects, set clear expectations and prime them for success within your organization. There may even be participation ribbons handed out. A portion of sales will benefit Greyhound Rescue



local schools, civic groups and the community at large. Get specific event models you can make the most of when you return to your business. And take heed: Only one of these is a sales event!

tal Music Center co-owner Leslie Faltin will share how her staff consistently delivers an outstanding “tailored” experience to every customer, every time. Walk away with ideas you can apply right away to improve the customer experience at your own business.

1:30 p.m. Essential Tips From Social Media Trendsetters

3:30 p.m. The Biggest Lesson Program Challenges — and How to Fix Them

Menzie Pittman, Contemporary Music Center

Mike Risko, Mike Risko Music School

Looking for proven ideas to improve your social media and online marketing? Look no further than the teens and trendsetters who’ve mastered the fine art of social media traffic, “Likes” and engagement. NAMM’s 2016 Dealer of the Year, Menzie Pittman of Contemporary Music, has studied the best of the best and applied their ideas successfully to his own company’s marketing. Here, he’ll share best practices for successful social media content, covering everything from creative images to tag lines that grab people’s attention and interest.

If you have a music lesson program, you’ve seen it all: impossible makeup scheduling, teachers leaving and taking students with them, and everything in between. If this sounds all too familiar, you’ll want to be at this hard-hitting session. Mike Risko of Mike Risko Music School will walk through the biggest challenges in running a lesson operation and offer proven, no-nonsense solutions that have worked in his own successful program. Get ideas to help fix these issues once and for all. A must-attend session for anyone with a lesson operation.

2 p.m. 5 Ways to Add Value to Your Business — Fast!

4 p.m. Group Classes Done Right

Jaimie Blackman, Financial Expert

Jonathan Shue, Dusty Strings Music Store & School

Adding value to your music retail business is critical, whether you’re looking for a competitive edge, a line of credit or even a successor. Plus, successful entrepreneurs do it every day with limited time and resources. In this session, financial expert Jaimie Blackman will show you five unique ways to maximize the value of your music store in just 90 days. He’ll look at value-building activities — employee talent, processes and technology, customer relationships, community outreach, and professional and personal fulfillment — to capture opportunities and ignite innovation in your business. This session is for everyone from owners and key managers to aspiring owners.

Group classes are an affordable way to increase enrollment in your private lesson program, add value to your business and foster a community of loyal customers. Still, many music retailers and lesson studios have a hard time turning group classes into a sustainable part of their businesses. Here, Jonathan Shue, education director of Dusty Strings Music Store & School, will share his strategies for steadily growing enrollment in group classes and nurturing a community of eager students, teachers and customers. A key session for anyone with a music lesson program.

2:30 p.m. The 5 Reasons People Don’t Buy — and What to Do About It Sean Samson, Sean Samson Training

4:30 p.m. The Anatomy of a Successful Instagram Post Jenn Herman, Social Media Strategist

What we don’t know about customer behavior can hurt us. Don’t let this affect your business! In a session for owners, managers and salespeople alike, Sean Samson of Sean Samson Training will look at the five real reasons customers don’t buy and what you can do about it. He’ll offer a practical, easy-to-follow approach to diagnosing problems and reveal how to create consistent, profitable customer interactions that will accelerate sales. Start the new year by giving yourself and your team a jump-start on success.

Why do some Instagram accounts get incredible results while others flounder around? It all has to do with the type of content you create and how you present it to your audience. In a session filled with real-world examples, leading Instagram expert Jenn Herman will show you what performs well on the platform and offer tips to help you create your best content. You’ll get ideas you can implement right away, including sneaky tricks to get more likes, ideas for creating effective Instagram captions and videos, and Instagram Story tips for more views and engagement. A session for music retailers, manufacturers and musicians alike.

3 p.m. 15 Simple Ways to Deliver Mind-Blowing Customer Service

5 p.m. How to Build Your Audience With Live Streaming

Leslie Faltin, Instrumental Music Center

Craig Moffat, Datavideo

Instrumental Music Center has won the Music & Sound Retailer’s Best Customer Service and Best Sales Staff awards, among others. And in this high-energy half-hour, you’ll find out why — and what you can take away from the company’s best practices. Instrumen-

Want to reach a wider audience for your live performances and musical events? Look no further than the power of streaming. Join Craig Moffat, managing director of Datavideo, and find out how to stream simultaneously on multiple online platforms: Facebook,

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YouTube and your website. Whether you’re a musician or music business hosting live events, Moffat will look at your different options for streaming high-quality video — with minimum bandwidth.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 28 NAMM U Breakfast Session 8 – 8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Session Hilton Anaheim Hotel, Pacific Ballrooms, Level 2 Best in Show Frank Alkyer, Music Inc. and UpBeat Daily Magazines, and Panel With more than 7,000 brands at The NAMM Show, it’s easy to miss out on your next best-seller. Don’t let this happen! Join Frank Alkyer, publisher of Music Inc. and UpBeat Daily magazines, for “Best in Show,” a fast-moving roundup of the biggest products, services and technologies at NAMM. He’ll moderate a panel of six music retail experts, who’ve shopped the far corners of the show floor to bring you their favorites. This is gear that’s sure to make a splash in the new year and beyond — products you’ll want to check out before you leave Anaheim. As a bonus, expect demos, previews and discussions about why these products matter to you. And exhibitors, take note: You’ll want to be there, too. You might just be a “Best in Show” winner.


10:30 a.m. Video Marketing That Gets Real Results Dan Shinder, Drum Talk TV Discover video marketing strategies that will absolutely get results. Dan Shinder is the CEO and founder of Drum Talk TV, an online platform for the world of drumming — with an average 1.5 million video views weekly on Facebook. In this session, he’ll reveal video marketing strategies you can begin using immediately that will have a tangible impact on your visibility and bottom-line revenue, regardless of whether you’re an artist, producer, retailer or music brand.

11 a.m. Next-Level Live Streaming Tips for Musicians (Double Session) Laura B. Whitmore, BackStory Events, and Brad Tolinski, Live Streaming Host Anyone can Facebook Live, but how can you take your live video streaming to the next level? Join Laura B. Whitmore, marketing expert and partner in the BackStory Events live-streamed interview series, and Brad Tolinski, journalist and live streaming host, as they share tips and techniques for live streaming success. They’ll show how you can create quality live video content that engages and informs, whether you’re a musician, music retailer or manufacturer. Get tips and ideas to elevate your video and cut through the noise.

12 p.m. Getting Your Music Featured in the Media’s Digital Age (Double Session) Dan Kimpel, Music Journalist (Moderator); Hillorie McLarty, Music Connection Magazine; Hunter Scott, Entertainment Publicist, LaFamous PR & Branding; and Gabrielle Wortman, Artist, Smoke Season Getting your music reviewed and featured in today’s digital age is an art form of its own, with media companies consolidating and more indie artists vying for a piece of the pie. Join this panel for an exciting hour of hands-on tips and tricks by music journalist Dan Kimpel, Music Connection magazine’s Hillorie McLarty, seasoned entertainment publicist Hunter Scott and musician Gabrielle Wortman of the band Smoke


Season. You’ll hear how each aspect of the machine operates from the people doing it every day and leave with some new skills for doing it yourself.

1 p.m. The Future of Hit Songwriting: The Next Five Years (Double Session) Thornton Cline, Award-Winning Songwriter, and Bryce Hitchcock, Singer-Songwriter (Moderators), With Barry Coffing and Jud Friedman Imagine having your own crystal ball. Award-winning songwriter and author Thornton Cline and singer-songwriter Bryce Hitchcock will moderate a panel of hit songwriters, producers and artists who’ve navigated the music industry from present to the future. They’ll make their best predictions about the creative side (songwriting, producing and performing), the technical side (software, hardware, computers and instruments) and the business side (sales royalties, performance royalties and collecting payments) of the industry.

2 p.m. Women in Music Sound Off (Double Session) Laura B. Whitmore, Women’s International Music Network and She Rocks Awards, and Panel In this special double session, female leaders share their insight and experience in navigating the music and audio industries. Featuring tips, anecdotes and stories from the front lines, this panel will inspire and energize both men and women — and focus on creating real change and moving forward in relation to gender in the music industry. The session will be hosted by Laura B. Whitmore, founder of the Women’s International Music Network and producer of the She Rocks Awards.

3 p.m. Lessons Learned (Double Session) Chandra Lynn, GlowLiving (Host), and Special Guest Every musician experiences ups and downs on the road of life, but you can avoid big pitfalls by taking other people’s advice to heart. In this session, Chandra Lynn, MI marketing veteran and host of, takes her “Lessons Learned” video interview series to the NAMM Idea Center’s live stage for hardwon wisdom from a legendary guest artist (TBA). This interview will explore the artist’s experience with auditioning for gigs, leveraging endorsements, honing technical chops, and staying healthy and balanced on the road.



(continued from cover)

James Maltese’s Top Tips

1. Focus on the client. 2. Have your business processes down before starting. Be sure you know how to propose services in a manner that clearly defines what you are offering and limits scope creep. Be sure you can deliver those services within the time you estimated, both on the dates promised and man-hours expended. Make sure all team members, partners and clients have a clear picture of what is being delivered. 3. Keep in mind life after installation. Do not neglect serviceability, easy-tomaintain and long-lasting equipment, installation best practices, etc.


are interested in the pro-audio market. “NAMM is the platform for dealers who are already doing business in this space, or thinking of entering it to find the right products, expertise and training to be successful,” said NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond. “This segment is growing quickly, and I suspect learning more about the opportunities for their own business to take advantage of this growth might be one of the most important decisions a dealer makes this year. I imagine there are many NAMM member retailers who have been in this space for quite some time. They will see a much larger presence of the leading suppliers and an expansive education track that understands their challenges and will lead them to the latest technology solutions and best practices for implementation. For others who are just starting to think about this, The 2018 NAMM Show is the ideal environment for them to find products and training to get up and running quickly.” Zach Phillips, NAMM’s director of professional development, pointed to the new AES@ NAMM program and The NAMM Show’s TEC Tracks as prime opportunities for music store owners to learn more about pro audio. “The AES@NAMM program alone has multiple tracks, including the Line Array Loudspeaker Academy, Live Mixing Console Academy, Entertainment Wireless Academy and In-Ear Monitoring Academy,” he said. “Then at TEC Tracks, there will be sessions like Optimizing Acoustics for Small Rooms and several sessions covering audio for houses of worship.” (For Phillips’ suggestions on pro-audio-related NAMM U sessions to attend, see the sidebar “Pro-Audio Services at NAMM U.”)

Step One

Before you begin to offer pro-audio services through your music store, you should consider whether you want to be involved in rentals, installations or both. Rentals involve maintaining a stock of complete sound systems to loan out to clients on a temporary basis, usually for one-off events, such as plays or concerts. Your responsibility will include maintaining the rental system, delivering and picking up the system components, and, potentially, providing a technician to run the system. Installations, on the other hand, are intended to be more permanent solutions (although they will eventually have to be updated as time passes and technology advances). These projects involve physically installing the audio equipment in a given space in accordance with an audio design that will maximize the listening experience for audiences and provide a good user experience for anyone using the system. Whichever path you decide to pursue, you are likely to see a return on your investment. Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Eat My Beats has seen positive outcomes from both rentals and installations. “Rentals now account for 8 to 10 percent of our income, with a much higher margin than retail, since you can rent the system for years and make money, and then sell it as used when you are ready to,” said Matt Ray, owner of Eat My Beats. “We started getting into the installation market — mainly churches to start with — about five years ago. Installation now accounts for 25 to 30 percent of our sales and continues to grow each year.” Offering these services has also had a positive impact on other areas of Eat My Beats’ business in the form of referrals and recurring revenue. “Installations have allowed us to get to know almost 70 percent of the churches in our area,” said Ray. “It has allowed us to build trust and relationships with the music ministers and their praise bands. It has also allowed us to offer training classes periodically to help them stay up to date with some of the newest gear out there — digital mixers, etc. We will train the tech team first, then attend a praise team/choir practice to tweak the system and save some settings for them. We also are there the first Sunday after installation, and sometimes the next one, too, if needed. We are always a phone call away, and have at least one guy on call 18 hours a day.” Prioritizing pro-audio services has also yielded positive effects for Jeffersonville, Ind.based Maxwell’s House of Music. “The impact we’ve felt by offering to rent gear short-term or design a permanent system has been huge,” explained Maxwell’s resident tone guru Mike McAfee. “We service our installs if needed, and provide onsite training, so end users get the best performance for their investment. The loyalty leads to repeat visits, referrals and community recognition. I truly believe our willingness to walk through our client’s door on their schedule is half the reason we’ve become the go-to place for installations. We often hear that clients have called bigger stores and never been called back, or they found the dealer to be disinterested after hearing the planned budget.” Once you decide on the scale of your pro-audio business, the most important first step is hiring the right people to design, install, maintain and run your systems. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find experienced technicians because their skills are in such high demand. For this reason, one of your best options may be to work with what you already have and train your current employees. “Look within first. We have always tried to promote and create growth from within,” said Ray. “We have done some social media ads, but have not really had great luck with those. It’s hard, especially when you are just starting to try and get an installation business going, to be able to afford someone — so it almost has to be someone you have, or who can work retail, too. People skills are huge. You not only have to sell the product, you have to sell your company and what you can do to add value to the client’s business, church, etc.” JANUARY 2018

McAfee echoed the importance of people skills for installation projects and rentals. “I believe strong people skills are a must for this,” he declared. “Our business needs more than a body, and so do our clients. We can train someone on how to install and demonstrate equipment, or write an order up, so I look for people who truly pay attention to me and our clients. More times than I can count, we’ve heard that the previous dealer didn’t seem to understand the client’s needs, and we will never be accused of that.” He also offered some practical advice for finding likely candidates for your installation business. “Our biggest success with installation hiring comes from the home improvement/handyman job field,” he said. “These people have hands-on experience with face-to-face interactions, deadlines and budgets, and are usually great communicators.” If you decide that your best option is to train your existing staff on how to install, run and service these systems, then there are several resources available to you in addition to those offered by NAMM. Most pro-audio manufacturers and their reps offer training on specific products, and some even offer certifications that your employees can earn as proof that they know how to install and service specific systems.

Look to Trade Groups

Commercial AV industry organizations like AES (Audio Engineering Society, aes. com) and AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, formerly known as InfoComm, offer their own training materials and courses. AES hosts two AES Conventions per year — one in the United States and one in Europe — and AVIXA hosts the InfoComm tradeshow, the largest annual gathering of AV professionals in the U.S., as well as several international events. “For companies starting out in pro AV, AVIXA has much to offer,” said Brad Grimes, AVIXA’s director of communications. “As the largest global trade association for the industry, AVIXA offers training, certification, standards, market intelligence and, of course, tradeshows around the world. AVIXA also offers community. We represent the entire value chain, from manufacturer, to dealer and distributor, to consultant, to integrator and installer, to tech managers and end customers. It’s a tightknit and supportive community. A music retailer broadening its offerings can engage the entire supply chain through AVIXA and build relationships that will drive success.” Earning pro AV certifications will help your store’s employees stand out from the crowd. Having certified employees is also a surefire way to assure your clients that they can expect professional-quality results. AVIXA’s certifications are considered the gold standard in the commercial AV market; not only do they offer certifications in audio-related disciplines, they can also teach you everything you need to know about video display systems, unified communications, networked AV and related fields. AVIXA has also recently started offering a certification program for basic skills, in addition to its more comprehensive certification programs. “One of our newest programs is microcredentials, which teaches and verifies basic installation skills — pulling cable, terminating cable and mounting equipment,” explained Grimes. “For companies and professionals just starting out in installation, this can be an efficient way to establish a skill base and earn a digital badge that can be shared through electronic communications to demonstrate a level of professionalism. It’s a good first step toward more advanced recognition, like the AV Technologist Certificate and, of course, the Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) designation.” He added, “AVIXA started the CTS credential more than 30 years ago for a variety of reasons. One was to establish a high level of professionalism for the industry — trained CTS holders demonstrate a proven aptitude for general AV skills and knowledge. That’s important for customers looking to hire an installer who can do the job right. Another reason was to ensure that professionals doing AV installation and design were operating from a shared base of best practices; that they’re integrating audio systems in a way that ensures the best possible experience for customers.” AVIXA is also instrumental in designing standards for the commercial AV industry, and offers training materials to ensure your systems are in compliance with these industry standards. If you’re worried about complying with AV industry standards, there are third-party consultants and organizations that focus on the commissioning of AV systems and quality assurance. Some of these organizations offer compliance checklists that demonstrate to your clients an adherence to industry standards throughout the installation process. James Maltese, in addition to being a MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Matt Ray’s Top Tips 1. Go slow. Start with renting a pair of powered speakers. Place a sign by the front counter and, before you know it, people will start asking, “Do you rent whatever?” 2. Start small, especially with installations. Reach out to people you may already know that can be helpful: contractors, pastors, band members and people coming into your store. 3. Step out of your comfort zone, and just give it a shot.

Mike McAffee’s Top Tips 1. Never under-deliver on a project; this is your brand’s showcase, so make it perfect. 2. Have a team that always remembers they’re representing you on a job. Your brand is what the client purchased. 3. Have a strong financing option you can offer to clients. Nobody wants to spend a fortune upgrading something that is already working, no matter how bad it sounds. Providing a great system and payments that can be broken down into parts are natural objection handlers.


Pro-Audio Services at NAMM U (All classes will be held in the NAMM U Education Center in the Anaheim Hilton.) SMART TOURING Thursday, January 25, 3 p.m.-4 p.m., California Ballroom A (Level 2) BIG SOUND FOR SMALL CHURCHES Thursday, January 25, 4 p.m.-5 p.m., Avila (Level 4) SILENT STAGE SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR WORSHIP PLATFORM Saturday, January 27, Noon-1 p.m., Avila (Level 4) HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP YOU HAVE BETTER WORSHIP TEAM REHEARSALS Saturday, January 27, 1 p.m.-2 p.m., Avila (Level 4) OPTIMIZING ACOUSTICS FOR SMALL MUSIC ROOMS Sunday, January 28, 1 p.m.-2 p.m., Avila (Level 4) PROFESSIONAL STUDIO PRE-PRODUCTION Sunday, January 28, 11 a.m.-Noon, Avila (Level 4) THE PROJECT STUDIO OF 2025 Sunday, January 28, 2 p.m.-3 p.m., El Capitan (Level 4) UNDERSTANDING THE SIGNAL CHAIN AND COMPUTERS IN HOME AND PROJECT STUDIOS Sunday, January 28, 3 p.m.-4 p.m., El Capitan (Level 4)

senior academy instructor for AVIXA, is also president of Audio Visual Resources Inc., a third-party AV commissioning consultancy, as well as a board member of the Association for Quality in AV Technology (AQAV), which promotes the AV9000 standard and offers business training to its members. “AVR is largely known for its third-party testing and commissioning services. We are hired by clients to thoroughly test their systems to make sure they are completely installed,” explained Maltese. “However, to do this effectively, we need to keep our hands dirty, so AVR offers third-party engineering services, as well. If integrators require a technician or field engineer for a particular job, and they don’t have the need or time to hire someone, they can tap AVR to provide a trained and equipped AV specialist for a limited time. We are the ‘007s’ of the AV industry, assuming different integrator credentials daily. Several integrators use AVR to augment their team during their busy seasons.” “AQAV is where you can get trained on the processes required to run a successful AV business,” Maltese continued. “They don’t teach you how to design or install AV. They do teach you how to have processes in place to make sure the AV systems you provide are done correctly. The CQD (Design) and CQT (Install) trainings teach participants how to make sure their designs perform as intended, and how to make sure their installs are done right the first time. There is also a CQL (Leader) training that deals with instilling quality business ideals in organizations from the top down. Basically, if you want to be profitable in AV, get involved with AQAV.” Maltese offered his own words of wisdom for music retailers looking to expand into permanent installations and some suggestions on starting points for training and certification. “AVIXA/InfoComm is the standard resource for introducing people to the AV industry (Quick Start to the AV Industry Online and Essentials of AV Technology), as well as how to design (CTS-D) and install (CTS-I) systems,” he suggested. “They provide the best avenues for bringing someone up to speed quickly on industry terminology and best practices. Retailers can round out their training with manufacturer trainings and on-the-job experiences.” Of course, in addition to making the right hires, pursuing certifications and ensuring compliance with industry standards, you should also make sure your store is well stocked with the most popular pro-audio equipment for rentals and installs. “Our bread and butter for rentals have been powered speakers and wireless mics,” said Eat My Beats’ Ray. “For installations, we stock a lot of powered speakers, digital boards, digital snakes, wireless mics, racks, power conditioners, and bulk cable and connectors.” Maxwell’s McAfee provided a similar list of must-stock products. “Powered speakers, wall mounts, mixers and cabling are must-haves to keep in stock and are the most requested equipment for installs,” he said. “For rentals, we see the most requests for lighting systems and powered front-of-house PA.”

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If you’re looking for a thorough breakdown of the popularity of product categories in various vertical markets, AVIXA provides its members with access to a wealth of industry research on sales trends, conducted annually. “We offer indepth research into the pro-AV market,” explained Grimes. “Depending on need, it can represent a significant investment, although AIVXA members are eligible for discounts on market research. We continue to build out our market intelligence offerings, but our AV Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis is a major piece of research that offers sales forecasts and analysis of customer markets and solutions sets across a breadth of opportunities. For anyone new to pro AV solutions and services, it can present a substantial introduction to the market.” Finding clients for installs and rentals may be difficult at first, but retailers can tap into their existing client base to start with and run some promotions through the store. “We have never really advertised that we do installations,” said Ray. “We do now have ads on a couple of work vehicles and trailers, but most of our business comes from some other church or business recommending us. We have some digital signage up by our front counter that plays through pictures of some of our installations and production/rental events. This has definitely started many a conversation that leads to checking out an audio problem at a local church or business.” “We send letters to churches twice a year in our surrounding area that provide an overview of the services we offer. In the immediate area, we call for appointments or walk into churches JANUARY 2018

and schools. This has led to more installs than anything we’ve done,” offered McAffee. “I’m a big believer in cold calls; I make them regularly to businesses, churches, funeral homes, etc., to introduce myself and our company and ask if we can come in for a visit. You’d probably be shocked at how many invite us in to talk! Not all lead to sales, but it allows me to begin our relationship, and that’s never a waste of our time. We also utilize all social media and our email database to make sure we leave no stone unturned.” Once you start generating some project leads, don’t be discouraged if the scope of some of these projects seems like more than your store can handle. There are third-party organizations like AVR that can help, and most manufacturers have access to a network of reps, vendors and contractors that your store can collaborate with. “We are lucky to have a partner that we can team with in the instances we feel are above our comfort range,” said McAfee. “This partnership doesn’t happen often, but when it does, we deliver top-notch service and gear, and that’s what the client is concerned with. We also take advantage of our vendors’ experience when we have questions or want suggestions on how to provide the best result for our clients. Our industry is blessed with individuals who are willing to share.” As you build your client base and start completing projects, there will be plenty of opportunities for recurring revenue. Maltese provided some suggestions for repeat business opportunities to focus on. “Recurring revenue strategies have always been a great way to balance out the ebb and flow of project work. However, they have to provide value to the users because it is very easy for a client to stop those recurring payments if they are not seeing returns,” he explained. “Maintenance plans, or service level agreements, are a step in the right direction. You can think of them like AV system ‘insurance,’ where you are paid a monthly fee to keep the systems ready for business. This may include preventive maintenance visits to catch issues before users notice them. It may also include reactive maintenance or ‘breakfix,’ where you are on retainer to MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

fix any issues that pop up within a certain time frame (within four business hours, for example). This can be a little tricky to price without knowing what level of support is required. However, the potential recurring revenue and the ability to review the contract on a yearly basis make the risks worthwhile.” “Another potential source of recurring revenue is to be put on retainer for general AV services,” Maltese added. “The user can

buy a bank of hours of your time. If they need additional training on the use of a space, or they require an operator standby, instead of going through the entire procurement process for every visit, they have a bank of hours they can deduct your services from. Setting up minimum hours per visit might be wise to maintain profitability, but being seen as a trusted partner that is available at the drop of the hat is great for recurring revenue, and to keep

your company top of mind for any AV needs that might pop up.” Armed with these tips, as well as the resources available through NAMM and other industry organizations, you should be ready to take your first steps into the installation and rental business. And, if your store already offers pro-audio services and you want to share your experience, the Retailer wants to hear from you. Email us at avargas@

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Middle C to the Rescue

Washington, D.C.-area ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in November featured Myrna Sislen, owner of Middle C Music, regarding her efforts to give back to the community. According to the story, Sislen has taken it upon herself to repair roughly 100 instruments for students at Jefferson Junior High School. “To be able to look and listen to the children as they played in Southwest (area of Washington D.C.) is all worth it,” Sislen said during the news report. In addition, Sislen’s mother graduated from the school in 1939.


How to Stay Relevant By Anthony Mantova, Owner and Sales, Mantova’s Two Street Music

Progressive Music Progresses to Silver Anniversary

Raleigh, N.C.-based Progressive Music Center celebrated its 25th anniversary with the retailer’s first-annual Rocktoberfest celebration, a daylong parking lot party to thank the business’s customers and music students for the many years of support. The celebration continued the following weekend at the company’s Wake Forest, N.C., location. Both events featured several student and faculty bands with some of the area’s best local food trucks and breweries serving up food and beverages. “This event wasn’t about trying to sign up a hundred new music students or a big sales event. This was to say ‘thank you’ for your business and supporting us for all these years. This was really a customer appreciation event that we want do every year now,” said Progressive Music Center founder and owner Billy Cuthrell. Progressive Music Center opened in 1992, operating out of the back of Cuthrell’s car as he drove house to house offering drum lessons, eventually opening in a small room in the back of a local music store. Soon, Cuthrell began hiring more teachers to offer lessons for guitar, piano, voice and bass guitar, growing the business into a fourlocation music lesson destination during the next 10 years. “When I started the business, I wasn’t thinking long-term, I was just trying to survive and make it through the second year,” said Cuthrell. “Now, I look back and realize I have five teachers that have been with me for over 17 years, and I think that says a lot. The old saying is true: ‘Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ My staff and I still love the industry and our jobs just as much today as we did in the beginning.”


Modern retailers work hard at being relevant. Carrying guitar pedals is an easy way to do it. In addition to generating interest in tones, the retailer can gain a lot of accessory add-on sales. But what should be done when retailers value the pedals more than the manufacturers that make them? On prices, the guitar pedal builders fall into two categories: Those that protect their pricing and sell on the merits of their products, differing from those that employ “pricing gimmicks” to sell more volume in the short term, not caring about the future. Certainly, the worst of the price gimmicks are MAP holidays, those periods throughout the year when manufacturers cut the dealer out of the sale. They lower MAP so that consumers will be incentivized to buy. While these builders see a rise in sales through the online “pajama warrior” websites, the actual brick-and-mortar stores suffer, as their pedals collect dust on the shelves. The pedal builders recommend that all stores participate in the gimmicks, but what they fail to understand is that only the online world wins in the race to the bottom. The legitimate stores are left in the dust. As a result, real dealers play defense by only carrying a limited stock of the foolhardy builders’ products. Neither the builder nor brick and mortar wins. Thankfully, the truly successful manufacturers are the pedal builders who do not waver on price. Many brands are experienced enough to understand the value of stable pricing. Further, these wise builders direct customers to actually visit their local dealers! When you look at the pedal manufacturers that have the greatest volume and track record, it is of course the “adults!” The big kids on the block understand that when you “monkey with the money,” you encourage customers to not trust the price tag. When customers distrust the MAP, then they will sit on their money while they wait for MAP holidays. While they wait, they will simply buy used pedals. Not good.






Jamie Stillman

By Gabriel O’Brien I discovered EarthQuaker Devices (EQD), which are made in Akron, Ohio — practically in my own backyard — at the Summer NAMM Show. A few customers had asked about them in store, but, like many in the industry, I was a little skeptical early on about boutique effects pedals, when we were coming off the tail end of the digital modeling allin-one multi-effects-unit craze. I initially found it difficult to believe guitar players were going to move into buying pedals, some of which cost as much as those multi-effects units. But curiosity drove me to EarthQuaker’s booth, and what I found there made me a believer. That same curiosity drove me to visit EarthQuaker HQ in downtown Akron. You’d almost expect the home of a company that’s known for such experimental sounds to be housed in something punk rock or psychedelic in appearance, but it’s in an unassuming industrial park with minimal signage. In fact, I nearly missed it. There’s no fancy reception area, just a simple entrance right onto the assembly floor and a stairwell heading upstairs to the offices and conference room. The assembly floor itself is a large, open space, quieter than you’d expect, with some workers choosing to listen to music on headphones while they work diligently. There’s a second, somewhat smaller space where pedal bodies are screen printed with graphics. Trays filled with pedal bodies line racks, awaiting electronics to be installed before being shipped to dealers. I spoke with Jamie Stillman, founder of EarthQuaker, in his office workshop. I call it that because it has a desk and the normal things you’d expect to find in an office, but I get the impression that Stillman spends most 60

of his time at the large workbench experimenting on a breadboard, searching for the next unique sound we all can’t live without and don’t even know it yet. Founded out of Stillman’s basement in Akron, EarthQuaker has done for the pedal category of MI retail what the first craft beer companies did for that industry. EarthQuaker has gone from being a small, do-it-yourself, one-man show to a pedal powerhouse that’s jumpstarted a once-stagnant category in MI retail, which has resulted in increased profits for indie dealers and has inspired guitar players to go back to their local music stores and get weird again. Julie Robbins I asked Stillman about the importance of attending The NAMM Show. “I think it’s very important,” he said. “I listen to other people talk about it who say, ‘Oh, The NAMM Show is worthless. It’s stupid.’ If you’re going to be in the industry, participate in the industry. If there’s [something] you don’t like about it, change it.” I’ve always been a big advocate of Summer NAMM, as it’s convenient for smaller East Coast stores who can’t afford the trip to Anaheim, but also because it’s so conducive to face time with vendors. Stillman agreed, and further credited Summer NAMM as a key component of early EQD success. “Summer NAMM was the first show that we did. I think it played a big part in how we became successful. That first show, it was just me and one other guy. Most of the dealers we met at that first show are still dealers, and we got even more attention at [The NAMM Show in January] that year.” There’s a certain amount of luck in being successful in any field, but, as any successful person will tell you, it’s also mostly hard work and dogged determination. Those qualities are built into the Rust Belt, where economic ups and downs have played an outsized part in the history of the area and the cultural psyche. I wondered if that had an effect on Stillman’s work ethic and how he approaches what he does. “This is the only thing I’ve ever done that got successful,” he said with a laugh. “There are people who look at [having a successful company] and say, ‘That looks cool, I’ll start a pedal company.’ When I hear someone say, ‘I’m going to start a pedal company’ in today’s market I’m like ‘Why?’ Unless you’re going to do something interesting and different that’s useful, why would you do that? It feels like it would be more difficult today than when it was when I started EQD.” JANUARY 2018

Stillman added, “All the people I’ve talked to who are successful at anything didn’t set out with the goal of being successful in mind; it was just a thing they liked to do and cared about, and they wanted to put their time into. They worked until something caught on, and kept working. They didn’t start off saying ‘I want to be huge.’ ”

Accidentally on Purpose

One of the most interesting characteristics of EQD pedals is how many of its origins are accidental. Stillman, who still personally designs every Earthquaker pedal, says many of his discoveries come from attempts at other things that fail, but that those failures often reveal something of interest that sprouts a better idea than what was individually intended. As such, he’s a big collector of his own failed ideas, and doesn’t mince words when talking about them. “Most of the days that I work here, I go home disappointed that whatever I’m trying doesn’t work. Eventually I’ll find a thing that does [work] and I’ll be excited again. I think this attitude comes from living in the Midwest. This piece of Ohio — Northeast Ohio — has this certain bizarre attitude. All the people I know around here work really hard


and really care about the things they do, but we can never sit around and say, ‘Everything’s great.’ We always downplay or second guess everything. “I’ve discarded so much stuff because I’m not really a trained electronics engineer. Actually, I’ve always said that, but I’ve been doing it for 12 years professionally, so I’ve started to accept that maybe I actually am one now. I save my failed ideas, because sometimes I go back and look at something and say, ‘Oh that was cool, now I know how to make that work.’ Most things I make didn’t work how I was expecting the first time. I’ve been disappointed by things that ended up being really cool. Rainbow Machine was one of them, where I thought something wasn’t cool and everyone else loved it. Now I love that pedal and think it’s great.” The pedal market is still booming. As independent dealers have said goodbye to some of the marquee brands whose demands had become overbearing, they began to look for alternative categories in which they could generate revenue without committing to big buy-ins. Stillman believes large manufacturers’ stocking requirements and the effect they had on small music stores played a “huge role” in the success of EQD, who spends, admittedly, tons of time on analytics and understanding the way the industry is working. Stillman’s wife, Julie Robbins, runs the “business side of the business.” “What all those big brands did to stores is a huge reason why pedals are wildly successful. Pedals are cheap, they’re small and it’s a way to change your sound. Guitar players are crazy about changing their sound, but they aren’t going to buy a new amp or guitar every week, so pedals are literally the perfect in-between. And you can stock a billion of them and not go under. So, when all those big companies are forcing everybody to carry train cars full of guitars, all these stores finally started to say [no]. A lot of other brands have gotten smart and figured it out.” EQD has recently partnered with Yamaha to distribute its pedals in the Japanese market, and Stillman credits Yamaha for being a great partner company, full of “really nice people who really know what they’re doing.” This led me to wonder if, in a sense, trying something and failing becomes more valuable than an instant success, and if that is part of what keeps driving Stillman and the staff at EarthQuaker to push boundaries and keep searching for new sounds, when many comJANUARY 2018

panies would simply sit back, enjoy the success and keep making the things that have been successful forever. “We’ve started to identify when a product runs its life cycle and we have been discontinuing more of them more frequently,” said Stillman. While they do discontinue plenty of things, EQD is also known for bringing new SKUs to market regularly. It’s not uncommon to see half a dozen new pedals announced on the same day, particularly around The NAMM Show time.

great job making sure our company is very nimble and our manufacturing process is very mapped out,” said Stillman. “That sounds easy, but to manage 50-some people and make sure the work is done by Friday isn’t. It would be really easy to send [manufacturing] out to China and order 50,000 of something, but because we’re lean and nimble, we’re able to get it done and make adjustments when we need to.” When it comes to the viability

of MI retail, Stillman expressed a hope for the future that is characteristic of the Ohio Rust Belt, having seen economic downturns and recoveries before. “I think all the companies and magazines have started to realize the business is a partnership. The economic collapse [of 2008] wiped out many of the stores that weren’t great; it thinned the herd. People have started realizing you can run a small successful local music store by creating

a cool atmosphere, being nice, being knowledgeable and having interesting things in stock. Curating cool places people want to be, wanting to have a nice-looking storefront people want to visit, is a simple concept, and stores are starting to figure that out. People want to come shop at their small local store again. In the last five years, there are more and more retail locations opening up and actually succeeding, which is awesome,” he concluded.

Market Reverb-erations

EQD has also partnered with Reverb to market pedals, sometimes giving Reverb exclusive access to new pedal releases. “I think Reverb is amazing,” said Stillman. “They just know how to do what they do, and anything we have worked with them on has been wildly successful. I can’t believe somebody didn’t think of it before. They’re all customer service, and super helpful.” While it encourages Reverb use, EarthQuaker also closely monitors its strict adherence to MAP, and is quick to reach out to dealers when it sees violations. Stillaman spends a lot of time and capital building the brand, as well as keeping manufacturing in downtown Akron, and feels that keeping pricing controls strictly in place keeps the company from becoming devalued and subject to price wars online. Dealers are offered pre-order opportunities before they come out, so they can have new pedals in stock and ready to sell on the release day. While many dealers remain cautious about placing orders for a new, unproven pedal, it’s starting to catch on. “When dealers are unsure of a new product, they’ll usually play it safe and order one or two pedals,” said Stillman, “And they usually sell through those the day they’re announced and want to add 20 to the order.” The manufacturing process is also controlled, and kept to a weekly timetable to make sure everything is delivered in an efficient manner. Once again, Stillman cites analytics and planning with keeping them on top of the manufacturing process. “Julie [Robbins] has done a MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER


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MIKE MATTHEWS FOUNDER, ELECTRO-HARMONIX By Brian Berk One thing that separates the music industry apart is the great stories we often get to hear. The Music & Sound Retailer is stepping up its game for The NAMM Show issue, presenting one of MI’s greatest storytellers, Electro-Harmonix’s Mike Matthews. This month, we can all enjoy a great Jimi Hendrix story. But Matthews doesn’t stop there, providing plenty of information about his company. Enjoy. The Music & Sound Retailer: Please tell us about your career and how, why and when you founded Electro-Harmonix. Mike Matthews: Ever since I was five years old, I was into business. I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I grew up in The Bronx (N.Y.) in the 1940s. I used to fish balls out of the sewers with hangers, and sold them. I moved on to lots of different entrepreneurial things, including shining shoes. I bought a person’s inventory that was making binoculars during World War II. I bought all of his prisms and lenses. I sold them in junior high school, creating a big fad with prisms. There were rainbows all over the schools. Teachers didn’t know where they were coming from. When I went to camp and kids were playing golf, I would be in the pond looking for golf balls to sell. As far as music is concerned, when I was very young, my mother gave me piano lessons. I was five. I had a formal, classical teacher a year later. When I was six or seven, I took part in concerts at the elementary school. In the fourth grade, I was rambunctious. I was scheduled to give a concert and I climbed up the rafters in the classroom. To punish me, the teacher canceled my concert. So, I quit playing. But in high school, when rock and roll was first evolving, I started getting involved in boogie-woogie on the piano and I got pretty good at it. At college at Cornell [University], I formed an R&B rock and roll band. That’s where I got into really playing music. I was booking all the gigs for our band. We didn’t just play at Cornell, but at Dartmouth, Lehigh, Hamilton, Colgate and Syracuse. Those were great gigs. They were mostly at fraternity parties. In those days, all the songs were cover songs. We played songs and people could dig it after just one bar. The legal drinking age was 18 and people would get drunk, but when they did, fraternity brothers would step in, so there weren’t really any fights that lasted more than a few seconds. Those were the best gigs. While in college, I would promote rock and roll bands. I handled The Coasters, The Isley Brothers, The Drifters, The Rascals, The Byrds, The Lovin’ Spoonful and dozens more. I even became good friends with Jimmy James, who eventually went back to using the name Jimi Hendrix. I was promoting Chuck Berry at the time and I played keyboards and got some dudes I knew that did mostly Chuck Berry songs to back him up. The guitar player, Steve Knapp, for the backup band I got for Chuck Berry, said to me, “Hey, you’ve got to see this guy playing.” That was Jimmy James. I became good friends with him. I used to hang out with him at his hotel room. He was living in a fleabag hotel in Times Square with no bathroom. There was just a bed and nothing else. We would just have band talks about this player, that player. Later on, when Jimi Hendrix came back to New York City to record, he’d always invite me down to his sessions to hang out. I liked the way Jimi recorded. Most bands had everything rehearsed to the T. Jimi would just jam, and when he felt the groove was right, he would signal the recording engineer to record his stuff. His music would have a fluid, natural feeling as opposed to an over-rehearsed perfection that would lose some groove. I knew I would always go into business, but before college, my father told me I needed to pick a major. I just selected electrical engineering. I didn’t desire to be an electrical engineer at the time. My first job out of college was at IBM in 1965. I went there because the job was in New York City and I figured it was the best environment to figure out what business I wanted to go into. While I was at IBM, I had an urge to quit and go out and play with a band full time. In those days, “Satisfaction” was the longest-running No. 1 hit of all time. All of the music stores in New York City were on 48th Street. There was a repair guy there named Bill Berko who was making fuzz tones, something everyone wanted then, one at a time. He said, “Hey Mike, why don’t you come in with me? We can make these much faster.” I said, “OK.” I figured I’d make some money with him and maybe I’d make enough so I could quit IBM. But it turns out he didn’t do any work, and I ended up doing that myself with a contractor



in Long Island City. The founder of Guild Guitars [Alfred Dronge] wanted to buy all of them. So, every week, I’d bring a few hundred products out to Guild Guitars in Hoboken, N.J. They would write me out a check, and I would go back to work. Jimi Hendrix was hot at the time, and everyone wanted to sound like him. I hooked up with Bob Myer, an award-winning designer at Bell Labs. He has about a hundred patents. He even invented something that’s the foundation for the cellular telephone. I contracted with him to design a distortion-free sustainer. In those days, there was no problem having sustain. The problem was if, all of a sudden, you hit a new note, the gain would be so high there would be all these pops and clicks. I’m not a guitar player, but I went out and plucked single notes to test one of the prototypes, and I saw in front of the big box for the initial prototype for the sustainer was a little box. I said, “Bob, what is the little box for?” He said he didn’t realize the guitar signal was that low, so he just built a little preamplifier to boost the signal. That preamplifier only had one transistor. I tried that and all of a sudden, the amplifier was so loud. In those days, amplifiers were designed with a lot of headroom. There was no such thing as overdrive. So, you would turn them up to 10 and they would still be clean and loud. But with this device, you could make the amp much louder, but then overdrive it. I made that my first product. I called it the Linear Power Booster, or the LPB-1, in 1968. I started selling those mail order and then in stores. We still sell tons of LPB-1s today. In 1969, I developed the Big Muff. We still sell thousands of those today, 47 years later. The Retailer: The Jimi Hendrix stor y is fascinating. Can you tell us more about him? Matthews: Jimi was a just a nice guy, and we used to hang out. I can tell you one story. The last time I saw Jimi with this band Curtis Knight and the Squires, I sat down with Jimi, and he said he wanted to quit the band. It was just a hobby for him. Jimi said, “I want to be the front man for my own band.” I said, “If you want to be the front man, you have to also sing.” He said, “That’s the problem. I can’t sing.” I said to him, “Look at Bob Dylan. Look at Mick Jagger. They can’t sing. But they phrase great and people love them. They are superstars. You have a great soul, and it will come out in your phrasing.” He said, “I’ll try that.” I think that chat helped him when he went to England and invented this whole new style. The Retailer: What are your day-to-day responsibilities today? Take us through a typical day. Matthews: I try to keep my hands in everything. I founded the company in 1968 with a thousand dollars. I tried to double our sales every year. I was always pushing the company for more and more sales. Whenever we had a problem, I would solve it. Finally, in the early ’80s, I had too many problems all at once and I collapsed and went bankrupt. I went on to do other things. I got involved with Russia because we exhibited at a trade show there in 1979. I got involved with vacuum tubes. But I noticed in the early ’90s that all the products I had made in the past were selling for much more money. This new, vintage market developed. So, I figured I would start to make some of those products again. The Russian economy collapsed at the time with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Almost every factory in Russia was a military factory. They collapsed and were looking for work to survive. So, I hooked up with a small military



factory in St. Petersburg that made testing equipment for the army. I just gave them the circuit diagram of the Big Muff. They redid the circuit board, redid a chassis and more. The sound of the Russian Big Muff was slightly different than the original Big Muff. In 1993, we reissued the Big Muff, manufacturing them in the USA. We sell several thousand every month. Getting back to the question, when I went into business the second time around, I became much more conservative. Instead of moving on every single good idea I had, I would wait patiently. As a result, right now, the company is extremely sound financially. We have zero bank debt. We canceled all of our bank lines of credit. We can move on anything we want because of our financial strength. My current design philosophy is I never make a product that takes more than a year to bring it to market. I don’t get involved with designs that go on and on and on. That’s a bad risk. We have a great mix of products and an excellent design team. I try to keep involved in everything. I still have some accounts I handle myself. I want to make sure I keep my fingers on the pulse. In the old days though, I would decide every single feature of a product. Today, I let engineers come up with creative features. I still sign all the checks. But more and more, I am trying to delegate some of the things I do. By the time this article is published, I will be 76. I’ve been around (laughs). The Retailer: How do you control your business in Russia? Matthews: In 1979, at the trade show, Electro-Harmonix exhibited at in Sokolniki Park in Moscow, and I met Irusha Bitukova. Then, in 1990, we hooked up and visited the Ministry of Electronics together. She is cordial and brilliant. Her father was the co-inventor of the hydrogen bomb in Russia. It was Irusha that found the factory in St. Petersburg where we made the Russian Big Muffs. And it is Irusha that is now director general of our vacuum tube factory and manages all our tube exports all over the world from Russia. She is also a great fisherman and gardener. The Retailer: A few months ago, you announced you would end your relationship with Amazon. Please provide us with an update on that decision and the changes it has had on your business, your retail network and consumers. Matthews: Amazon was only five percent of our total business. We are financially strong, so we can afford to take that beating [caused by ending the relationship with Amazon]. The demand for Electro-Harmonix products is not created by Amazon. It’s created by us and our dealers. A lot of consumers look at products in stores and then order on Amazon. Amazon hurts independent music stores, big and small throughout the world. We got a lot of new dealers after our announcement. And for dealers we already have, many of them made bigger orders with us. Since July 1, our business has grown tremendously. Part of it is due to a plethora of new products, and part of it may be support we are getting from stopping sales on Amazon. I don’t know the answer, but we are doing great. Our biggest problem is not building stuff fast enough. Everyone has been working optional overtime. We even were open the Saturday and Sunday [before Thanksgiving] to build products and pack them so that we can fulfill the big growth that we’ve had. There are always problems in business, but right now, we have good problems. (Editor’s Note: For a detailed description regarding reasons why Electro-Harmonix discontinued its relationship with Amazon, please see this month’s cover story titled “MI vs. Amazon.”) The Retailer: Since this is a NAMM issue, what are your main goals at the show? Matthews: We don’t center everything around The NAMM Show because our daily, ongoing business is big. We go to The NAMM Show to demonstrate our new products. We do pick up some new dealers and see a lot of our existing dealers. The best thing for us at The NAMM Show is our director of marketing, Larry DeMarco, who does a great job organizing and scheduling all the press that comes and does video shoots of our new products. Those video demonstrations at NAMM are a special boon to our business. That is the most important thing for us at NAMM. We don’t view NAMM as a centerpiece of getting big orders. It used to be that way years ago and it used to be that way at the Frankfurt show [Musikmesse]. But now, we do get plenty of orders at The NAMM Show, but the media seeing our stuff and publicizing it throughout the world is the biggest thing for us. The Retailer: What will we see in the future at Electro-Harmonix? Matthews: We are working on a lot of exciting new products. I can’t reveal it, because we have competition throughout the world. When I started the company, there were just two or three companies making sound effects. Now, there are thousands. We are really competing. We can’t try to beat everybody at the same time. In competition, your goal is to win. We want market share. Right now, according to certain reports, we have 10 percent of the world market. There’s room for us to grow in pedals in terms of the existing market. But the music business in general is flat. There are no superstar guitar players everybody wants to be like. No sex symbol idol like when The Beatles came out and The Rolling Stones came out. Young kids now are getting into a lot of things with their cellular phones and computer games. The music business does need a new star to give it stimulation. We as a company have to remain conservative and vigilant. We must be careful with what new products we are coming out with in order to maintain our strong liquidity and strong profits. We don’t want to just survive, but grow. The Retailer: Anything to add? Matthews: Rock and roll! 66


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My ambition is to share my passion with other musicians, no matter what they play. You want to give every musician the ability to play at their very best. Our payment solutions, tools and technologies make it easy to offer your customers more purchasing power. They’ll also help you increase store traffic, raise average transaction size and build repeat business. Just right for your future. Find out how we can help you realize your ambitions. Visit or call us at 855-433-4522.

Credit extended by Synchrony Bank. ©2018 All Rights Reserved. Credit extended by Synchrony Bank. ©2018 All Rights Reserved.

What are you working forward to? What are you working forward to?


MUSIC CITY MANIA Ah, the NAMM issue of the Music & Sound Retailer. Is there anything better? Attending the event gets me as giddy as entering my favorite candy store, and reading a trade magazine about the show finishes a close second. Being a master of tricks, disguises and flirting with the opposite sex, I decided to play a trick by visiting Nashville, home of Summer NAMM for this issue. Why? I have no idea. I didn’t feel like visiting Anaheim before the show and my boss, M, told me it was OK to select somewhere else. I selected Nashville. More than at any time in its past, Nashville today truly is Music City, with a constant influx of pickers, singers and songwriters moving into “Gittar Town” for two reasons: one, to play and write music, and two, to get money for doing it. The second thing seldom happens. Regardless, the acoustic guitar has become as ubiquitous in middle Tennessee as grits, and it’s hard to walk down the street in Nashville without bumping into somebody with a gig bag on his or her back. So, it’s no surprise to see new music stores opening, while the established ones seem to be thriving. Today’s Nashville has a mix of neighborhood stores, boutique shops, appointment-only guitar builders and vintage dealers. And don’t forget the inevitable bigboxes, like Sam Ash in suburban Madison, and Guitar Center, which opened a second Nashville location last year. I decided to see what kinds of deals I could find in the acoustic-with-a-cutaway market. In undertaking my MI Spy assignment, I grabbed a couple picks, put on my Oakleys and proceeded to go shopping. But instead of driving my Aston Martin, I hopped in my old Chevy pickup to look the part of yet another picker who’s broke because he spends all his money on gear that he makes no money performing with.


Fanny’s House of Music 1101 Holly St. Nashville, TN 37206 615.750.5746

Located in a house that doubles as a music store and a vintage clothing and memorabilia shop, Fanny’s was named the “Best Place to Buy a Used Guitar” by the readers of Nashville’s weekly alternative magazine. Three small rooms were pretty well stocked with guitars and other stringed instruments and amps. It’s mostly used gear, but the store does carry some new stuff, such as Recording King guitars, a nice line that’s reasonably priced. The 20-something guy at the small desk just inside the foyer told me to play whatever I wanted, so I did. I checked out a Taylor 314 EC L4 acoustic-electric cutaway priced at $900, which had great sound but was a little larger than what I wanted. I then tried out a very unique and rare Fred Welker acoustic cutaway, made with unusual and resonant black maple and priced at $2,800. My tryout was interrupted for a few seconds by a group of six attractive and talky millennial ladies who came in to check out vintage clothes in the adjoining room. I asked the desk dude about dickering over the price, and he came back a couple minutes later with a female (who’s name wasn’t Fanny). She knew her stuff, talking to me about the history of the Taylor and the Welker, and the woods they were made of, before we even got around to talking money. She said that she could go as low as $850 on the Taylor — no case though — and $2,400 for the Welker, with a case, if I was paying cash. Not bad deals, especially for the Welker, which was one-of-akind. I told her I’d give it some thought.


Eastside Music Supply 2915 Gallatin Pike Nashville, TN 37216 615.480.7709

Eastside Music Supply opened a year or so ago in the northeast Nashville suburb of Inglewood to little fanfare, but word is getting around. When I stopped in it was pretty busy, with a couple of rockers trying out electric guitars, and others looking at the store’s impressive pedal selection. I already knew that the small shop stocked a lot of new and used electric gear, and I wasn’t expecting to see much in the way of acoustics, which was indeed the case. But what they did have was a sweet selection for such a small store. A 1952 Gibson SJ (Super Jumbo), a pre-war Gibson L-30 archtop with twin f-holes, a cool 1970s Guild. I was impressed. When I asked the 30-ish guy at the counter if I could check out the SJ, he happily told me to grab it and helped me pull up a stool. The guitar had a great sound and was impeccably set up. Though it was listed for $7,500 on the store’s website, he told me he could go down to $6,000. I thought this had to be a mistake, so I actually started to consider it, until I remembered my limited MI Spy expense account. I really was looking for a cutaway though, and the Gibson didn’t have one, so I checked out a cream-colored, like-new Breedlove Concert Pursuit acoustic-electric. The counter guy first told me it retailed for $600, then said he’d go to $585 since this was one of the few guitars in the shop without a case, and could maybe go even lower if I was really interested. Not a bad deal, but I demurred for the moment. Overall, with local music venue posters plastered everywhere and the three small display rooms buzzing with enthusiastic shoppers, the vibe was that it’s a musician’s store, seemingly focused on making music first and making money second.

Superior Music/Amp Doctor 3610 Old Hickory Blvd. Old Hickory, TN 37138 615.758.4743

Cotten Music Center 434 Houston St., Suite 131 Nashville, TN 37203 615.383.8947

For more than half a century, Cotten Music Center occupied a store that was walking distance from the music industry offices on Music Row, until progress, i.e., developers with lots of money, forced the store to move a few miles away into what turned out to be a much cooler and larger space in a hip, repurposed industrial building. Cotten has handled all kinds of instruments over the years, but its business today is largely sweet high-dollar acoustic guitars, generally used and often on consignment. I went in to see what it had for cutaways and definitely wasn’t disappointed. I was greeted by an older gentleman, and after we discussed the woes of urban development and eminent domain, he graciously told me to go ahead and try whatever I wanted in the spacious display rooms. First, I checked out a gorgeous Guild Doyle Dykes Signature Model acoustic-electric with a Florentine cutaway. It had an excellent neck that reminded me of an electric hollowbody Gibson Byrdland for a reasonable $2,595. Then I tried out a 2001 Collings C-10 Deluxe Custom with a firestripe pickguard that played and sounded great at $5,000. I asked the salesman what the best cash price would be, and he told me they were both on consignment, but he would make a couple calls to find out the rock-bottom prices. He took my name and number. This was on Friday afternoon. P.S.: A little after 10 a.m. on Monday the phone rang. Cotten told me it could go down to $2,000 on the Guild, as the guitar’s owner really wanted to sell it, but she could only go down $100 on the Collings. Not bad deals, and I thanked her for prompt response that was professional and much appreciated.

Located in the lakeside Nashville suburb of Old Hickory, Superior Music/Amp Doctor is a mom-and-pop-type store in an underserved area. Though in Nashville, “mom-and-pop” can mean that your parents made major-label records and played the Grand Ole Opry. The store relocated to this area a couple years ago from a neighboring county, presumably to get a bigger piece of Nashville’s growing pie. I went in and was greeted by a friendly salesman, the only person in the store during the slow midafternoon. He told me to take a look around the store’s four small rooms, which were fairly jammed with guitars, amps and drums. I saw a couple nice vintage Gibsons and a used Martin, in addition to new, wallet-friendly models by companies like Rainsong and Sunlite. When I had settled on a couple acoustics I wanted to check out, the sales guy told me to play away. First, I tried an immaculate used acoustic-electric Ibanez Exotic Wood AEW402W six-string for $279.99, gig bag extra. It looked better than it sounded with zebrawood top, back and sides, but it did sound pretty good for the price. The action wasn’t great, but no complaints at $279.99. Then I checked out a new acoustic-electric Alvarez AD60CE5HB, case extra, at $449.99. This dreadnought was top-shelf for the price point. It absolutely killed. The guy said he could knock $50 off the Alvarez, and he could go to $250 for the Ibanez, tax included. Both were decent deals, which I told him I’d think about.


The Sale

The lady at Fanny’s knew her stuff, was nice enough and her prices probably weren’t unbeatable, but they were fair. For me, though, the place was almost more of a neighborhood hang or even a tourist shop than a place to seriously buy a guitar, though that’s not to say it’s a bad place. A lot of the gear was cool and unique, and I almost bought a retro shirt while I was there. Superior Music/Amp Doctor was a good little community store in an area that’s only a few minutes from the big box stores in the city, but had prices as reasonable as anyone’s and a salesman who was willing to do what he could to make the sale. And it had some brands, especially in the cheaper beginner guitar arena, that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Cotten Music Center was very professional and businesslike in the way it got back to me quickly with my info. It had a great selection of primo guitars, some out of the reach of the common picker and some not. But it had more room to try out the guitars, and a bigger selection, than it did in the old days, and it hasn’t been around for more than five decades for no reason. A good store. And the winner, but only by an .008 E string, is ... Eastside Music Supply. The place is a little light on selection, but it had some awesome axes with a staff that was gracious and willing to deal. The coolest thing of all, though, was the overall vibe of the store as a place for people who really love music. It was almost palpable, as if the staff might grab their guitars first and the cash register second if the place caught on fire. A fun and welcoming place to shop. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these guys come up with some expansion plans, if they already haven’t, because they could really use them. 69


SHARON HENNESSEY, PRESIDENT, THE MUSIC PEOPLE By Laura B. Whitmore Editor’s Note: “Front and Center” is brought to you by the Women’s International Music Network (The WiMN). The interviews showcase accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. Visit to view the weekly interviews and to learn more about how to be featured. Connecticut-based The Music People’s — manufacturer and home of On-Stage Stands and a full-line pro-audio distributor, TMP Pro — goal is to offer top-quality customer service to sustain the needs of music professionals globally. President and owner of the company, Sharon Hennessey, states what makes The Music People is the people. With an innovative, hardworking staff, it’s no wonder that The Music People has won the title of Top Work Place twice by the Hartford Courant and is ranked No. 38 in top suppliers worldwide. Behind the scenes of this small, but prosperous, company is Hennessey. Whether it’s handling everyday business operations or running projects that are linked to the company’s goals and identified initiatives, her favorite task is always reaching out and connecting with partners. Hennessey is also confident in women in the industry and has high hopes for the future. WiMN: Your father started the company. Did you always think you’d move into a leadership position there? Hennessey: Not quite. I went to college pursuing a degree in education with an emphasis on special education, thinking I wasn’t going to fall back on the business. But I will say my father was brilliant in persuading me with an introduction to my first Winter NAMM Show back in the 1980s. At that time, I didn’t have to work at the booth. I could lounge by the hotel pool (I’m an East Coast girl … the balmy January weather was sublime) and hang out with rock stars at night — it was the perfect plan to expose me to the industry. It was at that show I distinctly remember the Peavey booth. The line to the booth wrapped around the entire hall as people waited to meet Eddie Van Halen and purchase Peavey T-shirts and swag. Something resonated with me when I saw this. Having drunk the Kool-Aid, I returned home and told [my dad] I was coming to work for The Music People (TMP). 70

WiMN: What’s it like supplying local companies versus bigger chain stores? Hennessey: You may imagine supplying product to smaller stores versus bigger stores would look very different, but actually, it isn’t. We strive to create strong relationships with clientele who have big or small operations and we’re grateful for the opportunity to receive business from all our customers. TMP has been around for close to 40 years, and over that time we’ve created many systematic processes and put them in place to easily service large and small companies alike. This means we can give the same attention and service to all customers. WiMN: What do you think makes The Music People special? Hennessey: Honestly, it’s the people. It’s one reason the company got its name. Although we’re not a large company, our business touches multiple sectors of the industry. TMP is multidimensional, consisting of pro-audio distribution through TMP Pro, as well as OnStage, which manages and develops our own accessory and stand line. Our knowledgeable, hardworking staff is the face of both divisions and the reason we’re so successful. It’s the people that make it possible to manage a large catalog of products, develop and patent great ideas, and provide top service while creating lasting customer relationships. WiMN: The Music People is a family business. Is working with your family ever challenging? Hennessey: I chuckle when I consider how to respond. My father Jim and brother John are very passionate people, and so am I; it makes for an interesting combination. It wouldn’t be unusual to see us in a passionate discussion in the NAMM booth over a mic clip or some other product. Our customers always love experiencing our family dynamic. Jim, John or I will often challenge one another on how a feature, benefit or specification should be considered when doing a product sales pitch. We love what we do and the product we provide. WiMN: I see you’re always looking to expand The Music People team; what type of people do you look for when hiring? Hennessey: There’s a motto we like to use at TMP for our employees: “Get it and get it done.” The mentality behind this saying is that we believe our employees to be the best in the industry. They are adaptive, hardworking and do what’s necessary for the company and their co-workers to succeed. It’s always exciting to come join the TMP team. We are continuously adding partnerships with the industry’s biggest brands and manufacturers and expanding the ‘crème de la crème’ line card offerings through TMP Pro, developing and creating new product through On-Stage, and finding ways to connect and celebrate our employees. WiMN: Tell us about a typical day at work for you (if there is such a thing!). Hennessey: After 28 years, my typical day will always be evolving. As a rule, I handled many of the strategic On-Stage customers both in MI and OEM, and still do in combination with running day-to-day business operations. On average, a typical day is getting a bigpicture overview on all aspects of the business from a project-management perspective, and meeting with different departments to review our top-down priority projects. Often, there are sales trainings conducted by our TMP Pro distribution partners and business clientele. In combination with the day-to-day operations, I go out of my way to connect with our partners. That’s a real highlight for me. It’s always enjoyable to connect and share some laughs; many of us have grown up in this amazing and unique industry. As the years go by, we gain JANUARY 2018

insight from our history and learn to apply it to our business as we move forward.

did you address them? Hennessey: Personally, I have not. Quite the opposite. Many of my mentors over the years have been men. I think the music industry is unusually welcoming in comparison to other industries. I think that women can excel in our industry and tap into the many resources available. I’m excited and inspired seeing that anything is possible. I encourage women from not only the music industry but all industries to have the self-confidence to pursue their dreams. In addition, I’m an available contact and resource through NAMM Young Professionals and its empowerment of new generations. Male or female, it gives me great satisfaction when they reach out for guidance in pursuing their careers in the industry.

WiMN: What do you like most about what you do? Hennessey: I like that TMP is a relatively medium-sized company. We’re grateful to experience many benefits of a Fortune 500 company. We are in a place where we are still small and agile enough to take a right turn today even if we’ve been taking a left for so many years. I’ve been doing this job for quite some time, and I always look forward to engaging with long-term relationships I’ve created through the years. I love learning and applying fresh ideas to the company to keep it ever-evolving and sustainable. I feel like the music industry is one long vacation where you get to spend time with people you connect with on many different levels and design products together that meet challenges and provide solutions. WiMN: Have you ever faced challenges as a woman in the music industr y? How

Sharon Hennessey with Adderly Surack, daughter of Sweetwater Founder Chuck Surack.

WiMN: What’s in the future for TMP? Hennessey: As we approach our 40th anniversary, we’ve never been more energized. We’re clear in our vision and excited to embark on the next 40 years of exclusive partnerships, continued patented innovation and strong relationships that span the globe.

Predictable, Precise Tuning. Every String. 12:1

W W W. GR A P H T E CH. C OM / MS R 0 1 18








to being overleveraged, having too much debt on the books and not being able to meet the I’ve been in MI retail longer than most payment on that debt. That thought popped into my head again, as I read an article about people stay in a single job and, while that’s future Guitar Center financial wizardry and how it will be necessary to concoct something probably not at all an uncommon feat in this to deal with upcoming payments on its debt load. I’m not sure why, as the store I work at industry, I feel like I’ve been witnessing a has always had an aversion to debt. Plenty of stores still avoid having a debt load, and most shift the entire time I’ve been here. When I don’t have a private equity fund backing them. So. I’ve been thinking a lot about inventory began, we were in the heyday of the catalog lately, and some of the policies that tie up retail stores’ cash flow. In the first column I ever sales battles, and starting to see internet wrote for the Retailer, one of the things I touched on, as a point of friction, was stocking sales become a factor. Retailers were dealrequirements. ing with MAP policies that were first going Stocking requirements aren’t unique, nor are they uncommon in our industry. The idea into effect, and watching margins drastically of a minimum dollar amount or assortment of products isn’t, in and of itself, a detriment to shrinking for the first — and certainly not the the success of a business. In theory, it’s a benevolent thing, designed to make sure stores last — time. Burgeoning internet sales and carry a decent assortment of what a brand offers and don’t buy just the cheap stuff, or a catalog sales had not only caused price batcouple of items and never order again. Under those circumstances, tles, but stores that stocking requirements seem innocuous enough. But in reality, what tried to price match started out as a way to ensure a minimum of brand representation were also eating H O W D O S M A L L has become a way to artificially bloat dealer inventory, which in turn state and local sales holds dealers’ cash flow hostage. No one knows what sells better in a tax to even out the INDEPENDENT STORES region than the dealer who lives and works there, and many brands pricing. That was 16 have simply come to rely on this policy as the cost of doing business. years ago, and we’re STAY COMPETITIVE? “If you want to be a dealer, here’s all the stuff you have to carry. still trying to figure Oh, you don’t like this amp? Don’t make enough margin on it? Too out how to navigate bad, it’s required to be a dealer.” This also applies to high-end vs. many of these same low-end product mix. Dealers mostly sell lower-end and mid-range issues today. And product. There’s value in carrying high-end products, and having a good mix of those is those issues aren’t the only ones. worthwhile, but in many cases is vastly inflated, and having money tied up in things that While the industry has seen these disdon’t turn as fast limits how much stores can reorder. ruptive trends grow and create tectonic For many vendors, stocking requirements are an alternative to expensive master orders, shifts in how we do business, many stores ensuring that a certain product mix stays on the shelves, so customers can experience have struggled to keep up. First-generation the brand. However, we live in the internet era, where buyers are seeking more and more storeowners trying to hold on to the way products online, not because their local store doesn’t have them, but because the cultural the business used to be have been slow to shift in shopping trends has made commoditized items an easy online purchase. You don’t adopt new strategies and new technologies. have to think about making a trip to the local shop after work when you can simply order Some have done exceedingly well, flourished your strings from your phone on your lunch break. And, while many buyers want to see and even. Many new retailers have sprung up, touch things, an increasing amount of the public are 100-percent willusing the internet ing to purchase large-ticket items online, as indicated by the fact that as a tool to great Sweetwater is now the No. 2 retailer in MI retail. success, and have H O W D O T H E Y So how do small independent stores stay competitive? How do grown sizable they grow and gain market share? For starters, we should start remultimillion-dollar G R O W A N D G A I N thinking the way stocking requirements are determined and make businesses, and sure they properly serve the dealer, as opposed to being “the cost were seen in the M A R K E T S H A R E ? of being a dealer.” We can partner with forward-thinking brands, recent list of top and I don’t just mean so-called “off brands,” who see the need for retailers in an changes in the way we do business so that small independent stores industry magazine. can remain a viable destination. We can stop trying to be a one-stop shop and focus in on Others, some who once graced those same the things we do really well, and that generate the majority of the business’s profit. Embraclists, have fallen to recessions, bad strategies ing the niche can be a pathway to growth, as opposed to trying to chase the same business or being overleveraged. strategy as private-equity-funded giants or internet superstores, neither of which most stores A few years back, while I was working a have the resources for. All stores can make time to leverage their best market segments pretty normal day, someone walked in and and be more active on social media — where we can engage customers — and utilize the told me a well-known Ohio chain, which was internet via verticals like Reverb, as a way to pad our in-store sales. an early internet adopter and seemed to be What are some of the strategies you employ to overcome the burden of stocking requireon the cusp of becoming the next big thing, ments? How are stocking requirements affecting your growth and bottom line, and how do had been completely shut down. “The bank you plan to reconcile that with your future plans? guys just walked in and said, ‘we’re shutting Write to me at you down,’” is what we heard. This was due 72


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I dropped in to see one of our local bankers recently, and as we were visiting, we got to talking about customer service. In particular, we got to talking about how the little things actually mean more to our customers than the big things do. Somewhere in our discussion, he pointed to a plaque on his wall that had this motto on it: “Little things don’t mean a lot; they mean everything.” That quote really resonated with me, so much so I snapped a photo of it with my phone before I left. As MI retailers, I believe it’s the little things we do that define us and our store culture. Everyone in MI retail pretty much gets the big things right. We remember to stock popular drumsticks, heads, cables and strings. We remember to put price tags on the guitars, and we always manage to take the money when a customer wants to check out. We turn the lights off when we leave at night, and we write payroll on Fridays. Those are the big things we have to do to function in even the most marginal way. We’re all pretty good at doing those things. I think the differences our customers notice is in the little things we do (or don’t do). Let’s go to one of my “small thing” pet peeves as an example. 74

Calling someone back in a reasonable amount of time seems like a small thing, but to me it’s one of the markers that indicate one’s reliability. Most customer service is so poor today that I almost assume when the phone company rep says, “I’ll check with my supervisor and call you back,” I know that’s really code for “I’m tired of dealing with your problems. I’m giving you the brush off.” When a manufacturer’s rep or a distributor’s rep says they will call me back and days pass before they do (if they do), it tells me I’m just not that important to them. In contrast, when a rep calls me back before I expect them to call, it tells me I matter to them. Translating that into our stores, calling a customer back quickly, even when we’re delivering bad news, tells the customer that they matter to us, and that sets us apart from many of the other stores they might have encountered. That gives us an edge in the world of MI competition. Let’s go further and boil this example down to its essence: Keep your word. Always keep your word. Kindness is a small thing that helps us stand out from the crowd. When a mom with a little girl comes into the store, I enjoy finding one of our store brand pink picks and asking the mom if it’s OK to give her daughter her own pick. This always results in real joy for the little girl, and appreciation on the part of the mom. That little girl will always think of us as the “guitar pick store,” and when she’s old enough to spend her own money, I’ll bet she comes to see us first. The mom will remember us, hopefully, when it’s time to buy Christmas gifts or rent her daughter’s first clarinet. I’ll frequently slip off and grab a stool for a customer, and just place it next to where they are standing. I don’t ask if they want one. I just do it. Not only does the customer appreciate the chivalry, a seated customer stays longer. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to leave money with us. Consideration, kindness’s first cousin, also makes a subtle impact on customers. Go into Blues Angel Music, Jim DeStafney’s store, on a hot day, and you’ll find cold water or lemonade available. The sensation of a refreshing cold drink on a hot day cements his store as a place that gives customer comfort serious consideration. If I was shopping there, I’d assume that since Jim gets that little thing right, if I had a real issue with a product from his store, he’ll get that right as well. Unexpected happiness is pretty easy to make happen. We keep a bowl of hard candies on our counter, and when we’re putting purchases in a bag, we drop several candies into the bag. That “little thing” is so unexpected these days our customers light up when they see it. Another form of consideration is giving relief to customers when they have an issue. By relief, I mean the customer walks in or calls or emails with a problem, and we convert their problem into a sense of relief by doing whatever it takes to make their problem a non-issue for them. On our end, if it takes spending some money, taking the product back, doing a free setup, we need to just do it, and do it gladly. Yeah, I know it’s hard to act pleased to lose money on a customer, but don’t think of it as losing money, think of it as investing in that customer. He has to leave the store thinking it made you happy to make him happy. We have to put ourselves in the customer’s place, and ask ourselves “What would make me happy about being here, if I was the customer?” and then do it. The little things we do to make the customer glad he or she is in our store, the little things that make the customer feel welcomed, these are the little things that set each of us apart from the retail herd. We should be nurturing that mindset, and developing it into part of our store cultures. The best part of the little things is that they are free to us, and priceless to our customers. “Little things don’t mean a lot, they mean everything.” I need to drop that banker a thank-you note. Reading that sign alone was worth the visit. Happy trails. JANUARY 2018

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In retail, the concept of customer satisfaction gets a lot of attention. We have seminars, books and websites all dedicated to helping us reach “higher levels” of customer satisfaction. We often hear of a company’s “customer satisfaction rating,” and spend time trying to quantify the concept. Certainly, there are plenty of businesses advertising their “high customer satisfaction rating,” whatever that means. Because of this, many of us focus our training efforts around achieving a goal of 100-percent customer satisfaction. I will never argue that this isn’t important. Of course it is. Certainly, none of us hop out of bed in the morning with the thought, “Gee, I hope we satisfy some of our customers today!” To me, though, satisfying our customers is just the first step toward what should be our ultimate goal: customer loyalty. Here is an example of what I mean. A local musician needs a set of guitar strings. Though she has never previously been to your store, she stops in because it’s nearby. Your staff helps this customer get the right strings at a fair price, and handles the purchase with friendly good service. Was this customer satisfied with the purchase? Sure. Would she go back to your store the next time she needed something? Well, maybe. So, if satisfying your customer does not guarantee she will continue to shop at your store, what more can you do to increase the chances of earning repeat business? You can develop training for your staff that incorporates values and ideas that build relationships, engender trust and focus on earning long-term loyalty. Training your coworkers in loyalty building will differentiate you from your well-run competition, and create an army of unpaid advocates for your business. The best place to begin is to introduce the concept of building trust. This involves instruction to perform what are considered obvious tasks, but also those that seem contrary to sales training we’ve received over the course of our careers. Concepts like honesty and keeping promises should go hand in hand with learning how to deliver bad news or correcting a customer’s misconceptions about a product. Oftentimes, difficult conversations are great opportunities to earn a customer’s trust. For example, we’ve all had a customer who fully believes inaccurate information he found online. When trying to correct his misconceptions, it can become frustrating


Proper training allows our salespeople to recognize this as a trust-building opportunity. when he seems to give more credence to an online blurb over your expertise. Proper training allows our salespeople to recognize this as a trust-building opportunity. Teach patience and how to establish your credibility. Emphasize concepts like your store’s years of service, your relationships with manufacturers, your status as an industry professional, that you stand behind the information you provide and that the customer always knows where he can find you if there’s a problem. After all, that information he read on the internet could have been written by a 13-year-old in an internet café who didn’t take the time to read the instructions. Building loyalty means training ourselves to think beyond the moment. While this sounds simple, it’s not always so. What if you don’t have what your customer needs today, but only something similar? What if the item she wants to purchase won’t really solve her issue? Don’t be afraid to train your coworkers to point out the potential problems that can arise with a particular piece of gear, as well as its benefits, and to be clear in stating their concerns. Sure, this could result in a lost sale today, something our traditional sales training would call a bad thing. But this type of forthright dialog goes a long way toward building the trust that is important in creating a loyal customer. People will remember a store where the staff cared more about their customers than a quick buck. Finally, give thought to the experience your customer has in your store. Sure, it’s essential for everything to be clean and well organized. Clever displays, fresh point-of-purchase materials and clear pricing are also important. The most critical factor about your customer’s experience, though, is how you make them feel during their visit. I truly think of each one as a guest. Greet them with a joyful smile and take a real interest in what brings them into your store. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to help. If they are a first-time visitor, ask their name. Always try to greet repeat customers by name. Make sure they know you are interested in them and the reason(s) they have come to see you, not just in making a sale. Most people like to talk about themselves, so give your customers the opportunity to open up to you. That personal connection is something an online or neighboring retailer will have a hard time competing against. While satisfaction-based sales training is useful, take the extra step of teaching the concepts beyond simple gratification. Show your coworkers how to build trust, think past today and provide a personal connection to the customer. When you do, you’ll build a community of loyal patrons who not only shop with you, but spread the word of your awesomeness everywhere they go! Robert Christie is the president of A&G Central Music, a school service company with two stores in Southeast Michigan. Christie has degrees in music and business from Valparaiso University and was a NAMM Music Business Scholarship recipient. He is an active member of NASMD and has served on the association’s board of directors. Christie is deeply involved in his community, serving on the boards of several arts organizations, and is a vocal advocate for area school music programs. Before purchasing Central Music, he worked as an educator, touring musician, road rep and store manager. Christie lives with his wife Peggy in suburban Detroit. JANUARY 2018



This is my first column in the Music and Sound Retailer, and I want to start out by being up front and honest. I’m a newbie, a greenhorn, a millennial. I’ve only been in the industry for five years, and I certainly don’t want to sound like I have all of the answers to life’s greatest business questions charted out. My goal is to write each column with a fresh approach to the industry, because, frankly, I haven’t been around long enough to know all of the ins and outs. As we come out of what was hopefully the best fourth quarter our businesses have ever experienced, it’s time to start nailing down last-minute details for your enlightening, exciting and downright exhausting trip to Anaheim. If you don’t want your company to improve, then don’t worry about attending The NAMM Show. However, if you want to grow, you better get yourself to Anaheim this January. Let’s face it, if your business isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. I try to slow down before each show and take time to plan out my best attack. If I don’t, I’ve learned that I end the week overloaded with information and wondering how my feet got so sore. I try to focus on three key things as I prepare and plan: education, meetings and gear. Between Retail Bootcamp, NAMM University Breakfast Sessions and NAMM U Idea Center Sessions, there are enough creative ideas to jump-start the entire music industry. What’s my approach? Attend everything. I suggest starting your trip by flying in a day early and grabbing a seat for the Retail Bootcamp. There are two engaging topics to decide between: financial management or sales, marketing and websites. If you are bringing staff, give them a pen and paper, some written goals, and park them for the day. There are some stimulating NAMM U Breakfast Sessions on futureproofing the music industry, how customers purchase and the always informative Breakfast of Champions. The NAMM Idea Sessions are packed full of helpful classes on topics like increasing lessons, social media advice and store design ideas. With an all-star lineup of industry leaders, there is something for everyone at the NAMM Idea Center sessions. A close friend 78

of mine once said, “NAMM U is like eating a whole chicken. If you swallow the meat and spit out the bones, you can keep focused on the parts that will adhere to your business.” Without this mentality, it’s three key things easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information absorbed in such as I prepare and a short time. My first few NAMM Shows left me in a blur. I went to almost every plan: education, NAMM U event, met with every rep and walked the entire floor. meetings Twice. I’ve since changed my approach, because honestly, I came back barely breathing. After reviewing the fast-paced week, I realized and gear. I should focus on things that can only happen while I’m physically at the show. Most ordering details, inventory reviews and product catalogs can be viewed electronically these days. It’s important to continue building positive relationships with your vendors and reps, but it is also important to get back to work Monday morning with new ideas and the energy to execute new plans. One thing you can’t do electronically is pick up and touch new products. If you make time to engage your customers with your NAMM trips, you can channel the excitement of NAMM into real sales. Do you engage your regular customers through social media about NAMM? Do your customers even know what NAMM is? When I first started attending The NAMM Show, I promoted the trip heavily through all social media channels. After returning, I realized I needed to “train” my customers about NAMM and what to expect. Many actually thought I was attending a conference in Vietnam, which was pretty funny. This year, try engaging your customers more. Prior to the trip, create informative posts about NAMM and what you expect to get out of it. Use Facebook Live to get customer engagement while on the floor. Ask what they want to see and show off cool new products. Look for artist lineups and give your customers a sneak peek at the professional musicians that can be found walking around the floor. Once you return, create posts about what you learned and some changes you are implementing or new stock you are ordering. The sensory overload experienced at The NAMM Show can be overwhelming, but with thoughtful planning, you can use the trip to implement fresh ideas, engage your customers and sell new products. The most important thing is to set goals for your trip and take steps to achieve them. To keep your sanity, I would suggest heading over to and downloading the NAMM mobile app. I’d love to hear your thoughts on The NAMM Show at I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim!

I try to focus on

Born and raised in Auburn, Ala., Tim Spicer fell in love with music at an early age. As a kid, Spicer spent weekend nights on his dad’s shoulders, as he played the upright bass in local bands. Spicer started Spicer’s Music with his family in December 2012. Since then, he has been dedicated to bettering his community through music. Tim and his family have worked hard to build a business that gives back and is seen as a community leader for music and the arts. Since 2012, Spicer’s Music has been named a NAMM Top 100 dealer three times, NAMM’s 2015 Best Emerging Dealer, the City of Auburn’s 2016 Small Business of the Year and the state of Alabama’s 2016 Small Business of the Year. JANUARY 2018

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KEEP THE PIPELINE MOVING By Donovan Bankhead The term “pipeline” is often used to refer to customers going through the various stages of your sales process. The general idea is you’ll have some that are just getting acquainted with your business all the way to loyal, raving fans. But in order to become raving fans, they first had to start at the beginning of your pipeline. While the sales pipeline is the most common, there are other areas of our business where this mindset would also be useful: staff and services. Along with sales, they are the three S’s of music retail, if you will. For the next several articles, I’ll share with you some of the things we do at Springfield Music to keep our pipeline full. First things first: Let’s start with staff. There is nothing more critical to the success of your business than the people who comprise it. To stuff this pipeline full, you are going to need people working in your business that get it, want to be there and have the capacity to do the job well. Allow me to tell you something you already know. (I’ll still take credit for it, though.) You are always looking for good people. You might not always be hiring, but you are always looking. Let me tell you a story about why having a pipeline of good people waiting in the wings is so important. In August 2016, we had what we now refer to at Springfield Music as our “August Surprise.” Our main location operates with five salespeople, a manager, an operations person and a repair technician (not counting our lesson teachers). That August, four of the salespeople and the operations person quit unexpectedly. That left the manager, one salesperson and the repair tech as the only remaining employees, one week before our school rental season kicked in! To say that we were stressed was an understatement. We were caught totally unprepared for this, and trust me when I tell you that you do not want to put yourself or your business through this. So, I’ve scared you enough to get you moving and realize you need to always accept applications. Now, how do we get applications? And, frankly, how can we get better applicants? The first step is to write what the folks at Whizbang Retail Training call a Red Hot Help Wanted Ad. This ad should be written in a way that entices your ideal candidates, and dissuades the less desirable candidates. To do this, you are going to need to spend some time 80




thinking about your company culture, who your ideal candidate is, and what type of person has succeeded in your company. To help you do this, my friends at Whizbang are giving you its training course on how to write this ad! Go to to download. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to miss this. Okay, so you’ve got your Red Hot Help Wanted Ad written and perfected. Now what? Post it. On your front door, in a picture frame by the register, on your store website, on your store and personal Facebook pages (ask your existing staff to share it as well; they are often a great source of referrals for other good employees), local colleges, Craigslist and job hunting websites like I really like Indeed. It’s free for employers to post jobs (you can pay to “sponsor” or promote your posting, but I’ve found it’s generally not necessary for our industry), and it has lots of great screening tools to help you weed through the candidates. Another great idea is to use the Red Hot ad as an outline for a Facebook Live video. It gives your customers a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at your business, which hopefully will draw them closer to you. Once the applications start rolling in, we generally like to ask them a few questions to help us ascertain those who have the most potential. One idea to consider is to ask candidates to bring résumés in-person during a certain period of time that is convenient for you. Then, you (or your staff) ask them three to five prewritten questions and jot down their responses. We even have the staff draw a happy face if they thought the person was worth talking with again for a more in-depth interview (or a frowny face, if they don’t think the candidate is a good fit). Second step is an email interview. This idea came from my friend Peter Dods, the owner of Easy Music in Hawaii. The idea is to have the candidates answer some general questions, and then make them do some research on product knowledge questions. We all know that no one is going to walk into our business and have all of the product knowledge we need. It’s impossible. But it’s important that they know how to go out and find it. (Hint: It’s called Google.) Once they have passed your gatekeepers (the in-store screening) and your email interview, then you should have enough info to decide who gets a sit-down interview. Once again, my friends at Whizbang have some excellent advice on how to conduct interviews and what questions to ask, but in a nutshell, I recommend having a prewritten interview form for every interview with the same questions. You can modify the questions as needed, but having some consistency will help you get better and better results over time. Put these practices into place over the next 30 days, and you’ll be glad you did. JANUARY 2018


The Guitar Exchange 7688 Wiles Road Coral Springs, FL 33067 954.227.9111 Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sat. – 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gary Kramer, Owner


When Gary Kramer opened The Guitar Exchange in 1998, he already had years of experience under his belt. Not only was he a veteran of the south Florida MI scene, but he had also been buying, selling and trading guitars since he was 16 years old living in New York City. Armed with that experience, he decided to go out on his own, and as the store’s sole employee, save for two guitar teachers, Kramer has put his personal stamp on every aspect of the business. Whether it’s buying, selling and trading instruments, doing repairs, or even cleaning the bathrooms, it’s Kramer who is in charge. And from what he can tell, “My crazy way seems to be working.” That so-called crazy way of doing things includes keeping the shop purposely small. The Guitar Exchange measures only 1,423 square feet, which includes three teaching rooms, the showroom, a waiting area, the repair area and a warehouse that is located down the stairs behind the lesson room. “I had the opportunity more than once to expand into the store on either side of us,” explained Kramer, “but I didn’t because keeping it small has its positives. As long as I stay in business, I will have a small shop.” Customers walking into The Guitar Exchange are greeted with a display of cool autographed guitars featuring signatures from the likes Joe Satriani, Leslie West, Steve Morse and 82

Yngwie Malmsteen, as well as a rubber chicken hanging right above the guitar straps. “I had an extra and just decided to hang it up,” said Kramer. “You can see it when you walk in. Lots of people like that.” They are also greeted by a staggering display of gear, both new and used. “They don’t expect a small store to have the things we have,” said Kramer, who makes a point of carrying brands you don’t often see in the big shops, such as Zematis, Laney and Crafter. Besides, Kramer said, he’s been burned one too many times before by some of the bigger names in the business. “I had carried some bigger brands over the years, but I got rid of them when I found they had unfair requirements and expected unreasonable buy-ins. The big companies sometimes just don’t work well with the small guys,” Kramer said, adding that Yamaha and Marshall are exceptions. Customers will also not see any gear from brands that sell direct to consumers because, as Kramer notes, “I don’t need to be competing with them, too. I try to stick with companies that work for me,” he continued, “and by doing that, this store can run as long as I want.” Kramer looks at every guitar in his shop as if it is his own. He prides himself on carrying high-quality merchandise that is clean and not shopworn. “I carry inexpensive things, but not cheap things. I figure it takes as long to sell an $80 guitar as it does a $3,000 one, so I want to sell all good-quality products,” he said. “And every guitar on my wall has a sign that says, ‘Please ask before handling.’ I need to protect my instruments.” Being so invested in the gear and the shop is rewarding for Kramer, but he has found that customer service in a small store can sometimes be challenging, especially when you’re the only one on the floor. “If a customer doesn’t like me, I have no one to pass them on to. And it’s the same in reverse,” he said. “If there’s a customer I’m just not connecting with, there’s no one else here and I have to deal with that.” Kramer is happy to help guide his customers through the inventory, showing them how to use the settings on their amp of choice or how to string their guitar. He will set up any instrument before it leaves the shop and offers free neck adjustments for life. And he’ll try to show his customers why they should invest in a guitar from his shop instead of buying online to save a few bucks. “People buy disposable instruments, and it costs so much to fix them that I try to educate them that they should just spend the money on a quality item,” said Kramer. “I can do what (continued on page 93) JANUARY 2018

E VERY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE Written by the Editors of the Music & Sound Retailer

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same persona with every guy he talks to (and he has a parallel persona for women). That isn’t “good.” It’s a 1940s B movie. The best salespeople, male or female, aren’t the ones drilled down on a genre, age bracket or product line. We’ve seen some who focus on parents and ignore the kids, and those who can talk to the kids, but make parents feel like they’re nothing but a wallet. An old wallet. You may have a person on your staff that is “the guy,” and he’s in with all the pros because he’s on the scene — but the guy is not the person you can put in front of the grandparents buying a Christmas present. There may be a guitarist (or drummer, or violinist) that’s great within their department, but doesn’t care about anything outside their purview. All of these people have their skills and place, but unless your store is a virtual anthill of people, it means that some of the time, customers will deal with a person out of sync with them. I believe that the best retail people (whether in sales, service or support) have a couple of qualities that are golden. The first is helpful empathy. They approach every interaction from a service point of view, and the customer will get a sense that someone wants to help them, whether that’s finding a product, getting a repair or learning how to care for their purchase. I can’t stress enough that being “an expert” is the wrong tone. Do you like to talk to people who constantly go on about how much they know and how smart they are? Perhaps a docent at a museum (who shares your interest and strives to make your experience richer) would be a more appropriate comparison. y h I also have to emphasize that this helpfulness must have at p authenticity. People need to believe that their contact person m e feels their need and wants to help. The instant someone l fu p feels as though help is given conditionally — because l he “it’s the job,” or “as long as it’s easy,” or because a commission, tip or bonus is the reward (think y t i jaded hospitality worker) — the magic is gone. til a A second skill is social versatility. I know a lot rs e of wonderful people who are popular, effective v al i and focused — as long as the people they deal c so with are peers. But someone who can talk cogently to the parents, get down with the little

As I write this installment, it’s Thanksgiving week, and I’m feeling particularly thankful under my retail hat. You see, I have a new staff member. I’ve known her for a couple of years, brought her on as a piano teacher, and now she spends some time behind the counter in addition to her teaching schedule. I’m pleased enough with the way she works with customers that it got me analyzing why I was so impressed. I’ve had the good fortune to find some wonderful people to help me at the store; what makes her, even among them, exceptional? The answer should be important to you, and if you’re lucky, you have (or will find) a person with similar skills.

People need to believe that their contact person feels their need and wants to help.


Oh, she has all the usual ground covered. She’s reliable, honest, smart and hard working. Plays well with others, and all that. But when speaking to our widely varied clientele, she seems to be able to help them as effectively as I can, despite less familiarity with products, procedures and repairs. No, she can’t answer every question. But she makes every customer feel as though she’ll get the answer for them, or connect them with someone who can help. That’s key, and here’s why. I’ve long said that the best retail people aren’t just pleasant or ingratiating. We’ve all met someone who calls you “buddy” five minutes after meeting you. He’s the stereotypical salesperson looking for just enough trust to close a sale, someone who uses the


fifth grader and make them smile, and keep both teens and grandparents engaged is the Holy Grail. Whether my staffer was raised that way, learned it as she grew up in the world or was simply “a natural” (for lack of a better term) doesn’t matter: it’s there in spades. I certainly can’t take credit for it, because it was one of the first things I noticed about her. You’ll hire plenty of people that are a big help on tasks, have heavy expertise and skills or are great at closing a sale. But unless they have the above mentioned skills, they will need to be either sequestered (I know amazing repair people who should never, ever, be allowed to talk to customers, for example) or monitored steadily as they interact with people. That’s on management’s task list. Of course, since it’s Thanksgiving, a food metaphor is on my mind. We all know someone who may be a great cook, but leaves the kitchen a shambles in your house, and you’ll have to clean up their mess. But if you’re lucky enough to find someone with the personality I describe, you will reap a benefit that only an owner or manager can fully understand: the peace of mind that comes from the knowledge that (metaphorically speaking) the leftovers are stored, the dishes are done, and everyone left the table impressed and satisfied. Think about how good that would feel, or if you are that lucky already, remind that person how amazing you think they are, and thank them, even if you did so a half hour ago. You can’t thank them enough, Thanksgiving or not.



CASIO’S CT-X Series Portable Keyboards By Anthony Vargas

When it comes to instruments, portability can be a double-edged sword. Musicians appreciate the convenience of being able to take their instruments with them on the road wherever they go, not to mention the reduced cost of portable instruments. However, there is a stigma that these instruments sacrifice too much functionality and sound quality in favor of portability. With its new CT-X line of portable keyboards, Casio hopes to dispel that stigma entirely. The CT-X line consists of four models:

CT-X700, CT-X800, CT-X3000 and CT-X5000. “The CT-X models are 61-key portable keyboards with built-in speaker systems that provide hundreds of tones and rhythms in an affordable package. The concept was to raise the bar for how good a portable keyboard could sound, while retaining its value proposition,” said Rich Formidoni, product marketing manager for Casio’s Electronic Musical Instruments Division. “Value has always been a cornerstone of the portable keyboard category, and the CT-X line represents the ultimate value: A series of portable keyboards that sound like instruments costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more.” The reason CT-X models can deliver sound that’s comparable to non-portable keyboards is because of the series’ next-generation AiX (Acoustic and Intelligent multi-Expression) sound source. “The CT-X keyboards include a brand-new technology we call AiX, which allows for faster and more complex signal processing,” said Formidoni. “The AiX technology gives us eight times as much DSP processing capability as our previous-generation sound source. This means more power for processorhungry effects like reverb and delay, which are crucial for players at any level. With AiX, we can also add more effects into the chain, such as guitar amplifier models, vintage phasers 86

and flangers, rotary speaker emulation, and more. It also allows for more memory for the sample instruments themselves, allowing for more articulations and expressive nuances for acoustic and synth sounds alike.” He added, “Thanks to the AiX technology, the fidelity and complexity of the tones and rhythms is vastly improved. We now have room for larger samples with additional velocity layers, articulations and long, natural decays. This translates to authenticity. Tones and rhythms can be added to the CT-X3000 and CT-X5000, and users can customize the sounds as they see fit.” The CT-X series also boasts some significant advances in sound delivery. “The amplifiers and speakers in the CT-X700, CT-X800 and CT-X3000 have all been improved dramatically,” explained Formidoni. “They sound crisp and clear throughout the entire volume and frequency ranges, without adding too much weight or depth to the chassis. The CT-X5000 has a very powerful 15x15-watt speaker system that takes that formula even further, allowing you to play confidently in a small venue without needing any additional amplification.” The CT-X series also offers some additional features to allow musicians even more options for sound customization. “Tone Editing allows you to dig deeper into the sound you’re playing. You can modify things like attack and release time, filter cutoff and resonance, reverb and chorus depth, and additional effect parameters. This gets especially fun when playing with the CT-X’s library of analog synthesizer waveforms,” explained Formidoni. “The Phrase Pads allow you to record musical phrases and trigger them via front-panel buttons. They could be piano arpeggios, guitar strums, drum breaks, sound effects or just about anything else you can imagine. These are especially useful when performing a complex song that requires you to play many parts at once.” Tone Editing and Phrase Pad functionality are included in both the CT-X3000 and CT-X5000. With its expanded feature set and upgraded sound source, Casio expects the CT-X line to reach an even wider audience than the company’s previous portable speaker models. “Typically, the target audience for portable keyboards such as CT-X includes young players, beginner-to-intermediate musicians and budget-minded players needing a portable solution for small gigs,” noted Formidoni. “That said, the CT-X’s biggest surprise is its sound quality, which will widen the audience to include more demanding musicians who still appreciate value. In our focus group tests during production, all the keyboard players to whom we showed the CT-X were blown away by the sound quality.” Given the company’s excitement about this new series of keyboards, Casio is eager to work with retailers to market the CT-X line. “The CT-X line represents a big change in quality expectations for the portable keyboard category, with the same incredible value proposition for both our dealers and their customers,” said Formidoni. “One of the reasons our dealers love us is because we generate lots of content that makes it easy for them to get our instruments into their customers’ hands. They will have instant access to product videos, photos and other marketing resources via our online dealer portal at” The CT-X700 carries an MSRP of $259.99, and is available now. The CT-X800 carries an MSRP of $299.99, and is also available now. The CT-X3000 and CT-X5000 have an MSRP of $419.99 and $799.99, respectively, and will both be available in March. JANUARY 2018



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Ad Index



ADAM HALL...............................35 ALFRED PUBLISHING..............27 AMAHI UKULELES...................43 AUDIX CORPORATION.............75 BANDLAB TECHNOLOGIES....57 BITTREE......................................91 BOURNS PRO AUDIO................93 C.F. MARTIN & CO.....................21 CABLE PORTER.........................54 CASIO...........................................23 CE DISTRIBUTION....................45 CELESTION.................................33 CHAUVET LIGHTING................77 CHESBRO MUSIC.......................25 D'ADDARIO.................................17 D'ADDARIO.................................19 DEXIBELL................................... 79 DRUMDOTS................................93 EARTHWORKS AUDIO..............53 ETYMOTIC RESEARCH............56 FENDER.......................................11 FISHMAN TRANSDUCERS.......37 GALAXY AUDIO........................3 GATOR CASES............................7 GATOR CASES............................9 GIBSON PRO AUDIO..................61 GLP - GERMAN LIGHT PRODUCTS...............................52 GRAPH TECH..............................71 IMS TECHNOLOGIES................91 KALA BRAND MUSIC CO........30 KHS AMERICA...........................73 KIRLIN INDUSTRIES.................26 KYSER MUSICAL PRODUCTS.16 LITTLITE.....................................36 LEE OSKAR PRODUCTIONS....93 LM PRODUCTS...........................10 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY................................6 MARSHALL ELECTRONICS......................... C-III MUSIC & ARTS CENTER..........87 MUSIC CHINA............................34 NAMM.....................................14-15 NEW SENSOR.............................39 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS...................................41 PEAK MUSIC STANDS..............92 PEAVEY.......................................55 PRO X...........................................31 RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE........28 RAPCO/HORIZON COMPANY.12 RAT...............................................47 RCF...............................................C-II REVERB.COM.............................5 SABIAN........................................59 SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL.......67 THE CAVANAUGH COMPANY.51 TRUSST........................................32 U.S. BAND & ORCHESTRA SUPPLIES.................................18 VOCOPRO....................................13 WD MUSIC PRODUCTS............8 YAMAHA...................................C-IV YORKVILLE................................29 ZILDJIAN.....................................49 While every care is taken to ensure that these listings are accurate and complete, The Music & Sound Retailer does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors.


Hence, things are definitely going right for Amazon regarding its financial standing, with Bitcoin perhaps being the only thing that’s talked about more. But although Amazon is raking in cash and has a loyal customer base that lauds its customer service and rapid shipping, not everyone is pleased with the retail giant. MI manufacturers have experienced problems with Amazon recently, with two of the biggest concerns being the retailer’s return policy and counterfeit products being sold on the website. In fact, Electro-Harmonix (E-H) was the first to announce it was terminating its relationship with Amazon.

“We sent a letter to Amazon in May, stating we will not supply them with product any longer,” Mike Matthews, founder of E-H, told the Music & Sound Retailer during a phone interview. He added that as a vendor, he has had several problems with Amazon, including its return policy. “With Amazon, customers can return a product for any reason and get immediate credit,” said Matthews. “In addition, if the customer checks off that the product wasn’t working or functioning, then the return is free freight, no questions asked. So, most consumers check off that the product is not working. And then, when Amazon returns the product to us, they charge what we feel are exorbitant shipping costs.” Matthews explained this shipping cost carries a flat rate of $3.02 per item, and when multiple items are returned, shipping costs really add up. A second reason why E-H terminated its relationship with Amazon is due to MAP pricing, E-H’s founder told the Retailer. Matthews noted retailers can have “stores” on Amazon’s site that sell E-H products below MAP, and it is difficult for the vendor to decipher who the violator is. This is because of Amazon’s policy of “co-mingling” shipments as it decides. This makes it impossible to decipher from serial numbers just who the alias really is. “It even reached the ridiculousness where Amazon was complaining to us about people selling below MAP on their site under alias names,” said Matthews. “They wouldn’t tell us who it is, yet they are complaining to us about it. It’s absurd.” Matthews told MI retailers not to advertise E-H product on Amazon after Aug. 1. “Most of our stores are extremely excited about this policy,” Matthews said. “I believe enough dealers will be pleased they don’t need to compete with Amazon regarding our products and will put more emphasis on stocking and selling Electro-Harmonix.” (Editor’s Note: For more on Electro-Harmonix and Amazon, see Mike Matthews’ comments in this month’s “Five Minutes With.”) Joseph Turek, CEO of Sound Enhancement LLC, followed suit, announcing Morely and Ebtech products would no longer be sold on Amazon. “When we purchased the Morley business in 2016, we took the time to understand our brands and our place in the market. We visited our top customers and asked them what we needed to do to keep them healthy and alive. The resounding comment that came back was to upgrade our product, remake our website and get rid of JANUARY 2018

Amazon as a customer. Quite frankly, we were shocked at this statement about Amazon. But after hearing the same message over and over, we began to take note. “We started to compare what value our dealer network brought to the table versus what we saw with Amazon,” continued Turek. “When you peel back the onion, the picture is rather shocking. Our dealers bring real value to the consumers of our products. They offer real customer service with a human being knowledgeable about our products. They offer advice on how our products work, tips on how to interconnect devices, other products that augment our line and real

age that says String Swing, and it says String Swing on it. Someone who didn’t work with or know the product well wouldn’t think anything of it until they install it or use it and realize it’s not very good quality. The mounting hardware and components are not anywhere near as high a quality compared to our products. But at first look, it’s a decent reflection [of our products].” According to Thieman, String Swing has contacted Amazon, which has not been quick to resolve the issue. However, the online retailer is working on a new level of brand registry, expected to roll out shortly, that String Swing is “eager to take part in.”

hand holding when necessary. That is a huge commitment from our dealers with investments in human resources, training and systems. What does Amazon do with respect to customer service? Nothing! You cannot reach a human being for any problem. All the consumer can do is send a product back without recourse and post a message saying how disappointed they were. Unfortunately, these comments are addressed to Morley and not to Amazon. Our brand can get tarnished unjustifiably with no reflection on the lack of support from Amazon. That is just not right.” Amazon’s Cecilia Fan responded with the following to a request for comment from the Music & Sound Retailer: “Amazon has a thorough, efficient appeals process for returns sellers believe to be fraudulent.” Regarding price, she noted, “We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon. This includes the confidence that they will find prices as low as anywhere else. We obsess over the things we believe customers will always care about — low prices, vast selection and fast delivery — and work hard to provide all three, all the time.” MI retailers who sell products on the popular website can expect a different experience, according to Reverb’s CEO and founder, David Kalt. “Sellers on Reverb are empowered to select or create the return policy that fits their business and lifestyle. Some choose not to accept returns, some create a custom policy based on, for example, the policies of their physical store, and others select our ‘Reverb Recommended’ return policy, which is based on our experience buying and selling gear online,” Kalt told the Retailer. “Most buyers and sellers on the platform are able to work out any return activity on their own based on the policies set by the seller, but when an issue does arise, Reverb’s customer service team is available via email, chat, and phone to help the buyer and the seller come to a resolution. One of the biggest benefits of selling on Reverb, and one of the biggest differentiators when compared to other options for selling gear online, is our customer engagement team. It essentially acts as an extension of each seller’s business.”

Knock Off the Knockoffs

Counterfeit MI items are another problem manufacturers face on Amazon. String Swing has fought this battle head on. “We purchased a guitar hanger that looks and feels a fair amount like a String Swing, but it’s not,” Travis Thieman, vice president of Ontario, Wis.-based String Swing, told the Retailer. “It came in a pack-



“But up until that point, anyone can go on [Amazon] and say I have one of those for sale, ship into the Prime system and sell it, regardless if it is authentic or not, until you can prove otherwise to Amazon, which can be quite a task,” Thieman said. Thieman relayed String Swing is not alone. Several other manufacturers, whether in MI or not, have also faced this issue. Counterfeiters clearly believe the financial upside outweighs the effort it takes to illegally copy a product. “I’m not an expert in this, but what I understand is happening and what I believe happened with our product is someone can go to a website, such as Alibaba, and find a manufacturer in China, send them a sample of what you want, and if the company is willing to violate IP [intellectual property] rights, they make a product that’s so close the lay person can’t tell. You can source that product for a fraction of the cost than a legitimate dealer and then resell it at a much higher margin.” RØDE Microphones has also likely faced the counterfeit problem. At the very top of its website, RØDE issued the following statement last year: “Important information about purchasing from Amazon in the U.S.: RØDE Microphones does not authorize Fulfilled by Amazon. We have purchased counterfeit RØDE products using Fulfilled by Amazon and highly recommend that you only purchase RØDE products from authorized dealers. If you purchase any RØDE microphone from an unauthorized dealer via Fulfilled by Amazon, you will not receive any U.S. warranty or technical support.” “Amazon is constantly innovating on behalf of our customers and working with brands, manufacturers, rights owners, and others to improve the ways we detect and prevent counterfeit products from reaching our marketplace,” answered Amazon’s Fan, regarding counterfeits. “When a business registers to sell products through Amazon’s Marketplace, Amazon’s automated systems scan information for signals that the business might be a bad actor, and Amazon blocks those bad actors during registration before they can offer any products for sale. Amazon invests heavily in innovative machine learning to improve our automated systems in order to anticipate and stay ahead of bad actors, and we employ dedicated teams of software engineers, research scientists, program managers, and investigators to operate and continually refine our anti-counterfeiting program. “Further, Amazon’s systems automatically and continuously scan numerous variables related to sellers, products and offers to detect activity that indicates products offered might be counterfeit. Amazon also offers Amazon Brand Registry [alluded to earlier by String Swing's Thieman], a free service that provides all rights owners with access to powerful tools including proprietary text and image search, predictive automation based on reports of suspected IP rights violations, and increased authority over product listings,” the Amazon representative continued. “Amazon Brand Registry enables us to better partner with rights owners in protecting their brands and our customers. We take this fight very seriously and work hard on this issue every day because we know that our customers trust that they are buying authentic products when 92

they shop on” When it comes to combatting counterfeits on its website, Reverb has a three-step approach, Kalt said of his company’s anti-counterfeit strategy. “First, we have a listings team that reviews every single listing posted to the website — this is where the majority of the counterfeit products are caught,” he stated. “The team pays close attention to pictures, descriptions, price discrepancies and more to spot fakes. I can’t tell you much more than that, since I don’t want to disclose our secrets to the counterfeit product makers. Second, anyone in the Reverb community can flag listings. Reverb users are extremely active and vigilant, and if something is flagged by two users, it’s automatically taken down for further review. Finally, we utilize a third-party technology that uses machine learning to identify and match common patterns among risky buyers and listings.” Although a counterfeit problem is certainly bad for the consumer, one could argue it could be beneficial to Amazon’s competitors. Kalt disagreed, however. “No, I don’t think that consumers having poor experiences associated with buying instruments is a positive thing, particularly because the consumers who get conned into buying fake instruments are likely beginners, and anything that deters a new person from learning to play an instrument is bad for the entire MI industry,” he said. “Plus, nearly everyone who works at Reverb, myself included, are consumers of music gear, and many of us have experienced issues buying online pre-Reverb. It’s not fun. “The bigger message here is that this is an issue that impacts the MI industry in a very specific way,” added Kalt. “Counterfeit instruments cannot be handled by a blanket policy that also covers counterfeit clothing, cosmetics and more. Reverb is uniquely positioned to combat this issue — and other problems unique to our industry — because we are a website specifically catered to musicians and the nuances that come with selling musical instruments online.”

On the Retail Front

Whether MI manufacturers find selling on Amazon tough sledding or not, there’s no question the online powerhouse is here to stay. Online sales in the United States were poised to grow by 15.8 percent, or $452.76 billion, by the end of 2017, reported RetailDive. Amazon was poised to capture 43.5 percent (or $196.75 billion) of that amount — almost 4 percent of all retail sales in the U.S., with overall e-commerce accounting for 9 percent of all U.S. retail sales. “The more manufacturers empower retailers to provide the products and experiences their customers want, the more their partnership will help them gain ground in the race against Amazon’s encroachment,” Rain Retail Software noted in a statement to the Retailer. “Music retailers and manufacturers must leverage the power provided by online tools to integrate physical and digital spheres into an omnichannel experience that provides shoppers with a seamless and consistent experience. Doing so will differentiate retailers from competitors such as Amazon, helping them not only attract and retain customers, but also thrive and grow despite being in the midst of a challenging retail ‘apocalypse.’” According to Rain CEO Sean Roylance, its point-of-sale platform is one way to gain a competitive edge. “Our omnichannel point of sale provides MI retailers an easy way to offer in-store inventory online, generating additional foot traffic to their store and increasing overall sales by JANUARY 2018

20 percent, on average,” he said. “The standard point-of-sale system that a lot of the other retailers in the industry have been using we found was just way too difficult and outdated. Since using Rain Retail’s omnichannel point-of-sale system, we’ve seen an increase

of over 35 percent in our sales. People do their research online first and then they walk into our store already knowing what they want to buy,” concluded Jeremy Chapman, owner of Springfield, Mo.-based MI store The Chapman’s Acoustic Shoppe.

perfect being able to play all the songs on that Rush album. What is the best thing about the MI industr y? Gilman: It is the chance to work with and hang with other folks that have similar interests. Most years after Summer NAMM in Nashville,

I ride with a group of other motorcycle enthusiasts in the MI business throughout Tennessee and North Carolina. We always make sure to ride the famous Tail of the Dragon between the two states. It is fun to work hard and play hard with some good friends that I have had the chance to meet in the industry.


(continued from page 82) Amazon cannot, which is customer service. We match any price, so it costs the same to get more here. But some people just don’t want to leave the house.” Kramer laments that cellphones and the internet have changed the music retail business, leading many to walk in on their phones unwilling to engage. For those who do look up from their screens, Kramer is proud to offer a unique shopping experience that has kept them coming back for the past 20 years. “You can’t please everyone, so I do what works for me and my core customer base. It’s a wonderful thing when people like my store and buy from here and recommend it to their friends,” he said, “or when I sell a kid their first guitar and, years later, I see them and they give me a hug and thank me, or they bring in their own son or daughter.” Kramer also got the opportunity to connect with customers both old and new this past summer in the wake of Hurricane

Irma, which caused a small leak between two guitars in the store and led to almost two weeks of cancelled lessons, but otherwise left the store unscathed. “Our electricity went out on Saturday night and didn’t come back until Tuesday. Sam Ash and Guitar Center were both without electricity for even longer, so we had some new customers finding our store location,” Kramer recalled. “They enjoyed the different type of sales experience we offer and are now Guitar Exchange regulars. Always a silver lining.” Coming up on The Guitar Exchange’s 20th anniversary, Kramer is proud of the job he and his staff have done serving the local community. “A lot of stores have closed in this area, which is kind of sad, but we are still here.” He concluded, “If the store were to close, it would not be going out of business but rather due to my retirement, which is a great position to be in. Every day is fun but challenging. Overall, I wouldn’t change it.”

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(continued from page 94) I would go with “Day on the Green” in Oakland, Calif., in 1987. It was a road trip just to get to the Coliseum, which was completely packed. It was a thrill to be able to attend such a famous and longrunning Bill Graham-promoted, general-admission concert. If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Gilman: Why not go big and go with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart playing in Vienna, or Johann Sebastian Bach playing his fugues on an organ in church? There are so many musicians that I admire, but when you think about the development of Western music, these guys were among the giants that truly shaped history with their compositions. You don’t MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

think I would have to wear a powdered wig at the event, right? That could be a deal breaker!

What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most? Gilman: That would be “Tom Sawyer” by the band Rush. I’ll never forget the first time I heard that song. I was on the school bus in eighth grade when an older student cranked this song on his boom box (that would be a large portable stereo system for your younger readers!). The sound and rhythms were so different than anything else I had heard — it blew my mind. I spent the better part of the next 10 years trying to 93



Corporate Vice President, Yamaha Corp. of America

By Brian Berk A new year brings changes, with the Music & Sound Retailer presenting a new feature that introduces readers to the people behind the companies they purchase products from. Look for “The Final Note” as the last editorial page each month this year. Our first article features Yamaha’s Garth Gilman.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Garth Gilman: One of my greatest mentors is Rick Young, who recently retired as senior vice president at Yamaha. Rick hired me to work for Yamaha, and I worked directly for him for 14 years in six different positions and three different divisions. Rick allowed me great autonomy, but was always available for great counsel and advice, of which I took frequent advantage. What was the best advice you ever received? Gilman: Well, this relates very closely to the previous question. Rick Young was a huge advocate for the interests of the MI retailer. He fully understood that thriving in the long term happens only through the mutual success of Above from left to right: Joe Lamond of NAMM, Beth Talbott and Brad Talbott from Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, Dale Walksler from Wheels Through Time, Sandy Goff and Mark Goff from Paige’s Music, and Yamaha’s Garth Gillman.


Yamaha and its retail partners. In nearly every substantive discussion, he would explain in some way the need to understand and keep dealers’ interests in mind. What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Gilman: I started school music in fourth grade and took private lessons on the clarinet. My instrument was a hand-me-down “attic horn” that I never could get to play right. Later in life, when I understood the importance of starting new players on quality instruments, I still wonder if an inferior instrument caused me to completely reject the clarinet and demand that my parents allow me to play percussion instead. What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Gilman: By far, the instrument I have always enjoyed playing the most was drum set. I got my first real kit for Christmas in fifth grade and even though I continued to take private lessons and participated in jazz, concert, marching and honor bands all the way through high school as a percussionist, I was a drum set player at heart. Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Gilman: One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I worked in the construction trades after high school to put myself through community college. I worked in commercial tear-off roofing, as an apprentice electrician, as a carpenter and plumber. I still really enjoy doing DIY projects around the house — although crawling around in the attic and under the house is a lot more difficult than it used to be when I was in my 20s! What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Gilman: I love hiking and backpacking — especially when it involves long distances and being self-sufficient. My love for backpacking comes from many family trips as I was growing up, and my participation in the Boy Scouts of America. Several years ago, I was able to tack on some extra vacation time to a business trip and climb Mt. Fuji in Japan. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Gilman: That’s a difficult question because I listen to a wide range of music genres. I guess (continued on page 93) JANUARY 2018

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Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.