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January 2020 Volume 37, No. 1



(see page 26)

Special Report MUSIC’S GREAT REFORMATIVE POWERS (see page 32)

Watch it online at msr.io/ctv-namm.

A limitless expression of our instrument-building imagination.

MASTER CRAFTSMANSHIP MEETS V-CLASS PERFORMANCE. Taylor Master Builder Andy Powers combines the tone-shaping framework of his award-winning V-Class™ bracing with ultra-refined playing features to create a new level of guitar innovation in both sound and feel. Experience the next frontier of Taylor design in our most player-friendly collection yet.


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SWIM Sends Six Women to The NAMM Show

The Smart Women in Music (SWIM) fund announced six recipients of its 2020 NAMM Show awards program. The awards will provide emerging female leaders in the MI industry with a travel stipend to attend The NAMM Show (Jan. 16-19, 2020) in Anaheim, Calif. While there, the group will have access to hundreds of professional-development sessions, job shadowing with female industry leaders and networking with peers. “The SWIM Fund was born out of a desire to reach and serve women who wish to expand their horizons and professional proficiencies, and who demonstrate ambition to enhance their leadership skills,” said SWIM captain Robin Walenta. “It’s our sincere hope that the female leaders of tomorrow will arise through this opportunity.” The 2020 NAMM Show SWIM Fund awardees are Stacy Swanson, regional manager of lessons at Music & Arts; Jane Angel, lessons manager, Middle C Music; Kristi Jacobson, customer service manager, Alfred Publishing; Heather Mansell, marketing manager — education, Yamaha; Alice Monk, communications and events coordinator, Music Industry Association (MIA); and Alexandra Bosier, band, orchestra and printed music manager, Strait Music Co. For the recipients, the SWIM award represents an opportunity to connect with like-minded peers at the industry’s global gathering. Alice Monk is a first-time attendee of the show. “At The NAMM Show, I will have networking opportunities with 7,000-plus brands that I may not have connected with before. I will be able to choose from 400-plus

educational sessions that would enhance my understanding of issues, from retail innovation to music education, and present me with innovative ideas from industry thought leaders,” she said. “Continuing education and career advancement are important to me, and given the size of The NAMM Show, along with the abundant educational sessions, this is an excellent opportunity for me to learn about new industry topics, trends and products,” added Jacobson. “I hope to gain new connections while strengthening the ones I’ve already made in the music products industry. I hope to be inspired by new experiences and motivated to come up with new ideas for my departments and store. Overall, I hope to learn and soak in as much as I can from experienced women leaders in our industry,” added Alexandra Bosier. The fund, led by Robin Walenta, president of West Music Co., Crystal Morris, president and CEO of Gator Cases, and DeDe Heid, executive vice president of Heid Music, was launched in 2018 and aims to support women in the industry in three key areas: offering mentoring, learning and professional development opportunities at The NAMM Show and Summer NAMM; job shadowing of female leaders at industry events; and in-company residencies.

Knilling Workshop Gets a Makeover

In the latest investment in one of its legacy brands, St. Louis Music has expanded, re-organized and renovated its U.S. Knilling workshop, enabling accelerating production to meet rising demand while maintaining and refining the throughput and adjustment process. “We turned a workshop with factory-level demand into a factory with a workshop’s attention to detail,” said SLM’s Chris Meikle, senior vice president of sales, marketing and product. “The results have been fantastic. We have massively reduced lead times on stringed instruments while raising their quality and consistency.” Created with the help of a dedicated design engineer, the new shop is designed to incorporate advanced CNC machining and other tools and protocols to customize and adjust stringed instrument outfits quickly, while also offering premium advanced setup and comprehensive choice of product specs. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER


Features 38 30 for 2020

We highlight 30 products being featured at The NAMM Show this month.

50 Not Your Average Column

Tim and Lana Spicer made a cross-country trip in an effort to learn best MI retail practices. Here’s what they found.


52 Retailing Better

On the Cover

As an MI retailer, you may need to do some retraining of your sales staff, explains Robert Christie. Here’s why.

54 NAMM University Educational Session Listings

26 The Greatest Gift to MI

The Music & Sound Retailer sits down for an interview with Bernie Williams, whose advocacy for music and MI is unrivaled.

56 AKG Celebrates 70th Anniversary

A recap of AKG’s 70th anniversary celebration in Los Angeles, during which the company presented a lifetime achievement award to legendary producer Quincy Jones.

32 Music’s Great Reformative Powers

In this special report, we explore how music is transforming the lives of those in prison.

58 Who MI

Ever wondered about all of the brands a company manufactures and distributes? We provide all the answers in one place, starting with Yorkville Sound this month.

60 Special to the Retailer

There’s a simple way to keep your customers coming back to the store. Introduce them to the world of in-ear monitoring, says Mike Dias, executive director of the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization.

62 Front and Center 34

The Women’s International Music Network interviews one of MI’s best-known retailers, Myrna Sislen, owner of Middle C Music in Washington, D.C.

64 Five Minutes With

For our NAMM issue, we go big by interviewing all three partners at Taylor Guitars: Bob Taylor, Kust Listug and Andy Powers.

68 MI Spy

Everyone’s favorite spy returns after a month off to head to the Steel City.

72 Tips From the Teacher 56

The “death of retail” is a concern retailers often think about it. Kimberly Deverell tells you how to avoid this fate this year.

74 Grassroots Marketing

Mike and Miriam Risko, owners of Mike Risko Music in Ossining, N.Y., join our team of columnists. They write about how to reach your local community by marketing your storefront the old-fashioned way.

76 In the Trenches

Something very simple — a good attitude — can make a huge difference as an MI dealer.

78 Retailer Rebel 63

Consumers are 70-percent more likely to buy something they’ve watched a video on, and videos can boost your conversions by 80 percent, making them crucial to your business, says Gabriel O’Brien.

80 Shine a Light

Steve Stoltenberg has been the man behind Northwest Music Shop in Davenport, Iowa since the 1970s. He shares how he has seen both the community and MI industry grow since.

82 Veddatorial

Dan Vedda takes an in-depth look at 2019’s “Black Cybergiving” week and the current state of online retail.

84 Under the Hood: Fender

Fender unveiled its American Ultra Series, which the company says is its most advanced modern guitar.



86 Under the Hood: KRK


KRK ROKIT G4 Studio Monitors feature a systematically designed low-resonance enclosure for minimal distortion and colorization, and a high-density ISO that decouples the speaker from the surface. The company also introduced an accompanying app.

3 Latest 12 People 16 Products

94 The Final Note

For Yoshi Ikegami, president of BOSS, nothing is more valuable than his family, but otherwise, his most prized possession is his ’59 Gibson Les Paul 60th anniversary model.



Monitoring. Editing. Mixing. In the Studio. At Home. On the Road.

Discover the NDH 20 – the first Neumann headphone: NDH20.neumann.com


2020 Vision Considering you are reading this on Jan. 16 at the earliest, I am certainly not the first to say so, but happy new year! I am generally a modest person, but I really think this issue gets 2020 off to a tremendous start. Whether you are reading this issue at The NAMM Show or not, I truly feel it offers everything. I am especially proud of our two cover stories this month. Our interview with ex-New York Yankees star and current music advocate and musician Bernie Williams is not to be missed. Is there any greater champion for the MI industry than Williams? Also not to be missed is our special report on the tremendous rehabilitative powers music has. We spoke to the coordinators of two music programs being run in prisons today. The differences a choir in Iowa and a women’s orchestra in Alaska, respectively, are making are absolutely incredible for both inmates and the community at large. We also spoke to a former inmate who, in large part thanks to music, has completely turned his life around following his release from prison. If you want a feel-good story, you’ve got it! But that’s not all we have. In fact, it’s not even close. Once again with a new year, we have added new editorial. First, we have a couple of fantastic retailers joining the Music & Sound Retailer’s stable of columnists. Mike and Miriam Risko, the team behind Mike Risko Music and Mike Risko Music School, will be offering plenty of tips in the pages of this magazine in the coming months in their column titled “Grassroots Marketing.” “Who MI” is another new feature we are introducing this year. Want to know all the brands a company manufactures and distributes? Here is your one-stop shop. Then, there are the returning favorites. Want to find out new products being introduced at NAMM? We’ve

got 30 new product debuts for you in our “30 for 2020” feature. After taking December off for a Best of 2019 recap, the MI Spy is back with more mission reports. Looking for in-depth interviews with MI’s biggest leaders? In this month’s “Five Minutes With,” we have all three partners at Taylor Guitars joining us: Bob Taylor, Kurt Listug and Andy Powers. We also have features on Fender and KRK coming your way. If that’s not enough for you, check out our “The Final Note” feature on Yoshi Ikegami, president of BOSS, and the Women’s International Music Network’s interview with Myrna Sislen, owner of Middle C Music in Washington, D.C. We even have Mike Dias, executive director of the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization, who penned a great piece on how in-ear monitors can be a natural upsell product at your store. And I haven’t even mentioned the lifeblood of our magazine yet: all the returning retailer columnists. This month, we have columns from Dan Vedda, Allen McBroom, Kimberly Deverell, Gabriel O’Brien, Tim Spicer and Robert Christie. Check back soon for new columns from Will Mason and Donovan Bankhead as well. To sum up, we are really looking forward to a great year at the Music & Sound Retailer. But more importantly, I hope it is a great year for you at your store. If there is any way we can help you reach that goal, please reach out to me at bberk@testa.com. Have a great 2020.

January 2020 Volume 37, No. 1


JANICE PUPELIS Art Director STEVE THORAKOS Production Manager CIRCULATION circulation@testa.com FRED GUMM Digital Art Director


ROBERT L. IRAGGI Advertising Director riraggi@testa.com RICKY PIMENTEL Art/Production Assistant rpimentel@testa.com ROBIN HAZAN Operations Manager rhazan@testa.com 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 Report • 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.



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Yamaha to Host Four NAMM Show Concerts

Sarah McLachlan will headline Yamaha’s concert activities during The NAMM Show, taking place Jan. 16-19 in Anaheim, Calif. Yamaha will host four major concerts during the weekend; the first two are scheduled for the opening evening of NAMM, on Thursday, Jan. 16. Beginning at 6 p.m. on the NAMM Yamaha Grand Plaza Stage will be the “NAMM Foundation Celebration for Music Education,” featuring Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Sarah McLachlan. At 7 p.m. in the Pacific Ballroom at the Hilton Anaheim (across the Grand Plaza from the Marriott), “NAMM Night of Worship,” presented by Yamaha, will be headlined by Michael W. Smith, celebrating a career spanning 35 years and counting. On Friday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m., Yamaha will kick off the premier event of NAMM: the “Yamaha All-Star Concert on the Grand 2020,” Sarah McLachlan a multi-artist, multimedia extravaganza for all attendees, on the NAMM Yamaha Grand Plaza Stage. The company will close the weekend’s concert festivities on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. with the “Tower of Power 50th Anniversary Concert,” also on the Grand Plaza Stage. Yamaha will power all major concert events during NAMM. A combination of NEXO loudspeaker systems and Yamaha RIVAGE digital-mixing consoles will drive the sound, the same systems used worldwide on national and regional concert tours, at festivals, in houses of worship, and in other diverse live and installed sound-system applications. “Yamaha is ready to inspire and energize this year’s NAMM Show, not only with exciting new instruments and gear, but also with superstar-quality music events,” said Tom Sumner, president, Yamaha Corp. of America. “We have made it our mission to touch off the creative passion of every one of the tens of thousands of music lovers and experts expected to attend this year, so that they may inspire others in turn.”







Credit: Kharen Hill

Warm Audio, a manufacturer of classic analog recording gear, has granted Hal Leonard distribution of its various products throughout the United States. The announcement came from Bryce Young, founder and president of Warm Audio, and Brad Smith, VP of MI products at Hal Leonard. Founded in 2011, Bryce Young started Warm Audio with the goal of building highend recording products to help aspiring musicians and engineers gain access to fully professional equipment. Over time, Young put together a team of audio experts with a combined experience of more than 50 years in the development, manufacturing, marketing and sales of pro-audio equipment. The team has introduced over 20 innovative products to the market and has received multiple nominations and awards by renowned industry professionals. Known as the world’s largest publisher of music-education materials, songbooks and sheet music, Hal Leonard is now AT also a distributor of musical instruments, gear and accessories with a diverse lineup of products. Hal Leonard is adding Warm Audio to a premier roster of audio recording products and accessories, including Avid, Apogee, Blue Microphones, IK Multimedia and more. “We are excited and proud to be distributed by Hal Leonard,” said Young. “They are SAXOPHONES BRASS a sharp group with a strong pulse on the industr y, and we are continually impressed with their knowledge of music technology products. We feel they are a perfect fit to expose Warm Audio’s value to more dealers, musicians and www.phaetontrumpet.com enthusiasts.”



Hal Leonard Warms Up to Warm Audio






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Schmidt’s Hosts Sales That Work Like a Charm

Pensacola, Fla.-based Schmidt’s Music hosted a pre-Black Friday sale on Nov. 16, the first sale of its kind ever hosted in the store. Years of step-up instrument events held at local schools had yielded only modest results for the store, with correspondingly modest benefits to the hosting band programs, stated the retailer. So Dave Schmidt and his team took a gamble on a new approach: a single big in-store event, marketed to every middle- and high-school band in the area through print, social media and word of mouth. The store was open as usual during its normal Saturday hours, but then re-opened an hour later for the special sale. When Schmidt unlocked the door, an excited crowd lined the block. Although the entire sales staff was on hand to assist customers on the sales floor and in the instrument try-on rooms, the turnout was so strong that in no time people were shoulder-to-shoulder in the showroom waiting for their turn to play and purchase a new intermediate or professionallevel instrument. Many of the students’ parents had never even considered the idea of a more advanced instrument before and were blown away by the difference an upgrade could make to their young musician’s sound. A number of the area’s band directors had also come by to help advise their students and answer parents’ questions, and they were clearly thrilled by the response the event had generated. All in all, the sale was a tremendous success, with more instruments sold or rented during those four hours than in any previous year’s entire lineup of school step-up events combined. For the staff of Schmidt’s Music, though, the exhilaration on the faces of the students was by far the most gratifying reward of all.

“As a music store owner, it’s my job to make it easy to get highquality instruments into the hands of the local school musicians. Since we represent the best manufacturers of musical instruments in the world, we’re able to select from those manufacturers the models that best suit the needs of our customers, at prices they can afford,” said Schmidt. “This greatly enhances the sound of those students’ performance ensembles, which, in turn, helps fulfill the goals of the directors. It’s a win-win-win for all concerned.”

CE Distribution Is the Go-To for Gotoh CE Distribution, wholesale part distributor for guitars and amplifiers, has been appointed U.S. distributor

for Gotoh Pickups. For decades, Gotoh has been supplying high-quality pickups to guitar manufacturers across the globe. Classic Gotoh Pickups are all fashioned with Alnico magnets. Careful technique is used to wax pot these pickups to ensure stability at all levels of amplification. Gotoh Pickups utilize vintage-style materials and vintage winding standards. Whether installing in a new guitar, upgrading an old set or looking to explore new sounds, the value and quality of Gotoh Pickups offer an authentic experience for everyone, stated CE Distribution. 10



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John D’Addario III Named D’Addario CEO The D’Addario Co. has announced that John D’Addario III, son of John D’Addario, Jr. and nephew of the current CEO, Jim D’Addario, will take on the title of CEO in addition to his current role as president. The moves became effective Jan. 1. John D’Addario III has held many positions in the organization over his 23-year tenure with the company — from working in the shipping department as a teenager to positions in operations and sales to his current position as president.  D’Addario III has been instrumental in helping to drive D’Addario’s meteoric growth from an American guitar string company to a global powerhouse in the music accessories business. Jim D’Addario, one of the company’s founders and leaders since its inception in 1973, will be stepping down as CEO and assuming a new dual role as chairman of the board and chief innovation officer. In this capacity, Jim will continue to be responsible for driving innovation throughout the enterprise — particularly in product development and the engineering of D’Addario’s vast portfolio of accessory products. As chairman of the board, Jim D’Addario will also help to lead the company’s stockholders and board of directors in shaping the vision and mission of the largest music accessories brand in the world. “There’s no question that my grandfather, father and uncle had a unique vision for our company. My goal is to build on that vision and ensure sustainable growth, while never losing sight of our core values and the integrity of our brands,” said John D’Addario III. “I look forward to being able to focus on the aspects of the business I’ve always loved most — creating new, dynamic products that solve musicians’ problems and the innovative marketing behind them,” added Jim D’Addario. Jim and Janet D’Addario MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

began the company in a 2,000-square-foot Long Island storefront in 1973, with less than five employees and sales revenues of under $500,000 in their first year. In 1974, father John D’Addario, Sr. and brother John D’Addario, Jr. reunited with Jim and Janet to launch the D’Addario string brand. With centuries of string-making experience, their curiosity drove unprecedented growth, quickly establishing the fledgling D’Addario string brand as well-known in product and marketing innovation.  Through acquisition and organic growth, the company has expanded into and taken positions in virtually every musical accessory category. In 2019, with over 1,200 employees, the company has surpassed the $200 million revenue mark — a first in the company’s history. D’Addario products are now sold in more than 130 countries and serviced by employees from Farmingdale to Frankfurt. Beyond its New York headquarters, D’Addario boasts affiliate companies in Canada, Europe, China, Argentina, and Australia. “Jim built D’Addario into a powerhouse brand by virtue of his inspirational and visionary leadership. As the company expanded, he has groomed his management team to lead with the highest level of professionalism and integrity — simply a reflection of himself. We look forward to a bright future with John D’Addario III and his team and wish to thank Jim for his enormous contribution to the industry and the D’Addario family for their generous support over the years,” said Ronald Japinga, CEO, Guitar Center. Jim’s 45-year legacy touches every aspect of the business — from pioneering many of its most admired products (e.g. Phosphor Bronze, NYXL, Pro-Winder) — to instituting lean manufacturing in every location, to acquiring Kaplan, Evans, Planet Waves, Rico,

John D'Addario III (left) and Jim D'Addario

Puresound, RealFeel and Promark. In 1980, Jim and his wife Janet had the vision to form the D’Addario Foundation to support music education for children in underserved communities. John D’Addario III has been responsible for elevating the company’s manufacturing operation and spearheading its global expansion into China, India and other parts of the world. He has also presided over the rebranding of the company, which started in 2012 and culminated in the launch of the company’s new website in October. 

“Today we are a family of brands, but we’re also a family company. I am so proud of my nephew John and the leadership he has already brought to the company in his position as president. I am sure, with the help of so many talented and passionate people throughout the organization, he will continue to excel and accomplish extraordinary things in his new role as CEO. The D’Addario name is such a precious gift. It has been my life’s singular honor to build upon it, and now … to pass it on to the next generation,” concluded Jim D’Addario. 11


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Doing New Tricks at Neutrik

Neutrik USA promoted Stacy Kaskon to director of business development. In her new position, Kaskon is responsible for developing new markets for existing products, identifying new growth industries to assess their impact on Neutrik, and coordinating significant customer events at Neutrik USA, such as innovation workshops, customer appreciation and training events. She is also responsible for a host of related functions. Kaskon reports directly to Peter Milbery, president of Neutrik USA. “It’s important to do what makes your heart sing. That encompasses this role for me at Neutrik USA,” said Kaskon. “Building customer relationships while creating brand awareness across multiple markets and platforms … in the key of C.” “Stacy Kaskon is uniquely qualified for this new role at Neutrik,” added Milbery. “Stacy has an excellent track record in sales, distribution and business development. She started with Neutrik in 2011, when Neutrik USA moved to Charlotte from New Jersey. From the beginning, she has proven time and again her natural ability to discover and develop business opportunities while building lasting relationships. From my perspective, it is a natural evolution. The company will now depend even more on her skills for developing new markets for existing products and helping Neutrik identify new product opportunities.”


Lots to Like About Luke

Ernie Ball Inc. promoted Luke Noffke to director of global marketing and ecommerce. Noffke joined Ernie Ball in 2015 as director of marketing and helped drive several key initiatives, including the building of a best-in-class marketing team, the implementation of a robust global marketing strategy, and the complete redesigns of mobile-responsive websites for both the Ernie Ball and Ernie Ball Music Man brands. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Brian and the Ernie Ball brand for over 10 years, initially as a strategic marketing partner while at Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend, and then with these last five years helping steer the ship as a member of the Ernie Ball marketing department. Having the opportunity to step up and help guide such an industry-leading, iconic, family-owned brand into the next chapter is a tremendous opportunity,” said Noffke.



Rik Spins Toward DENON DJ

DENON DJ named DJ industry veteran Rik Parkinson as its director of strategic development. In this newly created position, Parkinson will work with DENON DJ’s team of product and marketing professionals to build on the success of recent products. Parkinson brings with him a wealth of DJ industry experience. “Rik is a perfect fit for the product-focused culture at DENON DJ,” said Pat Sullivan, president of DENON DJ parent inMusic. “When the opportunity to work with Rik presented itself, it was a no-brainer that he would be a great addition to our very experienced DJ team for a market that is growing rapidly for us.” Added Parkinson, “DENON DJ drives industry expectations with disruptive technology for today’s and tomorrow’s DJs,

In Memoriam: Ed Cherney

Audio-Technica is mourning legendary producer, engineer and mixer Ed Cherney, who passed away on Oct. 22. Cherney received two GRAMMY awards, three Emmy Award nominations and five TEC Awards, and he was inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame. Cherney offered his expertise on many of Audio-Technica’s flagship products going back to the ‘90s, and he personally contributed to the success of the 40 Series microphones. He was widely beloved, both personally and professionally, and will be missed in all corners of the industry. “We miss Ed Cherney very much already, as we truly considered him an important member of the Audio-Technica family,” said Phil Cajka, AudioTechnica U.S. president and CEO. “We will cherish his sense of humor, his professionalism and his ever-positive attitude. You could always count on him lighting up a room and making everyone’s day brighter. And his body of work in the industry speaks for itself. He was an immense talent with a big heart, and he was a real gift to everyone who got to know him or work with him.”

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who seek feature-rich and reliable gear. It’s an honor to join this portfolio of highly respected products, and I can’t wait to work with a team like this that is deeply immersed in DJ culture and constantly challenging each other to deliver new fringe technology into our ecosystem.”

works thing wish This I eat! so gr d one I ha ago! ears y 0 2 ris S.



Super ea sy to setup and oper ate -Steve F .

Everyone On The Same NoteWithout The Restriction Of Wires

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Note From Joe


A New Year: Finding Meaning at the Crossroads Or, as my favorite Australian band Crowded House once sang, “Always take the weather with you!” It seems to me that the New Year is often the time for thoughtful entrepreneurs to carefully assess their business assumptions, look for new opportunities and strategically place themselves and their businesses on a path for success. This oftentimes means acting contrary to prevailing thought, taking on additional risk and painting an optimistic vision for others to follow. In the best of times, this is not a job for the timid. Add in the current economic and political uncertainties and this task requires the courage of our hero in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged!” And isn’t that your true role in your business—to be the hero in your own epic story? Your team and customers are looking for you to make the right decisions, seize new opportunities and ensure your business’s ability to succeed, achieving our industry’s goal of a more musical world. In short, you will be asked to “always take the weather with you” and create a positive environment for all of this to happen. In my opinion, there is no better place to kick-start this than The NAMM Show. Seeing the entire global industry convene on one campus is a priceless way to unleash your creativity, energize your vision and clearly define your company’s end zone for the year ahead. The NAMM Show floor is filled with the creative results of over 7,000 brands, spanning music, sound and entertainment technology. It’s well over a million square feet of exhibits, so careful planning is in order. Meeting with the craftsmen and designers behind the most innovative products in history, along with the leaders of these companies, will undoubtedly provide you with ideas and inspiration.

Each year’s NAMM U sessions are filled with clues to retail success and offer tangible ideas you can put to use right away. Led by members, for members, these targeted sessions continue to address the industry’s toughest challenges in marketing, sales, website development, strategy, inventory management, succession planning and more, providing additional perspectives into key technologies and best business practices to supercharge your business in the year ahead. And at the Crossroads, our members have the opportunity to consider new product lines, business models and other revenue opportunities, via multiple tracks across the sound and entertainment technology markets. Emerging opportunities in live sound, lighting and entertainment technology are attracting more and more smart NAMM retailers. And for musical and community inspiration, each evening is filled with the kinds of events that make our industry truly unique. This may be where you fill/refill the inner optimism that is at the base of our musical pyramid. We are all part of the global industry that brings music to the world, and being around others who feel the same way can empower your inner entrepreneur to new heights. Perhaps in some industries, the impact of any single person is minimal. But I believe that each NAMM member has the ability to positively influence their team, their community, and indeed, the entire industry with their actions. So, in spite of the negativity that seems to be prevalent today, “take the weather with you” and realize the incredible power you have to change the world through music!



ro 7Brkan+ds Demo New P


kill 3Ed0ucat0io+n Enhance Your S Sessions


ir 0ki+ng Connect & Be Insp 5 1 or Netw Events

Explore the NAMM Campus with new planning tools

Learn retail best practices with author and sales guru Marcus Sheridan

Unite with the industry at The NAMM Foundation Celebration for Music Education

Connect with exhibitors through the Show Directory

Develop skills with targeted sessions, covering topics from website development to retail sales

Enjoy nightly concerts on the NAMM Yamaha Grand Plaza Stage

Entertainment Technology

Build a custom schedule with the new My Show Planner

Audio Production

Expand your business in rental, installs, live events and audio production

Register and Book Your Hotel Today!


Be inspired by the Grand Rally for Music Education


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Aloha to UK

Amahi introduced the UK-205 series. Constructed of mahogany, each ukulele is shop adjusted and includes Aquila strings, chrome guitar tuners and a 10mm padded bag. With a satin finish and attractive rosette and binding, this new model is available in concert size with a choice of six colors: dark blue, light blue, green, red, yellow and natural finish. Street price: $139 Ship Date: Now Contact: Amahi, amahiukuleles.com

Cover to Cover

This Book Can Be Yours

Hal Leonard released “The Elise Ecklund Songbook.” Featuring the YouTube sensation’s favorite songs to play on the ukulele, it includes her arrangements of popular songs from Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and more, with chords and strumming patterns included. Songs in the book include: “Bellyache” (Billie Eilish), “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Twenty One Pilots), “Demons” (Imagine Dragons), “Hey, Soul Sister” (Train), “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz), “Me!” (Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie), “Ocean Eyes” (Billie Eilish), “Over the Rainbow” (IZ), “Photograph” (Ed Sheeran) and “Shape of You” (Ed Sheeran). MSRP: $9.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Hal Leonard, halleonard.com


Maloney StageGear added its Clarinet Cover. Like other covers in the line, it is reversible, silver to black. Musicians can use the silver heat-reflective side when outdoors to block the sun’s heat and UV rays. They can use the black side indoors to keep their clarinet dust-free, or simply obscured and inconspicuous when positioned on stage while other bands are performing. The cover includes an attached pocket (4.75 inches by 2.75 inches) with velcro flap closure to keep a mouthpiece nearby and protected as well. The cover is made from durable polyester with an acr ylic coating, and it has reinforced edges and is water repellant. At 24 inches in height and nine inches in width (at bottom), the cover will fit most standard-size clarinets. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Maloney StageGear, maloneystagegearcovers.com

Flex Your Muscles

The ProX XT-FLEXTOTEM TV FlexTotem TV Package is a complete package to create a single mount for a TV Monitor, video displays, DJ lights, speakers and various other display uses, stated the company. The top can be used for moving heads, lighting, monitors or speakers while still displaying the TV or used without TV mount. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: ProX, proxdirect.com


“the only thing that sounds better than my martin guitar is my martin strung with lifespan strings. they really last.”



Today’s musicians have so many great options available when it comes to perfecting their tone. From the instrument itself to pedals and amps and accessories, the sky’s the limit. We, at Martin, are proud that quality musicians, like Chris Carrabba, trust Martin strings to give their audience the best possible experience. Try them today at www.martinguitar.com/aa.


z z u B Back to the Future

D’Addario Accessories introduced the Backline Gear Transport Pack. Designed from the ground up, the D’Addario Backline Gear Transport Pack is the ultimate solution for players on the move, stated the company. It features more than eight specialized storage and transport compartments built right in. It offers heavy construction, water-resistant zippers and comfortpadded contact points. Compartments include: modular cable filing Kristin Goold system, small and large accessory compartments, microphone and mic stand storage, and discrete laptop/ tablet storage. MSRP: $325 (MAP: $199.99) Ship Date: March 2 Contact: D’Addario, daddario.com

Appetite for Democracy

Paoletti Guitars released the second signature model in collaboration with Richard Fortus, the Richard Fortus Signature Model #2. Fortus has been with Guns n’ Roses for the last 18 years and performed with his new signature model on the latest leg of their monumental “Not in This Lifetime” tour, one of the highest-grossing tours in history. While the body is built with Paoletti Guitars’ renowned chestnut wood, Fortus’ signature model features an aged nickel pickguard, white croc-pattern Italian leather top and a roasted Canadian maple neck with the 4tus logo laser-engraved onto the headstock. The circuit of the patented handmade pickups and custom electronics was personally designed by Fortus. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Lyon and Healy Corp., lyonhealycorporation.com

Classical Genius

Alfred Music released “Mozart: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1,” intended to be an essential part of the library of every pianist. This two-volume critical edition from Dr. Stewart Gordon, professor of keyboard studies at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, provides all the tools necessary for stylistic performance. Dr. Gordon’s thorough research of the earliest available sources, as well as careful study of all modern editions, has captured the most accurate reflection of the composer’s intent. This newly engraved edition contains helpful fingering suggestions and performance recommendations, including possible realizations for all ornamentation. Also included is a discussion of Mozart and the early piano, as well as considerations for tempos and for period-appropriate ornamentation and improvisation. These volumes also present a useful list of recordings of the complete Mozart piano sonatas, an extensive bibliography, a reference chart of autographs and early editions, and detailed analysis of the form of each sonata movement. MSRP: $24.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Alfred Music, alfred.com




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Follow the Arrow

Fox Chapel Publishing debuted “Kids’ Guide to Learning the Ukulele: 24 Songs to Learn and Play for Kids” by Emily Arrow, Kala Brand musician and YouTube star. Filled with basic instructions for holding positions, tuning, basic chords and more, children can learn and practice 24 songs, games and activities. From songs about counting to songs about Kristin Goold yoga, each musical activity provides a rich and playful learning experience kids will love, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Fox Chapel Publishing, foxchapelpublishing.com

Plenty of Prestige

Ibanez added the AZ2202A to its Prestige AZ lineup. It is the first AZ to feature an all-ash body, which is paired with an AZ Oval C neck made of S-TECH Roasted Maple. The fretboard is also made from Roasted S-Tech Maple and features Luminlay side dots. This particular tonewood combination delivers a full-bodied, warm tone with solid projection and presence, stated the company. The electronics consist of Seymour Duncan Hyperion humbuckers wired to a five-way selector switch and the dyna-MIX10 switching system. The dyna-MIX10 system delivers 10 unique pickup combinations for various voicing options. The guitar comes equipped with Gotoh Magnum Lock tuners featuring height-adjustable posts and Gotoh’s T1802 Tremolo bridge. The bridge ensures a smooth tremolo action, and in combination with the machine heads, consistent stable tuning. The guitar is finished in a transparent Tri Fade Burst which prominently displays the natural grain of the ash. The AZ202A also comes with an Ibanez Prestige Hardshell case. List Price: $2,866.65 Estimated Street Price: $2149.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Ibanez, ibanez.com


Hanging Tough

On-Stage rolled out its GS8730 Wall-Mounted Guitar Hangers. They provide instant and safe access to guitars and basses in a space-saving design, stated the company. The EVA-padded yolk provides double protection of an instrument; the ample padding cradles an instrument’s headstock, while the weight-sensing automatic lock gates off access. To unlock, a player simply lifts it up and away. The hangers are available in five finishes — Natural, Black, Cherry, Mahogany and Walnut — and feature high-quality wooden components to complement any studio or music room. A versatile, easy mounting kit and simplified instructions for connecting to studs (recommended) or sheetrock (via drywall anchors) are included.

MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: On-Stage, on-stage.com

State Your Case

Gator Cases released a series of trussing base plate cases in two sizes (GTOURTRUSSPLATE3030 and GTOURTRUSSPLATE2424), designed specifically to fit the heavy, bulky plates used to assemble truss totem. These new and innovative trussing base plate cases are available in 24x24-inch and 30x30-inch truss plate sizes. Both cases come equipped with multiple spring-loaded handles and heavy-duty locking casters tough enough to haul cumbersome truss plate loads. The cases also have a nine-millimeter plywood construction armored in rigid laminate, as well as the textile-lined interior that contains grooves to comfortably secure each plate inside the case during transit. A set of four heavy-duty casters (two locking) underneath allow users to roll cumbersome truss plate loads from truck to event space with ease. Both trussing base plate cases come loaded with all of the quality standard features found within the G-Tour series, including Gator’s signature red twist latches, tongueand-groove extrudedaluminum valence edging, spring-loaded handles, and rugged ball corners with recessed wheel dishes. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Gator Cases, gatorcases.com



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Keys to Success

Yamaha’s PSR-E273 Portable Keyboard features 401 high-quality voices, spanning all types of acoustic and electric instruments, including 17 drum and special-effects kits in which different sounds play on different keys. Its sonic variety lets everyone explore the sounds of pianos, organs, the orchestra, electronic music, nonWestern music and much more. New to the PSR-E273 is Quiz mode, which prompts players to repeat notes, simple melodies or chords, giving feedback on correct and incorrect answers and turning ear training into a game-like experience. Two kinds of recorders are built into the PSR-E273. A Song Recorder allows recording and playback of keyboard performance for practice and evaluation. Then, the Phrase Recorder acts much like the looper pedals popular with many of today’s musicians. It records shorter phrases of music or rhythm (usually a measure or two in length), then repeats them continuously as the player keeps making music. With the Phrase Recorder, modern-sounding riffs and grooves can be created quickly. Rounding out the PSR-E273 are built-in speakers, a metronome, a headphone jack for quiet practice and an 1/8-inch stereo mini input for routing a phone, iPod or other device through the PSR’s speakers and playing along with favorite recordings. A music rest is also included.

Make a Quick-Change

Kyser Musical Products Inc. released the Limited-Edition Milton Kyser Signature Acoustic Quick-Change Capo, or the “Milton” capo, in celebration of its 40th anniversary this year. The capo pays tribute to company founder Milton Kyser. Available in an exclusive run of 2,020 units and handcrafted in Texas, the “Milton” capo features a number of premium touches never before curated together on Kyser’s flagship Quick-Change design. Features include a special powder-coated chrome finish, a “Milton Kyser” original signature stamp and blackout appointments, including a black boot, black rubber pad and black low-tension spring for seamless, in-tune performance. The capo comes bundled in a special keepsake box complete with a hand-numbered certificate of authenticity signed by company owner Meredith McClung. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Kyser Musical Products, kysermusical.com

MSRP: $199

Ship Date: April Contact: Yamaha, usa.yamaha.com

Triple Play

Electro-Harmonix unveiled the Triple Foot Controller, a utility product that gives players remote control over functions in other pedals that have an external foot control jack. Depending on the pedal it’s plugged into, it can control tasks such as setting tap tempo, toggling through programs, mode selection and more. Its compact footprint saves space while its cast construction provides durability, stated the company. The pedal works with applicable Electro-Harmonix pedals and those made by other makers. No power is required, and it comes equipped with a TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) cable. Street Price: $40.80 Ship Date: Now Contact: Electro-Harmonix, ehx.com


Not Just a Mirage

Knilling introduced Mirage Violin Cases, ideal for students and players seeking a refined, lightweight and stylish modern case. The cases feature a rigid and durable textured polycarbonate shell, which provides superior yet lightweight protection, with black leather valance and dual matching snap latches. A reinforced detachable subway handle and strap rings, padded handle and backpack harness allow for easy, effortless transport. The interior is fully lined with a matching blanket, two (#610VN) or four (620VN) bow holders, adjustable neck yoke and innovative zippered accessor y compartments. MSRP: #610VN: $369; #620VN: $399 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Knilling, knilling.com JANUARY 2020

NEW FOR 2020 THE DELUXE BEDFORD SH A semi-hollow spin on our flagship solid-body available in three limited edition finishes. A tonal dream machine featuring two Seymour Duncan Five-Two's and a mini-humbucker. Only 50 per finish worldwide.



z z u B Hard to Handle

From A to Z9

The Hewlett Packard Z9 Printer features an HP 746 Printhead that deploys two rows of print nozzles. With each nozzle capable of printing at 1,200 dpi, this now means you can have realistic prints at 2,400 dpi, double the previous resolution, stated the company. With specific purposes for both MI stores and music venues, the HP Z9 printer now offers a 70-percent increase in Best Glossy and 100-percent increase in Normal Glossy speeds compared to prior models. HP has also reduced the number of ink cartridges required from 12 down to nine, partly though eliminating the need for both light magenta and light cyan inks. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Coast to Coast Computer Products, coastcoast.com

Amptweaker introduced the Lefebvre TightFuzz Limited Edition Fuzz. For five years, bassist Tim Lefebvre has been using the Amptweaker Bass TightFuzz to record and tour with many artists including David Bowie, TedeschiTrucks, Empire of the Sun and, most recently, The Black Crowes. The Lefebvre TightFuzz fuzz is tweaked to give the user Lefebvre’s favorite setting when the knobs are all straight up. The pedal starts with the Germanium output transistor, for a warm amp-like breakup, and is set for the ‘60s tone from the original Bass TightFuzz. The Tone knob is great for dialing down the fuzziness to get small-tube-amp tones, and Amptweaker’s Tight knob adjusts the chunk of the attack to help control the flubby low end typical of a fuzz tone. Low-gain tones are easy to achieve, thanks to the Auto Bias that adjusts with the Fuzz control, yielding the cleanest and nastiest distortions possible with one control. Special input circuitry simulates the guitar, so active effects and pickups can be used in front. Street Price: $249 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Amptweaker, amptweaker.com/lefebvre-tightfuzz

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QRS Music Technologies, Inc.







Jimi Hendrix. The Beatles. Eddie Van Halen. They were easily some of the biggest influences in MI over the years. People wanted to be them, and in turn, buy the instruments they played. Although MI has many influences today, including Lizzo helping flute sales and Ed Sheeran helping guitar sales, there is only one greatest celebrity ambassador. Bernie Williams is the greatest gift to MI. Williams, prior to his Grammy-nominated foray into music, spent 16 years as an outfielder with the New York Yankees, winning four World Series titles, appearing in five All-Star games, slugging 287 home runs, amassing 2,336 hits and posting a lifetime .297 batting average. His uniform number, No. 51, was retired by the Yankees on May 24, 2015, and his plaque stands in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park honoring his accomplishments today. But Williams has channeled all his efforts into music and music education since he last played in 2006, and even beforehand, with his first album, “The Journey Within,” coming out in 2003. When the Music & Sound Retailer asked what his musiceducation platforms are today, Williams ran down a long list. He first mentioned that he is a board member of the NAMM Foundation, founded 14 years ago. Among its many beneficial goals are advocating for music education and helping to fund groundbreaking music research. Williams said he is especially proud of the funds it grants to a wide swath of music charities. “It is really rewarding helping people achieve their goals,” he explained. “Getting kids involved in music has always been one of my main platforms.” 26






Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit that is dedicated to building a world where kids can live rich, purposeful lives by ensuring that all public-school children have an opportunity to unlock their inner music-maker, is another of Williams’ platforms. “It’s a great organization. I take part in its gala event,” he said. And then there is Williams’ involvement in the Jettie S. Tisdale School, a “Turnaround Arts” school in Bridgeport, Conn., serving 686 students. Williams attended a performing arts high school growing up and wanted to give back. He glowingly talked about his work with the school as a Turnaround artist, in which he was appointed by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the White House and U.S. Department of Education. “I’ve been there a few years now,” he said. “Seeing these kids find their love for arts and music 28

is incredible. It is an important part of their lives. It allows them to become better students, be more motivated and have a more fulfilling educational experience.” Williams added how amazing it is to see the transformation kids make when comparing where they are when they first start with Turnaround Arts to the substantial strides they make after they have been in the program. “It feels amazing,” he emphasized. “One of my first experiences with Turnaround Arts was taking kids from nonaffluent areas of Bridgeport to the White House. They had the opportunity to perform for [former] First Lady Michelle Obama and the President of the United States. It was an incredible experience for everyone involved. To see the kids’ faces was incredible. They had a collective hysteria because they couldn’t contain their emotions. At one point, they just realized all at once where they were at the White House and how fortunate they were. I was tearing up. “I see these kids grow up,” Williams continued. “They become teenagers, and I can see the impact music has made. First is simply attendance. Attendance is much better for kids in Turnaround Arts programs. And then there is the whole atmosphere of learning. It has been really incredible to be a part of that experience.” The only downside to taking part in so many fantastic programs is that it leaves Williams with little free time. In fact, his schedule is so busy that he is perhaps even busier than he was during his time as a baseball player. But his efforts offer plenty of rewards, and Williams wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s been really busy and hectic at times, but at the same time, it is really rewarding. It is really fulfilling to be in a position to help and better my community through arts and music,” he said. “When I look in hindsight at how I became the person I am now, I know music and arts played an important part,” Williams continued. “Even with having my baseball career, I have looked back and said, ‘Music has always been there.’ And it will always be there. If I didn’t MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

develop a love for music as a kid, I don’t know where I would be today. So, I firmly believe every kid should have an opportunity to play music, especially those who may not have the resources. It’s like getting air or water. If they choose to, every kid should have the opportunity to be exposed to these experiences that can inform their decision making as adults and change their lives.” When he was young, Williams

Growing your

acknowledged he didn’t think about being a working musician because he was a gifted athlete, but he knew music was a really important component of his life, regardless of whether he would make a living from it or not. “And I think it is really important for kids to have that relationship with music and arts,” he said. “The younger, the better. And then there is all the data that alludes to how important music and arts are

for kids’ educational processes. That gives me even more of a reason to fight for these kids’ rights to play music.” Williams, who graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and was also awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the State University of New York through SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, also serves as the national spokesperson for


by growing





Breathless, an educational-awareness campaign for Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a mysterious lung disease that affects up to 132,000 people and their families per year. It sadly took the life of Bernie’s father, Bernabe Sr., and still has no cure.

A ‘Rich’ Upbringing in Puerto Rico

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Williams listened to salsa, meringue, ska, calypso and other types of Caribbean music. “Around Christmas time, my whole neighborhood was filled with music,” Williams recalled. “Music has always had a festive connotation for me. When I hear music, I think of partying and having a good time. When I hear music, it brings me back to being a kid. I can smell all the food from then. I remember all the great times I had with my family. When I was a kid, there was always someone making music. If it wasn’t being played on the radio, it was being made. Telling stories and poetry through music was always important to me.” Added Williams, “My mom was an educator. She believed a well-rounded child should have all these experiences. Listening to all the traditional music in Puerto Rico was when I first developed my musical tastes. And I was really fortunate to go to performing arts high school. I spent four years having a better understanding of where music comes from and listening to all the great masters of music. I learned music JANUARY 2020

structure, a little bit of theory, and the ability it has to move people’s hearts and souls. I was a baseball player, but music was always the engine for me. It was always what fueled my spirit and everything I did. The older I get, the more I realize how important music is in my life.” If he didn’t have a baseball career, the World Series champion told the Retailer he likely would have wanted to begin his music career much earlier. However, his mother had other ideas in mind. “She wanted me to go to college and become a doctor or lawyer,” recalled Williams. “[My parents] never saw music as a viable way to make a living. But, if I would have started playing music a lot earlier, I would be a lot better,” he joked. “The joke is, I used baseball to fund my music career. But all kidding aside, I am very fortunate to have parents who were preoccupied with my upbringing and raising me the right way. They gave me the resources to make me a better child and a productive adult in my community.” In addition to baseball providing financial funding for music, as Williams joked, he said he often thinks about the other benefits playing professional baseball has provided him. “I often correlate my experience of playing baseball to music. Playing under pressure, being on a successful team and being part of a successful franchise [the Yankees],” Williams revealed. “It’s a double-edged sword. I have never done anything halfway. It is the same thing with music. I want to be thought of as a musician and not a former baseball player who plays music. So that’s a challenge. I make sure to work every day — as hard as I have in baseball — to become the best musician I can be. Not only do I want to perform to the best of my abilities, I want the respect of the music industry.” “Even though baseball has opened a lot of doors I may not have had the chance to have [opened] otherwise, I have to perform,” continued Williams. “I have to be an incredible musician. It’s a challenging and fulfilling experience. It is MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

so rewarding because there are a lot of people really surprised that a person who spent so much time playing baseball can have a music career and put everything into it. I hope at the end of the day, I will be a better guitar player than baseball player, but that remains to be seen. It is a worthy goal to have and can only make me better every day. If you spend time doing something, you might as well do it right.” Transcending a fantastic baseball career is a worthy challenge indeed. Williams certainly has a lot of cool guitars to help him attain his musical goals. He owns a large collection, purchased from stores such as Sam Ash, and gifted from manufacturers. “For example, when I was a player, I went to the All-Star Game a few times,” he recalled. “One of the perks of being at the All-Star Game is they have this jam session. Gibson sponsored it. So every time I made the All-Star team, I went home with a new guitar from Gibson. But I have also spent a lot of resources and money buying gear. That’s a cool part of the whole process, figuring out what the best product is. What’s the newest product out there? I have had great NAMM experiences when I met a lot retailers and manufacturers. I am like a kid in a candy store at The NAMM Show.” Williams will return to the “candy store” this year, where he will be on hand to check out the new gear, and, of course, jam. “I am looking forward to playing at different booths at The NAMM Show,” he relayed. “I also expect to play a ‘showcase’ event at 10 p.m. on Friday [Jan. 17] at the Anaheim Marriott [Level 1, Lobby, NAMM Yamaha Marriott Stage].” Come May, the former Yankees star confirmed he will once again attend the NAMM Advocacy Fly-In, where retailers and manufacturers speak with politicians about all the benefits music can provide. “Out of all the things I do every year, having the opportunity to go to Capitol Hill and help [encourage politicians to] create some policies and laws that will affect kids for the next 100 or 200 years is something that is part of my legacy and that I pay a lot of attention to,” Williams concluded. “It’s about having an impact. When things are all said and done, it is one of the things I will remember most.”



Music’s Great Reformative Powers By Brian Berk Although the “power of love is a curious thing,” as Huey Lewis first sang in 1985, the power of music is not curious at all. Music serves as much more than just a way to help school-age children be part of a team and improve their math skills, although both are great benefits. And music certainly serves a greater purpose than being a fun outlet for weekend warriors. When one thinks of the connection between music and prison, classic songs like Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” or Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” may come to mind. But the connection runs deeper … much deeper. Music has magical powers. Think that’s a big stretch to say? This magic can be seen in music’s tremendous reformative powers for those currently in prison, those formerly inarcerated and perhaps even those who may commit future crimes. A fantastic example can be found today at the Iowa Medical Classification Center Correctional Facility, a large, medium-security prison in Coralville, Iowa, where the Oakdale Community Choir performs. Leading this prison program is Dr. Mary Cohen, associate professor and area head, music education, School of Music, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Scholar, University of Iowa. “We aim to transform the broader public’s view toward more healing ways of dealing with conflict management, and to address the many injustices of the U.S. prison system,” Dr. Cohen told the Music & Sound Retailer. For two hours on Tuesday nights, the choir, featuring “outside singers” who are non-incarcerated volunteers and “inside singers” who are incarcerated, perform original songs, as well as popular hits like Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” in what many consider a lifealtering experience. Musical instruments are played as well. 32


“In the choir, you are not viewed as an offender, you are viewed as a person,” one inmate stated in a broadcast filmed by Iowa Public Television. “If you walked by, you wouldn’t know which ones of us are incarcerated and which ones of us are leaving in a few hours,” added another inmate. “I knew I had a life sentence and I could either spend the rest of my life in lockup, in a cell, as an animal, or I could attempt to try to get my mind right,” inside singer, Bruce Pollard, said during the PBS video. “I came with an open mind, and I wrote maybe 13 songs that allowed me to be part of something good connected to the outside world, and also connected to the inside.” “When you see the choir and see how open it is, you start to feel human again,” added inside singer Michael Blackwell Sr. “This is the first prison I have been in where there is more positive than negative.” And stated Jim McKinney, warden, Iowa Medical and Classification Center, “For two hours on a Tuesday night, nobody thinks they are in prison.” Dr. Cohen originally lived in Kansas City, and her friends were involved in a program called Arts in Prison. She attended a concert Arts in Prison puts on for the public in 2002 and was “blown away at the idea of people accused of committing crimes singing in unison and harmony with people from society. Choral singing can bridge two disparate groups that don’t normally have a chance to interact.” In 2003, she worked on obtaining a Ph.D. and learned much more about choirs in prison and music education in prison. After finishing her Ph.D., Dr. Cohen did three different research projects, including a dissertation about choral singing pedagogy for prison context. She began working at the University of Iowa in 2007 and continued her research. As for the connection to the prison, Dr. Cohen, who is working on a book detailing her experiences, had a connection with someone who was a music therapist at the prison. She had another connection in the wife of the warden at the time, Paula, who was a colleague of hers at the university. Paula encouraged her husband to MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

consider the choir as a possibility. Dr. Cohen had a meeting at the prison with the warden and a couple of administrators, where she explained her idea. Unfortunately, the warden passed away, but the interim warden decided to continue with the program, which commenced in 2009. In addition to Tuesday night practices, The Oakdale Community Choir offers two concerts a year in December and May. One concert per year is performed for

outside audiences, while the other is for people in the prison. Inside singers have written 153 original songs as of press time, with 76 of these having been performed. “Music is very powerful. We are bringing someone’s idea to life. … Music making brings people together. There is such a need in society for human connection,” Dr. Cohen told the Retailer. Most importantly, Dr. Cohen asserted she has seen positive changes in the inside singers since the Oak-

dale Community Choir started. “So many people have written songs about their families,” she said. “I will never forget a concert we had where a man sang a love song to his wife, who was sitting in the front row with her two grown daughters.” Dr. Cohen also recalled how one inside singer had not received a prison visit from his family in six years, but the concert changed their minds. Joining Dr. Cohen as an


Hiland Women’s Orchestra Another place where music is making a huge difference is a women’s prison in Eagle River, Alaska, where Kathryn Hoffer runs the Hiland Women’s Orchestra. Instruments that are played, comprising violins, violas, cellos and bass, have been donated by the community. Nearly all inmates are beginner instrument players. “They are taking a huge risk picking up these instruments, knowing the challenge it will be,” Hoffer told the Retailer.

Hiland Women’s Orchestra

Hiland Women’s Orchestra


“outside singer” was Andy Douglas, who wrote about his experiences in the book “Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir.” Douglas served the Oakdale Community Choir for seven years. “In 2010, I was in a summer writing festival program, and one of the other students was talking about this amazing experience she had singing with prisoners,” Douglas told the Retailer. “I have always loved music and was looking for opportunities to sing. I also have long had an interest in social justice. … So, I thought it was a great combination of a passion I had and doing some good work.” Douglas acknowledged that, of course, the Oakdale Community Choir cannot solve every issue an inmate might be faced with and is just “part of the picture” regarding inmates’ rehabilitation. However, he has seen major changes in inmates who chose to be inside singers. “It was so powerful to see a lot of people who are so interested in changing their lives,” he said. “The fact that someone outside the walls was interested in them, paying attention to them and spending time with them gave them a big boost. The choir allows those on the inside to take JANUARY 2020

on a different identity, at least for a couple of hours. You can see [inmates] are creative and have something to offer. For me, it was a powerful and meaningful experience.” The Iowa resident added that the choir netted other benefits, such as improved social skills. How do I talk to people? What am I supposed to do in public? are questions inmates asked, but over a period of weeks and months, “I saw them have conversations and see themselves as part of the community,” said Douglas. “That was a beautiful thing to see.”

than that, I just stayed in my cell on my bed. I really didn’t get involved in anything. It was getting to a point I knew I had to do something, because I was going to have a miserable life.” But Bailey learned about the Oakdale Community Choir and knew it was something that would allow him to not only take part in something he loved — music — but served as a great way to get involved with an activity as well. “I really looked

forward to rehearsals on Tuesday night,” he said. “We would have about five minutes to speak to the outside singers. … That was a big thing for me. You don’t have a lot of interactions with people on the outside. Up until that point, we would only have religious volunteers come in. But that’s not everybody’s cup of tea.” It’s easy, while in prison, to have an attitude that “nobody cares about me, which can really bog you down,” Bailey added.

Post-Prison Life

Music’s magical powers have not only been seen in those currently incarcerated. For many people who have been released from prison, music has made a significant difference, contributing to productive and meaningful lives post-prison. “People released from prison face tremendous obstacles,” Douglas asserted. “They are stigmatized. It is hard to find a job. They have to check a box saying they are a felon, so they may not get that job. It is also hard to find housing. So, the [Oakdale Community] Choir has tried to stay in touch with those who were transferred or released and give them a little support.” Despite these challenges, Douglas quickly extolled the virtues of Kenneth Bailey, who was an inside singer at the Oakdale Community Choir. Bailey was released from prison in 2014, and was successfully discharged from parole in February. In May, he took a restaurant job in Arlington, Texas. Bailey was imprisoned for a total of seven years following a first-degree burglary conviction. He had faced drug-addiction setbacks in his life as well. Bailey served four of those years at Oakdale. He was in a choir throughout high school and often watched musicals with his mother growing up. After his conviction, however, Bailey was placed in general population and acknowledged he “didn’t really do anything. It’s a place where everyone is expected to do a job, so I had a job,” Bailey told the Retailer. “But other MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



If not for the choir, Bailey assumes he would have simply stayed in his cell and read his entire time at Oakdale. He would have missed out on a lot of activities that involved the community he was living in. “I wasn’t only involved in the choir,” he said. “I became involved with the inmate council, which meets with the prison’s administration monthly [in an effort to determine] ways to make [the prison] better. I got involved with an inside book club

Orchestra. The prison houses minimum-, medium- and maximum-security inmates all in one location. Hoffer, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., also serves as concert master at the Anchorage Symphony. She believes the Hiland orchestra may be the only of its kind in the country. She is certain it is the only one that meets regularly — also every Tuesday — throughout the year. Instruments that are played, comprising violins, violas, cellos and bass, have been donated by the community. Nearly all inmates are beginner instrument players. “They are taking a huge risk picking up these instruments, knowing the challenge it will be,” Hoffer told the Retailer. Inmates, as well as some

and charity organization. I was really active. If the choir wasn’t involved, I probably wouldn’t be involved in anything.” While in prison, Bailey accomplished something most people — incarcerated or not — do not achieve. He wrote a song entitled “May the Stars Remember Your Name,” which was performed by 18-time Grammy-award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The idea for the song came from the massive stadium lighting in the yard at Oakdale. “At Oakdale, once it gets dark, they close the yard. They don’t want anyone out there at night,” remarked Bailey. “But you could still look through the window. Because of that lighting, I couldn’t see the stars. But even though I couldn’t see the stars, I remembered them. So, I thought, Will the stars remember me? What’s going to be waiting for me when I leave prison? Are the stars going to be there to comfort me or not? It just went from there. I wrote that song at 1 a.m. I took regular-lined notepaper and made musical staff out of it. I tried to create a melody and a time signature. 36

I didn’t know much musical theory, so the melody was not comprehensible at all. But Dr. Cohen worked on it. “Meade Palidofsky [founder and artistic director] of Storycatchers Theatre in Chicago was in town,” Bailey continued. “Meade, a theatrical person, was there to give us tips about stage presence so we could make our choir more visual. Meade asked Dr. Cohen if it was OK to use ‘May the Stars Remember Your Name.’ Storycatchers Theatre was doing a performance called ‘Mom in the Moon,’ and she really wanted the song to be a part of it. I said, ‘Cool. Awesome. That’s super.’ I didn’t think anything else would come of it.” But this definitely wasn’t the last Bailey heard about the song. Dr. Cohen later told Bailey that Yo-Yo Ma was going to perform his song. “I said, ‘How is that possible?’” Bailey recounted. “I was incarcerated at the time, so I couldn’t see it, but Dr. Cohen saw it. She got to speak to Yo-Yo Ma briefly, and the all-time great cellist told Dr. Cohen, ‘I want you to know this is one of the

Harold Searcy and Dr. Mary Cohen of the Oakdale Community Choir.

most important songs I have ever [performed] because of the story behind it.’” Make no mistake about it: Music, namely the Oakdale Community Choir experience, changed Bailey’s life. “Dr. Cohen has this tendency to encourage you to do something so enthusiastically you can’t say no,” concluded Bailey. “If not for stepping out and taking a risk with the choir, I don’t think I would make a cross-country trip to take a job. [Thanks to the choir], I know I could take a risk and receive rewards [for doing so].”

Orchestra Pit

Another place where music is making a huge difference is a women’s prison in Eagle River, Alaska, where Kathryn Hoffer runs the Hiland Women’s

“ringers” from the Anchorage Symphony, perform both a prison concert and a public concert in December. Following the concert for inmates, the audience members housed in general population are sent back to their rooms and the doors are locked. Meanwhile, inmates in the orchestra and members of the Anchorage Symphony have lunch together. “The Hiland women love this,” said Hoffer. “Sharing lunch with someone who has their same passion for playing instruments.” Subsequently, in the afternoon, prison doors are open to the public. Members of the public often pack the 300-personcapacity auditorium to watch the performance. And attendance is not always an easy task. Not only JANUARY 2020

must members of the public prepay $30 to attend the concert, but they also must submit their driver’s license numbers for security clearance. Sadly, the concert was canceled in 2018 due to serious damage caused by an earthquake, but it returned last month. Nine ringers from the Anchorage Symphony were invited to help out for this concert. Hiland Orchestra even has a Wardrobe Night concert, which took place in October. “We take in a lot of donated black clothing, and the Highland women put together a concert outfit,” Hoffer said. “So, those coming to watch can’t tell who the inmates are and who the ringers are from the symphony. The women really get dolled up. They can color their hair and wear makeup. And the clothes come a day or two before. It could be knee-highs, stockings or [nice] shoes. There are a whole bunch of things they get to choose from. They look their best.” Inmates are allowed to take their instruments with them to their rooms after practice. “I have not had any damage to the instruments at all in my tenure,” Hoffer said. “It’s pretty astounding how much pride they take [in the orchestra].” Hoffer added this pride is evidenced by the status inmates earn from not only other inmates, but the prison’s security staff and administration as well. Importantly, Hoffer confirmed that no incidents of violence have taken place involving any members of the orchestra while practicing or performing. “Of course, women have to be pleasant when they are in the room with me,” said Hoffer. “It’s zero tolerance. If I had any problems or any sense of nervousness or fear, they are out. But I have never had to [kick someone out of the orchestra]. I have never felt one ounce of nervousness with the women.” Most importantly, the inmates’ behavior has clearly changed for the better since they joined the orchestra. In fact, when asked if she has seen positive behavior in inmates MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

since joining the orchestra, Hoffer, answered “Yes, with many exclamation points.” To prove her point, Hoffer cited two examples. One was a woman from New York who committed a crime in Alaska. “Others in the orchestra told me she was so full of anger,” Hoffer remarked. “She was mean and horrible until she joined the orchestra. It changed her personality. The orchestra became her family. She had a place to belong.” ad_Odyssey-MSR_Dec2019_(210mmx295mm)_v1.pdf

Hoffer also has a cellist in her orchestra who was convicted of kidnapping. “I was warned by one of the others, who was sort of my confidant from the beginning, not to find myself alone with this cellist because she could still be quite violent,” she said. “Early on, her attendance was terrible and her attitude was terrible. She was pushing the limits. I thought I was going to have to talk to her to see if she was really serious about this. But then, her behavior 1


turned. She is now all smiles and is the first one there if we have a performance. She even helps set up. She has had a complete turnaround.” Hoffer concluded she has not received specific feedback from the prison about the Hiland Orchestra, but actions speak louder than words. “The fact that we have their full support and they bend over backwards to make this program work says everything,” she said.

5:14 PM










Since 1995, Odyssey has established a worldwide reputation for innovation, quality and design as one of the most respected brands in the DJ community. Odyssey’s group of companies includes leading truss brand Show Solutions, custom case manufacturer BC Cases, and Gruv Glide the world’s #1 vinyl treatment. Odyssey is also the official US distributor of Serato accessories. LEADING THROUGH INNOVATION

Thirty Products Featured This Month at The NAMM Show By Brian Berk Some of the main reasons to attend The NAMM Show are products, products and more products. But if you can’t attend the show or you do attend and would rather not have to write down all the information about a plethora of new product releases, here is your one-stop resource for the latest new products The NAMM Show has to offer. Due to tight printing deadlines, not everything could make this issue, so check out the February issue for plenty more product writeups.

Make a Move CHAUVET DJ introduced GigBAR Move, now with moving heads. This next generation of lighting represents the culmination of feedback from CHAUVET DJ end users and thoughtful solutions from in-house product developers. GigBAR Move is a five-in-one, pack-andgo lighting system with two 10-watt, quad-colored (RGB+UV) LED moving heads, wash PARs, derbies, strobes and laser dynamics all on one bar. The unit comes ready for effortless setup with a tripod and wireless footswitch, along with a user-friendly LCD menu that makes programming a cinch, stated the company. GigBAR Move is positioned as the next tier in entertainmentlighting standards, making its debut as a convenient yet powerful choice for mobile entertainers. Booth 11138

Power Player Electro-Harmonix unveiled the compact 5MM Guitar Power Amplifier, which produces 2.5 watts and can be connected directly to an 8 Ω – 16 Ω speaker cabinet. The 5MM is equipped with a volumecontrol and a bright/norm switch which, when engaged, adds top boost or presence to the signal. The 5MM comes equipped with a power supply. Booth 5249

Hello, Dolly! The ProX X-BP8X30-10X24 Baseplate Dolly is a base plate storage system and transport system. This rolling dolly has fitted racks for base plates to be stacked vertically, saving time when you set up or tear down an event. The dual fit allows each cart to hold either 10 24-inch or eight 30-inch baseplates (24-inch and 30-inch baseplates cannot be mixed on a single cart). In addition to the transport of both steel and/or aluminum baseplates, there are four telescoping brackets that come out of the cart frame, which allow the cart to carry one stick of truss on each side. Four industrial-grade full-swivel wheels (two with brakes) also allow for a much more maneuverable cart. Booth 11226



Perfect Profile The XT-B Bass Profiler by SIM1 allows a bass player the opportunity to have unlimited basses with one pedal. It is not midi, and it is not sampling: It is an innovative technology never seen before, which SIM1 calls Smart Tone Shaping (STS patented technology), and it makes the XT-B capable of learning or profiling the sound characteristics of a bass and modeling it to perfectly reproduce the sound of any other bass guitars, with no latency or digital artifacts, stated the company. A musician can choose his/her favorite bass profile among the presets included in the device. Booth 3920

Nothing Fake About It Hal Leonard published its first-ever “The Drummer’s Fake Book.” It provides a virtual mental warehouse of songs that drummers need to know. With more than 250 songs, “The Drummer’s Fake Book” features easy-to-use drum charts with kit legends and lyric cues, making it simple for drummers to learn tons of new songs in a quick amount of time. The book also boasts songs from a large variety of genres and artists, giving players a well-rounded lineup of songs to add to their repertoire. Songs featured include: “Give It Away” (Red Hot Chili Peppers), “Jump” (Van Halen), “Rock and Roll” (Led Zeppelin), “Seven Nation Army” (White Stripes), “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana), “Take Five” (The Dave Brubeck Quartet), ”The Girl From Ipanema” (Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberta) and hundreds more. Booth 8910

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The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You Rhythm Tech introduced the 12-inch Palma Djembe Selvato, a PVC Djembe designed to deliver warm highs, punchy mids and booming lows. It’s top-tuning hardware makes tuning a breeze with a standard drum key, eliminating the need for special wrenches, stated the company. The internal snare provides percussionists with many new options. The exclusive snare on-and-off selector empowers players to go from traditional Djembe to modern backbeat with a quick flip of a switch. Its topside drum key tuning makes head changes and tuning fast and easy, and its superior-quality PVC shell delivers projection and stronger attack, stated the manufacturer. Booth 6813

Put it Into Overdrive Teisco released two new drive pedals, the Teisco Overdrive and Teisco Distortion. These combine Teisco’s bold visual and inspiring takes on classic tones, bringing the brand’s analog collection up to five pedals. Both products offer boutique quality at an accessible price point with plenty of controls thanks to their switchable modes and the Distortion’s independent gain boost (aptly named MORE), stated the company. They feature all-analog circuitry, sleek high-gloss designs, extra-tough zinc alloy enclosures and a textured base plate for stronger Velcro-adhesion, for which Teisco is known. Booth 6602

Environmentally Friendly Basso Straps Brazil has launched what it states is the world’s first 100-percent recyclable guitar strap, the EcoStrap. It’s 100-percent manufactured from a non-animal laminated synthetic material called Vegan Premium. It is also 100-percent Phthalate Free, 100-percent Hydrolosis Free and 100-percent recyclable, stated the company. Booth 3141



It’s a Lock Schaller introduced S-Locks. Each set features one-piece hardened-steel strap buttons, aesthetic design, perfect handling and a lock wheel, stated the company. The one-piece strap button is offered in hardened steel with self-tapping wood thread. The lock features extended thread length for holding straps of up to six millimeters thickness and a lock wheel with three-step security function. Booth 3810

Bright and Cheery Mighty Bright debuted its newest clip-on music light, the fully rechargeable BrightFlex. A mainstay for working musicians on the road, this two-in-one light features a battery bank capable of providing at least a 50-percent charge to a standard smartphone and is also perfect for backstage, travelers, artists or for anyone who needs bright portable light and backup power, stated the company. The BrightFlex’s eight LEDs provide up to 90 lumens of bright white light in three brightness settings and come with a 13-foot micro USB cable and a lightweight gig bag. It disassembles easily into three parts so the battery bank can be used separately. The BrightFlex can also plug into any USB port for charging and use. The battery lasts on the highest brightness setting for up to eight hours, and up to 45 hours on low. Booth 7907

ooth #5215

See us at B



The Capo Company www.G7th.com

For US dealer enquiries: MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Davitt & Hanser. A Division of JAM Industries USA, LLC Tel: 866-817-3822 E: info@davitthanser.com

KMC Music. A Division of JAM Industries USA, LLC Tel: 855-417-8677 E: sales@kmcmusic.com 41

Carolina in My Mind MusicMedic’s The Wilmington Flute is made in the same factory as its Wilmington Clarinets with the same CNC machining and build quality. The Wilmington Flute has key work and tolerances that are comparable to flutes costing much more, stated the company. Players who’ve tried this flute are impressed with the feel of the keys, the overall tone and “The Ring” in the upper register, added MusicMedic. Booth 9536

Take Cover The Cello Cover is a new addition to the Maloney StageGear Covers line for 2020. Like other covers in the line, it is reversible, silver to black. Use the silver heat reflective side when outdoors to block the sun’s heat and UV rays. Use the black side indoors to keep gear dust-free or simply obscured and inconspicuous when positioned on stage while other bands are performing. It includes an attached pocket to keep a bow nearby and protected as well. The cover is made from durable polyester with an acrylic coating, has reinforced edges and is water repellant. At 49 inches in height and 29 inches in width (at bottom) the cover will fit most standard-size cellos. The bow pocket measures 30 inches by 2 inches and has a Velcro flap closure. Booth 7901

Make a Connection Kirlin Industries Inc. released the IWCC-201PN, offering new colors, new patterns and even new connectors. The IWCC will be available in a variety of seven colors: purple, blue, green, orange, red, yellow and classic black, which has become more of a metallic silver. This sleek redesign not only gives the cable a smoother feel but allows for better portability with its new compact housing and packaging, stated the company. Booth 4130



Rock the Vote This year is a big election year, and with that in mind, C.F. Martin & Co. and artist Robert F. Goetzl have collaborated with David Crosby to produce a special-edition art guitar aimed at encouraging young people to actively participate in the nation’s election system. The D-16E Rock the Vote Special Edition is crafted with satin-finished sycamore back and sides for clear and transparent overtones with a punchy response, and a Sitka spruce gloss top for balanced tone and projection. It includes a high-performance neck taper for ease of playability up and down the fretboard and comes equipped with Fishman Matrix VT Enhance NT2 electronics. The D-16E Rock the Vote Special Edition is strung with Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan 2.0 light-gauge strings. Booth 5602

May the Force Be With This Book Alfred Music launched “Solos, Duets, Trios for Strings: Movie Favorites.” Adaptable and flexible to anyone’s needs, it encourages playing in a variety of combinations. Featuring three written parts for every song, the arrangements are designed so that the top line is the melody (Part 1), the second line (Part 2) creates a duet and the third line (Part 3) forms a trio. It features 19 of the most familiar and popular movie themes ever. Titles include “As Time Goes By,” “Can You Read My Mind?” (Love Theme from Superman), “Cantina Band,” “Family Portrait,” “From Russia with Love,” “Gonna Fly Now” (Theme from Rocky), “Hedwig’s Theme,” “The Great Escape March,” “The Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s Theme), “May the Force Be with You,” “James Bond Theme,” “The Magnificent Seven” (Main Title), “Over the Rainbow,” “Shallow,” “Song from M*A*S*H” (Suicide Is Painless), and “Star Wars” (Main Title). Booth 11402


Station to Station The PreSonus ioStation 24c audio interface and production controller delivers the tools needed for both audio recording and DAW control in a compact, ergonomic desktop design that will fit into any home studio. The new interface/controller combines the recording capabilities of the Studio Series USB-C 24-bit, 192-kilohertz audio interfaces with the functionality of the FaderPort USB production controller, stated the company. It features two of PreSonus’ XMAX Class-A analog mic preamps, along with audiophile-grade, highdefinition 24-bit, 192kilohertz analog-to-digital converters, for professionalquality recording and monitoring. The XMAX preamp is known for its high headroom, deep lows, smooth highs and rich overall sound. Booth 18801

'The Sopraninos' Amahi added UK-110 Sopranino to its ukulele line. Made from mahogany, these tiny ukes offer intermediate quality at an entry-level price, stated the company. Each comes standard with Aquila strings, chrome guitar-style tuners and a padded gig bag. Available in six colors: green, red, purple, gold, blue and natural mahogany. Booths 2400, 2402

Make a Cameo Adam Hall Group’s OPUS X Profile Cameo is a high-power profile moving head that generates a luminous flux of 33,000 lumens and 72,000 lux illuminance at 5m. In combination with a CMY color mixing system, as well as a zoom range of 6 degrees to 48 degrees, it enables even projections without disturbing hotspots even in the most demanding environments. The Profile Moving Head works completely flickerfree thanks to selectable PWM frequencies up to 25 kilohertz for particularly critical use in theater and broadcast applications. Further features of the OPUS X Profile include a rotating animation wheel, a rotating gobo wheel (six indexable and rotatable interchangeable glass gobos plus open), a static gobo wheel (seven interchangeable glass gobos plus open), a rotatable and indexable circular five-facet prism, linear sixfacet prism plus a variable frost filter for wash light effects. Booth 11613



Toned Up Casio America Inc. introduced its Casiotone CT-S300 and LK-S250 electronic keyboards. Weighing in at six pounds, both electronic keyboards offer a refreshed, modern and ultra-portable design. The slim chassis features 61 full-size keys and a built-in carrying handle, ideal for playing on the go. Each model has an easy-to-read LCD display and intuitive controls that enable players to get started quickly. Built-in speakers, a 1/8-inch headphone output and a 1/8-inch audio input mean users can enjoy sharing their music with friends or plug in their headphones to play on their own. Each keyboard also offers 400 tones, 77 rhythms, Dance Music Mode with 50 styles of EDM, USB-MIDI and more. Additionally, both models are compatible with the Chordana Play app. Booth 9502

It’s Radiant! Godin Guitars launched the Radiator, intended to provide originality, tone and playability. It also features a matching body faceplate, a Silver Leaf Maple Neck, Custom Godin Humbuckers and twin volume and tone controls. This model also includes a Chambered Silver Leaf Maple body, Rosewood fretboard and Wraparound bridge. The Radiator comes in three finish options: Matte Black, Trans Cream and Bourbon Burst.   Booth 211AB


Lounge Around Gator Cases released the G-Tour Lounge case, offering a selfcontained seating solution that provides protection, durability and comfortable seating while touring. This unassuming plywood road case quickly transforms into a full furniture set including two cushioned chairs, two ottomans and a large tabletop. The two chairs feature bright red overstuffed cushions with a large storage drawer in the base. The G-Tour Lounge lid has four legs that unfold to become a table with a surface area of 48 inches by 32 inches. The exterior features a black laminate coating and commercial-grade hardware including Gator signature red, spring-loaded rubber-gripped handles and red recessed twitch latches. Once the system is packed up in case form, it can be transported on the eight Penn-Elcom four-inch heavy-duty casters, four of which lock when needed. Booth 6413

Headless Horseman

Sound the French Horn E.K. Blessing introduced the Performance Series Double French Horn BFH1461ND. The Performance Series Double French Horn with string linkage offers accessibility and value for the aspiring student, stated the company. Specs of the product include: key of F/Bb, string linkage/mechanical change valve, Kruspe wrap, .472-inch bore, large bell throat, 12.25-inch nickel silver detachable bell, nickel-plated rose brass leadpipe, nickelplated tuning slides, clear lacquer finish, Blessing MC French horn mouthpiece and Blessing C1461FRD lightweight compact screw bell case. Booth 7414


Ibanez’s EHB (Ergonomic Headless Bass) line of basses features headless construction and a specially designed body that allows the player to maintain a similar playing position whether seated or standing, stated the company. The contoured, ergonomic design and chambered body make for a lightweight, well-balanced and comfortable instrument that’s excellent for long sets or practice sessions. There is an extended relief cut on the back of the body behind the lower horn for easier upper-fret access. Also, the top half of the back of the body is slanted, which allows the bass to rest slightly closer to the player’s body for better control and a more ergonomic feel. The EHB line is divided into the EHB1000 series and EHB1500 series. The EHB1000 series basses feature an American Basswood body and a five-piece roasted Maple/Walnut neck for well-balanced tone and clear attack. The Roasted Maple neck and fretboard are heat-treated to increase stability, durability, moisture resistance and tolerance of temperature changes. The EHB1500 series basses feature a figured Poplar Burl top on an African Mahogany body. This combination offers warm tones and rich resonance, stated the company. Premium models are also equipped with stainless-steel frets and luminescent side dot inlays. Booth 4620


Getting to the CORE YouTubers, sound designers, podcasters, vloggers and other content creators who want to capture authentic immersive audio for their projects can now do so with ease, thanks to the launch of DPA Microphones’ 4560 CORE Binaural Headset Microphone. At its heart is a pair of 4060 CORE Miniature Microphones mounted on two ear hooks and sitting just outside the user’s ear canal (like a pair of earbuds). This makes it possible to directly capture the sound heard by the person making the recording, stated the company. The ear hooks are attached to a flexible headset that is simple to fit, comfortable to wear and easily adjusted to suit the dimensions of each individual head. Foam screens are supplied with the microphones to secure their position and offer damping of wind noise. Booth 17910

Touch of Grey D’Addario, with the help of Warner Music Artist Services, has taken on the vast art portfolio of the Grateful Dead to release a line of Grateful Dead licensed products. A line of woven-nylon guitar straps featuring two designs in four different colors and one 10-pack celluloid pick design available in two colorways is available now. These nylon-woven straps feature Grateful Dead logo artwork, dancing bears and steal-yourface icons in four different colorways. The picks are available in black and white celluloid 10-packs in medium .70mm gauge and feature classic Grateful Dead icons. Booth 7002


Cloud Atlas Master FX announced two new products; Atlas and Impact. Atlas, an advanced LED Fog Generator, features 30x 10-watt RGBAW LEDs and dual high-intensity pumps for plumes up to 50 feet. The 1,700-watt machine produces 20-second continuous bursts of fog at 100-percent output, simulating cryo effects without the hassle of CO2, stated the company. Additional features include two dmx modes (nine and 19 channel), multi-angle mounting and the specially formulated fog fluid APEX for thick white plumes that dissipate in 30 seconds with no residual moisture. Master FX also unveiled Impact, an FX Cannon Control Station. Users can command the Impact by switch pack, 3&5 pin dmx, pyro controller or wireless remote, all with universal power. Another feature that sets Impact apart is the 360-degree positioning that gives the user limitless angles, stated the company. Booth 11749

In Perpetuity Due to the many requests that Pirastro Strings has received from double bassists, it announced the addition of a solo-tuning set to its popular Perpetual bass string line, the Perpetual Bass Solo Tuning Set. Its fundamental tone and articulate bow response make it an ideal string for solo-tuning performances, stated the company. Booth 9715

A Solid Choice Yamaha debuted a fashionable lineup of fresh color options for the Pacifica 112V and 112VM solid-body electrics, the TRBX304/305 and TRBX504/505 basses, and the SLG200S and SLG200N SILENT guitars. Stylesavvy guitarists take note: The ever-popular Pacifica 112V electric guitars are now available in elegant Vintage White and United Blue finishes. Ice Blue and Gray finishes offered on Pacifica 112VM guitars beautifully complement their maple fingerboards. Bassists, too, will appreciate the chic simplicity of the Factory Blue finish offered on four-string TRBX304 and five-string TRBX305 basses, as well as the earthy richness of the Brick Burst finish available on the TRBX504 and TRBX505, stated the company. The new Crimson Red Burst finish continues a bold and modern aesthetic and is available on the SLG200S steel-string and SLG200N nylon-string Silent Guitars. Anaheim Marriott Hotel, Marquis Ballroom



Surfing With the Alien IK Multimedia, in partnership with Joe Satriani, presents its newest artist signature collection, AmpliTube Joe Satriani. Available for Mac/PC, iPhone and iPad, it lets users play, practice and record using precise models of the guitarist’s amps and pedals, created alongside Satriani himself. IK’s Dynamic Interaction Modeling technology was used to capture every nuance and character of Satriani’s rig. AmpliTube Joe Satriani features six stompboxes and three amps, including: Pedals: Satch Wah, modeled after a Vox BBW Wah; Satch Dist, modeled after an early ‘80s, Japanese-made BOSS DS-1; Satch Overdrive, modeled after an early ‘80s, Japanese-made BOSS OD-1; Tube Overdrive, modeled after a mid-80s Chandler Tube Driver; Satch Octave, modeled after a Fulltone Ultimate Octave; and Boston 100, modeled after an ’82 Scholz Rockman. It also includes: Satch VM, modeled after Satriani’s Marshall JVM410HJS signature head, and Satch SJ50, modeled after a ‘93 Peavey 5159, both with matching cabinets, and Boston 100, an expanded version of the ’82 Scholz Rockman model with stereo mode and cabinet modeling. Booth 17202

The Stage Is Set On-Stage debuted its GBU4100 Series of Ukulele Gig Bags, featuring 360 degrees of padded coverage with a highly durable woven outer shell that’s built to withstand the rigors of the road, stated the company. Setting the GBU4100 apart from other uke bags is its heavy-duty stitching and bolstered anchor points. A rigid external edge piping retains the bag’s shape so that a player’s ukulele is always in the optimum internal position, surrounded by On-Stage’s time-tested and abuse-absorbing padded-armor enclosure. Available in four different models, the Ukulele Gig Bags also boast both a rugged handle for briefcase-style handling and two adjustable backpack straps for hands-free transport. Zippered pouches ideal for housing tuners, picks, strings and other accessories round out the features of the bag. Booth 10713


TOUCH, AMBIANCE AND PERCUSSION IT IS IN YOUR HANDS, TO ADD A NEW DIMENSION OF SOUND FOR ALL TO HEAR. Introducing the groundbreaking new PowerTap Earth and PowerTap Infinity. Both pickup systems feature our new Tap body sensor, that when combined with either a Matrix Infinity (PowerTap Infinity) or Rare Earth (PowerTap Earth) pickup, open up a new palette of sounds, interaction, and color for players of all styles. Learn more at Fishman.com/tap | Domestic Dealer Inquiries: 1.800.FISHMAN | International Dealer Inquiries: 1.978.988.9199



The innovative Tap body sensor literally adds a new dimension to the sounds captured and emanating from the pickup system. Layers of touch, depth, ambience, and of course percussion, are all right there… without the concerns of feedback and other unwanted artifacts that have plagued earlier-type systems.






In October of 2019, my wife Lana and I rented a 24-foot recreational vehicle and pulled out of our driveway in Auburn, Ala., to drive across the country in search of wisdom from some of the leading music stores in our industry. What followed was an 18-day trip across 18 states as we visited seven diverse music stores. We clocked just more than 7,000 miles in Bella, our Chevrolet Sunseeker, giving us plenty of time to reflect on what we learned from each business along the way. The following are our biggest takeaways from the incredibly long, exhausting, motivating and inspirational journey. –Tim Spicer The first leg of our trip was a grueling 1,300-mile drive to Strait Music Co. in Austin, Texas. Strait Music is a combo store with an impressive business model. We spent the afternoon with Clint Strait, discussing eyecatching retail displays and employee motivation. Strait Music’s diverse business model offers retail, repairs and a rental program. The Strait family owns an attractive store that flows seamlessly from section to section, encouraging customers to expand their musical interests. Each retail section is well placed and perfectly thought out. It’s easy to see why customers choose to do business at Strait Music. On our way out of Texas, we stopped in Amarillo to visit Tarpley Music. We were behind schedule at this point in the trip and didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, but we did have enough time to see why Tarpley Music is so successful. The Amarillo location uses contrasting textures of wood, tile and carpet to demand customers’ attention to the retail location. After leaving Tarpley’s Music, we hit the road for Santa Fe, N.M., to see the 2014 NAMM Dealer of the Year, The Candyman Strings & Things. The Candyman Strings & Things is an example of a music store that perfectly marries attractive store design and unique retail displays with the personality of its city. As we entered the store, we felt a natural continuation of the landscape, architecture and color scheme of Santa Fe. We were impressed with Rand and Cindy Cook’s use of natural light to showcase their inventory. The entire store was warm and inviting. We spent the afternoon discussing how to run a robust lesson program and the unique opportunities a summer rock camp gives students. One of the major takeaways from our visit is how a healthy balance of retail, lessons and summer camps, coupled with strong community engagement, can lead to a cash-flowpositive business. There is another concept that Rand and Cindy focus on: Music makes the world a happier place. This central truth is what makes the music industry so powerful. The Cooks also offered the following gem of wisdom: “Don’t lose sight of the opportunity we have each day to share our passion for music 50


with others. Remember, #MSFQ: More to Start, Fewer to Quit.” We then left New Mexico to start the longest and most scenic part of our journey. We drove from New Mexico to the northwest coast, stopping only to sleep a few hours along the way. (RV bonus tip: In order to use the heater, the propane tank must be turned on! We learned this lesson the hard way after spending a sleepless 26-degree night in Salt Lake City, Utah.) Once we figured out the heat situation, we had a beautiful drive through Utah, Idaho and Oregon before we finally made it to the gorgeous town of Vancouver, Wash. In Vancouver, we visited Beacock Music and were fortunate to spend time with the master herself, Gayle Beacock. The Beacock family has this industry figured out. Our conversation covered expanding rental markets, diverse lesson programs and Beacock Music’s in-store café. Talk about a one-stop shop! They really do it all, and they do it right. Gayle is clearly the queen of retail displays. Her style of seasonal displays encourages customer comfort and builds a constantly growing base of loyal customers. Beacock Music also has a beautiful event and concert space where it hosts regular concerts and community shows. Many of these events are fundraisers for local charities and school band organizations. This deepens the store’s ties with its community. One of the things we learned from our observations of Beacock Music is how to use individual strengths and weaknesses to collaboratively run a family business. The Beacocks have this perfected. A successful family-owned business should place family members in roles that allow their strengths to shine. It’s important that the family members contribute based on their skills, and that they coordinate with the team to ensure that their interests and abilities are fully utilized. A diverse team moving in the same direction is an unstoppable team. As we headed back south, our next stop was Summerhays Music Center in Salt Lake City. Summerhays Music Center is MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

run by the Summerhays family, along with the industry-leading comedian and all-around good guy, Cris Behrens. Summerhays Music uses open space to create an environment that focuses on the comfort of its customers. Its diverse inventory of band and orchestra instruments, pianos and

even harps is tailored to its local customer base. The Summerhays family has figured out how to perfectly stock and market their inventory to meet their customers’ needs. One of the major takeaways from the Summerhays crew is how they treat their customers. Their staff goes out of

their way to make sure each customer has a unique and positive experience while shopping. It was inspirational to watch their staff engage with their customers. From Salt Lake City, we headed south to Aurora, Colo., to talk private and group lessons with Dan (continued on page 71)

NAMM’s only authorized news broadcast. Brought to you by the Music & Sound Retailer. The NAMM Show just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and it’s impossible to see everything on your own. Let ConventionTV@NAMM save you some legwork! • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders and NAMM executives • In-depth coverage of the latest product releases by our team of professional reporters • Breaking news sourced directly from major manufacturers • Watch on TV in your hotel room, on monitors throughout the show floor or online any time on demand!

You can also follow our ongoing NAMM Show coverage on all our social media platforms.

/MSRETAILER And keep up with the latest MI industry news with The Retailer Report monthly newsletter. Sign up at msretailer.com/the-retailer-report.


For information about advertising in the Retailer Report, contact Rob Iraggi at riraggi@testa.com or 516.767.2500 ext. 519.

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By Robert Christie

The internet, social media and computers are having a profound effect on your business. “Obviously,” you say, as you start to turn the page. Not so fast, gentle retailer. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately and have identified ways technology has been impacting our business that I hadn’t considered, and which I would now like to share with you. Because, for me, a lesson learned should be a lesson shared. Please allow me to give you the show and tell on what has been keeping my mind occupied over the last month or so. We all know that competition comes from many quarters these days, and the shop up the street can be the least of our competitive worries. The “wild west” of the interwebs has ratcheted up competition on price, convenience and even (gasp) the buying experience. Gazillions of hours have been spent writing articles about how brick and mortar can be successful in competing with the internet, some by yours truly. That’s not what we’re here for today. Today, I’d like you to consider how our customers use the internet to learn about and gain information on the products we sell, and how this impacts our ability to effectively sell to them. Conversely, let’s also take a look at how we use the internet to gain information about our customers, and how this impacts our ability to effectively sell to them. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A customer walks into your shop with inaccurate or outdated information about a product they’ve been reading about on the internet. Being the helpful sort, you try to correct their misconceptions only


to have the customer completely disregard your assertions as rubbish because they conflict with what the customer read on the all-knowing, all-powerful internet. Obviously, starting a heated debate about what is right or who the real experts are or the nature of knowledge itself is a losing strategy. So, what’s one supposed to do? Perhaps the correct approach is to do a little retraining of our sales staff. Maybe after asking a customer if they have visited your shop before, it would be a good idea to establish your bona fides. Let your customers know about your store’s history and its standing in your community. Establish yourself as the “expert.” Remind your customers of your experience, your expertise and how you and your store work with folks just like them all the time. Doing this before any potential need to correct a misconception arises will place you in a much more favorable position than trying to make the point after the fact. Most of our manufacturer partners have fantastic product training, available both online and off. Oftentimes, there are certificates given for the completion of these programs. As strongly as we may feel about these certificates, you should still print them and display them in your store. They are an indication of your skill and knowledge, and they also help the customer recognize the trust our suppliers have in our abilities. Take that, internet! What about how we use computers, social media and the internet to gain information? How is this impacting our ability to be effective? When you stop and think about it, we know a lot about our customers. We can learn what they spend, when they spend it, the things they spend it on, their kids’ JANUARY 2020

‘We need to truly decide what analytics are important in helping us to understand our customers. To accomplish this, the trick is to determine what is just interesting and what is truly valuable. If we don’t make this distinction, we’re likely left with a case of ‘the more we have, the less we know.’

names and ages, where they live, where they work, and countless other bits and bytes. This is called data, and the internet says it’s important. In retail, we are becoming obsessed with collecting data, hoping some of it will be valuable to us. We have a tremendous volume of data covering everything we know (or think we know) about our customers. Given how much data is available to us, we can safely assume that part of what we collect is completely useless. But it’s hard to know just which parts are gold and which are lead. The sad truth is, we probably have enough lead to sink the Queen Mary. This raises the question, how much time, energy and treasure are we putting into collecting and storing information that we can’t use? The drive to collect every shred of data on our customers stems from our not digging in and determining what is important and what is of no help. Making things more complex is the fact that we now have more sources to tap for customer information than at any time before. Honestly, it wasn’t that long ago that all we really had were sales records, repair histories and other transactional data to drive our decisions. Today, we receive all kinds of analytics from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We get information from people who visit our website, and not just the ones who purchase something. Many of us have started loyaltycard programs that provide all sorts of data. Then we have the internet. Online programs can help us with analytics, or we can purchase a third party’s assessment of consumers’ interests. While it may seem a little “Big Brother,” it’s a fact that retailers are able to purchase insights based on mobile-phone movements. It’s a brave new world, people, and I believe you take my point. There’s an ever-expanding multiverse of consumer data out there. The siren song of data is that it can move us past only understanding the purchases customers make. A deep data dive would, in theory, show how product-purchasing decisions are made and at what point in the process the customer decides where they will make the purchase. The data may even show how our customers use the things they buy. However we collect data, and however much of it we collect, there’s a lot of research out there to suggest that quickly identifying — and letting go of — customer data that isn’t valuable is likely as important as gathering the information in the first place. Our focus needs to be on anything we can use to impact our business in the “right now.” The winners in “new retail” will be those who can identify the data that is most useful in creating positive results for their business. We need to truly decide what analytics are important in helping us to understand our customers. To accomplish this, the trick is to determine what is just interesting and what is truly valuable. If we don’t make this distinction, we’re likely left with a case of “the more we have, the less we know.” If we’re not good at deriving insights from a particular set of data, we have to ask, “Why are we gathering and storing it … forever?” Perhaps we should look inward by starting with the experience we want to deliver and determining what we need to know to make that happen. Is what we do really rocket science? We all work hard to be a part of the musical communities we serve. We know what we want, and just maybe, we know what they want too. Data helps. But all the data, in perpetuity? Nah. If we go down that route and overload ourselves with data, we’re as likely to miss a sales opportunity due to paralysis as we are because we’re not connecting to the customer who trusts the internet over us. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



(Courtesy of NAMM)

NAMM University Schedule The 2020 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.  

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. Retail Innovation Summit Anaheim Hilton, Level 2, California C–D Marcus Sheridan, Global Marketing Expert Get to The 2020 NAMM Show a day early for the Retail Innovation Summit, an immersion into strategies, innovations and trends to transform your business and amplify your success. This future-forward education experience will be presented by worldrenowned marketing guru Marcus Sheridan. Discover what the consumer of today wants and how you can deliver it as a music retail business. This event is free to NAMM members, but you must register first at namm.org.

9 a.m.–4 p.m. Retail Financial Summit Anaheim Hilton, Level 4, C8 Alan Friedman and Daniel Jobe, Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. Wednesday’s pre-show education will be rounded out by the new Retail Financial Summit, an all-day deep dive into financial strategies, trends and updates to grow your business. This interactive education experience will deliver the critical financial training music retailers need to thrive, while also looking at new developments that are certain to impact business in the year ahead. The workshop will be hosted by financial experts Alan Friedman, CPA, and Daniel Jobe, EA, of Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. This event is free to NAMM members, but you must register first at namm.org.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 16 NAMM U Breakfast Session 8–8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30–9:30 a.m. Session Anaheim Hilton, Level 2, Pacific Ballrooms

Breakfast of Champions Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO, and Guests 2020 is the year of “Crossroads.” Like the blues song, Crossroads refers to a mythical fork in the road, one we now face as we adapt to the blinding speed of change. Crossroads also represents a gathering place that links culture, technology and trade. And our own Crossroads, The NAMM Show, serves as the gathering of all the musical communities, instruments, pro audio and entertainment technology — offering you a powerful glimpse into the future. In this special edition of “Breakfast of Champions,” join NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond as he sits down with the biggest thought leaders in MI, sound and entertainment technology for up-close, one-on-one discussions. You’ll want to be in the room when they reveal their unique paths to success and perspectives to help you navigate your own personal Crossroads.


10:30 a.m. How to Turn Website Visitors Into Sales Opportunities Frank Cowell, Online Marketing Expert and CEO of Digitopia Are you spending money on marketing but not seeing the return on investment? Do you see jumps in your website traffic but no leads or sales to show for it? Then it’s time to transform your website and marketing efforts into a lead-generating machine. Join Frank Cowell, digital marketing veteran and Digitopia CEO, as he shares a digital growth formula that he’s developed during a 20-year sales and marketing career. If you want to drive significant growth and more qualified leads for your music business, don’t miss this actionable, insightful and high-energy session.

11 a.m. 7 Steps for Online Marketing Success (Double Session) Mitch Joel, Marketing Guru and Best-Selling Author Want to create better online and social media content and get customers hooked on your business? Find out how at this can’t-miss double session with veteran NAMM U speaker and marketing visionary Mitch Joel. He’ll share his practical approach to help you create more effective content and a successful marketing strategy. Stop wasting time chasing formats that don’t fit your brand! Discover Joel’s simple (and fast) process, so you can figure out what will work for your business and get started right away. A must-attend session for anyone looking to take their marketing to the next level.

12 p.m. 5 Instagram Power Users — What You Can Learn From Them Mallory Nees, Reverb When it comes to building your brand, creating a loyal fanbase and driving sales, there’s possibly no social media platform more effective than Instagram. But are you using it to its full potential? Join Mallory Nees, Reverb’s social media strategist, as she offers pro tips for increasing engagement and impact on Instagram by highlighting examples from some of her favorite accounts. You’ll walk away with expert tips and actionable insights to help you become an Instagram power user.

12:30 p.m. Networking: How to Do It and Why It’s Essential Melissa Ceo, C.A. House Music (Moderator); Mark Goff and Jeremy McQueary, Paige’s Music; and Jeremy Payne and Tom Tedesco, The Music People Networking is a critical skill for any music industry professional, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, new to the business or a veteran. Want to up your networking game? Then start The NAMM Show with expert tips, advice and strategies at this fastmoving panel discussion, moderated by Melissa Ceo of C.A. House Music and NAMM



Young Professionals (YP). She’ll be joined by NAMM YP members and the leaders of their companies, including Jeremy McQueary and Mark Goff of Paige’s Music and Jeremy Payne and Tom Tedesco of The Music People. They’ll also look at the role of networking in the music products industry and how it influences the next generation of leadership, along with employee retention and excellence. This session is presented in collaboration with NAMM YP.

1 p.m. Proven Ideas to Increase Lesson Sign-ups in the New Year Whitney Brown Grisaffi, Nathan Dalla Santa and A.J. Melcher, Ted Brown Music In the first two months of 2019, Ted Brown Music boosted music lesson sign-ups by 13 percent, all without increasing its promotional budget. And in this exciting half-hour, Whitney Brown Grisaffi, Nathan Dalla Santa and A.J. Melcher of Ted Brown Music will show you how they did it and what it means to your own lesson program. They’ll reveal how to use the new year as an advantage to entice potential students. They’ll also look at effective ideas to promote lessons (and your teachers) using social media, online marketing and local press. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to grow your student base and lesson business in the first quarter.

1:30 p.m. Stop the Drop! Retention Strategies for Lesson Programs Pete Gamber, Music Lessons Expert It’s the new year, and you’re excited about all of your new lesson sign-ups. That’s awesome, but how many will still be taking music lessons in 90 days? Don’t let this happen. Get expert strategies, proven tips and new ideas to retain the students you’ve worked so hard to recruit into your program. Join music lessons authority and industry veteran Pete Gamber for this powerful session and take control of your student retention today. He’ll cover everything from how you communicate with students to performance opportunities to keep them motivated and engaged. Start building a program that people wouldn’t ever think to leave and stop the drop.

Is the employee-versus-contractor issue keeping you up at night? Are you tired of dancing around it and ready to make some definitive decisions? If you have workers performing services and issue them a 1099 at the end of the year, you may have a looming liability, and it’s time to deal with the issue before it’s too late. Labor audits have surged since the recent California Supreme Court ruling, and 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, EA, of Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. will get you up to date on these changes and provide easy steps you can walk away with to make sure you’re compliant.

3:30 p.m. The Bottom Line on Internet Sales Tax — Update Alan Friedman and Daniel Jobe, Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. If you have questions about online sales tax collection, you’re not alone. 2018’s Supreme Court ruling changed the game, and what you don’t know about internet sales tax can put your music retail business in financial peril. Don’t let this happen. Join music retail financial experts Alan Friedman, CPA, and Daniel Jobe, EA, of Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. for the bottom line on how these changes will likely impact you. Friedman and Jobe will provide an update on these laws, as states continue adapting them, and offer a roadmap to help you stay on top of the shifting sales-tax landscape. (This session was originally presented at Summer NAMM and will feature new, updated information.)

4 p.m. How to Host a Successful Summer Blues Camp Fernando Jones, Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp Want to bring new excitement and momentum to your lesson program? How about

(continued on page 61)

2 p.m. Hey, Alexa … How Does Voice Search Impact My Business? Mitch Joel, Marketing Guru and Best-Selling Author Forget typing. We can (and will) control everything with our voices. Nearly 30 percent of smart speaker owners now buy with them, and 30 percent of all internet searches are done without a screen. Amazon smart speakers (not including Google or Apple) already reach 15 percent of U.S. homes. This “smart audio” has a staggering implication for your business. Understanding and mastering smart audio is just as important today as a website and strong Google ranking. This might sound like “Star Trek,” but it’s a massive business opportunity for you. Join Mitch Joel, NAMM U veteran presenter, marketing visionary and best-selling author, for this insider’s peek into the future of marketing, and find out what it means to your business now.

2:30 p.m. How to Amplify Your Visibility With Google Ads Karly Osten, Logical Position Google Ads can be your secret weapon for driving more customers through the door and to your website. Are you making the most of this powerhouse marketing platform? Join Karly Osten of digital marketing firm Logical Position and take a deep dive into how Google Ads can stimulate more business. Discover the dos and don’ts of running your own Google Ads marketing campaigns and the best practices to keep your efforts on target and on budget. Find out how to set up and run your own Google Ads account to get in front of the right people, at the right time, and on the right device.

3 p.m. Employee Vs. Contractor: Beware of How You ‘Treat’ Your Workers Alan Friedman and Daniel Jobe, Friedman, Kannenberg & Co.




Radio and television presenter Nic Harcourt introduced Quincy Jones.

Harcourt presents the AKG Lifetime Achievement Award to Jones.

Chris Faith (left) and Lynn Fuston, Sweetwater



YouTube sensation Ramzoid

Jacob Collier sang Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature,” Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” and George Benson’s “Give Me the Night,” all songs produced by Jones.

AKG asked guests to “Make History.”


AKG, a division of Harman International, a Samsung company, celebrated its 70th anniversary during a starstudded affair on Nov. 12 at Capitol Studios, housed within the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, Calif. The Music & Sound Retailer was on hand at the event, which included tours of the studios, a cocktail hour, DJ services provided by singer and DJ Kita Klane, a performance by jazz prodigy Jacob Collier and the presentation of an AKG Lifetime Achievement Award to the legendary producer Quincy Jones. Guests also received swag upon exiting the party, including a poster hand-signed and numbered by Jones, as well as a pair of K371 headphones. “Tonight, it is my distinct honor to present AKG’s lifetime achievement award to a living legend who has shaped the sound of our lives,” said radio and television presenter, Nic Harcourt, who introduced Jones. “… Quincy has utilized AKG’s creative tools for more than five decades. … Herbie Hancock called him ‘proof of the greatness of a single human being.’ That greatness, humanity, truth and sound; that man we celebrate here tonight.” “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” responded Jones upon accepting the award. “This is as good as it gets for an 86-year-old, baldheaded, bow-legged [person]. [I have] seven kids and eight grandkids. Life is great. I wish everyone a long life with love to share, health to spare and, most importantly, friends who care. God bless you.” “Quincy Jones has been so instrumental in helping me create music and be a human being of value,” Collier said in between songs during his set. “He has opened so many doors for me, both as a friend and someone who inspired me for 25 years. I will be forever grateful to you Quincy, for


A N N I V E R S A RY everything you have given to me and the world at large.” Regarding AKG, Collier added he has a small room where he has created music for his entire life, and “So much of the gear was created by AKG. So, I want to say ‘thank you’ to the whole [AKG] team.”

Singer and DJ Kita Klane

“ 20

DJ Expo August 10 – 13


7 0 T H

Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, NJ

Watch for Registration Info Expo house ad 11_2019.indd 1

11/13/2019 1:28:19 PM




By Brian Berk

It may be difficult for even the most astute person to know every brand a company manufactures and distributes. With this in mind, we bring you “Who MI,” which explains all of these details. To kick off the very first Who MI feature, we took a closer look at Canadian pro audio manufacturer and distributor, Yorkville Sound. Based in Pickering, Ontario, Canada, with its U.S. headquarters a couple hours’ drive away in picturesque Niagara Falls, N.Y., Yorkville Sound is known for its reliability, fidelity and longevity. In addition to Yorkville’s manufactured PA, including the Elite line and Synergy Array Series, here is a guide to Yorkville’s U.S. distributed brands and what you can expect to see when you visit Yorkville’s NAMM showroom, Room No. 17206, at The NAMM Show this month.


Traynor has created guitar and bass amps with unique character, innovation and a half-century strong reputation for workhorse reliability. Countless legends have relied on Traynor amps, including John Lennon, Chuck Berry, Rush and more. NAMM 2020 kicks off a banner year for Traynor as the amp company celebrates the 20th anniversary of the YCV40 combo with the new YCV4050 all-tube combo. The big brother to the SmallBlock line of bass amps will premiere with the BigBlock BB115 Bass combo. “Bass players will be happy to meet a new lightweight option for a 100-watt bass head with the YBA100, the latest installment to the YBA series,” the company stated. traynoramps.com

and character, innovative graphic equalizers that actually show you exactly where feedback may occur, and a full complement of cool little useful tools designed for stage and studio, ART offers affordable audio solutions that deliver unmatched quality, versatility and reliability,” Yorkville Sound noted. ART will have new and classic products on display in the Yorkville Sound showroom within one central studio desk that will show how ART products work together to create a living, breathing, affordable studio. ART’s new RP-1, Dual RP, Precision Phono Preamps, will be featured alongside the new USB II and USB IV digital interfaces. artproaudio.com

Hughes & Kettner

Since 1984, the name Hughes & Kettner has become synonymous worldwide with highquality guitar amps. Engineered in Germany, these amps are the product of a lifelong passion and pursuit of a vision to make great tone accessible for the discerning player. In 2017, Hughes & Kettner awarded Yorkville Sound with “Best GrandMeister Sales.” At The NAMM Show, Yorkville Sound’s showroom will display the full line of Black Spirit, “one-hand wall of sound,” analog amps that were released throughout 2019, including the Black Spirit 200 amp, Black Spirit 200 combo and Black Spirit 200 floor amp. For those who wish to experience the classic line of Hughes & Kettner products, visit its booth directly across from Yorkville Sound’s showroom at No. 17305. hughes-and-kettner.com

HK Audio

HK Audio, pro-audio manufacturer and Hughes & Kettner sister company, joined the Yorkville North American distribution family in 2018. HK Audio’s CEO, Nils Stamer sees the partnership as a strong strategic move. “By teaming up with Yorkville Sound, HK Audio has found a veteran partner with more than 55 years’ experience distributing PA and lighting products in North America. Yorkville Sound has a vast dealer network, a highly experienced rep force, and proven success with its own manufactured PA products.” Yorkville Sound distributes all HK Audio brands, including the LUCAS, ELEMENTS and LINEAR 3 lines. HK AUDIO will have its own NAMM booth, also housed at showroom No. 17305, while new product demos for the new Polar 10 and the L7112 FA will take place daily at Yorkville Sound’s showroom. hkaudio.com

Aston Microphones

Aston Microphones is the newest addition to Yorkville Sound’s roster of distributed brands for North America. Aston’s Halo, Stealth, Origin and Starlight mics, along with the Halo and Star (continued on page 79)

ART Pro Audio (Applied Research & Technology)

ART is a company comprised of musicians, engineers and recording enthusiasts. Since its inception in 1984, it has been redefining “performanceversus-price barrier” with a series of innovative new audio products designed with the needs of the musician in mind. “With a full line of vacuum tube preamplifiers and compressors that deliver unmatched warmth, tone


Yorkville Sound’s Synergy SA221S dual 21-inch subwoofer

Yorkville Sound’s YXL12P

Yorkville Sound’s Elite EF215P



DRIVER Leading Pro Audio brands choose Celestion

























Innovation, performance and reliability make Celestion the drivers of choice for a growing number of big-name PA brands. So when your customers need superior quality compression drivers or professional loudspeakers, tell them about the speakers the pros use.





In-ear monitors should be a natural upsell with every instrument purchase.


By Mike Dias There’s a simple way to keep your customers coming back to the store: Introduce them to the world of in-ear monitoring. In-ear monitors are the most cost-effective and easiest way for any musician to take their performance to the next level. They are great for practicing and rehearsing, and they are a game-changer for live performances. And then there is the growth in the market, something that definitely can’t be ignored. “The personal studio monitor/in-ear monitoring category in the United States has been growing at a double-digit five-year compound annual growth rate at Shure, and we expect it to continue growing at a similar rate in the future,” said Sean Bowman, director of retail sales, Shure. “This is a stable, growing market for a retailer to invest. Especially popular with touring and worship musicians, performers continue to value lower stage volume for cleaner mixes, individualizing their monitor mixes, hearing clearly from anywhere on the stage and sound isolation for hearing protection.” Think of in-ears as something that can turbocharge any instrument. They enhance the sound and give the musician an uncanny ability to focus on 60

pitch and tone. With this level of precision and concentration, major breakthroughs take place. Vocalists begin to play with their dynamics and range. Drummers start to pay attention to their ghost notes. Guitarists weave new harmonies. And bass players tighten up. Hearing breeds confidence. Of course, hearing protection is a wonderful byproduct of using in-ear monitors. By sealing off the ear canal, inears passively block 26dB of ambient stage noise. They are like earplugs and headphones all rolled into one. So, with all these benefits — for every type of musician — why is your sales team still leaving money on the table by not actively upselling in-ear monitors with every instrument purchase? I believe that the problem is twofold. Customers are aware of in-ear monitors, but always assume that they are only for top-touring pro acts. The standard line is “I’ll get them someday.” And MI sales professionals don’t have a simple script or process to follow when talking to customers about in-ears. That’s why I wrote this article. Tear it out and hang it in your sales office.

Start Small, Be Practical

At first glance, the in-ear ecosystem might seem overly complex. In-ear monitors come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. And then there’s the delivery system — as in, what are you going to plug your in-ears into? You can quickly become overwhelmed with choices and suffer from decision paralysis. Let’s avoid this. Here’s how to bypass unnecessary complications. When you are closing the instrument sale, ask what brand of in-ear monitors they’ll be using when they practice. Ask as if they already have a set at home; ask with that level of confidence and certainty. Then move right into talking about all the benefits noted above. As you’re talking, reach over for a set of Shure SE215s or Westone UM 10s. These are both industry standards and gateways for everything to come in the future. Of course, there are also wonderful entry-level universal in-ears by Sennheiser, Mackie, Zildjian, Audio-Technica and many other trusted pro-audio brands — so if your customer shows a clear brand preference, make sure to take that into account. As you hand the box over to your customer, say, “When you’re not practicing or performing with these,

they’ll be amazing headphones for your phone. You’ll hear details and nuances in your favorite songs like never before.” While talking about this aspect of in-ears — enjoying them off stage — reach over for an economical proaudio headphone amp like the Behringer Powerplay 2 or the Rolls PM50S Personal Monitor Amp. Let your customer know that these bodypacks will help get them started using in-ears and that, sooner or later, they’ll want to make some upgrades, but that these will get them up and running.

Get Information and Follow Up

Because of the personal nature of in-ear monitors, this sale naturally allows for a deeper relationship to develop. Take advantage of that. Make sure that you get your customer’s contact information and set a reminder to check in with them in three weeks after the initial purchase and then six months after that. On the first touchpoint, simply make sure that they are happy and that they are loving their new in-ear monitor setup. Field any new questions that they have now that they’re more familiar with how everything works together. On the second call, talk about the freedom that comes from being untethered and suggest that it’s time to discuss wireless solutions. Shure and Sennheiser both lead the industry for their wireless RF transmitter and receiver systems, but there are also plenty of UHF systems that can meet your customer’s needs. Don’t forget about better (continued on page 85) JANUARY 2020


(continued from page 55)

boost sign-ups and retention in the summer months? Look no further than Blues Camp. Find out how to get started with Fernando Jones, founder of Blues Kids of America and Blues Camp, Blues Ensemble director at Columbia College Chicago and international recording artist. Jones will cover how to market and brand your camp, establish partnerships with local thematic venues, organize ensembles by skill set, choose age-appropriate song selections, design curriculum, create certificates and host events to generate buzz leading up to the final showcase.

4:30 p.m. 5 Community Events for Every Music Retailer Tim Pratt, Dietze Music Looking for new events that drive business, connect with the community and create loyal customers? Join Tim Pratt of Dietze Music to hear about creative and successful events he’s hosted that have achieved all of the above, and more. Pratt will reveal how he built these events and forged priceless community relationships, and how you can, too. Find out how to collaborate effectively with such organizations as children’s museums, charities, zoos and more, and what it means for your music store. Most of all, leave this session with an arsenal of ideas to elevate your visibility, your community outreach and, of course, your business.

5 p.m. How to Hire Rock Star Teachers for Your Lesson Program Jonathan Shue, Dusty Strings Music Store & School What makes great music teachers, and how do you find them for your lesson business? In this session, Jonathan Shue, education director for Dusty Strings Music Store & School, will share his best practices, insights and advice to help you build a top-notch teaching team. He’ll show you how to identify the qualities of successful teachers, where to recruit them and how to keep them invested for the long haul. Shue will also look at onboarding guidelines to position them — and your business — for success. A must-see presentation for anyone starting a lesson program or looking to reinvigorate an existing lesson business.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 17 NAMM U Breakfast Session 8–8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30–9:30 a.m. Session Anaheim Hilton, Level 2, Pacific Ballrooms Transformative Marketing: Strategies for the Next Decade Ann Handley, Digital Marketing Pioneer and Best-Selling Author Modern marketing and social media are fast-paced and always-on, but is “fast” really the best path to drive marketing transformation at your business? Is realtime, right now going to deliver the best results and marketing experiences to your customers? Marketing guru Ann Handley is here to tell you “no!” because always-on is exhausting. Because fast and frenzied is unsustainable. Because you have a business to run. And in this NAMM U Breakfast Session, Handley will be your tour guide for effective marketing in 2020. She’ll reveal why the companies seeing the most success in marketing and social media are those that slow down, do less and obsess over key areas. Most of all, she’ll share how you can be more strategic to fuel your own marketing success. Are you ready? Join Handley and find out why you are!


10:30 a.m. 7 Hacks to Boost Your Online Sales Sebastian Fabal, Reverb Selling online lets you connect with customers all over the world, move inventory beyond what’s popular in your region and, most importantly, find new revenue for your business. But are you doing everything you can to make the most of this channel? Join Reverb’s Sebastian Fabal, who works with the company’s top sellers, to discover the secrets of the most successful retailers selling online. You’ll leave this session with actionable tips that you can start implementing today to boost your sales online.


11 a.m. How Instagram Really Works and How to Create Successful Content (Double Session) Jenn Herman, Online Marketing Expert Looking to increase your sales, customers and fans using Instagram? In this special double session, Jenn Herman, a globally recognized Instagram expert and the author of “Instagram For Business For Dummies,” will cover what you need to know about how Instagram works. She’ll dive into how content is prioritized and help you get a better understanding of how and when your content is shown on the social media platform. She’ll share insights into content strategies to help you create content that ranks higher and gets more engagement. Jenn will also show you how to tailor your posts, descriptions and hashtags to leverage Instagram in your favor. A must-attend session for anyone looking to level up their marketing and branding.

12 p.m. How to Keep Customers Engaged With Your Website Madison Revell, Inbound AV You’ve invested time and resources into your website, so why are customers leaving without going beyond your home page? Join Madison Revell, lead designer for marketing firm Inbound AV, as she shares the essentials of designing a positive user experience on your website — and achieving greater online success. This informative, energetic session will explore visual web elements that resonate with customers and how design can be used to best influence customer behavior. Take control of your website today!

12:30 p.m. Makeup Lessons Solved! Chris Bates and Tyler Marolf, TeacherZone.com and Los Rios Rock School Are makeup lessons among your biggest headaches in running a music lesson business? If so, there are exciting ways to use technology to track makeups and even do away with “the makeup lesson” altogether. In this session, Chris Bates and Tyler Marolf of TeacherZone.com and Los Rios Rock School will look at different ways lesson programs from around the world successfully handle makeups. You’ll not only discover the latest strategies and best practices, but also important leadership principles to reduce stress and chaos in your lesson business. Find out how to create a better culture, increase student retention and make for happier teachers.

1 p.m. Lessons Learned: NAMM Dealers of the Year (Double Session) Robin Walenta, West Music (Moderator); Cindy Cook, The Candyman Strings & Things; Gayle Beacock, Beacock Music; Lori Supinie, Senseney Music; and Tracy Leenman, Musical Innovations How do NAMM’s Dealer of the Year winners view the state of the industry, along with new and emerging opportunities? How do they face the universal challenges of retail, and what essential wisdom and ideas can they pass along to you? Find out at this exclusive double session, moderated by Robin Walenta, president of West Music, past NAMM chair and co-founder of Smart Women in Music (SWIM). Walenta will host an all-female panel of music retail leaders and NAMM Dealer of the Year winners, including Gayle Beacock of Beacock Music, Cindy Cook of The Candyman Strings & Things, Tracy Leenman of Musical Innovations and Lori Supinie of Senseney Music. Together, they’ll share their best advice to help you take your business to new heights. This session is presented in collaboration with SWIM and Women@NAMM.

2 p.m. How to Create Effective Videos for Social Media Jenn Herman, Online Marketing Expert Videos are an integral component in promoting a music business. And if you want to discover the latest best practices, join marketing expert Jenn Herman for this session on video marketing. She’ll look at how to create effective promotional videos, online posts and more for your website and social media, drawing on techniques and hacks she’s discovered with her clients and as a leading Instagram blogger. Jenn will also discuss helpful content-creation gear and tools to take your videos to the next level. If you’re too busy to learn all the ins and outs of video content creation, this presentation will be invaluable; if you’re a professional marketer, get ready to up your game.

(continued on page 75) 61



Owner of Middle C Music, music educator, classical guitarist, author, philanthropist By Leslie Buttonow 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, spotlighting successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists and others. Visit the wimn.com to view the weekly interviews and to learn more about how to be featured. For the past 17 years, Myrna Sislen has been the owner of Middle C Music in the Washington, D.C. area. It is a full-service music store serving beginner band students needing instrument rentals or repairs up through experienced musicians looking for guitars or pro-audio microphones, and everyone in between. Sislen is also a classical guitarist who enjoyed a concert career that spanned 30 years and included debut recitals at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Recital Hall. As an educator, she was an associate professor of music at George Washington University for 29 years, in addition to authoring eight guitar arrangement books. Sislen has been a female in a traditionally male-dominated field not once, but twice in her career, and many of us can learn a thing or two from her tenacity, resourcefulness and drive. She recently shared some thoughts, advice and recollections about breaking into the field of classical guitar, how she was inspired to take over a failing business that has since been honored three times by the Washington D.C. City Council and some ways she’s encouraged several generations of aspiring musicians in the process. The Women’s International Music Network: You’ve been a classical guitarist for many years. What initially drew you to learn this type of guitar? Myrna Sislen: That is a great question. I actually started as a folk guitarist while I was in high school. Lead Belly was my favorite, and I specialized in his music. When I got to American University and started taking applied music lessons on the guitar, learning classical guitar technique and its infinite playing possibilities felt exactly right to me. I was home. I do believe that every musician has certain sensibilities that guide their direction. In my case, I can’t say where it came from, but once I started, that was it. I never questioned the choice; I just went with it. The WiMN: Having traveled to many countries during your concert career, what are some things you learned about the music industr y, being a female in an often maledominated field? Sislen: At that time, you could count the number of female classical guitarists on one hand. Although there certainly was some disdain from male guitarists — and sexist comments about how a woman couldn’t possibly play as well as a man — I never let that discourage me. I actually got more concert dates because presenters liked the “novelty” of booking a woman playing classical guitar. Fortunately, that situation has changed dramatically over the years. There are now just as many women classical guitarists concertizing all over the world as there are men. The WiMN: How did you make the transition from performing artist to music educator? And what skills/experience/education would you recommend for readers looking to possibly teach music? Sislen: There was never really a transition. Realistically, all musicians have to teach to earn a living. I started teaching while I was studying at American University and didn’t stop until about “412” years later, when I retired as head of the classical guitar department at The George Washington University. For almost every classical musician, teaching and concertizing are not mutually exclusive. I was very lucky to get a university teaching position that not only gave me 62

a W2 form but allowed me to have access to a concert venue at GWU, and a way to make a steady living. My advice for teaching is to use all the techniques you have learned and that work for you and pass those on to your students. I have always felt that everything I learned from my teachers prepared me for teaching. After a certain point, it becomes our responsibility to pass it on and pay it forward. The WiMN: Before opening Middle C Music, had you ever envisioned yourself as a music store owner, or did the opportunity simply present itself one day and you decided to go for it? Sislen: How did you know? Actually, that is exactly what happened! I had never aspired to retail, but one Thursday, I was leaving my kickboxing class across the street from Middle C when I ran into another local musician who was working out. He mentioned that the former owner was selling Middle C, and the price was almost nothing. I went immediately to the store to ask, and the actual price was even lower. As I was walking out of the store — and I swear to God, this is exactly what happened — I took one step, and at the second step, something came over me that said, “You have to do something to save this store.” Without knowing anything about running a business, I felt that no one would open another music store, that it would be too hard and too expensive, and that instead it would become another mattress store (for some reason I can’t explain, at that time there were four mattress stores on the block) or a Cingular cell phone store. Standing outside the store, I called my sister and a friend who said they were not interested in going into business. The former owner had said there was a couple who were interested, but didn’t have any money, so I called them, left a message and waited. They never called back, but a couple of hours later the former owner called me and said someone had just come into the store and that the two of us would be her dream team. I called; he answered within 15 seconds. We met that Saturday, got corporately married the next Tuesday and signed the papers that Friday. Unfortunately — or in reality, it was ultimately fortunate — he didn’t work out, and we separated one year later. That was quite a surprise to me since my experience in music was that you stay together forever. But in business, that almost never happens. There was quite a learning curve, since I knew nothing about business, but I have always felt that was a plus. If you don’t know the rules, JANUARY 2020

L to R: Hal Leonard’s Larry Morton, Myrna Sislen and NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond.

it gives you tremendous freedom to think outside the box, as long as you don’t go into debt and lose everything. Also, being a classical musician is great preparation for being an entrepreneur. As a musician, we are never aware of how much money we make an hour. If we were, we’d go crazy. This is perfect when you own a small business and work pretty much 24/7. Oh, and did I mention that the former owner had lost $4,000 a month for the previous five years? As our accountant said, “You are buying the Titanic and the ship is sinking.” But she had an amazing inventory, mostly print. The doors opened, and I have not lost one penny in 17 years. So, ultimately, I would say that, metaphorically, the train stopped, the door opened and I got on. That is the choice I made, and I never regretted it … well, almost never. In 2002, only 1 percent of music store owners were women who were not related to a man in the business. It was a challenge. Once again, I found myself in a male-dominated industry, and once again, I was not about to let that fact discourage me. In the beginning, manufacturers would not talk to or sell to me. Fortunately, I met another woman owner, Liz Reisman of Creative Music in Monroe, Conn., and we formed a two-person buying group. It wasn’t long before we became a force to be reckoned with. And now, women owners in the music industry are a walloping 2 percent. The WiMN: What are some of the ways you’re attracting and encouraging young people to start (or continue) learning a musical instrument during the school year and during their breaks? Sislen: The interesting fact for us is that almost half of our 630 students are adults who need just as much — if not more — nurturing and encouragement to start and continue lessons. Adults are even more passionate about creating music than younger people and children. Our goal is to create a place where both older and younger students feel absolutely safe to express themselves when MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

learning to play an instrument. We recognize that it takes courage to expose yourself and your feelings when you take a music lesson. To that end, we have many student recitals during the year, Halloween and holiday recitals, Valentine’s Day recitals, and of course spring recitals. In addition, my favorites are the adult recitals and our family recitals. Teachers also play with students when necessary to help them feel comfortable. In the summer, we have rock band camps and songwriting camps for 10 to 15 year olds. In our rock band camps, we encourage nontraditional instruments like cellos, violins, French horns, flutes, violins and violas. The WiMN: What are some ways female musicians will feel welcome in your store if they’ve not always felt comfortable walking into other music stores? Sislen: From the beginning with Middle C Music, I wanted to create a space that was safe, comfortable and nurturing. Of course, selling stuff is always important, but not my paramount goal. If you create a wonderful space, people will come and buy. That has been the case for the last 17 years. As a woman owner, it is natural that women customers and musicians are welcome. It is also expressed in the décor of my store and more importantly in the culture of inclusiveness we all work to create. The WiMN: Because of your influence on other women in music and the example you’ve set, you’ll be honored at this month's She Rocks Awards. How are you feeling about that distinction? Sislen: I can’t express how honored I am to be chosen for a She Rocks Award! My entire career has been one of championing women in music and business. I would like to think I have done this by example, but even more importantly, I have dedicated myself to mentoring, encouraging, sharing ideas and being there for other women in the music industry. And yes, to show the men that we are their equals. 63





El Cajon, Calif.-based Taylor Guitars — whose factory has to be seen to be believed — recently announced that Bob Taylor, Kurt Listug and Andy Powers would all serve as partners of the venerable guitar manufacturer. All three talked to the Retailer about this partnership, the future of Taylor and a whole lot more. Sit back and enjoy.




'Bob and I are in our 60s and looking into the future. The cmpany needs a guitar maker to lead it into the future. The company can't end up in the hands of sales and marketing or finance people. That's why we brought Andy on board.' — Kurt Listug

'I think it is important a guitar maker has power. He has to be able to say, "This is my intuition. This is where I think we should go.” And people will listen to him because he is the owner.' — Bob Taylor


The Music & Sound Retailer: Let’s start with the genesis of having three partners at the company and what your roles are now. Kurt Listug: If you go way back to when Bob and I were kids, before we started this company, we were at a little shop called The American Dream in 1974. The owner wanted to sell it after a year. So, he left it up to us who would buy the shop from him. I’m not a guitar maker. I am a businessman. Bob is the guitar maker. But I asked my dad if he and my mom would help buy the shop and start a guitar company. He said, “Do you know how to make guitars?” I said, “Not really.” So, he asked, “Who is the best guitar maker [at The American Dream]?” I said, “Bob Taylor.” He said, “If you can get Bob to be your partner, your mother and I will consider helping you financially to buy the shop.” I wouldn’t have gone very far without Bob Taylor. Now, Bob and I are in our 60s and looking into the future. The same thing holds true. The company needs a guitar maker to lead it into the future. The company can’t end up in the hands of sales and marketing people or finance people. That’s why we brought Andy on board. Bob Taylor: I echo what Kurt said. As I look at companies around the world that have grown and are on their second or third owner, it’s kind of impossible to name who the guitar maker is there. I believe the company needs a person who is the wellspring of the guitars they make. For many years, it was me and employee/collaborator Larry Breedlove. I asked Andy if he was able to name the guitar builders at large companies. Small companies you can, although you don’t know what is going to happen when they have a succession at some point. I often noticed that, at guitar companies, the people who build guitars often don’t have a seat at the table. They are often instructed what to make by the marketing or sales department. That’s something I hoped would never happen at Taylor. Kurt didn’t know Andy when he came [to Taylor]. I barely knew Andy, but I knew he was the right person. Kurt ended up loving Andy as much as I do. The two of them have a great rapport. It just makes sense to bring him on as a partner. Andy Powers: I want to extend my thanks [to Bob and Kurt]. I love building guitars. It is all I’ve ever done since the time I was a little boy. Bob did ask me if I could name any other guitar makers. That’s the way our industry tends to go. The idea we could work together and be a guitar manufacturer driven by guitar making was a really exciting thought. I love the prospect of what that means for our musicians, our own employees and the future of the guitar. I am really thrilled to get to continue doing this work in this particular context. I JANUARY 2020

think a whole lot of good can come out of it. Taylor: I think it’s important a guitar maker has power. He has to be able to say, “This is my intuition. This is where I think we should go.” And people will listen to him because he is an owner. If it’s just the latest person you hired who has guitar-making experience, it’s too easy to brush off their ideas. We feel really great Taylor will go on with a guitar maker at the helm.

The Retailer: You mentioned you don’t want to have a company run by a marketing department. When you have an iconic business, others want a piece of it. How tough is it to not give in and sell the company? Taylor: Well, other companies have sure wanted [to buy] Taylor over the years. But it is not tough. If we sold the business, you couldn’t replace what me and Kurt have. We always felt owning this company is the best thing we have. Selling it to another company outside the industry for money doesn’t seem right to us. Listug: It is not tough. We are doing our own thing. We are following our dream. Whoever else would own the company would have their own ideas about what to do with it. So, it would basically be over for us. The Retailer: Bob and Kurt, you have been together a long time, and now you’ve added a third partner. But what happens when you disagree? Listug: It’s just like a marriage. You want to talk things through. At times, you need to compromise. At times, others need to compromise. But we have basically been in agreement on the big things. So, it’s not really a matter of overruling everyone else. Bob and I have often agreed on most things. So has Andy. Powers: There is a large amount of respect that goes in each direction. Bob and I have a huge amount of respect for the work Kurt has put into the business, in terms of sales and marketing, distribution and growing a busi-

'When Taylor guitars walked through the doors, they were well thought out. You could tell they knew what they were doing when they put guitars together. I would do simple things like a refret and see there were no issues with the guitar. I knew somebody smart was building the guitar. ’ — Andy Powers

ness. I know Kurt has a huge respect for the work Bob has done building a factory, as well as the forestry projects he is involved in. So, with respect, there is an acknowledgement of each of our fields of expertise. We listen to each other’s opinions, because these opinions have a lot of value. Taylor: In choosing Andy, Kurt and I lucked out. We chose each other when we were just kids, and it worked out. We had good chemistry. We did have to work out our own salvation, so to speak. We had to learn to work together because we think differently. But mostly, we are going in the same direction. So, it has been an easy partnership because we do for each other what we can’t do for ourselves. We both recognize that. That is the secret to our company. We’ve known Andy for eight years now. We find him to be smart. And smart people listen to other smart people. He respects what we have to say. We respect what he has to say. He has proven himself to be a person who loves making guitars and has a great sense for what players would want. He is a great (continued on page 92)

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The MI Spy loves musical instruments, be they common or obscure. But you already knew that. Why else would I risk life and limb going deep undercover to report on the music retail scene for your reading enjoyment? What you may not know is that your MI Spy also loves sports. So when the opportunity came to visit Pittsburgh, with its rich sports history and passionate fan culture, it sounded like a fun adventure. Unfortunately, the pencil pushers back at MI Spy HQ failed to secure me a 50-yard-line ticket to see the Steelers, so I had to head to a local sports bar to watch the game. But on my way, I did at least pass by two murals of the great Pittsburgh legend and Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, and I got to hang out among some jubilant Steelers fans. And, although I may have drawn more unwanted attention to myself than usual once I got a few beers deep, at least none of the locals saw fit to channel Myles Garrett vs. Mason Rudolph and smash me in the head with my own helmet. (Yes, I was wearing a helmet at the time. Do not question a master of disguise.) In addition to enjoying some football, I visited four really good MI stores in the Steel City. Reader, I’ll be honest: There have been many missions in which I’ve visited the music shops in a town or region and noticed quickly that one or two stores were standouts while one or two stood out as not nearly as good as the others. But to Pittsburgh’s credit, the four stores I visited were all impressive, featuring solid customer service, interesting inventory and good music playing over the PA. And there were a few other music stores besides the four I was able to visit, which is a healthy sign for music makers in this city. Now, while your MI Spy was familiar with Pittsburgh’s rich musical history, I admit I didn’t realize just how many notable musical personalities have come from here — jazz greats such as Billy Eckstine and Art Blakey, or Ray Brown and Roy Eldridge; rappers like Wiz Khalifa; vocal groups such as the Marcels, the Skyliners and the Del Vikings; punk and alternative outfits such as Anti-Flag and the Rave-Ups; rockers like Rusted Root, Iron City Houserockers and the Jaggerz; electronic music artists like Girl Talk; and pop stars such as Christina Aguilera. All these musicians and many more must have patronized musical instrument stores throughout Pittsburgh. And I really enjoyed the city, even though the locals call soda “pop” here …. But enough about the local flavor. My mission this month: To gather intel on acoustic stringed instruments, from banjos to ukuleles.

Acoustic Music Works 2142 Murray Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15217 412.422.0710

Squirrel Hill is a hilly neighborhood. Acoustic Music Works, on the corner of a particularly steep street, was a definite treat for those who cherish acoustic stringed instruments. Acoustic Music Works even has a slogan of sorts: “Guitars, Banjos, Mandolins and Good Company.” Your MI Spy can vouch for all these things and more being present at this store. Perhaps because it was toward the end of the day on a sunny Monday, the store worker I dealt with was one of the most genuinely


friendly and informative music store people I’ve ever encountered. And by being patient, I earned an informal lesson on the ins and outs of banjos (playing, production and more). I began the conversation by asking if acoustic guitar players come in and ask for effects pedals. He mentioned some, such as loops, flangers, chorus pedals and the like, but then he conspiratorially invited me to “Come over to acoustic!” I’ve often been curious about banjos, but have only tried them a few times. There is a whole wall of banjos at Acoustic Music Works, and the store owner explained to me the differences between the white and clear banjo skins, and the plastic or goatskin types. The store also stocked a few four-string banjos, not just the typical five-string types. The prices varied greatly, with some under $200, while others were in the $400 and even $900 range. Looking for acoustic guitars, autoharps or dobros? They have them here. There are new and used guitars, and you can get your repairs done here as well. And of course, ukuleles are in stock, because every music store these days has its share of ukes (see the rest of the Pittsburgh stores in this report). Mandolins, upright basses, dulcimers and other instruments rounded out the selection here. I had a very enjoyable time at this store, discussing banjos and all things stringed. The worker and I even had a lengthy chat about the times we each had met the late great Pete Seeger; he informed me that Seeger used an extra-long-necked banjo with three additional frets to suit his vocal range. I also got to discuss repairs to banjos and other acoustic instruments, and learned how the repair guy uses a laundry room iron to help fix the bridge of a guitar or other instrument if it has warped. Acoustic Music Works also carries a lot of music books, sheet music and other accessories. It was a comfy but orderly place, with a few award plaques to show the accolades it has received over the years. The store is composed primarily of two lengthy rooms, and while it doesn’t seem like a big store, the space is used well and there is a lot to see. This store is geared toward various tastes and budgets, but there are quite a few expensive models, collector and vintage pieces, and the like. It stocks big-name acoustic brands such as Martin, Eastman and Gibson, and carries many lesser-known brands such as Iris, Baleno, Waterloo, Pleinview and more. It was an impressive inventory, indeed. Also on this block is Jerry’s Fine Used Records, which is a fun shop to stop by as well.

Pittsburgh Guitars 1305 E. Carson St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203 412.431.0700

Those hepped-up Steelers fans were eager for a big night of football when your MI Spy rolled into town and onto the rather lively East Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s historic South Side. Restaurants, bars and other commercial establishments featured signs and other Steelers memorabilia. And among those shops and eateries was Pittsburgh Guitars, with its cool and kitschy window displays. JANUARY 2020

One of the first things that I noticed when I slipped inside this store was that there was a Mister Rogers songbook for ukulele on display. Now, I was not exactly searching for this, but with the film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” on lots of minds, it was a definite charmer. Pittsburgh Guitars, which opened in 1979, has a wide selection of new and used effects pedals for sale. One of the two workers pulled out a few chorus pedals — spanning a range of prices from under $100 to the high $100s — for me to compare, and he was jovial at every turn, explaining the ins and outs of each of them. The store stocked pedals by Boss, Dunlop, Electro-Harmonix and several more. There was also a curious item called the Plimsoul Overdrive pedal, which spurred a bit of nostalgic conversation between your MI Spy and the salesman as we reminisced about the band the Plimsouls (best known for its way-catchy song “A Million Miles Away”); it was a good bonding moment. The other worker who was in the store was discussing used electric guitars with two other customers. Both members of the store crew were laid back and knowledgeable guys. Pittsburgh Guitars definitely has a kitsch factor in its layout and display. And collectors, be forewarned: the store’s stock features the legendary Silvertone guitar with the cabinet amp, and there were other vintage guitars (new and used) to check out. The store also showcased a few smaller-sized guitars that looked intriguing, not just the typical child-sized, scaled-down models. Price tags are clear and prominent on the majority of instruments and accessories displayed throughout the space, with guitars starting in the mid-$100 range to the low thousands, so you can find one for just about every budget. Pittsburgh Guitars also carries its fair share of ukuleles. “Just about everyone likes them,” one of the salespeople told me. “They’ve taken off in the past few years. If you know the guitar, you can easily play the uke. And the portability factor is a plus.” The least expensive of these ukes were under $40, but there was a wide range of prices available. Pittsburgh Guitars also has its civic-minded side: It participates in an educational guitar initiative called Strum Together, which offers lessons for kids and teens. The store also boasted a good-sized secMUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

tion in the back for repairs. Although Pittsburgh Guitars does not have a parking lot, I found curbside parking without much trouble, and there is a bus stop right in front of the store.

Brighton Music Center 2110 Babcock Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15209 412. 821.5908

Brighton Music Center was the only musical instrument store in Pittsburgh that I visited that had a parking lot which was a definite plus (and it had at least 20 parking spaces to boot). This was an advantage over the other music stores I visited in Pittsburgh, where I had to find curb parking, and in two cases, had to scrounge for change for the parking meters. (Don’t scoff, folks. Convenient parking isn’t always an easy thing to find. My life is full of parking woes. It’s the truth.) The parking lot also features a large sign that is lit up at night; when I visited, it advertised an upcoming Marching Band Festival. Brighton Music Center began in 1958 and has undergone a few name changes since then. Interestingly, it was the only shop I visited in Pittsburgh that had any female staff, with two young women working the sales desk. I also liked how the sales desk was located in a central section of this store (rather than packed into a corner or off to the side). At this central desk was an assortment of compact discs by independent artists (a few were for cash sale only). I chatted with one of the young women at the sales desk about a curious “heavy-metal-style” ukulele with a shiny black finish that the store sells, and she gushed about it: “People really like that one!” she told me. But do musicians take it seriously? “Oh, yeah!” she responded. “We get great raves about it. Kids, teens, adults, so many people want to play it.” In addition to the heavy-metal uke, there was a good selection of other ukes for sale. Brighton Music Center is a big store, and while most of it is open space, there were also some lofts and back rooms, and a few tuckedaway spots, so that it seemed to be even bigger than I thought at first. There were even a few balcony areas, including one that had lots of orchestral and brass instruments, and another with mostly acoustic guitars. One of the upper walls served as a kind of tribute area, with 69


various instruments arranged in a circle around an American flag. If you need a musical instrument, from stringed to brass to percussion, from beginner to advanced, from novelty to serious, this store seemed to have a huge amount of options. Many products were labeled new, used or consignment. The price tags were smallish in size but clearly written. Accessories galore were also in stock, including a vast selection of sheet music and music books for all levels of experience. There was also a rack of harmonica gift boxes — the Bluesband seven-harmonica set with case. In terms of in-store character, there was actually a group of ukulele enthusiasts rehearsing some oldies when I visited, and I was amused to hear the uke gang playing spirited versions of the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and Del Shannon’s “Runaway.” In another rehearsal room, a jazz band was playing. The presence of these enthusiastic musicians made Brighton Music Store feel like more of a store/community center.

N Stuff Music 468 Freeport Road Pittsburgh, PA 15238 412.828.1003

A music mansion. That’s how I would describe N Stuff Music (aka Pianos N Stuff). Located down the road from a pretty good pizzeria (hey, I was hungry and needed to grab some lunch and a nice, refreshing bottle of … pop), N Stuff is a literal house with many rooms featuring different musical instruments as well as dedicated repair areas. The store stocks new and used instruments, both common and collectible. For more than 50 years, it’s been a destination for Pittsburgh and the surrounding suburbs. When I first walked into the main part of the store, I noticed it had one whole wall featuring Fender guitars, and the opposite wall featured Gibson guitars. There was a small group of customers admiring the guitars, and one was closely examining one of the new models. Although one older worker greeted me with a terse “Can I help

you?” and then walked off before I could really answer, I did end up speaking with other floor staff who were friendly and willing to talk at length about various instruments and general store information. One particularly kitschy but cool detail at N Stuff is that some of the banisters between floors were designed to look like guitar necks, complete with fret markers and such. This seems like such an obvious choice for a musical instrument store, but I haven’t noticed it elsewhere, so kudos to N Stuff. Like a few other stores that I’ve poked around in, it featured some museum-like showcases with collectible guitars and accessories. You can ogle these delightful instruments and ponder the prices … but make sure you don’t touch, just ogle. One such section featured a half-dozen hollow-body guitars, all gorgeous creatures with attached cards that provided extensive background information. One large room showcased acoustic guitars and ukes, with a small section devoted to mandolins and banjos. In a room devoted to used equipment and instruments, there was even a large glittery disco ball for sale. Another room on the second floor contained accessories and racks of store-logo T-shirts, which were pretty stylish and available in various sizes, plus other assorted shirts. There were at least three or four repairman at work on guitars and drums in a few well-lit and accessible repair sections. The ultimate conversation piece on display at N Stuff was the curious-looking “ukelin” instrument, which apparently no one actually plays, but everyone stops by and looks at and pays tribute to. This slightly dusty stringed instrument, a hybrid of a ukulele and a violin which dates to the 1920s, stands by itself on the first floor in a small case. I discussed its origin and life at N Stuff with one of the employees, who made it seem more like a mythical creature than a strange mashup musical instrument. I could tell from what the worker said that it’s considered practically a mascot of the store. Apparently, the reason N Stuff even has this ukelin in stock is that “Years ago, a customer left it here for a repair but didn’t return. So, we’ve kept it in that spot. But no one knows how to play it.” Price tags on the vast majority of new and used instruments were highly visible and clear at N Stuff, and it offers instruments for a wide variety of budgets. One disadvantage to this store was the lack of a parking lot. I had to park at the curb. It wasn’t busy the day I stopped by, but if it was, it would have been a hassle competing for a limited number of spots.

The Sale

Your MI Spy really was impressed with each and every one of these stores. This is one of the rare missions that left me duly impressed by all the stores on my agenda. Give yourselves a hand, music retailers of Pittsburgh, and keep up the exemplary work! But there must be a winner. And if you want a solid, all-around store that also functions as a sort-of community center for musicians of var ying levels and interests, then Brighton Music Center is the real deal. That being said, you really can’t go wrong with the other stores. If you are an acoustic connoisseur, Acoustic Music Works is a particular treat and a great place to shop and get repairs and learn about these instruments in general. Pittsburgh Guitars and N Stuff Music were also both very good, and honestly, Brighton Music Center only tops them for a few practical reasons (the parking lot comes to mind). The stores aren’t particularly close to one another, so depending on where in Pittsburgh you happen to be, you have at least one solid option within driving distance. I also have to give a special mention to 101.1 FM WZUM, a really good jazz station I played constantly while driving around Pittsburgh and its suburbs.




(continued from page 51) Menchey of Performance Play Music School. Dan Menchey (brother to the one-and-only Joel Menchey) runs a music school that focuses on technology and getting lesson students to collaborate musically. The first thing we observed as we walked toward the school’s front door is how the group lesson rooms are located by the front windows. The group-room layout was deliberately created to grab the attention of potential customers walking by. This is taking window shopping to another level! Performance Play Music School focuses heavily on technology for communication between instructors and students. We discussed using technology to increase retention and customer satisfaction. In a world of technology that changes daily, it is vitally important for a music lesson business to remain current. With online lesson websites and platforms like YouTube, technology offers amazing opportunities to increase student skills and engagement. Group lessons in a rock-band setting are an integral part of the Performance Play Music School’s business model. Students are encouraged to take private lessons as well as group lessons, where they get to put their skills to use in a collaborative setting. We were reminded of the power of getting young musicians to play in bands with their peers and the benefits of playing collaboratively in front of audiences. At this point in our crosscountry journey, we were getting weary of bouncing between time zone, elevation and weather changes, and our derrieres were definitely feeling the effects of the trip. However, we had one more store to visit before we made it home: the remarkable AMRO Music in Memphis, Tenn. AMRO Music is quite possibly one of the most efficiently operated multigenerational music stores in the industry. The Averwater family has the school rental industry dialed to perfection. The processes and procedures of the company are well thought out and recorded in detail. One of the best tips we picked up from the AMRO Music team is the strength that comes from MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

being laser focused. AMRO Music is completely focused on rentals, and as a result, is one of the leading school music dealers in the country. In addition, the Averwaters excel in terms of hospitality and kindness, which makes them much-loved and respected in their home community. So, what was our biggest takeaway from our gas-guzzling 7,000mile journey from the southwest corner to the northwest corner of

our vast, beautiful country? Never stop learning. Don’t become comfortable and complacent. If you aren’t moving forward, chances are you are moving backward. Get out and make friendships, lean on your friends and don’t be too afraid or too prideful to ask them for advice. There is an entire world out there of impressive music stores. Go visit one, or seven! We are stronger together than we will ever be

apart. Just imagine the impact if all music store owners shared ideas, encouraged each other and pushed for the same goal: More to start, fewer to quit! And last but not least, rent an RV, download a few podcasts and get out and see the world! Have you learned something from an industry peer that helped your business? If so, I’d love to hear about it. You can reach me at tim@spicersmusic.com.





IN 2020

By Kimberly Deverell

It’s no secret that, over the past decade, the way consumers shop has drastically changed. In an ever-growing digital world, how does a brick-and-mortar store maintain relevance in 2020? Company Culture Simply put, company culture is the personality of a company, the shared values and beliefs of an organization. It’s the way people feel about the work they do, how they feel about where they see the company going and how invested they are in the future of the business. This is fundamental to a cohesive work environment. Happy employees who are invested in the future of the business will project that happiness and create a positive workplace, which will attract customers. Never underestimate the value in hiring employees who align with the company’s vision. Employees who fit into the culture will most likely work harder and stay with a company longer, thus allowing the development of long-term relationships with customers. Which leads me to my next topic… Customer Experience

Connect With Your Community

Customer experience (sometimes abbreviated as CX) is defined by a customer’s perception of their journey with a business over time. As a small business, one benefit you have over chain stores and online shopping is your ability to personalize the shopping experience — to know your customer and give them exactly what they want. Good customer service is crucial to the overall customer experience. The key point here is that it is easier and more affordable to retain existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. When customers are satisfied, they are more likely to return and more likely to share their experience with family and friends and on social media. Furthermore, customers pay attention to other customer experiences (i.e. they read reviews). It comes down to a numbers game; the more customers have a positive experience with your business directly translates to more positive reviews, which affect your bottom line.

Community is defined as “a group of people living in the same place,” but it is so much more than that; community connotes a sense of belonging. As a local business, the ability to build connections is a significant advantage and is key to differentiating yourself from the big-box stores, chains and online-only shopping. We recently created a little community food swap in the lobby of the store, where customers can bring in/take home excess produce. It’s a small personal touch, and authentic to the feeling we want to convey. Our customers feel at home in our store and they see us as a member of their musical family. Life is about relationships. If you form a meaningful, trusting relationship with your community, you will have loyal customers for life.

Creativity Creativity done right can provide a competitive edge and is essential to differentiating a business. Differentiating yourself from the competition does not have to cost a lot of money and can be highly effective. Express your organization’s personality by using innovative marketing campaigns. Customers want to see something new and different they can relate to — something that makes them laugh and makes them want to interact and exchange with your business. Keep it honest and real. This will keep existing customers coming into your store, and additionally, it will bring new customers in. One of our most successful marketing campaigns consisted of before-and-after pictures of instrument repairs with amusing sayings like “This Trumpet Un-Twisted @Sandiegomusicstudio” highlighting our dent-repair work, or “Splish Splash Brass Is Taking a Bath” highlighting our ultrasonic cleaning service for brass instruments. It was fun, unique and reflective of our company culture, and it also advertised the services we provide. 72

Change The one constant in life is change. Embrace it. It can be challenging and risky, but also extremely rewarding. One thing is certain: Change is vital to survival as a business. It can be as simple as reorganizing merchandise around the store or something more complex, such as implementing a new business strategy. One of the greatest challenges we recently faced as a business was making the decision to switch software systems. We were frustrated with the options available and did not want to be limited to the confines of a traditional all-encompassing hardware system. We finally decided to cut the cord and move our entire instrument-rental database to a cloud-based module entirely independent of a traditional “system.” This was not an easy process. It required a significant amount time and effort, but long term, it was the right choice, and the business is going to be better off for it. In closing, maintaining relevance in the ever-changing retail jungle can be a struggle, but using these ideas should help you stay ahead of the curve. I am hopeful and optimistic for the future! Brick-and-mortar retail is not dead; the pendulum is swinging and will eventually balance out somewhere in the middle. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer on how to survive retail, but applying these strategies has contributed to a successful 25 years in our business. JANUARY 2020


Grassroots Marketing: Where the Grass Is Greener

By Miriam and Mike Risko

In this age of social-media marketing and search-engine optimization, we all get caught up in analytics and digital thinking. That doesn’t mean that good old grassroots marketing should be forgotten, however. Although we have a lot more options nowadays, there’s still something to be said for an ad in your local paper or a poster stuck up in a window. Add a few of the new tricks you’ve learned along the way, and you have the basis of a solid grassroots marketing plan for your brick-and-mortar music school and store that you can partner with all the digital marketing you are doing. Digital marketing is still very important. But, when you have a storefront, you should never stop thinking in terms of your physical presence and how to reach your local community the old-fashioned way. When we started our business 25 years ago, there was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It wasn’t easy to figure out where most of our customers were coming from unless we did a spreadsheet of their ZIP codes. We had a few concepts that we used regularly, however, and we continue to rely on these, but with a few twists. This article will focus on 74

what we call the bulletin-board concept. This method may be old school, but it still retains its potential. We are going to teach you how to use it and help you modernize it with some tips on how to get the most out of it. We used to spend hours on our bulletin board, which sat proudly in our waiting room in the mid ’90s. Each month, we’d give it a new look — for example, by putting a border around it, or by changing the paper on the back of the board to match the colors associated with the monthly holiday. A few years later, we got really fancy by outfitting our board with decorations that popped out and made you read what was being promoted. Everyone who came into our school saw the bulletin board, from students and their parents to people shopping for instruments. There was no avoiding our bulletin board, because you literally had to walk past it when you came in. Everyone stopped to look at it. They would read about what was going on, the monthly goals for students at our school and what events were coming up next. Student recital info was posted, as well as photos from the last recital. Now let’s jump to today. We hold many exciting events at our store, but everything is posted on our website, which we spend a lot of time and effort directing people to. Nevertheless, we haven’t forgotten our bulletin board, and it continues to serve us well. Here’s how to get the most out of yours. • Make sure your bulletin board is prominently displayed. • Change it monthly and update everything on it. You don’t want it to be stale, so give each month a theme and be sure to include all holidays. Just like

Take your bulletin board on the road. No, you don't have to carry it around with you when you leave the store, but you can take a picture of it and post it on your social-media pages.

merchandising your store, do the same for your bulletin board — move things around, change the display and add new things. Remember that you have a lot of regular customers in your school and store, so the board will need to look different for them to notice. Make sure it mirrors the information on your website. • Speaking of websites, think of your bulletin-board design like a website. Break it down into categories and subcategories representing not only what’s going on in your store and school, but also what’s going on in the community. At the top of the bulletin board should be the main event, drawing people’s attention to the biggest thing that’s going on. • Find ways to draw people’s attention to your bulletin board. For example, it can feature a student of the month, offer a practice initiative that students can sign up for or you can even use it to display coupons for your store. When you greet your customers, direct them to the bulletin board for all the latest information and remind them each week to check it out until it becomes a habit. Remind your staff to check it too, so they are not only in the know but can also help promote events. • Take your bulletin board on the road. No, you don’t have to carry it around with you when

you leave the store, but you can take a picture of it and post it on your website and your socialmedia pages. You can even send out an email with your newsletter and make a section about your bulletin board so people know it is there. Digitally promote your in-house bulletin board. • Don’t just focus on your own bulletin board. You can also post copies of flyers for your most important events on other bulletin boards around town. You and your staff are out and about in town anyway, so bring a few flyers with you. So many places use these boards, which makes collaboration natural. You’re apt to find bulletin boards in coffee shops, supermarkets and pharmacies, to name a few, and even businesses that don’t have them often allow other local businesses to post notices on their windows. Be sure to tag the places where you’ve posted so you can keep track. And make sure to make your flyers double-sided if you’re posting on glass. Bring your own tape and thumbtacks with you; you don’t want to have to borrow from the owner of the bulletin board. And always carry business cards with you. If you don’t have a flyer for an event, you can always hang up a business card. • Encourage businesses that have allowed you to put up a flyer to put one of their own up at your business. You can even take (continued on page 85) JANUARY 2020


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2:30 p.m. How to Expand Your Reach Via Podcasting Bruce Wawrzyniak, Now Hear This Entertainment Approximately 90 million Americans listen to a podcast every month. Some 41 percent of them have an annual household income of more than $75,000. You’re probably well aware of the explosion of podcasts but unsure where to start with your own. Exhale. Harness the power of this medium, become the authority in your space and control the message you want to get out to your current customer base, potential new buyers and beyond. This session, hosted by veteran podcaster Bruce Wawrzyniak of Now Hear This Entertainment, will send you out the door ready to press “record” and “publish,” and even equip you to get the word out about your own company’s podcast. Common myths about podcasting will also be dispelled during this fromconcept-to-launch presentation.

3 p.m. School Music Superstars Talk Rental Growth Gayle Beacock, Beacock Music (Moderator), and Panel If you have a school music business, large or small, you don’t want to miss this session. Gayle Beacock of Beacock Music leads a fast-moving panel of music retail stars who will weigh in on how they’ve found new business-growth opportunities in school music and rentals. They’ll look at everything from opening new and satellite locations to untapped revenue streams to acquiring businesses and more. Don’t miss the chance to hear from veterans who’ve found growth when it didn’t seem likely, or possible.

3:30 p.m. Tackling the 8 Most Common Reasons Students Quit Lesson Don Russo, Freeway Music Student retention can make or break a music lesson business. Do you have a strategy to minimize dropouts in your own program? Here, Don Russo of Freeway Music will reveal his process for safeguarding a lesson program to ensure high retention. He’ll cover basic protocol for any exiting student. Then, he’ll focus on the eight most common reasons students leave and how to address each circumstance. Russo will also dive into the importance of hiring the right staff and how to train them, so they can mitigate exits. Enjoy more students and more profit.

4 p.m. NAMM YP Keynote Session (Double Session) NAMM Young Professionals Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, NAMM Young Professionals (YP) welcomes all to its annual NAMM Show keynote. Expect an insightful discussion on leadership, career development and the role of mentorship in the music industry. This special double session will also include a social hour to follow for networking and building connections at the NAMM Member Center. NAMM YP is a group of young music products industry professionals focused on the future of the business by providing opportunities to connect, learn and grow.

5 p.m. 5 Digital Marketing Trends to Take Advantage of in 2020 Larry Bailin, Digital Marketing Pioneer It’s 2020, and you’re operating in a new business climate that looks nothing like five years ago. Are you prepared? In this special close-out to Friday at the NAMM Idea Center, Larry Bailin, a digital marketing pioneer, top Google partner and NAMM U Breakfast Session presenter, will highlight the five most important digital marketing trends everyone in the music industry needs to take advantage of in 2020. He’ll show you what’s hot and what’s not across search, social, video and more. Discover best practices for success and where to invest your marketing dollars for maximum return in this fast-paced, one-of-a-kind, not-to-be-missed session.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18 NAMM U Breakfast Session 8–8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30–9:30 a.m. Session Anaheim Hilton, Level 2, Pacific Ballrooms

How to Build an Iconic Business Scott McKain, Customer Experience Expert In this age of business disruption, “standing out” from the competition is more challenging than ever and usually not enough to win. To be a lasting business, you need to become iconic in your customers’ minds and hearts. But how does a company go from merely good to icon status? Find out as NAMM welcomes Scott McKain, global customer-experience expert, musician and Hall of Fame speaker. In this exciting NAMM U Breakfast Session, McKain will share the five key characteristics of iconic organizations and how you can make these concepts work for your own business. You’ll discover specific, practical steps for delivering the ultimate customer experience, creating distinction in the marketplace and taking your business to the highest level. Don’t miss this opportunity to grow and future-proof your business today!


10:30 a.m. New Strategies to Drive Lesson Program Growth Noel Wentworth, Wentworth Music Want to grow your lesson program, increase sign-ups and bolster student retention? Sometimes, it’s just as simple as adding a few unique, creative opportunities for your students. And in this rich and inspiring presentation, NAMM Top 100 finalist Noel Wentworth of Wentworth Music will reveal how he’s built his music lesson operation to more than 1,100 private students weekly by adding value to the lesson experience, harnessing everything from student trips to partnering with local venues to connecting music lessons with college credit. Discover the proven strategies Wentworth has used to create additional value for current and future students, all while raising his company’s profile to celebrity status in the community. A can’t-miss session for anyone looking to grow a lesson program or business.

11 a.m. How to Use Facebook Groups to Grow Your Business Mike and Miriam Risko, Mike Risko Music School Local Facebook groups can be an incredibly effective way to connect with your audience. But with so many Facebook groups out there, what’s a music retailer to do, and how can you use them correctly? In this session, Mike and Miriam Risko of Mike Risko Music School will show how they’ve been using Facebook groups to connect and communicate with their audience, strengthening bonds with customers and the community. They’ll share advice on how you can connect with local Facebook groups, along with best practices, stories and lessons learned. Start making the most of this powerful, free resource today.

11:30 a.m. 5 Reasons Your Online Marketing Isn’t Working — and How to Fix It Peter Malick, Inbound AV Technology has made it possible for online retail to offer a customer experience that rivals the in-store experience. Are you prepared? Do you have a website and online presence that’s worthy of your brand? The good news is there are new, low-cost and even free tools that make it possible for every retailer to compete successfully, the only barrier to entry is some hard work. And in this insightful session, Peter Malick, marketing expert and founder of Inbound AV, will reveal what you need to do — and not do — to be competitive. He’ll also walk through a case study profiling the best practices in independent music retail. Don’t miss an opportunity to level up your online marketing.

12 p.m. Essential Steps to Manage Your Reputation on Google, Yelp and Facebook Paul Farmer, Starfish SEO, and Jack Monson, Social Joey Customers often check online review sites, such as Google, Yelp and Facebook, before they even get to your website. Does your online reputation encourage customers to consider your business or scare them away? In this session, directory listing expert Paul Farmer of Starfish SEO and Jack Monson of Social Joey will share new ideas and

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BE LIKE BOB By Allen McBroom

If I made two lists of the people I know, and divided those lists into people I would want to be around and people I would not want to be around, probably the most important personal quality that would move a person to the first list is a good attitude. A good attitude about life, a good attitude about people and a good attitude in spite of difficult personal experiences would move folks to the top of the first list. Businesses thrive when staffed by people from the first list, and they die when staffed by people on the second list. Don’t believe me? Staff a restaurant with waitresses who are kind, friendly and dialed in to a customer’s wishes. After a month, replace all of those waitresses with negative, surly, inattentive waitresses. My guess is return-customer visits would plummet, and sales overall would drop. Think about how often a server’s attitude (positive or negative) influenced your desire to return to a restaurant. Many (if not all) people are willing to pay a bit more if it means they get really great customer service and leave feeling valued by the business they just visited. If you’ve ever left a business and said to yourself “I’m never going back there, they were (fill in the blank with your choice of “rude,” “inattentive,” “distracted,” “lazy,” etc.),” you can place those employees on the second list. There are plenty of books and self-help courses on how to have a good attitude and how to treat others (including customers) right. But, perhaps the best, shortest description of how to have a good attitude that will result in a positive customer experience comes from Bob Jusjor of Yanda’s Mobile Music in Nebraska. Bob told us a story recently about how he was getting calls from parents in a nearby town. It seems the owner of the closest store to these parents decided he would no longer repair any instrument unless he had sold the instrument originally, so he started turning away repairs. Parents began driving a long distance to bring repairs to Bob’s store instead, all because the closest store to them became unfriendly to new business. And the store wasn’t just rejecting repair requests; it was rejecting them with an attitude. Bob continued with the story of how he got a call from a band director who was quite a drive away from his store, asking to make an order. When Bob pointed out that there was a store very close to the director’s school, the director made a comment along the lines of, “Oh, I know him. That’s why I’m calling you.” It wasn’t that the closest store couldn’t meet the needs of the band director, but the personality at the store drove the director away, and toward Bob. Bob sort of summed up his story with a few sentences: “I am certainly not the best salesman. I’m not the best repairman. I don’t have an inexhaustible supply of knowledge. My prices aren’t the cheapest. But I give a damn, and I’m not a jerk. So, there you go, a best business practice: Give a damn and don’t be a jerk.” Give a damn and don’t be a jerk. In other words, be like Bob. When I was much younger, I took business courses at Mississippi State University. I had great accounting teachers and other teachers who really cared about their subjects. But Bob’s one, simple approach to gaining and retaining customers never appeared in the curriculum. Not even the marketing course included this valuable best business practice so eloquently stated by Bob. Give a damn and don’t be a jerk. Sometimes, common sense is the best curriculum. To expand on that business practice just a bit, first you need to care about what you do at the store, and more importantly, you need to care about why the customer is at the store. The customer had a good reason to drive to your store, park and come inside. They want (continued on page 85)

Don’t Be A Jerk




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tips to help you better manage your online reputation. They’ll look at how to handle negative reviews and angry customers, how Siri and Alexa use reputation management tools to make local business recommendations, and why small businesses sometimes outperform big-name brands with hyper-local listings. A session for intermediate and beginning users.

12:30 p.m. Simple Strategies to Maximize Your Local Google Presence Paul Farmer, Starfish SEO, and Jack Monson, Social Joey How important is your Google My Business page? It’s critical! Your Google My Business page is the easiest way to get customers into your showroom, and it’s fast becoming the primary method customers use to find businesses when searching online. Best of all, it’s mostly free, but it does require some time and know-how to optimize a listing. And when you know how to insert the most effective keywords, categories and services into your listing, it’s like throwing rocket fuel on your search engine results. Join Paul Farmer of Starfish SEO and Jack Monson of Social Joey, who will give you their tips, advice and best practices for making this happen. Don’t leave The NAMM Show this year without these strategies in your pocket.

1 p.m. Live Interview: Kyser’s Meredith Hamlin on Leadership Meredith Hamlin, Kyser Musical Products What does it take to successfully lead a business in the new normal? In this exclusive session, the “Thoughts That Rock” podcast will host a live onstage interview with Meredith Hamlin, owner and president of Kyser Musical Products. Together, they’ll explore the changing landscape of effective leadership for small businesses — and what it means to you. Drawing from best practices and shared industry knowledge, they’ll look at strategies and ideas for developing and fostering collaboration within organizations. Hamlin will even share real-life examples and success stories from her leadership at Kyser. A can’t-miss session for anyone looking to build a more successful, productive and fulfilled team.

1:30 p.m. 10 Management Hacks for Every Music Retailer Jimmy Edwards, Marshall Music You want to hire, nurture and keep great employees, but you’re slammed running a business. Where do you start? In this inspiring half-hour, Jimmy Edwards of Marshall Music will give you his 10-best management “hacks,” tips, tricks and shortcuts he relies on daily to build a great team. These are proven ideas you can take home and put to use right away, without having to overthink your hiring and retention strategy. Discover hacks for maximizing job morale and productivity, improving your culture and making sure your management philosophy spreads to all parts of the organization. Don’t miss this opportunity to improve your team and bottom line.

2 p.m. Essential Strategies for Selling on Amazon Joshua Kreitzer, Channel Bakers You want to sell on Amazon but don’t know where to start. Or, maybe you’ve had success on the platform but want to take it to the next level. If this sounds familiar, don’t miss this session. Joshua Kreitzer of Channel Bakers will guide you through essential strategies and tips for Amazon success, looking at how to leverage Amazon to boost your sales, how to maximize an Amazon ad spend and what strategies do and don’t work. Kreitzer serves as CEO of Channel Bakers, a leading agency that specializes in Amazon marketing. Get insider tips to up your Amazon game today.

2:30 p.m. Building Your Lesson Business Brand Tom Hemphill, Music Lessons Expert A well-branded music lesson program attracts more students, operates more efficiently and delivers greater financial results. Music lesson guru Tom Hemphill has successfully built brands for individual lesson schools and major companies. In this session, he will share the key brand elements that will move your lesson business to the next level. Balancing practical front-line tactics with little-known strategies, he’ll reveal the operations, marketing and sales systems that the pros use. This is a mustsee session from a lesson expert.

3 p.m. Steps and Tips for Creating Effective Facebook Live Videos Tim Paul, Piano Trends Music & Band Want to drive more traffic to your Facebook page? Looking to better engage your audience, tell your story and promote your business? Look no further than Facebook Live, the largest social media platform for live video broadcasting. Join Tim Paul of Piano Trends Music & Band for a step-by-step process to create effective Facebook Live videos. Paul has used Facebook Live to do everything from successfully promoting his brand to selling pianos and band rental programs. He’ll also show examples of effective Facebook Live videos that you can apply to your own business.

3:30 p.m. How We Went From 370 to 37,000 Instagram Followers Glenn Haworth, Haworth Guitars Glenn Haworth of Haworth Guitars has grown his company’s Instagram from 370 to 37,000 followers, and in this session, he’ll show you how. Find out how to take photos for maximum impact, when to post and how often to post, what types of content to write and what hashtags to use. Haworth will also discuss how competitions can boost your Instagram community, using influencers to share your content, Instagram Stories versus news feed posts and linking your posts to online sales. Pick up tried-and-true Instagram power tips to bolster your marketing and grow your business.

4 p.m. Careers in Music Summit, Featuring Jonathan Dely Joe Lamond, NAMM President and CEO (Moderator), and Guests What does it take to have a successful career in the music industry? Find out firsthand at this special session, hosted by NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond. In a series of up-close interviews, Lamond will speak with a diverse lineup of music industry professionals, including award-winning trumpet soloist Jonathan Dely. They’ll discuss their career trajectories and share practical insights for long-term success. Walk away with new ideas and inspiration to take your career to new heights. This event is dedicated to SUNY Potsdam alumnus and longtime music industry icon Sandy Feldstein.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 19 NAMM U Breakfast Session 8–8:30 a.m. Free breakfast — first come, first served 8:30–9:30 a.m. Session Anaheim Hilton, Level 2, Pacific Ballrooms Best in Show Frank Alkyer, Music Inc. and UpBeat Daily, and Panel What do you need to see before you leave The NAMM Show? What products, services and technologies are likely to be a big deal and drive the industry in the year ahead? Find out at “Best in Show,” the popular closing NAMM U Breakfast Session. Frank Alkyer, publisher of Music Inc. and UpBeat Daily magazines, will host a panel of retail gear experts who’ve shopped the far corners of the exhibit floor to bring you their top picks. They’ll reveal not only the biggest products at The NAMM Show but also sales tips and potential customers for this gear. Exhibitors, take note: You’ll want to be at “Best in Show,” too. In fact, you might just be a winner.


10:30 a.m. Monetizing Your Music 101 House of Blues Music Forward Foundation How do working musicians make a living? In this session, House of Blues Music Forward Foundation will explore that question, looking at how you can monetize your music, both live and recorded. Get new business tips and strategies for generating revenue through publishing, performance, royalties and recordings. This panel will also discuss the roles of the songwriter, publisher, performer, record label and talent booker, as well as the benefits and challenges of live performances and internet streaming

(continued on page 83)





When talking about content creation, I spend a lot of time referencing guitars and other combo side items, mostly because that’s the world I spent the most time in as a retailer. However, that doesn’t mean these are the only viable options for such content. In fact, in some other MI product segments, regularly producing content that features these products can be far more likely to have a substantive impact on consumers. While recording an episode of my friend Donovan Bankhead’s “Music Retail Podcast,” I was discussing the concept of using video content in multiple ways to maximize returns on a single video. As an exercise, I had Donovan suggest a product off the top of his head so I could illustrate potential uses. While most would pick a more commonplace item, such as a guitar, he interestingly selected a marching band brass instrument, which makes sense as he’s a brass player. That exercise inspired me to take a look at content in other MI product segments, and what I found was pretty revealing. When you look at the amount of guitarrelated content on YouTube, you’ll likely see hundreds or thousands of reviews of various MI retail products, particularly anything in the combo market, such as guitars, amps, pedals and accessories. However, you’ll find shockingly little quality content on woodwind, brass, pianos and various other items. If you search “best marching trumpet,” the closest match is from 2018, and it isn’t from a music store. Of the videos you do find, hardly any of them are produced by U.S. sources. Much of what’s available is years old and produced by individuals in what we’ll call a “guy-in-a-basement” style. Almost none of it is made by industry professionals, particularly from the retail store side. When it comes to model comparisons, how-to videos or brand overviews and history, there is very little professional, decent-quality, or even current content. There’s so much opportunity here to create an online following and build up your business by using expertise someone in your store likely already has. 78

Even less information is available for piano brands, many of which have no content available anywhere. If you search “Baldwin piano,” nearly ever ything is seven to 12 years old, and anything produced recently is from a single for ward-thinking California store called Living Pianos. Hardly any piano manufacturers had a dedicated YouTube channel, and of those that did, only a few had anything recent on them. Steinway was the one major exception. Yamaha’s large YouTube following of more than 175,000 subscribers on its channel is seeing content that is almost entirely related to digital products, plus a few performance videos. Instagram produces similar results. Most piano manufacturers have similarly disappointing websites. Many don’t even feature decent-resolution photos of every available finish. Furniture companies are developing augmented-reality apps so you can see what a rug that you might pay $5,000 for would look like in your room. For a piano you may pay $50,000 for, on the other hand, you can’t even see the various finishes or listen to high-quality sound clips of the piano being played. There isn’t even content detailing brand history, attributes, core models or the things that set these models apart. This lack of dedicated content presents a wide-open playing field that I can’t believe no one is capitalizing on. If I were in the piano business right now, I would be spending my free time — meaning time not actively with a customer — making content for every brand and model I carry. That way, if no one else is providing that content, my store’s YouTube channel would become the go-to resource for people who are interested in buying pianos. So many stores struggle with finding their place online and lament the idea that they’ll never compete with the big companies when it comes to followers and clicks. First, I don’t agree with that mindset when it comes to any given product line. Second, there are categories that are getting shockingly little attention right now that anyone could easily start producing a content library for. It wouldn’t take long to become the prominent source of information on these topics with some foresight and decent execution. There is plenty of opportunity to increase awareness of your offerings in underserved product categories through videos. As you build a library of content and share your content across social media platforms, people will want to engage with you and will contact you for information. Interacting with the followers you gain gives consumers more opportunities to get to know you, trust your expertise, and come to regard you as their source of information and the place they want to purchase from. Surveys have found that consumers are 70 percent more likely to buy something if they’ve watched a video about it. Think about that. According to one study by EyeViewDigital, video can boost your conversion rate by 80 percent. You can embed dedicated videos in the product listings on your website and Reverb page, and as a result, customers will be more likely to buy those products. What if you sold one more step-up trombone a month? What if you sold one more piano a month? How would that affect your bottom line? Seventy-two percent of people would rather get their information from a video than text. What if you could increase your school band instrument rental business five percent just by making a video explaining it, so parents can watch that on your website instead of having to read through the whole process or rely on their student to bring home a brochure? Like everything, content creation takes time, effort and even a little money. How much time and money are you willing to spend on local newspaper ads, radio promotions, billboards and other traditional kinds of marketing? What kind of return are you getting out of those? Is it time to try something new? Have questions about how you can use content to build your business? Want tips on making videos and leveraging those into sales? Write to me at gabriel@upperhandstudios.com. JANUARY 2020


(continued from page 58) shields, will be exhibited in Yorkville’s showroom and at Aston’s booth No. 18805. “Consolidating North American activities along with the release of two new products scheduled for early 2020 mean it’s going to be a hell of a year for Aston and Yorkville,” said James Young, founder and CEO of Aston Microphones. astonmics.com


An accessory for mics and instruments, XVIVE has developed the U2, U3, U3C and U4 wireless units, making it possible for musicians to go wireless on a budget. “XVIVE stops at nothing to ensure that the demands of the professional musician are met including high-quality sound, powerful tone, ease of use, rapid response and road-worthy, durable housing,” asserted Yorkville Sound. Yorkville Sound’s showroom will have more details on Xvive products. xviveaudio.com

EPE foam padding are standard throughout the line with the 300 series adding in construction-grade Correx sheeting for added security,” noted Yorkville Sound. rougevalleybags.com

Granite Percussion

Granite Percussion is designed in Canada to meet the standards of quality and playability that are required for percussion instruments in any artist’s roster. “Lending from centuries of craftsmanship that trace

World Music history, every GP instrument is not only inspired but also designed with original old-world quality and improved with modern components,” stated the company. Granite Percussion instruments are designed to be authentic, rugged and intuitively designed to make them as playable as they are tough. granitepercussion.com

Orion Lighting

Orion Lighting is Yorkville

Sound’s lighting brand, consisting of affordable lasers, par cans, effect lights and even a DMX controller. Created in the summer of 2012, Orion Lighting supplies high-quality lighting at an entry-level price point. “Perfect for rentals, installations, touring applications and mobile usage, the Orion series of lighting and laser products are designed to withstand the rigors of the road,” concluded Yorkville Sound. orion-fxlights.com

Apex Electronics

Apex Electronics delivers a complete line of microphones, headphones and accessories for studio, installation, broadcast or live-sound applications. “Innovative designs and unmatched versatility in cost-effective packages ensure all Apex products set the performance bar in highly costeffective audio products,” stated the company. apexelectronics.com

Denver Stringed Musical Instruments

Denver instruments are designed and built to meet the needs of players at all skill levels. “Great care and attention to detail ensure maximum playability and tone from any Denver guitar, ukulele or bluegrass instrument,” relayed Yorkville Sound. Available in a variety of styles, sizes and finishes, the Denver line has an affordable instrument for musicians of all levels, from beginner to performer. denver-guitars.com

Rouge Valley

Rouge Valley Bags, Yorkville Sound’s newest line of high-quality instrument bags, are available in three product ranges designed to suit end users’ price points and desired protection. “Rugged, luggagegrade, nylon and impact-resistant MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



By Michelle Loeb Back in the 1970s, when Steve Stoltenberg first opened Northwest Music Shop, he was one of many successful family-owned musical instrument stores in the Davenport, Iowa area. As the city grew and the market changed, Stoltenberg soon found himself to be the last one standing. “When I first started the business, there were six family-owned stores, but they all either died off or were bought out by other outfits. Since 95 percent of my business is used merchandise, they couldn’t squeeze me out,” said Stoltenberg, who runs one of only two remaining family-owned businesses in the area. (The other is a butcher shop whose customer service Stoltenberg lauded, noting, “If you want something, they will cut it for you and take care of you. There aren’t many family-owned businesses that can offer that level of customer service anymore.”) Indeed, Stoltenberg takes pride in being able to offer the kind of customer service that is often lost in a corporate-owned business. Stoltenberg is a one-man operation, handling the sales, rentals and repairs for his business, which is something that can sometimes take his customers by surprise. “People will call and ask for one department, and it’s me. Then they will ask to be transferred to another department, and it’s still me,” Stoltenberg said with a laugh. “I don’t mind it. They just don’t realize that, unlike with other stores, you don’t have to talk to different people for each thing you may need.” His appreciation for the kind of customer service only a small, family-owned shop could provide was influenced in part by his time spent working in some of the local Davenport music shops. At his first place of employment, “a big music store,” as Stoltenberg described it, “I 80

The Music Man of Davenport, Iowa

berg. “After the first year in my original location, the landlord made [my lease] month to month, so I could see it coming, and I decided to look for somewhere I could buy.” The building he purchased has an interesting history — the front of the building is a century-old former soda-bottling factory, and the back half of the building dates back 80 years. With 7,000 square feet of space, it afforded Stoltenberg the opportunity to not only add a retail component to his small repair shop, but also to store a treasure trove of instruments and sheet music to meet his customers’ every need. “It’s like that song from ‘The Music Man,’ ‘76 Trombones’: ‘Seventysix trombones caught the morning sun; With 110 cornets right behind,’” said Stoltenberg, quoting a lyric from the famous musical. “Most of my merchandise is in the back. I have an inventory of about 600 to 700 instruments in this place, plus a lot of out-of-print music downstairs, and every once in a while, someone will walk in and say, ‘You don’t happen to have…’ and I do!” Stoltenberg displays some of his inventory in the 1,800-squareKim Koch foot selling space for customNorthwest Music Shop 1411 Washington St. ers to browse, but keeps the Davenport, IA 52804 Steve Stoltenberg majority in the back, where he 563.322.2746 is able to fetch it upon request. www.northwestmusicia.com Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. didn’t see eye to eye with the owner“The store is pretty old Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ship there because they wanted the fashioned. You come to the Steve Stoltenberg, Owner repairman to sell the instruments counter and ask me for somerather than fix them.” thing, and I’ll get it for you,” he It was his second employer who convinced him to go out said. “I greet every customer as they on his own, and in August 1972, Northwest Music Shop come in, even if I am already with a was born as a 250-square-foot repair shop, which also sold customer, and I tell them that if they a small number of accessories. “I called the store my hole want anything, they should just ask. in the wall,” said Stoltenberg, a trained instrument repairThat way they know. It’s my way of man with an expertise in band instrument repair. trying to break the shyness. By 1974, Stoltenberg had decided to buy a permanent “Those people who are impatient home for Northwest Music Shop to give his business and don’t want to ask for things or stability for many years to come. “Otherwise, the landlord wait for me to be available for them, could say ‘We don’t want you,’ and then you’ve got to move. they weren’t going to buy anything The little guys end up getting kicked out,” said Stolten(continued on page 90) JANUARY 2020


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The whole pre-to-post Black Friday cycle has been scrutinized, crunched and reported from every direction, as has the pre-to-post Cyber Monday furor. We know the raw numbers for online purchases: $4.2 billion on Thanksgiving, an increase of 14.6 percent year over year, $7.4 billion on Black Friday, up more than 19 percent year over year and $9.2 billion on Cyber Monday, up 16.5 percent year over year. The weekend combo of Small Business Saturday and what some are calling “Super Sunday” added $7.4 billion to the five-day consumption extravaganza, which illustrates that there is still promotional power in those heavily marketed shopping days. But buried in these impressive dollar numbers and percentage increases are a few facts that require a little more thought. Many people have the opinion that online shopping will force traditional retail into extinction. In the sense that physical retail will never be the same again, I agree. But I believe that what we’re seeing play out now is a transformation, rather than an extinction. First of all, we need to appreciate the cyclical nature of disruption. While disruptors, by most definitions, take off like a rocket, they don’t keep going up and up forever. They achieve orbit and may stay in orbit for a long time before the orbit decays. For example, smartphone sales (not use) are in decline, simply because most people who want one have (at least) one, and a lack of dramatic new features or utility, coupled with the high cost of new units and the demise of the “free phone with two-year contract” business model, means that people hold onto phones longer, while there are fewer first-time buyers. Are smartphones here to stay? Of course, but somewhere down the road, there may be a disruption that takes smartphones down to at least a lower orbit. In retail history, we’ve seen full launch/orbit/burn-on-descent cycles. The mall became America’s shopping experience for a generation, just after the supermarket wiped away mom-and-pop groceries. But the mall’s decline began as free-standing superstores and “category killers” hit the street, only to see many of the big boxes falter and scores of malls shuttered, much of it attributed to growing online sales. But the figures for online sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while still showing increases, fell short of the projections Adobe Analytics made for this year. Meanwhile, retail foot traffic was up for Thanksgiving day for the first time in five years. This helped mitigate the decline in Black Friday store traffic, suggesting some of the difference is more a shift than a loss. Given the storms that disrupted travel through the weekend, online sales were theoretically boosted as people stayed home rather than visiting stores. (On Black Friday, states with more than two inches of snow were reported to have a 7-percent bump in online sales, for example.) Yet despite weather advantages, online sales missed the predictions for both major days. While far from “troubling” — the increases were still in the double digits, after all — the results may indicate the start of an “achieved orbit.” Personally, I think that glitches with the online platforms are already starting to influence buying habits, and in some cases, drive customers back to the physical stores. It’s also important to note that complete figures are not available for either the number of online sales picked up in store or the amount of any add-on purchases made by the customer while picking up the online order. Add-ons are certainly the hope of the merchants offering in-store pickup, and at least anecdotal evidence says that approach may be working. 82

This year, I made a point of trying out a wide variety of onlineshopping modes and sellers, just to test the state of the process. Out-of-stocks, mis-fills and site outages are all things I experienced personally during the weekend, and I’m sure I’m not unique. Growing pains in the online marketplace, particularly as midsize companies try to win their share of the market, will influence consumer habits. Certainly, shoppers are put off by extra fuss with ordering, fulfillment and service issues. After all, online shopping is supposed to be so easy! To be fair, some companies have the process nailed down. The Wayfair shopping experience was on point for me, as was Chewy. Chewy even sent me a Christmas card after one little order! But a number of “traditional” companies are trying to add e-commerce in clumsy ways. I ordered online from Macy’s, only to find out that my “pick-up-in-store” goods took a week to reach the Macy’s near me. When I picked them up, I had to wait in the same line as customer returns and credit applications. Then my order for two pairs of shoes was presented in two boxes (because they reached the store separately), each the size of an alto sax case. So, the supposedly smooth online-to-store experience at Macy’s was cumbersome and time consuming. On the other hand, my online-to-store experience with Home Depot left me with no complaints. All of these headaches with online shopping present opportunities for our industry. I’ve been hearing from shoppers confused by the online shopping process, or frustrated because the item they found (painstakingly, because they were not familiar with our product offerings) was out of stock. Sure, with well-known commodities, selection and purchase is simple ... uh, as long as the product is in stock and not a knockoff, a counterfeit or a fraud, of course. And if the box stays on your porch after it’s delivered. So, a portion of the prodigals are returning. At the same time, experiential shopping is being touted as the way to bring additional consumers back into stores. I’ve seen media coverage of the “reinvented” mall, complete with rides, spas and other amenities. While mashups like “home-improvement escape rooms,” where you have to fix a toilet to get out, are probably not a thing yet, companies are throwing a lot of ideas around to see what sticks. Meanwhile, here we brick-and-mortar stores are, a hands-on retail experience since birth. As I’ve been saying, if we make our stores attractive, welcoming and, yes, experiential, we’ve got a chance. The stage is set: There’s evidence that people still want to shop, and that desire cuts across all demographics, from baby boomers to millennials to Gen Z. We don’t have to reinvent ourselves. We just need to let people know we’re here and welcome them. If you have a comment, feel free to share it on the Veddatorial Facebook page, and as always, post an inquiry if there’s another topic you’d like to see covered here. (Please post to the page rather than DM, so others can see the dialogue.) JANUARY 2020


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services as they relate to the monetization of music. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear pro advice.

11 a.m. 50 Songs You Should Write (Double Session) Roy Elkins, Broadjam Want to make yourself more valuable as a songwriter, both commercially and creatively? Join Roy Elkins, music industry veteran and founder of Broadjam, and find out how to increase your odds and effectively create and market your songs. In this special double session, Elkins will draw from data and placement characteristics from more than 15,000 songs that have been successfully pitched in the music industry; data that doesn’t lie. He’ll also look at characteristics of the most commonly placed songs (they’re not necessarily what you’d think), review writing methods and dive into genre exploration. A not-to-miss, enlightening session for any songwriter or artist.

12 p.m. How to Build a Huge Following on Social Media Dan Shinder, Drum Talk TV

Social media (especially Facebook and Instagram) gives you the opportunity to grow your audience and, more importantly, build a relationship between your brand and target market. For artists and bands, this means more ticket sales, music sales, gigs and butts in seats; for retailers and brands, this means more business, customers and market demand. Find out how to build a huge following on social media with Dan Shinder, founder of Drum Talk TV, which has attracted an audience of more than 1 million people, 100-percent organically without boosting posts or buying likes. He’ll share his success formulas and strategies, which are designed to work as soon as you start to apply them. Shinder has worked with up-and-coming artists, gold- and platinumselling artists, big music industry brands, entrepreneurs and more.

12:30 p.m. How to Grow Your Fan Base With Facebook and Instagram Ads Ayana Webb, The Musical Webb

Whether you’re a musician, artist or music business, find out how to make the most of Facebook and Instagram advertising to grow your fan base. Join Ayana Webb, who has harnessed these tools successfully to build a web-based lesson business with more than 300 online paid students. She’ll unpack how to narrow down to the best targeted audiences, create ads that grab attention and build a quality fan base that has the potential to become paying customers. Webb will also help you develop a better understanding of Facebook’s Ad Manager platform. Plus, she’ll review how to set up ads that let you collect subscribers for your email list. Take your Facebook and Instagram advertising to new heights now!

1 p.m. New Music Launch Checklist: How to Get Your Music Out There (Double Session) Laura B. Whitmore, Mad Sun Marketing, Singer-Songwriter and Women’s International Music Network (Moderator), and Panel

You’ve finished a new music project. Now, you face the daunting task of releasing it to a noisy world with endless choices and distractions. What do you do next? Find out at this panel discussion of artists and industry execs and get expert tips and advice for launching your new music. They’ll look at timing, assets, launch strategy, social media, communication, budgets and much more. Hosted by marketer, entrepreneur and singer-songwriter Laura B. Whitmore, this panel will give you real strategies for sharing your music with the world.

2 p.m. Profile of a Hit Songwriter

Lacie Carpenter, Singer-Songwriter, Author and Performer (Moderator), and Panel What characteristics make a hit songwriter? What role do hard work, talent, early musical development and environment play? Here, Nashville singer-songwriter, author and performer Lacie Carpenter will moderate a panel of successful hit songwriters and producers who will reveal the factors that made them the success they are today. This not-to-be missed session is based on interviews with hit songwriters from the newly published book “Profile Of A Hit Songwriter” by Lacie Carpenter and Thornton Cline.


2:30 p.m. Unleashing and Maximizing the Hit Songwriter in You

Thornton Cline, Grammy- and Dove-Nominated Songwriter and Author (Moderator), and Panel You’ve discovered you have a gift and talent for songwriting. You’ve put in the hours and worked hard to develop your craft. Now, it’s time to use every tool and opportunity available on this planet to create songs that reach “hit” status. Grammy- and Dovenominated, platinum songwriter-author Thornton Cline will moderate a panel of hit songwriters who will reveal the tools and opportunities necessary to achieve ultimate success.

3 p.m. Insider’s Tips: Licensing Your Music for Film and TV Jeffrey Weber, Grammy-Winning Producer

Looking for insider advice to get your music licensed for film and TV? Join Grammywinning producer Jeffrey Weber as he shares insights and lessons learned from his journey through licensing arrangements, from the point of interest to the receipt of a check. He’ll look at how he overcame challenges of working with major film studios and the language of licensing (the art of always saying “yes”). Weber will also reveal one tip that will guarantee the attention of music supervisors, directors and producer, and move your music to the top of their listening pile.

3:30 p.m. Marketing Power Tips for the Indie Musician Hunter Scott, Trend

Understanding the fundamentals of marketing and publicity is your No. 1 tool for having a lasting career in the music industry. In this session, Hunter Scott, head of marketing and publicity at Trend, a PR, branding and social media management firm, will discuss everything artists need to know about promotion in today’s ever-changing landscape. This hands-on workshop will cover building a compelling media story, pitching journalists and bloggers, analytical tools available for strong social media growth and actionable tasks that can be used by musicians looking to grow their careers exponentially. Be ready to take notes and ask lots of questions at this informative event.

PIANO RETAIL SESSIONS THURSDAY, JANUARY 16 3–4 p.m. Successful Marketing Strategies for Today’s Piano Dealer Anaheim Hilton, Level 4, A9 Bob Popyk, Music Trades magazine Columnist (Moderator), and Panel What used to work for selling pianos oftentimes doesn’t work today. It’s a different world. Digitals have taken hold. Acoustic competition is eBay and Craigslist. In this panel discussion, you’ll find out what’s working right now with class lessons, media advertising, the senior market, concerts and clinics, outside promotions, online marketing and more. Bob will be joined by panelists Lori Supinie from Kansas, Robert Estrin from California, Michael Stilwell from Arizona, Darrin Wittkopp from Washington and website wizard Tom Folenta.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 17 3–4 p.m. Where Is the Piano Business Heading Now? Anaheim Hilton, Level 4, A9 Bob Popyk, Music Trades magazine Columnist (Moderator), and Panel Where will the profit opportunities be in the months and years to come for selling pianos? What’s the future of acoustic pianos? Will digital pianos bring in customers who would never consider a furniture piece? Will the grand piano market grow or shrink? How will dealers compete with online lessons, internet competition from across the country and the used pianos privately sold? How will we find new students and new piano customers? This session, moderated by Music Trades Magazine columnist Bob Popyk, will explore all of these questions. Bob will be joined by Art Olson from California, Tim Paul from Illinois, Sandy Boyce from Florida, Cliff Ashley from Washington, plus industry pro Larry Fresch.



By Brian Berk Although many companies like to introduce their huge new product launches at The NAMM Show, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) also likes to make a significant product launch beforehand, so that retailers can sell the product during the all-important holiday sales season. With this in mind, Fender — whose portfolio of brands includes Fender, Squier, Gretsch guitars, Jackson, EVH and Charvel — recently launched the American Ultra Series, which the company says is its mostadvanced modern guitar. An evolution of American Elite, Fender’s electric series that

Gordy Wilcher

FENDER’S AMERICAN ULTRA SERIES launched in January 2016, the American Ultra Series boasts allnew modern features. “Luxurious, sleek and cutting-edge, this series sets a new industry standard for precision, performance and feel, with Ultra Noiseless pickups and Fender’s fastest-playing necks. Created for a wide range of today’s highly skilled modern artists, session and working guitarists, this series also offers a new body design and contours, a pivotal moment in Fender history, decades since the last significant alteration to the iconic Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster body shapes,” the company stated in a news release. According to Fender, since 1946, it has embraced artist and player feedback as the core driver of its creative process, leading to decades of subtle yet crucial innovations. “These thoughtful changes in design and technology can’t always be seen by the naked eye, but are meaningful to artists who crave products that evolve with the times. As younger players create new sounds, meld existing genres and push the limits of what a guitar can do, Fender products also continue to evolve,” noted the manufacturer. (continued on page 91) 84



(continued from page 60) hardwired body packs for drummers and keyboardists. Either way, these are great conversations to have, and this level of personal attention will get your customer back into the store.

No Inventory, Pure Margin

Over time, some of your customers will demand more oomph and horsepower from their inears. These musicians are perfect candidates for custom in-ear monitors. Since they’re already familiar with the benefits and already have a wired or wireless solution in place, this is a gravy sale. Plus, custom monitors are made to order, so there’s no inventory to carry and you’ll collect the money upfront. There are zero costs

involved. It just takes a little planning and relationship building. Here’s how to offer custom in-ear monitors in your MI store. Call three to five of the top custom in-ear manufacturers. Tell them that this isn’t your primary focus and that you won’t have many sales, but that when someone wants to upgrade to customs, you’d like to broker the transaction. Negotiate the margin structure and get a contact person from the company to help when the time is right. Log your notes from the conversation and enter the appropriate information into your point-of-sale system as a special order. When it’s time to place the custom order, make sure that you

have the finished product shipped directly to the store for pickup. This gets your customer in the store and on your floor yet again. The final piece of the puzzle is to find a local audiologist near your store. (You need an audiologist to take impressions of the customer’s ears so that the manufacturer can build something that fits them perfectly.) Speak with the audiologist ahead of time and negotiate a rate for custom ear impressions. This is a very normal task for audiologists, and it’s all part of the process of building custom in-ears. By focusing on boosting your customer’s engagement and enjoyment through additional sales of in-ear monitors, you get

to deepen your relationship with your customer, you get them in the store many more times and you tap into an entirely new revenue opportunity.

has bulletin-board hot spots overflowing with paper, posters, business cards and flyers, so this is a concept that is tried and true. We have many customers who have been with us for years and whose relationship with our store started from a notice posted on a bulletin board. We also have customers that read our notices religiously and always know what is going on. People can miss an email or a post on Facebook, but when our bulletin board is up to date, we know we are doing ever ything we can to reach all our customers in many different ways. Keep in mind that not ever yone uses social media, so this old-school method can really help reach those people.

The best part about the bulletin-board concept is that it doesn’t cost a ton of money and it’s a great way to connect with your local audience. It just takes some creativity and time. Once you know of all the locations, you can even hire someone to be the bulletin board coordinator who can go around to all the locations, making sure your flyers are up to date. He or she can also manage the bulletin board in your store. Advertising can be so expensive, but a bulletin board allows you to promote directly to the community without a huge investment. Whether your existing customers are reading your boards at your store or a prospective customer is read-

ing your flyer at the local coffee shop, you are reaching your community, creating awareness and hardly spending any money to do it. Make a little time each month to do some of this type of marketing. It will be worth it!

reply about how “No, we sell the gear that makes the music,” that potential customer would never return to see us. I sure wouldn’t if I were them. Instead of dismissing the customer for not knowing what we sell before they came in, we hand them a copy of a map we made that will take them to Scooter’s Records, a cool record shop in our little town. It’s got directions to Scooter’s from our store, plus his address and phone number. We always thank them for coming in and ask them to come back to see us if they’d like to make their own music, because

we can help with that. This is the “don’t be a jerk” part of the equation. That’s how you get on the first list. If we instead acted like jerks, we’d end up on the second list, and rightly so. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment’s demands and tasks. I get it. It’s easy to not want to stop conducting your important store business (checking stock, calling in orders, etc.) to spend time on some tire-kicker who you know good and well isn’t going to spend any money in your store. If you’re nodding your head right now, try to see yourself from the customer’s viewpoint instead.

Is it easy to always give a damn? No. Is it easy to not be a jerk? Usually, but when things aren’t going your way, it can become difficult. Personally, I’m constantly checking my naturally snarky mindset and reminding myself things don’t always come out the way they sound in my head. Years of constant self-monitoring have helped me learn to avoid blurting out the first thing that pops into my head, and that has helped me to do better at meeting Bob’s best business practice. So be like Bob. Give a damn and don’t be a jerk. Happy trails…

Mike Dias is the executive director of the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization. He has sold in-ear monitors to pop stars, sound engineers and cover bands for the last 15 years, and his secret to closing in-ear sales is to just talk about the music, not to overly complicate it with specs and charts. If you’re interested in setting up a complimentary training session with your sales staff or if you want introductions to any of the custom in-ear manufacturers, email mike@inearmonitor.org.


(continued from page 74) things one step further and work on some kind of cross-marketing plan with other like-minded stores. • And there is always bulletinboard etiquette to consider. Never put your flyer over anyone else’s. Be mindful of the size of your ads. Create something that pops but don’t make it too big so you can leave room for your neighbors’ posts and never have to move anyone else’s poster. Take your poster down once the event is over and put up something more recent. Whatever you do, be consistent, like ads in the local paper. You must be represented on bulletin boards regularly to make an impact. In this day and age of digital marketing, you might notice that ever y town you visit still

Miriam and Mike Risko are the owners of Mike Risko Music School and store in Ossining N.Y. Their business, established in 1995, is deep rooted in its community, not only offering people a place to study and shop but to connect through music. Mike Risko Music is a nine-time “Best of Westchester” winner and a six-time NAMM Top 100 Dealer. Mike is a guitar player and Miriam is a singer, and both perform regularly with the Mike Risko Band.


(continued from page 76) something that cannot be accomplished by phone or over the internet. Your No. 1 priority, and the No. 1 priority of every employee in the store, should be to find out what brought the customer in, and then figure out how you can help that customer attain their goal. Even if it means directing them to a different type of store or a competitor, do it with a smile and thank them for coming by. That’s all part of giving a damn, as Bob put it. My store doesn’t sell records, but every week someone comes in to ask if we sell records or CDs. If we gave some smug MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER




KRK Systems, part of the Gibson family of brands and designer and engineer of products that enable musicians to take music creation into their own hands since the 1980s, introduced ROKIT G4, its fourth generation of studio monitors. The ROKIT G4 product range, which includes five-, seven-, eight- and 10-inch models, incorporates many of the advanced features of KRK’s professional-grade V Series 4 monitors. The new G4s are a solution for turning project studios into professional music-creation environments through an onboard DSP-driven Graphic EQ with 25 settings to help condition any acoustic environment, stated KRK. ROKIT G4 monitors are designed and engineered with advanced drivers made with Kevlar, efficient Class-D power amplifiers and a front-firing port, which collectively extend accurate and tight bass reproduction and improve audio integrity while minimizing listening fatigue. The KRK ROKIT G4 Studio Monitors feature a systematically designed low-resonance enclosure for minimal distortion and colorization, and a high-density ISO foam pad that decouples the speaker from the surface, which minimizes vibration transmission for improved clarity. The bi-amp G4 range includes RP5 (five-inch), RP7 (seven-inch) and RP8 (eight-inch) models for excellent near-field monitoring. An additional tri-amp RP10-3 (10-inch) version incorporates a 4.5-inch mid-range woofer and one-inch tweeter for mid-field monitoring. The RP10-3 can also be arranged in horizontal mode by allowing the user to rotate the mid-range woofer and tweeter by 90 degrees for more precise listening accuracy and versatility. All G4 models feature a built-in brick-wall limiter, which automatically engages at maximum amp level to maintain a balanced sound, protect the system, and offer better and wider dynamics. “In our opinion, the creation and playback of music has changed dramatically in just the last five years. Synths are fatter, guitar tones are more present, air-EQs on vocals are more open, etc.,” Jimmy R. Landry, global director of marketing, pro audio division, Gibson Brands Inc., told the Music & Sound Retailer. “We also believe that, with quick and easy access to exceptional edu86

cational websites, tutorials, and videos for production, mixing and mastering, a greater number of skilled music creators are becoming prevalent. With that sentiment in mind, we wanted to create the next generation of ROKITs from scratch, in order to provide the most cutting-edge solution possible. Borrowing technological concepts and advancements from our development of the critically acclaimed V Series 4 (with users like Ben Grosse, Steve Marcantonio, John Fields, FKi 1st, just to name a few), we created the newest ROKIT line. “This latest ROKIT series of professional studio monitors provides exceptional performance that stands out from others in its price class. KRK ROKITs have always been at the forefront of pioneering the DIY recording revolution, but now the company has created something that really gives music creators an edge,” continued Landry. “With built-in DSP-driven EQ and the KRK Audio Tools App, which helps users acclimate their EQ in any environment, mixing and mastering in a project studio has never been more accurate.” In addition to the latest ROKIT’s features, retailers can take solace in KRK’s long history of producing ROKIT products. “KRK has several generations of ROKIT history to draw on, so we take those experiences, along with decades of customer feedback, to find improvements for the world’s already greatest-selling studio monitor. Unlike some other manufacturers, KRK Systems is fortunate to have a multidisciplinary research and development team, based in Nashville, that uses the latest simulation, design and analysis tools to develop its monitor solutions. Our team combines research, data and scientific methodologies to determine the best interface, acoustical, mechanical and electrical improvements that can be made. Once the enhancements are decided upon, the R&D team incorporates 3D printers, Klippel acousticanalysis systems and the latest electronics-development software to develop every piece of the speaker system,” noted Landry.

KRK Audio Tools App

In addition to the EQ Recommendation tool, the accompanying KRK Audio Tools App includes a Spectrum Real Time Analyzer (RTA), Level Meter, Delay and Polarity Analyzers, as well as a Monitor Align tool that helps users set their monitor positioning more accurately to their listening area. Within the app is a sound generator giving the user sound-analysis options of sine, continuous sine sweep, white noise and pink noise, all of which can help the analysis process in different conditions. “Simply put, the KRK Audio Tools App is a workhorse whether you own KRK monitors or not,” stated Landry. “We wanted to make something truly useful, with no frills. Five of the tools work with any monitor setup, and one is specifically tailored to the ROKIT G4s to help manually set the DSP-driven EQ on the back of the monitors and acclimate them to any environment. To achieve


this, pink noise is dispersed through the user’s system and room, and the app subsequently provides feedback as to which EQ settings best fit the environment. These features improve the music-making experience for the consumer and, quite frankly, there’s nothing else on the market like it.” Added Landry, “Among the app’s functions is the Monitor Align tool, which helps users get a perfect 30-degree equilateral triangle of audio by simply placing their smart device on the top of each monitor and tilting them inward one at a time. A built-in Spectrum Real Time Analyzer, Level Meter in dB, Delay Meter, Polarity Checker and the above-mentioned EQ Recommendation tool have game-changing qualities both individually and cohesively. This very useful app is also free, which makes it great for music creators on any budget.” Feedback for both the ROKIT G4 and Audio Tools App has been “overwhelmingly positive across the board,” said Landry. “We take our customer feedback seriously and love to receive the daily messages from users who tell us they have been going back to old mixes

(produced on previous monitors) and fixing them because they can now identify problems they could not hear before. We have also been receiving a lot of positive comments about the low-end extension and how it seems more ‘accurate’ and ‘defined’ compared to previous generations of ROKIT monitors.” Regarding MI retailer feedback, “We have received incredible feedback from sales reps on how ‘solid’ they sound in their price class when A/B’ed to other monitors (including the ROKIT G3). Dealers have specifically noticed a big improvement in the accuracy of the low-end extension, along with the openness of the new tweeter and waveguide design. The KRK Audio Tools App, and its added benefits for the monitors, has been a big story within retail stores as well. Many sales reps are even purchasing these for use in their own studios around the world,” concluded Landry. The ROKIT G4s come standard in black and are available in limited-edition White Noise variations. MSRPs are as follows: ROKIT RP5 G4: $179; ROKIT RP7 G4: $239; ROKIT RP8 G4: $299; ROKIT RP10-3 G4: $499.

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ALFRED PUBLISHING..............29 AMAHI UKULELES...................47 AUDIX CORPORATION.............73 C.F. MARTIN & CO.....................17 CASIO...........................................21 CE DISTRIBUTION....................43 CELESTION.................................59 CHAUVET LIGHTING................18 CHAUVET LIGHTING................19 CHEM-PAK..................................91 CLEAR TUNE..............................53

(continued from page 80) anyway,” Stoltenberg continued. “Most customers will wait. We aren’t in that much of a rush here.” Stoltenberg’s customer base not only includes the 100,000 people living in Davenport or the approximately 350,000 people living in the entire metro area, but even customers who live as far as 50 to 100 miles away because “there aren’t many MI stores once you leave the metro area,” Stoltenberg said. Despite (continued from page 94)

D'ANGELICO GUITARS............23

The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Ikegami: When I was an elementary student, I used to play the recorder and harmonica. These are popular musical instruments in Japanese education. Also, after graduating from elementary school, I used to play the trumpet in a brass band.

DPA MICROPHONES.................87 FENDER.......................................9 FISHMAN ....................................49 G7TH, THE CAPO COMPANY.....41 GATOR CASES............................25 HAL LEONARD..........................7 IK MULTIMEDIA........................12 JERRY HARVEY AUDIO............6 JMAZ LIGHTING........................52 KIRLIN INDUSTRIES.................10 KYSER MUSICAL PRODUCTS...............................67 LAVA CABLE..............................70 LYON & HEALY..........................35 M HOUSE STUDIOS...................93 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY................................3 MUSICMEDIC.............................93 NAMM...................................... 14-15 NEUMANN..................................5 NEW SENSOR.............................45 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS...................................37 OMG MUSIC................................54 PRO X...........................................33 QRS MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES....24 RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE........39 RAPCO/HORIZON COMPANY....55 RAT...............................................31 RCF...............................................81 TAYLOR GUITARS..................C-II VOCOPRO....................................13 YORKVILLE............................ C-IV 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.


used to, and they are fixing what they have rather than trading up to something new.” Despite the challenges that come from the many shifts that have taken place in the retail landscape over the many decades, Northwest Music Shop has been in business, and Stoltenberg is still here, proudly holding the mantle for single-operator, independentlyowned businesses and proving that good customer service will never go out of style.

Ikegami: It was a concert to see Richard Bona, the worldfamous bass player who was playing our D-BASS amplifier in 2005, right after the product was developed. Before that, he had given us some advice about the amp because he had been using products like the V-BASS on some of his songs. The development of the D-BASS was quite challenging for us, technically, but when I finally got to see him playing the amplifier, I was very impressed. The sound coming from the amp blew my mind, and hearing that sound was worth all of our challenges.

The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod? Ikegami: I’ve been listening to “Revelator” by Tedeschi Trucks Band a lot lately.


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this, in recent years, Stoltenberg has noticed a shift away from new instrument sales and toward repairs and used instrument sales, a sign of the changing economy in Davenport, Iowa. “I made more money 20 years ago, even though the city has grown so much in the years since,” said Stoltenberg. “I’d like to see more jobs come back to the area, and to the USA in general, that are higher-end. People just don’t have the bucks that they

The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Ikegami: I definitely enjoy playing guitar the most now. The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Ikegami: I am actually lefthanded, but I use my right hand when I play sports, and I play guitar right-handed as well. So, I am good at assembling tiny parts as I use both hands relatively the same. I used to assemble a breadboard by holding the soldering iron with my left hand and holding solder with my right thumb and index finger, while holding a lead cable with my right middle and ring fingers. The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Ikegami: My favorite activity is to spend time with my family for a meal. Other than that, I frequently do a 30-minute run before breakfast. To me, running is good way to maintain my health. It balances me both physically and mentally. The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Ikegami: It would be The Eagles. I used to listen to their songs when I first started my MI career and have many favorite songs. The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future? Ikegami: I’m hoping to see John Mayer’s live performance. The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most? Ikegami: “Your Song” from Elton John’s best collection was memorable to me. That was the first LP I purchased by myself when I was 13 years old. I remember I used to listen to songs like “Rocket Man” and “Daniel.”

The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? Ikegami: My first visit to The NAMM Show was in 1985. At that time, some Japanese brands were rapidly growing, and I tried to visit other (non-Japanese) brands’ booths, but they did not let me in. I guess they might have thought that Japanese brands had the potential to become a threat to them. I told this story to Mr. Kakehashi when I was asked to report on what I had discovered during the show. Suddenly, he said, “No worries. Follow me.” Then he boldly started heading toward one of the booths that had not allowed me in. On the way to the booth, Mr. Kakehashi was greeted by many people. He was very friendly, communicating passionately with confidence, and was able to get in the booth with no problem. Then, he said to me, “No problem,” and “Don’t be shy.” It was a cool moment for me. The Retailer: If you had to select three people, past or present, to have dinner with, who would they be and what would you ask them? Ikegami: I’ve met Les Paul a few times in the past. Right before he passed away, he sent me an idea about a JC-120 modification, although we did not have the chance to discuss it deeply. Besides him, I would be curious to have a chat with Leo Fender, DECEMBER 2019

and would like to hear his story about the early era of the electricguitar business. These two people would be good to join for dinner.

The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them). Ikegami: In the past, one gentleman (a buyer) aggressively asked us to design an exclusive model. We turned down that offer. However, through that conversation with the buyer, I realized how differently the retailer and the manufacturer think. A retailer chases good, sellable products, and sometimes pays less attention to brand value. Since then, I’ve always tried to keep in mind that we are playing in different fields. By the way, he and I have a good relationship today. The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry? Ikegami: I think most of the people in the MI industry truly love music, and even if someone changes jobs, they tend to remain within our industry. I think that’s a good thing about the industry. And I am fortunate

to have many long-time, good friends in the industry.

The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industr y and why? Ikegami: In terms of manufacturing and branding, I admire Steve Jobs. Having passion and working hard to realize dreams, these are not easy jobs. But the moment when products are truly accepted by customers, this moment can be fantastic to the manufacturer. The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Ikegami: I wonder if the evolution of artifical intelligence technology could help create virtual experiences that allow us to play musical instruments along with fantastic players all the time. If this happened, maybe more people would feel like starting to learn to play musical instruments. The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Ikegami: I would probably still be manufacturing, but maybe

with an artistic expression, like handcrafting something tiny and intricate from wood that lasts for centuries. I am curious about this kind of long-lasting craftmanship. It intrigues me, especially living in an era when it feels like some consumer electronics are almost continuously replaced with newer models.

The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there. Ikegami: Kyoto, Japan, is my hometown, and I lived there until I was 18 years old. Even now, I regularly visit Kyoto twice a year with my family. The historical architecture in Kyoto has always intrigued me. The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Ikegami: Of course, there is nothing more valuable to me than my family, but I’d have to say my most prized possession is my ’59 Gibson Les Paul 60th anniversar y model. (I am writing this on my birthday, and the year that I was born is the same year as the original guitar.)

The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Ikegami: I would choose the book “Bushido: The Soul of Japan” by Inazo Nitobe. The book explores the way of the samurai. It is a surprising fact that the book was published in English in 1900. This book reminds me of the roots of the Japanese way of thinking whenever I have conversations with folks from outside of Japan. Of course, this samurai way of thinking was developed under a feudal system that does not exist nowadays, but I feel a kind of sympathy for the virtue of the Japanese warrior. Another book is “Jogan Seiyo,” a classic Chinese book that tells the stor y of the reign of Taisho, an emperor from the Tang Dynasty in the seventh centur y. This book is a good point of reference for not making the same mistake again and continues to influence people all over the world, even those who live in the 21st centur y. I don’t think I can perfectly follow the author’s words, but I think it is always important to have a reference for this kind of ideal vision and will.


(continued from page 84) “The American Ultra Series is our most advanced series of guitars and basses for discerning players who demand the ultimate playing experience in precision, performance and tone,” said Justin Norvell, executive vice president of products at Fender. “Blending state-of-the-art engineering and nuanced design to provide a high-performance experience for today’s player, American Ultra is the next chapter in Fender’s legacy of cutting-edge innovation. American Ultra has truly been decades in the making and is a result of our tireless commitment to meet the needs of today’s working and touring guitar players looking for a modern feel and tone.” American Ultra is designed to provide the ultimate in precision, performance and tone. The series answers the call from discerning players looking for modern advancements to help them create at the highest level. One of these features is the new “Modern D” neck with a compound-radius fin-

gerboard, smooth American Ultra satin-back finish and extremely rolled edges. “The result is a neck that’s slim and fast — yet ergonomic and comfortable — for blazing solos and easy comping without sacrificing tone and resonance.” In addition, intended for next-level comfort and playability, Fender redesigned the body contours of its most iconic models for the first time in decades. New back-body curves offer hours of gigging comfort, while a supersculpted neck heel gives players unparalleled access to the upper register of the fingerboard, resulting in better accessibility and comfort, Fender stated. Other American Ultra features include: • Noiseless pickups: American Ultra instruments feature two types of innovative new noiseless pickups: Ultra Noiseless Vintage pickups deliver authentic Fender single-coil sound, without hum. Ultra Noiseless Hot pickups offer modern performance and classic tone so end users can launch

their amp into overdrive. • HiMass bridge: With lots of metal, lots of mass and a cool modern look, the HiMass bridge on American Ultra basses delivers serious sustain, precise intonation and solid tuning stability. • Double Tap Humbucker: The American Ultra HSS Strat features a brand-new Double Tap Humbucker with an overwound coil to ensure matched volume between pickups in coil-split mode. • Redesigned preamp with active/passive switching: A redesigned preamp on American Ultra basses features three bands of active boost/cut for sweeter highs, focused mids and lots more usable bass. For a more traditional tone, the redesigned pickups can also be used in passive mode. • New colors: American Ultra instruments are available in a variety of colors, including: Cobra Blue, Mocha Burst, Texas Tea, Arctic Pearl, Aged 91

Natural, Plasma Red Burst and Ultraburst. • Advanced electronics: All American Ultra guitars feature a treble-bleed circuit to preserve high-end response at any volume, plus advanced wiring options that activate different

high-performance features depending on the model. Available now, American Ultra Models include the American Ultra Stratocaster, American Ultra Stratocaster HSS, the American Ultra Telecaster and the American Ultra Precision

Bass, all with MSRPs ranging from $1,899.99 to $1,999.99; the American Ultra Jazzmaster and American Ultra Jazz Bass, with MSRPs ranging from $1,999.99 to $2,099.99; and the American Ultra Jazz Bass V, offering MSRPs ranging from from

$2,099.99 to $2,199.99. Fender introduced American Ultra during both a New York City press event and an online press event. The series is sure to be prominently featured at The NAMM Show this month at booths 300E, 304A and 304BCD.

to building new custom guitars for folks, I would do repairs and restorations on a lot of working musicians’ guitars. Some guitars would come through the door and you would say, “This is just a basket case.” Ninety percent of the work I was doing was correcting mistakes that were made back in the ‘60s or ‘70s, or even earlier. But when Taylor guitars walked through the doors, they were well thought out. You could tell they knew what they were doing when they put guitars together. I would do simple things like a refret and see there were no issues with the guitar. I knew somebody smart was building the guitar. I also had that experience seeing the Taylor factory. You take one look around and it made perfect sense why the guitar functioned as well as it does. You see how it’s built. You see how it’s designed. It works great. So, I had a lot of respect [for Taylor] to begin with. I also knew Bob and Kurt had this history of building what a lot of people said was not buildable. They have arguably the best factory in the world for building guitars. They have the most techno-

logical knowhow. They have the most forward-thinking outlook on things. This is the only place in the world where you can build some of the things we are designing. It can’t be done in other places, because not only do most factories not have the ability, they have no way to acquire that ability. It is something to build from the ground up. You need to build the infrastructure, tooling and manufacturing techniques. You need the ability to create your marketing and distribution channels to produce the instruments we are making. Taylor: I spent a few days with George Gruhn [owner of Gruhn Guitars in Nashville]. We spent the whole day touring our factory, and it was about supper time, when the second shift was working. We were 90 percent of the way through a really indepth tour. George just spoke up and said, “Bob, I don’t know how anyone can catch you. Do you know why?” I said, “Tell me George.” He said, “Because they don’t have what you have, and they don’t have any way to get it.” He has been in a lot of factories. He has seen how people make guitars. This factory really is the only place I know that can make Andy’s designs. People don’t realize how incredibly tough it is to make the designs he makes. We see on forums how we are doing things to save money. [Laughs] We are definitely not. We wish we were saving money. We are poised to make Andy’s designs as he intends, instead of dumbing them down. I also wanted to comment that Andy came here as an employee. He was here for seven years. There was no promise, talk or discussion that he would become partner. I think it’s a great story. We never said, “Hey, if you do well, you can become partner.” He just straight up deserves it.

The Retailer: Andy, you had to be surprised and thrilled to be named a partner then, right? Powers: I have lived my life through a funny set of conversations I didn’t see coming. A lot of things come out of what feels like left field. My whole desire was for the instrument. I love the guitar. I love musicians. I love the music we make. I wanted to do good with that. I want to make the lives of musicians better. I want to make the lives of our employees better. Whatever path that was required to get here, I was interested in. When Bob and Kurt approached me about being partner, I thought, This is good. There is a lot of good that can come out of this. There is good that can be done with forests. There is good that can be done for our employees, musicians and dealers around the world. So, I am thrilled about what our future looks like.


(continued from page 67) inventor. And he also understands we are in the business of being in business. He is not someone who will be dogmatic about making something. We have a productdevelopment meeting every week with the stakeholders. There are a lot of people here with great ideas. Sometimes, Andy has a wonderful idea for a guitar, but the timing is not right. Or, we have to make it in more colors than he would originally like. Or, he might say, “This is the way I want to go.” I’ll say, “Well, help me figure out how to make it, because it is hard to make.” We collaborate. There are times we want to make a guitar and Kurt says, “I don’t think that is the right guitar for the market right now.” We respect this because we know [Kurt] has a good feel for that. The Retailer: Andy, tell us what you thought about Taylor before you came to the company, what you think now and how you see Taylor in the future. Powers: I had a lot of respect for what Bob and Kurt started because I had experience working on those guitars. In addition

Coming in the February Issue of the Music & Sound Retailer: NAMM Review Plenty More Products Featured at NAMM MI Spy Travels to the Windy City A Look at Pre-NAMM Events And much more 92

The Retailer: How about the guitar industr y as a whole? Are you optimistic economically about the company and overall market? Listug: We had a good [2019]. I tell people here the same thing every year: “We don’t know what the next year will be. We do our best planning and best forecasting. But you don’t know what will happen.” We had a good year. It was a challenging year in different ways. For example, we didn’t foresee what has happened politically in China and Hong Kong. That has impacted our sales to a small degree in that part of the world. We have an election coming [this year]. In 2016, all hell broke loose with the last election year. It was really hard to predict business in 2016. So, we are guarded. It all comes down to developing new instruments that people love and getting them out in the marketplace. That’s what we are focused on. That’s what we have always been focused on. DECEMBER 2019

We feel we will prosper [this] year and in the coming years. Powers: To add to that, I’ve noticed people still like playing the guitar, so if you work backwards from that fact, if people are playing music, they are going to want guitars to play. From my perspective, the guitar industry is in healthier shape than it has been in years. There are great instruments being made. There are a lot of great musical styles developing involving the guitar.

The Retailer: To switch gears, this is a NAMM issue, so we have to ask you what we might see if we were to come upstairs to your booth at The NAMM Show this month. Powers: This is going to be an exciting year for us. We launched the V-Class in the beginning of 2018, and we followed our Builder’s Edition guitars with the introduction of the Grand Pacific designs. This year, we are taking this entire idea of a Builder’s Edition design, and it is almost like a director’s-cut version of our guitars. We have our typical lineup, which is really understandable, with a lot of different options and flavors. We have a couple of unique guitars: the K14 Builder’s Edition, the 517 and 717. We extract those guitars into what we see as guitar making in the future. This year, we are going to produce a number of new guitars that follow that same initiative. The philosophy behind these guitars is, you can make them sound better and make them feel better. From a musician’s perspective, those are the qualities they want. We want it to function well in the hands of a musician. So, we’ve built a number of new, really interesting guitars that fill different musical needs in the world right now. Taylor: Those guitars are hard to build [laughs]. That’s why we call them Builder’s Edition. They are ideas Andy has to make guitars sound better, feel better and play better. When people play them, they really notice those things. The finish is the most difficult we’ve done. The woodworking is the most difficult we’ve done. We have our own tooling/engineering departMUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

ment here. They have really put their best foot forward. And the people in the factory buckled down to learn new things. It’s like a musician who plays a certain kind of music for a really long time and all of a sudden has to learn some brand-new chops to keep up. We are really fortunate to have Andy, but Andy is really fortunate to have this team that he works with. The people in engineering, tooling and machinists and our best workers in the factory are capable of sitting down and saying, “We are going to figure out how to make that. It is not easy, but we will do it.” The techniques they have to accomplish things boggle my mind and Andy’s mind. We say, “Wow, how are they doing this?” And to do it at scale is hard. It takes a lot of effort and investment. So, we spend a solid year with a team of 30 people working on tooling to come out with one of these models. We have stretched and stretched our abilities to make these guitars. This is really exciting for us, because for several companies, they come up with a flagship guitar, and for the next 50 years, try to make a cheaper version of it. To make a guitar with a new tonal and ergonomic design, is amazing. For example, the Silent Satin finish is the most difficult finish we make. It takes so much more time than a gloss finish. But these are things players really love, especially when we get the guitars in the hands of professional players in studios and bands. They play it for 15 minutes and say, “Man, I don’t have a guitar that does this.” It is really pleasing for Andy to design it at a factory level and [have it] turn out the way he wanted it to. Powers: It is really exciting. I know full well I can build one of these guitars. I can build one by hand as a prototype. I can build two guitars; even five of them. But to think we could figure out a way to produce some of these designs so that everyone can have one, or at least 1,000 people can have one, is mind-boggling. That’s more than a lifetime’s worth of guitar-making work. To be able to produce some of these designs on a large scale puts us in a really fortunate position. Taylor: We live in a world

where people want stuff to be better, and they want stuff to be cheaper. We all, as consumers, come to expect that. Having this year’s model better than last year’s model is hard to do with guitars. Consumers can look at a guitar and say it is really nice, or the way it is contoured is cool, but it is hard to explain all the effort we had to do to get there. Andy and I, as builders, love to be proud of our work. It is really satisfying to make good stuff. And for Kurt and the sales and marketing team to go out and tell the story of it is amazing. We all just love what we do.

The Retailer: We always can expect great artist appearances at the booth as well. But I am assuming Taylor Swift, who was playing at your booth in the mid-2000s, will not be on hand this year? Listug: [Laughs] I think she has outgrown us by now. The

first time she played at our booth, she just sat on a stool and played by herself. Then, when her first album was out a year or two later, she performed with her band on our stage. Taylor: She is now popular enough that she would shut down The NAMM Show.

The Retailer: Anything you would like to add? Powers: [I heard you have an interview with Bernie Williams in this issue]. I remember after I started working with Taylor, I heard a guy playing guitar in the corner of our booth. I thought, Man, he is really good. So, I struck up a conversation. I don’t follow any sports, so I didn’t realize he had been a ballplayer. I met him as a guitar player and musician. In the years since, we have played together a bunch of times and keep in good touch. He has been playing Taylor guitars for quite some time.


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YOSHI IKEGAMI PRESIDENT OF BOSS By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Yoshi Ikegami: I worked with Mr. [Ikutaro] Kakehashi, the founder of Roland, for more than 30 years. I started working with him as an engineer when I was in my early 20s and was fortunate to learn many things from him. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Ikegami: When I was repairing the GR-500 (guitar synthesizer), I learned one impressive thing from my senior colleague. It was about how we set the reference point (called “ground”) of the oscilloscope. The visual outcome in the scope would change, depending on the degrees used to set the point. Like an oscilloscope, whenever I make decisions, I try to think of where to set my reference point. If you move the point, it may change the outcome. Someone said to me recently, “Let’s think about this from ground zero,” but I always try to think about things by setting various reference points so that I can conceptualize various perspectives. (continued on page 90)



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Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer January 2020, Vol 37 No 1  

In our NAMM Show Issue, we offer an exclusive interview with Bernie Williams, a look at the reformative powers of music, a special Q&A with...

Music & Sound Retailer January 2020, Vol 37 No 1  

In our NAMM Show Issue, we offer an exclusive interview with Bernie Williams, a look at the reformative powers of music, a special Q&A with...

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