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February 2018 Volume 35, No. 2 BE SURE TO WATCH


biggesty e t

By Brian Berk, Matt Van Dyke and Anthony Vargas

See Page 32

NAMM Breaks Another Record as 115,000 Pack the Anaheim Convention Center

Terrific 20

Even More Products Featured at NAMM Last Month By Matt Van Dyke See Page 24


Dr. Ami Belli and Brock Kaericher cut the ribbon for the new center.

Remo to Open New Recreational Music Center Remo Inc. opened a new Remo Recreational Music Center in Valencia, Calif., on Feb. 6. The Remo Music Center is a place where people from all walks of life, of all ages, with or without a musical background, can experience making music with others in a welcoming, friendly, non-challenging environment. On Jan. 9, Remo Inc. invited members of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, Santa Clarita City Council, local school districts, College of the Canyons Foundation, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, friends and family to a ribbon-cutting event at the new Remo Music Center. Cheryl Ramirez from the SCV Chamber of Commerce led the event and introduced Brock Kaericher, Remo President, and Remo owner Dr. Ami Belli, while everyone enjoyed refreshments.

Davitt & Hanser Named Exclusive U.S. Ashdown Distributor

“Twenty-one years ago, Remo Inc. was outgrowing its facility in North Hollywood, Calif., and consequently we broke ground for our 220,000-square-foot facility here in Santa Clarita. We are so pleased to be able to now bring our Remo Music Center here,” said Kaericher. Dr. Belli also spoke about how grateful she was for the talented and hardworking Remo folks that made the new Remo Music Center possible. “Remo always said, you need a place for drummers to drum. I look forward to seeing our community connecting through the power of rhythm,” she said. Several representatives from the city, state and county presented Kaericher and Belli with Certificates of Recognition and congratulations. Immediately following the formalities everyone gathered in a drum circle to experience the joy in drumming. Mike DeMenno, manager of Remo Music Center, Chalo Eduardo, manager of World Percussion Products, and John Fitzgerald, manager of Recreational Music Activities, took turns facilitating the drum circle.

JAM US Music Group subsidiary Davitt & Hanser has been appointed the exclusive United States distributor of Ashdown Engineering. According to Davitt & Hanser general manager Jay Ensminger, the appointment also marks a shift in strategy for the distribution company, which will now focus entirely on representing its growing line-up of exclusive brands while sister company KMC Music continues to provide a full complement of combo instruments, B&O, pro audio and MI accessories. “The addition of Ashdown Engineering to our portfolio of exclusive brands enables us to focus all of our time and resources on expanding the market for the 10 brands we now represent — Aerodrums, Ashdown Engineering, Cort Guitars, G7th, Jay Turser Guitars, Kustom Amps, Mahalo Ukuleles, Powerwerks Audio Solutions, Valencia Guitars and UFIP Cymbals,” Ensminger said. All 10 lines will be sold through the company’s current network of independent sales representatives. Added JAM US Music Group CEO Mark Terry, the new Davitt & Hanser strategy better rationalizes JAM’s distribution strategy. “Ever since we acquired two competing distribution companies we have been looking for a way for each company to deliver unique value to their dealers. This new strategy enables us to eliminate overlap while providing dealers with a more focused range of resources and a logical reason to work with both Davitt & Hanser and KMC Music.” According to Terry, the transition will be transparent to Davitt & Hanser dealers, as all of the products the company formerly carried, as well as their account histories, credit lines and some account managers will be immediately available at KMC Music. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER




Features ON THE COVER The Biggest Yet!

NAMM attendance spiked by more than 9 percent to a record 115,085 attendees, and exhibitors totaled nearly 2,000 last month in Anaheim.

ON THE COVER Terrific 20

Thought our spotlight on 50 products being featured at NAMM wasn’t enough? Well, you’re in luck. We’ve added 20 more products that were featured at last month’s NAMM Show.

32 44 In the Trenches

As margins continue to dwindle, Allen McBroom says retailers must turn to the used gear market.

46 Shine a Light

We head deep into the heart of Texas to take a look at Texas Music Emporium, whose owner is an auto mechanic by trade.

Columns 34 Five Minutes With

Get ready for an interview with not one, but two Peavey executives. Both Peavey Founder and CEO Hartley Peavey and Chief Operating Officer Courtland Gray join us this month.

38 MI Spy

MI Spy takes it to central Ohio to visit the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes: Columbus. Will German Village Music Haus, Bluegrass Musicians Supply, Guitar Center or Sam Ash score a touchdown this time around?

40 MSR Anniversary: Gretsch

46 4

48 ‘Hire’ Learning

Mason Music’s Will Mason joins the Retailer for his first column, and takes a look at how to hire the best employees at your store.

50 Retailer Rebel

Gabriel O’Brien hopes you were able to attend The NAMM Show last month and view NAMM University sessions, as connecting with new customers requires a new approach.

52 Veddatorial

Despite internet competition, Dan Vedda reaffirmed that, during the holiday season, customers want to shop in a “nice” environment with helpful people who can help them pick out the right present.

54 Under the Hood

The Music & Sound Retailer takes a look at the storied 135-year history of Gretsch.

Fender had a huge NAMM Show with tons of product launches. We take a look at one of the hot releases, the American Original Series.

42 MSR Anniversary: QSC

62 The Final Note

We don’t stop there. Also on tap is a look at QSC’s golden anniversary.

For our second edition of this new column, we spend some time with Tony Price, vice president of sales for Roland Corp. U.S.



3 Latest 18 People 20 Products Cover photos by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM and Paul Citone. Pictured on the cover at bottom from l to r: Bootsy Collins, Melissa Etheridge, Michael McDonald, Jennifer Batten, Jackson Browne, Bob Weir and Lindsey Stirling.




©2018 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. All rights reserved. FENDER, FENDER in fanciful script, TELECASTER and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are registered trademarks of FMIC. Registered in the U.S. and foreign countries.


Didn’t Expect the Unexpected The incredible thing about The NAMM Show is the unique experience everyone has. You ask 115,000 people about their time at NAMM, and you’re sure to get 115,000 different answers. Let me tell you about my NAMM experience. It’s the first time I went to the show since 2011, and I can truly say it was nothing short of an incredible experience. Let’s start with the unexpected. One of the highlights of my job is handing out Music & Sound Awards at the show, several of which we broadcast on our ConventionTV@ NAMM broadcast. When the final results were in, I determined the D’Angelico Bob Weir SS won the best electric guitar of 2017 (all of the award winners will appear in next month’s issue). I figured it would be great to present the award to the D’Angelico staff. That’s not what happened however. Weir, co-founder of the Grateful Dead and now a key cog of Dead & Co., was performing at the D’Angelico booth the night I was presenting the award. Weir won the Music for Life award from NAMM earlier in the day, and I figured he has a million awards on his mantle. In fact, he probably has a room for the awards, not just a mantle. But D’Angelico told me about how much he cared about his signature model. The guitar manufacturer decided to surprise Weir with the award by having me present it to the Grateful Dead legend right before his performance! I was excited, and it was truly worth it. Weir was surprised and grateful (pun intended) to receive the award. And for those who don’t think Weir was excited to receive the award, I can tell you I stepped backstage after the presentation, with the intention of finding a route to sidle back into the crowd and watch Weir’s performance. But that’s not what happened. Weir’s wife, Natascha, sought me out to thank me for the award and make sure she could take the award personally and keep it protected on their flight to New York to attend the Grammy’s.

But that wasn’t all for the surprises. Presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award was another incredible moment. I originally thought I would simply present the award to Fender’s Richard McDonald in a small ceremony. I was to present the award at 5 p.m. on Jan. 26, and I knew it’s a tremendous honor. What I didn’t know was I would receive a text just before I arrived, telling me a large audience was there to watch the presentation. It was another incredible NAMM moment when I presented that award to a cheering audience. I congratulate McDonald for his fantastic career. These two things alone would have been enough for a great NAMM experience. But more cool things were in store. The Yamaha party, which took place on Jan. 26, was another great memory. Regarding the unexpected, I took a photo of Melissa Etheridge and Michael McDonald performing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” together. The picture wasn’t great, but the best I could get with a smartphone. I asked assistant editor Matt Van Dyke to place the photo on our social media channels, not thinking much of it. But the unexpected happened. Etheridge’s team discovered the tweet on Twitter and re-tweeted it to its 19,000 followers. Even the lunch line brought the unexpected. I was waiting to purchase a burrito at a food truck and who’s behind me on line? Gregg Bissonette, a drummer for a who’s who of artists, including Ringo Starr, David Lee Roth and Joe Satriani. That was a cool selfie moment. Even on Jan. 27, I had expected to join Alfred for a meal. What I didn’t expect was heading to Disneyland after. There were so many great NAMM moments. That’s all the ink I have for this month, but next month, I will provide my thoughts on The NAMM Show itself.

February 2018 Volume 35, No. 2

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



ROBERT L. IRAGGI Advertising Director

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

RICKY PIMENTEL Art/Production Assistant


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

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



Sweetwater Breaks Record with $619M in 2017 Sales

Sweetwater achieved record 2017 total sales of $619 million, up 22 percent from $507 million in 2016, which was also a record-breaking year for the company. December 2017 sales came in at $71 million, up 22 percent from December 2016. Black Friday and Cyber Monday both shattered all previous records, the retailer stated. Sweetwater’s annual total sales increases have ranged from 17.5 percent to 28 percent every year since 2010. The company sold more than 106,000 guitars in 2017, up from 87,000 in 2016. There was significant growth across all product categories, with the biggest percentage increases being in guitars, drums and keyboards. “Our amazing team helped more than 360,000 brand new, first-time customers purchase the gear to help them achieve their musical dreams. Everyone at Sweetwater is committed to always doing the right thing, whatever that might be, for each customer,” said Chuck Surack, Sweetwater’s founder and president. Sweetwater also achieved strong employee growth. At the beginning of 2017, Sweetwater had 1,100 employees. As of Jan.1, the number had increased by 14 percent to 1,255 employees. Other highlights in the past year included expanding its campus by purchasing 55 adjacent acres of land, for a total of 166 acres, completing new roads for greater access and safety, and significant building


projects will begin in mid-2018 and be completed in 2019. Sweetwater also added a full-time family doctor and registered nurse in an on-site medical clinic, and they saw over 1,600 employees and family members at more than 2,900 visits in 2017. Sweetwater’s extremely popular GearFest, the national music industry’s largest free trade show open to the general public, continued to grow in 2017. Attendance was record breaking, with more than 14,000 participants, up 20 percent versus 2016, and with sales up by more than 44 percent versus the previous year. “2017 was an exciting year of growth throughout our company. I am so grateful to our customers, vendor partners and especially our amazing employees for their friendship and loyalty. I am looking forward to a wonderful 2018,” concluded Surack.

St. Louis Music Acquires DEG Accessory Business St. Louis Music has acquired the accessory business of Lake Geneva, Wis.-based DEG Music Products Inc. DEG is a manufacturer and distributor of band accessories, including the Flutist’s Friend lyre and an extensive range of other brass and woodwind accessories. “Mark Schafer of DEG and I have been friends for decades,” said Mark Ragin, president and CEO of St. Louis Music. “His accessory products are unmatched for their quality and design, and fit right into SLM’s profile as a leading distributor in the band market. We look forward to continuing to grow and expand the DEG product line and continuing to supply these USA-made products to dealers and distributors around the world.” Founded in 1922, St. Louis Music is a distributor of musical instruments and accessories, representing more than 265 brands. It is the manufacturer or exclusive distributor of Alvarez and Austin guitars, Blessing and P. Mauriat wind instruments, Knilling string instruments, Hamilton stands and Dixon drums and percussion accessories. “St. Louis Music was the perfect fit for me, as I looked for a partner to take my accessory business forward,” said Mark Schafer, president of DEG. “I know they will continue to build on the legacy of DEG and I look forward to focusing my efforts on my Dynasty and Bergerault percussion business.” FEBRUARY 2018


Coffin Case Inks Ace Products Partnership Coffin Case, a creator of coffin guitar cases, announced it inked a partnership with Ace Products Group, along with expansion plans for the Coffin brand. New

Guitar Center Acquires Audio Visual Design Group

Guitar Center acquired Audio Visual Design Group (AVDG), which will serve as a key element of Guitar Center’s Business Solutions Group and expansion into integrated solutions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Guitar Center, AVDG has distinguished itself in the industry by offering system design and installation in both corporate and residential market sectors, providing it with an important channel to serve these markets as it continues its outreach into the world of businessto-business solutions. AVDG will operate as a dedicated arm of the Business Solutions Group, expanding the scope of personalized, account-based services offered by the division. “The business-to-business channel has always been an important sector for our company, and now, with the changes in the marketplace, we’ve decided to apply additional resources to expand our presence to service clientele who are looking for system design and installation of audio, video and lighting solutions and beyond,” said Ron Japinga, president and CEO of Guitar Center. “With this in mind, we are excited to have AVDG join the Guitar Center family and will be looking for other opportunities to grow our brands in the future. This is a natural growth path for our company, because we are unique in being able to leverage our experience in these different product sectors to offer turnkey solutions to our clients.”

coffin-inspired accessories debuted at The NAMM show. Founded in 1996 by Jonny Coffin, the Coffin brand was brought to life with the creation of a single, handmade case. As a guitar player, designer, silver-

smith and entrepreneur, Coffin built both that first case and the legacy of Coffin. “The future of Coffin is growth, and evolving with the latest trends in alternative and underground subculture,” said Coffin.

Commenting on the established, trend-setting brand, Dave Andrus, vice president at Ace, added, “Coffin is a great addition to the Ace brand family. We share a vision for the future of the music products industry.”



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


Zildjian Acquires Mike Balter Mallet

The Avedis Zildjian Co. entered into an agreement to acquire the Mike Balter Mallet Co., a percussion mallet manufacturer. “We’ve long respected Mike as a first-call percussionist and drummer who founded his own business to address a void in the marketplace,” said Craigie Zildjian, CEO. “Over the past 40 years, Mike has developed the broadest selection of mallets in the industry, including signature series models for such renowned artists as Louie Bellson, Joe Locke, Tony Miceli, Christos Rafalides, Keiko Kotoku and Emil Richards. We look forward to bringing the Mike Balter brand into the Zildjian family and continuing its legacy of innovation.” The transition of the Balter brand to Zildjian, that includes sales and marketing, will occur during the first half of this year. In addition, Balter Mallet manufacturing will be moving from Prospect Heights, Ill., to the Vic Firth factory in Newport, Maine. “I have built my company on two major attributes: quality products and great customer service,” said Mike Balter. “In addition, I have always taken personal pride in providing the player with a full palette of musical colors. The Avedis Zildjian Co. stands for the same commitment to quality, customer service and their own unique palette of musical sounds. So, I am extremely honored that the Mike Balter name will become part of the Zildjian family.”

(L-R): Craigie Zildjian, Mike Balter and Debbie Zildjian

KHS Goes Pro Point of Sale + Website + Rentals


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

"Our year-over-year sales increased by 35% after switching to Rain Retail" ~Jeremy Chapman, Owner, The Acoustic Shoppe

See how it works! As seen at • (801) 893-3680


KHS America has added Promark sticks and mallets to its All Access program. The program was designed to provide dealers with a simple and effective way to obtain their fastest turning products with the best prices and terms. All Access has historically included KHS proprietary brands such as Hercules, Nomad, Mapex and Majestic Accessories, as well as housename distributed brands. “We’re thrilled to be able to distribute Promark sticks and mallets,” said Rob Welch, product manager for accessories at KHS America. “The addition of Promark will give KHS America the opportunity to better serve our dealers by including this brand in our discount and shipping programs to our dealers.” FEBRUARY 2018


D’Addario Begins Its Digital Transformation D’Addario & Co. has announced the first phase of a multifaceted digital transformation effort to relaunch the company’s global B2B ecommerce marketplace. To help chart the course for this initiative and enable a team to successfully execute the research, strategy and front-end user experience, D’Addario partnered with Chicago-based design and digital innovation consultancy The Office of Experience (OX), systems architect Valtech, as well as technology partner Episerver Digital Experience Cloud. D’Addario wanted to create a cloud-based platform that would enable global scalability, increasingly relevant customer experiences and more responsive levels of service — all while maintaining the human touch of the family owned and operated company headquartered on Long Island, N.Y. This “Inner Circle” project originated from a corporate initiative to solidify D’Addario’s position as the category leader in B2B musical instrument accessory sales online. “We had done a great job with building our own solution for B2B customers,” Jim D’Addario, CEO of D’Addario, said, “but we were ready to take our offering to the next level to deliver a simple and streamlined e-commerce experience that would exceed our global customers’ expectations and scale with them as their business expands.” Steve Loud, digital commerce director, said, “Having agreed upon and implemented the first successful version of Inner Circle, our new B2B e-commerce platform, our focus now turns to constant enhancements, using the voice of our customers and data-driven insights to prioritize additional features and enhancements. D’Addario has always been an organization committed to continuous improvement, and we are so excited to have a new foundation that aligns our digital customer experience with this philosophy.” For customers, Inner Circle supports self-service options, better data insights for optimizing

accessory assortment, and highquality user experiences for both desktop and mobile use. According to D’Addario, the manufacturer will now be able to provide quicker and more agile services to both its retail and wholesale customers around the world.

“D’Addario now has a viable and scalable solution, built on the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud and InRiver Product Information Management, which can support the company’s unique audience segments with the proper technical infrastructure

and integrations, so that, moving forward, they can easily support new products and customer segments. We’ve really focused on delivering a solution that enables them to succeed today and in the years to come,” said Olivier Padiou, Global COO of Valtech.

Multi-functional effect controls.

Packed with Features & Sounds that Defy Convention!

Control effect parameters and save expression snapshots for each built-in effect (expression pedal sold separately).

Expanded controls to create stunning freeze effects, ethereal layers, fluid glissandos, infinite sustain and more. External footswitch input. 11 footswitch activated effects, can be used with the Synth Engine or independently.

Effects Loop lets you process the frozen signal through an external effects chain while preserving your dry signal. Mode footswitch selects four unique Freeze functions, or a Live Effects mode.

10 awe-inspiring delay effects including the Deluxe Memory Man, Shimmer, Octave Delay and more.

Studio-grade stereo compressor. 5 to 3,000 milliseconds of delay time.

Selectable hard/soft knee compression.

Selectable Limiter mode.

Swell control adjusts note fade-in and creates tape reverse effects.

Secondary knob mode enables “hidden” parameters.

Tap Tempo with Tap Divide using built-in or external footswitch.

True stereo input/output.

Footswitch activated Overdrive with dedicated Volume, Tone and Gain controls. Built-in 62 second Looper.

Internal Tails switch.

w w w. e h x . c o m




1:40 PM


Suzanne D’Addario Brouder and Nick Rail

D’Addario Foundation Donates to LA Nonprofits



The D’Addario Foundation — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing monetary and product support to ensure that all children have access to the profound impact that music can have on their education and well-being — held a special ceremony to award six Los Angeles-area nonprofits. The Foundation presented $18,000 to six organizations and has additionally given away over $78,000 to a diverse range of organizations in California dedicated to providing access to quality, immersive music education this year. The presentation took place on Dec. 6 at Nick Rail Music store in Agoura Hills, Calif. Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, executive director of the Foundation, presented the checks alongside Nick Rail, owner of Nick Rail Music. Recipients were The Harmony Project, Neighborhood Music School Association, SAPPA (Scholarship Audition Performance Preparatory Academy), Fender Museum of the Arts Foundation, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, Richardson Prep Hi/San Bernadino Teen Music Workshop and Elemental Music.







Stand and Deliver

Korg USA Inc. is now the exclusive distributor for North American retailers for Brazilian accessory company Stay Stands. “The addition of Stay Stands is an exciting move, as no other accessory pairs as nicely with Korg and Waldorf products as a keyboard stand line,” said James Sajeva, director of technology brands at Korg USA. “Though they’re a smaller company than some of our other brands, Stay produces top-notch equipment and will fall perfectly in line with the high-quality gear Korg USA is known for,” concluded Sajeva. Made from ultra-strong extruded aluminum, Stay Stand’s column-type keyboard stands weigh nearly half of the leading column stand, yet supports comparable weight easily.




Special K Series

for AV networking and control, and our QSC has sold more than one million entire range of AV solutions. Reaching this units of K Family loudspeakers since million-sold milestone is also the result of a its initial launch in 2009. According to global network of dedicated QSC channel the company, the K Family of powered partners that supported us when we entered loudspeakers, subwoofers and line arthe loudspeaker business, and today, share rays, including the K Series, KW Series, in our success.” KLA Series and the company’s newest generation K.2 Series and KS Series, represent the “peak of performance, ease-of-use, elegant style, and long-term reliability for countless scores of musicians and bands, mobile DJs, clubs, performance venues, AV rental and production companies, and houses of worship.” “When we first set our sights on the loudspeaker category, we knew that we had to deliver a product that was notably better than the typical offerings of the time,” said Ray van Straten, QSC senior director of marketing for the company’s Pro division. “We believed then as we do now that delivering a product that demonstrates real and tangible benefits to a user, and helps them get Tired of taping down your cable on the stage gig after gig? Now you can place your consistently great results in a propowered speakers anywhere up to 200 feet and beyond* fessional application, reliably, and wirelessly thanks to the new DigiNet from Vocopro. with minimal effort, is a winning formula. The K Family does that, DigiNet’s all digital design means there is no unexpected white noise bursts caused by signal interference which sometime happens on analog systems. as does our TouchMix Series of The DigiNet’s wireless digital transmission eliminates unexpected white noise to the digital mixers, the Q-Sys platform

crowd and ultimately protects your high-powered speakers from blow-outs, a huge deal when considering this type of setup.

Gator Acquires Levy’s Leathers

Gator Cases announced at The NAMM Show it was acquiring Levy’s Leathers. “It’s a wonderful brand that we’ve watched and admired for years,” said Gator Cases CEO Crystal Morris. “When I got the opportunity to meet them and the beautiful quality of product they make, it just seemed like an awesome opportunity for us to come together. I’m very excited.” “This is an incredible opportunity for Levy’s,” said Levy’s Leathers Marketing Manager Danica Levy. “We’re really excited about this collaboration. Like Crystal, I’ve watched her grow her business over the years and she’s done such a beautiful job. Her team is really amazing.”


Free your active speaker from wires with DigiNet!!! * with Additional transmitter and receiver as repeaters

DigiNet Mono Receiver

DigiNet Stereo Transmitter

DigiNet Mono Receiver

Features • • • • •

Plug and Play System, No Set up Required, with 16 Channels to Manually Select from. Stereo Transmitter with Balanced XLR Jacks Two Mono Receivers with Balanced XLR Outputs Future Proof 900MHz Frequency Range Avoids Television Broadcasting Interference Rechargeable Battery Operates up to 6 Hours (Stereo Transmitter) 12 Hours (Mono Receiver) and Both can be Charged Using USB 5V Plug While in Operation. • Gig Proof Rugged All Aluminum Housing • Includes XLR Cables, 5V Power Supply and USB Charging Cables

MAP: $299 13


Note From Zach

2018 Retail Resolutions Our members tell us that getting one good idea can pay for your entire trip to The NAMM Show. But in reality, I believe most attendees walk away from NAMM U sessions with dozens of great ideas. The only challenge is finding time to put those ideas to use when you leave Anaheim and return to your business. To help you get started, we’ve outlined some key areas below to focus on in the new year. Think of this as a priority list to navigate 2018. And don’t wait until the next NAMM Show to pick up more ideas. Summer NAMM, held June 28–30 at Nashville’s Music City Center, promises to offer new tips, strategies and best practices to help you grow your business. Start planning your travel now! Map your customer’s journey. At 2017 Summer NAMM, retail futurist Doug Stephens referred to an airline that earned his business with brilliant marketing. Only when he boarded his flight, he spotted a duct-taped window—not exactly inspiring his confidence. When your customers want new musical products or services, what’s their complete experience, from their first Google search, to the moment they purchase to their experience post-purchase? Where are you exceeding expectations? Where could you up your game? Walk through the entire customer experience, identify your duct-taped windows and make fixing them a goal. Focus on voice search. A few years ago, you nailed down your search engine optimization strategy, and now you’re done, right? If only. Between Siri, Alexa and Cortana, voice search has changed the SEO game. More than ever before, consumers search for musical products and services online by asking questions and using phrases. Is your website optimized for natural language search? It’s time to give this a second look. Consider upping your events schedule. I recently spoke with a new independent combo retailer operating in a competitive

market. In its first year, the store is projected to hit $1.4 million, and it’s driving business—and traffic—largely with a bustling events series. This includes everything from manufacturer-sponsored clinics to themed sales to participation in Make Music Day. The takeaway? If you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer, you’re in the events business. Expand your sales channels. If you’re already selling through eBay, and Craigslist, consider creating a Facebook store or selling through Instagram. Make purchasing easy for your customers by going where millions are already buying and selling. Keep an eye on emerging technologies. If you’re a school music retailer, how will self-driving cars impact you in the future? For brick-and-mortar operations, how can virtual and augmented reality be integrated into your showroom experience? And what new opportunities do these technologies present? New smartphones already have augmented reality technology built into their operating systems. Now’s the time to start exploring these questions. And keep looking for great ideas year-round at NAMM U Online, by visiting It’s a fantastic resource designed with you in mind. Zach Phillips NAMM Director of Professional Development

Business growth is only a click away.

NAMM U Online is your one-stop resource for retail how-to, training, tips and strategies.

Sales Marketing Management Finance Lessons Websites

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MM Summer NA

• 1,600+ Brands • Retail Boot Camp • NAMM U Breakfast Sessions • NAMM Idea Center • TEC Tracks

The Inspiration Begins Here

• Live Music • Top 100 Dealer Awards #summernamm

Register and book your hotel starting March 7, 2018


Letter to the Editor Hi Brian, I am responding to your editorial in the Music and Sound Retailer (Dec. 15). It saddens me that so many MI retailers have decided to throw in the towel. If I may be so kind as to respond to some of the things I read in your article and to possibly throw some light on the situation, as I currently see it. We were voted by NAMM as the Best Emerging Dealer at this past summer show. Even though we have worked in the industry for many, many years, our store has only been in existence for about two. Our growth has been nothing short of amazing. We are very blessed guys. We find that there are some key things that seemed to make a big difference. 1. The nasty “M” word. You simply must get your business in shape to match the prices of the internet. People will walk over 10 dollars these days. I’ve seen it. I know that this is a taboo subject, but it’s always been a bad topic. Time for people to wake up and smell the coffee. I didn’t make it that way; it’s just the way it is. That old cliché of saying you can justify a higher price because you have better service is crazy. Everyone says that. Why should they believe you and not someone else? 2. Let’s say you do that, and everyone has a price of $199 on a piece of gear. If all things are equal, then why would they buy it from you? Simple answer is because you ask them to. We do it all the time. The

oldest to the youngest customer in the world will almost always say, “OK, I will.” They remember that you asked them for their business and that you need them as a customer. 3. Customers will assume that the internet or a big box store is always cheaper. It’s your responsibility to inform them otherwise and let them know you want their business. 4. Make the store a destination that everyone wants to come to. Have a relaxed atmosphere that people are comfortable with. Have events, frequently. Our events typically attract several hundred people and are wildly successful. We typically put customers’ pictures with their new gear on Facebook and thank them. Make their experience fun! I guess I can understand the lack of energy of some that have done this for so many years. I personally have about 37 years in the MI market myself, and my partner has over 30. We think that this industry offers an incredible amount of potential these days, if we just decide to wake up and run with it. This is literally all we know, and we have to make it work. We’ve said it a thousand times. It’s not rocket science. Take care of your customers and make them want to come to you. Tony Colwell 3rd Rock Music Center

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

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The sixth-annual She Rocks Awards rocked the House of Blues Anaheim on Jan. 26. Hosted by the Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN), the gala celebration featured a star-studded array of honorees. The WiMN’s Laura B. Whitmore co-hosted along with Kat Corbett of L.A. radio station KROQ. 2018 honorees: • Pat Benatar • Melissa Etheridge • The B-52’s Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson • Karla Redding-Andrews, The Otis Redding Foundation • Exene Cervenka, X (band) • Amberly Crouse-Knox, BMG Production Music • Jean Millington Adamian,

Radial Acquired Mike Belitz, president and CEO of Ultimate Support Systems, has acquired Radial Engineering Ltd. Established in 1991, Radial Engineering Ltd. was originally developed as a range of cable products by outgoing President and CEO, Peter Janis. The release of its first direct box in 1996, the Radial JDI, was just the beginning in a long line of innovations. In the intervening years, the Radial brand family and distribution network has grown to include a diverse catalog of brands, including Primacoustic, Tonebone, Reamp, Hafler, Dynaco, Iso-Max and Jensen Transformers Inc. Ultimate Support and Radial Engineering Ltd. will enjoy shared strategic and logistical advantages under leadership of Belitz. “I have always been passionate about premium accessories in the music industry. Instruments come in and out of fashion, but musicians and audio professionals will always need well designed, high quality solutions. Ownership of Ultimate Support Systems and Radial Engineering Ltd. will offer incredible possibilities for the future,” said Belitz.

June Millington, Brie Howard Darling, Patti Quatro Ericson and Alice de Buhr of the all-female American rock band, Fanny • Candace Stewart, EastWest

Ron Lyon

She Rocks Awards Rock Anaheim Studios in Hollywood • Dawn Birr, Sennheiser Business Solutions • Fabi Reyna, She Shreds Media

• Vanessa Mering, HARMAN Professional • Kristy Porter, Guitar Center • Divinity Roxx, bassist and solo artist


PreSonus’ Trifecta of Promotions

PreSonus announced three major executive promotions. Jim Boitnott, executive vice president of marketing and product services, has been promoted to chief operating officer; former vice president of sales, Rick Naqvi, is now senior vice president of global sales; and Bret Costin has been promoted from vice president of research and development to Jim Boitnott senior vice president of research and development. A graduate of Elon University, Boitnott enjoyed a career as a professional musician and taught in the music departments at several colleges and universities before moving over to the business side. He went on to become president and CEO of NOTION Music, developer of Notion and Progression music software, before joining PreSonus as executive vice president of product services in September 2013 as part of PreSonus’ acquisition of NOTION Music’s assets. As COO, Boitnott is responsible for the overall internal operating activities of the organization. Naqvi joined PreSonus as employee No. 4 in October 1995, following a four-year stint as a sales associate at a top Baton Rouge musical instrument and recording equipment retailer. In more than 22 years with PreSonus, he has become widely known as the enthusiastic and passionate face and voice of the company, traveling the world tirelessly to work with sales reps, distributors, dealers and customers. A long respected and seasoned engineer in the music and audio technology industry, Costin has designed products and managed and directed product development at a variety of companies, ranging from Avid and

Yamaha’s ‘Strong’ Hire

Yamaha Corp. of America (YCA) appointed Brett Armstrong to the position of House of Worship resource manager. He will report directly to Roger Eaton, chief marketing director, YCA. Armstrong serves as the point person for the company’s House of Worship initiatives across all Yamaha product divisions. In this role, he creates content that supports worship leaders and musicians while providing solution-based training and education designed to elevate the performance and enjoyment of worship services and activities. “It’s a pleasure to have Brett on the Yamaha team to continue our support of the House of Worship community,” said Eaton. “Creating strong and authentic worship ‘community’ — connecting leadership and musicians — is a very important facet to our work here at Yamaha. Brett has vast experience in professional audio and a true understanding of the needs of a worship environment to provide a one-stop solution of Yamaha quality products.” The son of a pastor and evangelist, Armstrong has maintained worship as a significant part of his entire life. “I started singing gospel at age 12, and later was the worship leader in my church, where I helped design and set up their sound system,” he said. “I’ve always been extremely technical, as well as a musician, and went on to develop multi-faceted audiovisual systems for large corporations. I am looking forward to applying my expertise to building the success of the worship community.” Most recently, Armstrong was president of Display-Works, a commercial video display company. Prior to that, he was the national sales manager for Guitar Center Professional. 18

Rick Naqvi

Bret Costin

Compaq to M-Audio and PreSonus. The University of Florida engineering graduate served as PreSonus’ vice president of research and development between late 2010 and mid-2012, helping to develop such mainstays as the AudioBox USB audio/MIDI interface, StudioLive 16.0.2 digital console and StudioLive AI-series consoles. Costin returned for a second stint as vice president in January 2017 and continues to lead the company’s research and development efforts. “Jim Boitnott, Rick Naqvi and Bret Costin have contributed so much to our success that the reasons for their promotions are obvious,” said PreSonus CEO Stephen Fraser. “All three are excellent leaders with exceptional communications skills, as well as accomplished executives with a deep understanding of our industry. Their well-deserved promotions help position PreSonus to take our next steps forward, as we continue to develop and deliver groundbreaking products that our customers need and want, as well as building strong relationships throughout the industry.

Welcome Back, Hayes

St. Louis Music and Alvarez welcomed back J. Hayes as brand development manager for Alvarez Guitars. He is an accomplished and professional guitarist with decades of industry experience as a musician, teacher and product manager, and worked for SLM for many years prior to 2005. “I’m thrilled to return to SLM because it’s my home,” said Hayes. “I’ve been playing Alvarez guitars since the ’70s, and it feels great to return and be able to take the brand to new heights.” J. Hayes formerly served as product support manager for Paul Reed Smith Guitars and Blackstar Amplification. In his new role as Alvarez brand development manager, he will be traveling with the outside sales team, visiting dealers and executing in-store training programs. Hayes will also be assisting in dealer and consumer feedback and using his vast guitar and performance expertise to create additional digital content for the brand. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have J. Hayes join our family,” said Chris Meikle, senior vice president at St. Louis Music and head of Alvarez development. “I have no doubt that his experiences in production and brand management will be a tremendous asset, as we take Alvarez to the next level.” FEBRUARY 2018


Korg Gets Creative

Korg USA has added Norm Morales, integrated graphic designer, to its marketing department. Responsible for the implementation and execution of creative design campaigns, Morales joined the team after many years of developing creative advertising strategies for a variety of companies, designing and maintaining agency ad website content and running a production art studio. “Norm has brought a new level of energy, sheer talent and inspiration to our company,” said Morgan Walker, senior manager of marketing at Korg USA. “Norm is positive, hard-working and has been a breath of fresh air for the marketing department. We’re ecstatic to have him on our team.” Prior to joining Korg USA,

Norm Morales

Morales spent 16 years working at The Napoleon Group, a production house based in New York City. Starting out as an assistant art studio manager, he worked his way up to creative director before leaving the company in 2016. He has worked with a variety of reputable brands such as Lego,

Nick Spadafora

Burger King and Aflac, as well as with Saatchi and Saatchi, Grey and McCann NY ad agencies. Korg also hired Nick Spadafora as the company’s new videographer and content producer. He is responsible for the creative

focus of product and brand videos, as well as its execution, editing and producing. Starting as a production assistant in 2013 at D’Addario, Spadafora worked his way up to content producer, where his role consisted of creating content for social media, working on the main website, and assisting the graphics team on product photography for advertisements and brand catalogs. “We’re excited to have added another talented member to our growing team,” said Walker. “Nick’s experience in the music industry, as well as his brilliant eye has definitely been a gamechanger for us.”

Master Williams

Jackson and Charvel, divisions of Fender, promoted Joe Williams from an apprentice to Custom Shop master builder. “Given his diverse talents as a builder, outstanding work ethic and enthusiasm, Joe Williams is an invaluable asset to the Custom Shop,” said Jon Romanowski, vice president of category management for Jackson and Charvel. “As a player and true fan of hard rock and heavy metal himself, Williams also brings a unique perspective and key insight into the exacting needs of modern guitarists. We couldn’t be happier to have his firepower in the shop as we continue to build upon our storied Jackson and Charvel brands.” Williams has trained over the last decade under the expert wing of Mike Shannon. “Joe is probably one of the most valuable people in the building, one of very few people who can do every process — from the mill all the way to final assembly and figuring out some of the most difficult wiring issues that we have,” said Shannon. Williams has contributed to many high-profile Custom Shop projects, including management of the relic process, assembly and setup for the Randy Rhoads Tribute Concorde Replica models, and initial conception and design of the B7 and B8 models. He also built the first Jackson “multi-scale” instrument. In what he good-naturedly referred to as “a beast of a build,” he created an eightstring Soloist model with an innovative 27.75"-25" scale length and asymmetrical five-piece neck.




Stay Tuned

Over view: Graph Tech’s Ratio Machine Heads Specifics: Graph Tech has released Ratio Machine Heads for four-, five- and six-string bass for OEM customers. Ratio Tuned Machine Heads incorporate different string gauges into the tuning equation. Each string responds the same to tuning adjustments for faster, accurate tuning. Ratio Machine Heads offer a balance of speed and precision on every string. Gears range from 16:1 to 48:1 for several configurations. Configurations include four to a side, three plus one, four plus two and more. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Graph Tech, 800.388.7011,

Hang ’Em High

Over view: CW & Sons’ Guitar Bar Hanger Specifics: CW & Sons’ Guitar Bar Hanger offers a unique closethanger design. Four-point security locks the guitar in place, allowing it to hang from any closet rod and preventing the guitar from falling off. It works with all electric, acoustic and four-string bass guitars. It features one-piece metal construction with a padded cover; assembly not required. An optional black cotton guitar cover is also available. MSRP: $9.99; $15.99 with black cotton cover Ship Date: Contact company Contact: CW & Sons, 310.613.2808,

Positive Thinking

Over view: Positive Grid’s BIAS Mini Heads Specifics: Positive Grid’s BIAS Mini heads squeeze the same advanced component emulation engine, authentic dynamic tube amp feel and wireless connectivity as the company’s BIAS Head and BIAS Rack into an even smaller and lighter package. Both the guitar and bass models feature eight custom amplifier presets, built-in Bluetooth connectivity for mobile control, a glitchless mono effects loop, headphone and line outputs, and an expression pedal input. The halfrack-sized heads weigh just over five pounds and feature a built-in 300-watt power amp.

MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Positive Grid,

Cable Guy

Over view: D’Addario Accessories’ DIY Pedalboard Power Cable Kit Specifics: D’Addario Accessories’ DIY Pedalboard Power Cable Kit offers a solution for custom wiring the DC cables of a pedalboard. Using the cable kits is as simple as cutting the included cable to length, placing the power cable into the plug end and securing the set screw to produce customlength power cables. This proprietary cable has three times the amount of copper over standard cables for superior voltage transfer and reliability, and the plugs configure for straight or right-angle connections. The kit also includes a cable tester to check the cables for proper connection before installation. The DIY Pedalboard Power Cable Kit (PW-PWRKIT-20) includes 12 solderless plugs, 20 feet of power cable, a screwdriver, a mini cable cutter and a cable tester. It can be used to make up to six cables. MSRP: $152 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: D’Addario Accessories, 631.439.3300,




Djembe Unchained

Over view: Toca’s Lightweight Djembes Specifics: Toca has updated its Lightweight Djembe line with new head technology and colors. Lightweight Djembes feature a hybrid design that combines elements of a doumbek with those of a djembe. The sculpted shell is made of an ultralight synthetic material that dramatically reduces the weight of the drum without sacrificing tone, resonance or durability. Available in 9-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch sizes, each Lightweight Djembe is topped with a permanently attached, pre-stretched synthetic head. For 2018, Toca is introducing an improved laminated synthetic head that is thicker, tougher and more durable. It also holds the pitch better, and the stronger head virtually eliminates breakage under normal usage. The Jamaicaninspired Rasta finish features a blue, red, yellow and green striped motif and a consistent black pattern throughout. The African-themed Earth Tone offers a refined organic black and brown pattern. The finish covers both the shell and the head. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Toca Percussion, 817.335.2561,

Mighty KC

Over view: Roland’s KC Series Specifics: Roland has released six new KC series stage amplifiers for performing keyboardists. The new models carry on the KC line’s benchmark of quality, while offering updated looks and enhanced features. The new KC amps feature wide-range sound reproduction with two-way speaker systems and Roland’s twin bass-reflex design

Full Contact OUTput Jack Now available in





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for extended low-frequency response without distortion. They can accurately reproduce the full frequency range of all types of keyboards, including 88-note stage pianos, organs and synthesizers. The amps are also equipped with multiple inputs, mixing capabilities and versatile DI connections. The new models include KC-80 (50 watts of power, 10-inch speaker, custom tweeter); KC200 (100 watts of power, 12-inch speaker, custom tweeter); KC-400 (150 watts of power, 12-inch speaker, custom tweeter, stereo link capability); KC-600 (200 watts of power, 15-inch speaker, custom tweeter, stereo link capability); KC-990 (320 watts of stereo power (160 watts x 2), two 12-inch speakers, two custom tweeters, onboard effects (reverb, chorus, tremolo, rotary), stereo link); and KC-220 (30 watts of stereo power (15 watts x 2), two 6.5-inch speakers, two custom tweeters, chorus and reverb effects, support for battery-powered operation). MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Roland, 323.890.3700, FEBRUARY 2018


I’m the Wanderer

Loud and Clear

Over view: RCF’s HDL30-A Cabinet Specifics: RCF’s HDL30-A is the newest model in the HDL family of line array products. The HDL30-A offers full-range frequency response down to 50 hertz, linear response and zero-degree phase. A compact, 2,200-watt, bi-amped, two-way cabinet, the HDL30-A features two neodymium 10-inch woofers coupled with a 4-inch voice coil high-frequency compression driver mounted on a time coherent 100°x15° 4PATH waveguide. RCF has specifically matched each component for optimal performance, and the company manufactures the cabinet and transducers. Crossover point for the high-frequency driver is 680 hertz, with woofers offering response down to 50 hertz while achieving SPL levels up to 137 decibels. The cabinet’s DSP features FiRPHASE FIR filtering technology that optimizes dynamics, amplitude and phase patterns, ensuring transparent sound and clarity. The HDL30-A also includes RCF’s RDNet onboard. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: RCF, 732.902.6100,

Over view: Kala Brand Music Co.’s Wanderer, Passenger and Journeyman U-Basses Specifics: Kala Brand Music Co. has released three new U-Bass models: Wanderer, Passenger and Journeyman. These new models are offered at a lower price point to reach more prospective players while maintaining Kala’s dedication to sound and quality. These U-Bass models are made from mahogany. The Wanderer is stripped down to the bare essentials to give it a clean, no-frills look. The Passenger features subtle white binding and rosette adornments for an austere appearance. The Journeyman is the most stylized, with white binding, decorative f-holes and a cutaway. Other features include a mahogany neck, Aquila Thundergut strings and a satin finish. MSRP: Wanderer: $269.99; Passenger: $299.99; Journeyman: $359.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Kala Brand Music Co.,

18” A ZILDJIAN UPTOWN RIDE NEW FOR 2018! 14” A ZILDJIAN FAST CRASH 12” A ZILDJIAN NEW BEAT HIHATS NEW FOR 2018! The Zildjian City Pack is the perfect combination of sound and practicality. This 4 cymbal pack was designed to deliver legendary Zildjian sound for smaller-sized drum kits and percussion set-ups. Visit to discover more.


Even More Products Featured at NAMM Last Month By Matt Van Dyke


As always, The NAMM Show was jam-packed with gear spanning every category in the industry. This year, though, there was a much greater focus on professional audio ... to the tune of 200,000 square feet of space dedicated to the segment, which many attendees, I’m sure, were overjoyed to explore, but who came home with a whole new level of wear to their feet! For those of you who didn’t get to cover all of The NAMM Show (which may not be possible), we’ve provided a much-needed supplement to last month’s NAMM New Product Spotlight, which covered a whopping 50 products, conveniently contained within last month’s NAMM Show issue. This “Wrap-Up” includes 20 more product introductions, as part of our NAMM Show Review. With this addition, the grand total is an impressive 70 products that just barely scratches the surface of what NAMM had on offer, but are sure to be great choices when stocking up for the new year and all that it promises to bring. Enjoy!

Hard to Top

The V7 BFG is the signature vocal microphone for Billy F. Gibbons. Best known as the guitarist and lead vocalist of the legendary American rock band ZZ Top, Gibbons consistently ranks as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been on the road for decades, and is still musically hyperactive with The Kings of Chaos, the BFG’s and, last but definitely not least, ZZ Top. The V7 BFG is a dynamic vocal hand-held microphone with a custom chrome finish, a royal purple windscreen and Gibbons’ signature on the all-metal chassis. Its supercardioid polar pattern delivers a crisp, open sound, the capsule design helps isolate vocals from other instruments for vast amounts of gain before feedback, and its patented internal shock mount provides low handling noise. MSRP: $149 Ship Date: Now Contact: sE Electronics,


Go Fish The Things 4 Strings Studio Kit: Hold Fish (SK-HF) comes packaged in a fish bowl with 24 Hold Fish accessories, which are made to support the bow-hand pinky finger of developing violin and viola players. The accessories allow private studio and orchestra classroom teachers to optimize instruction time and tend to their student’s development of an ergonomic bow technique. Hold Fish allows beginning orchestral string players to benefit from a relaxed and effective bow hold right from their very first lesson. Eliminating the need for constant bow hold corrections, these learning aids speed players to better tone and bow control. Made in the U.S.A., these accessories are molded of medical-grade silicone rubber, are durable enough for years of use by many students, and are suitable for all bow and hand sizes. Hold Fish is offered in three colors: Bright Blue, Concert Black or Multi. Street Price: $285 Ship Date: Now Contact: Things 4 Strings,

Good Vibrations Carl Martin has refreshed its Vintage Series with a new, fresh, anodized pedal designed for a smaller pedal-board footprint, with all the same great tones. The Surf Trem gets its trem circuit from the CM Tremovibe. With just a speed and depth control (just like an old tube amp), classic tones are easy to achieve. The Surf Trem features a retro, heavy diecast case with nine-volt battery compartment, cool color and heavy duty bypass switch. The DC-Drive, besides the typical Level, Tone and Drive knobs, also includes a Regular/Fat switch. In Regular mode, the drive is crisp and clear, suitable for anything that calls for old-school drive. Switch over to Fat and the drive gets thicker with a lot more gain. Contact: East Sound Research,


Tension Relief Many modern guitars feature low-action setups, where the strings are close to the fret board. Because of this, less spring tension is required to fully hold down all six strings when using a capo. The Kyser LowTension Quick-Change Capo has 25-percent-less spring tension than regular Kyser Quick-Change Capos. This allows guitarists to obtain the right amount of tension when changing keys up and down the neck, without worrying about strings being pulled sharp by too much tension. The capo is available in a matte blackout finish: matte black color, black spring, black rivet, black boot and dark gray Kyser logo. The LowTension Quick-Change Capo works on both acoustic and electric sixstring guitars, and is made in Texas. MAP: $19.95 Ship Date: Now Contact: Kyser Musical Products,

Totally Tubular GMF’s Ai ProTube is a DI with preamp that incorporates a switchable vacuum tube circuit in the preamp section to deliver a warm, rich tube tone at the touch of a button. Designed to connect an acoustic instrument into mixers, PA systems and amps, the Ai ProTube offers an array of professional features, making it a great choice for gigging musicians looking for a versatile live performance tool, as well as recording artists seeking added flexibility in their project studios. Ai ProTube highlights include high headroom preamp with foot-switchable tube circuit, active four-band EQ with MidShift, gain control, phase switch, GND (Ground) Lift, Mute footswitch and Tuner Out, balanced (XLR) and unbalanced line out. The ProTube is made in the U.S.A. Street Price: $450 Ship Date: Now Contact: GMF Music,


20 Terrific

Fancy Footwork X Marks the Spot

SMASHmouse, a foot-controlled PC mouse, shortcut and expression control pedal, allows players to control their mouse and playback tools out of the box with full mouse functionality, one-click command of software shortcuts, and multi-dimensional and omnidirectional expression modes. The patent-pending design also works as assistive technology, providing an effective way for those with special needs to control digital devices. SMASHmouse includes mouse and playback modes, and the pedal’s built-in microprocessor offers low-cost add-on functionalities, which are coming soon, such as page turn, beat machine, MIDI expression, DAW ProAudio functionalities and more. The pedal gives Windows and MacOS users connectivity via USB or Bluetooth with a 12-hour battery life. MSRP: $149 Contact: SMASHmouse,

RC Williams’ Amazing X Stand has a unique look that utilizes a hinged “x” format in its design, making it easy to set up or transport, while preventing damage to a stringed instrument like a guitar or banjo. The top of the Amazing X Stand secures the neck of the instrument, while the rubber bumpers on the contact surfaces protect the edges of the instrument and keeps it from tipping. Made from the Black Diamond MDF, it has an overall sleek look to match the design with a hand-rubbed oil finish. The design came to Rick Williams while watching a live performance. “I watched as the musicians swapped out different instruments throughout the show and saw the stands they were using were not very stable,” he said. “I could definitely see there’s a need for being able to ‘grab and go’ for a quick change out.” Contact: RC Williams,

Maple Masterpiece ddrum has announced the second coming of the Dios Maple series. Based on the original Dios Maple drum kits that were discontinued in 2012, the new Dios series features supreme attention to detail. Tom shells are six-ply (5.6 millimeters), bass drums are six-ply (6 millimeters) and snares are eight-ply (8 millimeters), and feature ddrum’s original formula maple shell. Bearing edges are 45 degrees with a 30-degree counter cut. Toms also feature an upgraded FixPitch mounting system, and bass drums feature Resolifts isolators to decouple the bass drum from the floor. The new Dios series is available in four lacquer finishes: Red Cherry Sparkle, Satin Gold, Emerald Sparkle and Satin Black. Three configurations are available, as well as add-on drums, to further customize your setup. All Dios bass drums come in 20-inch depth for added tone and projection. Contact: ddrum,

Introducing the

KYSER CAPO APP Transpose chords, stay on beat, record or tune. Kyser Handles It® AVAILABLE for FREE in THE APP STORE or GOOGLE PLAY



nection types: 16 male XLR connectors, 16 female XLR connectors, eight male and eight female XLR connectors, or 16 female ¼-inch TRS jacks. In addition to these preconfigured models, the PS1625QX can also be ordered in custom configurations with any combination of connectors. Going Pro Audio signals are passed through to two DB25 connectors on the rear of the units, providing easy interfacing with Avid Bittree’s ProStudio 1x16 PS1625QX audio pass-through panel simplifies I/O access for applications as straightforward as con- ProTools and TASCAM-compatible equipment. MSRP: $365 necting a microphone to a digital audio workstation (DAW), or more complicated setups like multi-microphone drum recording Ship Date: Now Contact: Bittree, sessions. The panel is available with a flexible choice of con-

Solid Choice D’Angelico Guitars’ solid-body electric guitars, the Bedford, Ludlow and Atlantic, will be made available in both the Premier and Deluxe Series. Strapped with Seymour Duncan pickups, the Bedford’s stacked single-coil neck pickup offers “spank” while the bridge humbucker brings the warmth. Black finish is available with maple neck and six-point tremolo bridge. The Atlantic is a single-cutaway solid-body strapped with two Duncan humbuckers and coil-tapping push/pull tone knobs. A deep belly cut and thinner body depth keep the Atlantic lightweight, while the slim C-neck shape improves playability. The Ludlow is an offset featuring coiltapping push/pull tone knobs. The body shape allows for access to the highest frets, while a slim C-shape neck offers comfort. MAP: Premier: $699; Deluxe: $1199 Ship Date: March Contact: D’Angelico Guitars,



20 Terrific

‘Foreward’ March Korg’s Prologue is a fully programmable professional synth, equipped with 49 or 61 keys, discrete circuitry, a newly developed open-source multi engine and DSP-based effects. The Prologue is available in either eight-voice (49 key) or 16-voice (61 key) models with multi-timbral zoning options, as well as multi-effects presented with an intuitive interface, improving on its predecessors, plus Korg’s best full-size synth action, also found in the Kronos workstation. The Prologue is a two-timbre synth that allows two different programs to be played simultaneously. In addition to layer and split, the Prologue provides four voice modes: Poly, Mono, Unison or Chord, allowing the user to freely combine the eight or 16 voices for performances. The dual effects section includes Mod and Delay/Reverb, each with areas for user-created algorithms. Perhaps the most impressive component to the new model is the user-creatable oscillators and effects. Street Price: 49 Key: $1499.99; 61 Key: $1999.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Korg,

Perfect Combo Randall re-introduced its entry-level combo amp, the Randall RX15MBC, at The NAMM Show. The portable, twochannel amp offers a fully featured dual gain stage overdrive preamp channel with switchable double-overdrive mode, along with a high headroom clean channel powered by a punchy 15-watt amplifier, 6.5-inch classic “Jaguarvoiced” speaker, three-band analog low-mid-high channel equalization, an auxiliary input for playing audio from music players and mobile devices (great for practicing songs), and a ¼-inch TS (tip-sleeve) headphone output connector. The traditional black Tolex covering is accented by a black-chrome steel grille and panel topped off by a sturdy handle. Street Price: $99.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Randall,

Interstellar Overdrive TAMA’s Superstar Hyper-Drive Duo design inspires drummers to explore original and creative rhythmic phrases. The key component of this series is the 10"x14" snare drum, which TAMA has dubbed the “Duo Snare.” This drum’s unique attributes enable it to perform as a conventional floor tom and as an extra-deep-sounding snare drum. Mounted on floor tom legs, the 10-inch deep by 14-inch diameter drum is fitted with a conventional snare strainer; engaging the strainer and snare wires converts the floor tom into a fully functional snare drum with a deep tonal quality. Drummers can position the drum as a first-floor tom, or off to the side of their hi-hat for a more specialized approach. Other features include a 100percent maple shell with black nickel shell hardware, an aluminum star-cast mounting system, die-cast hoops and vertical stripe design. Available in Flat Black Vertical Stripe, Satin Blue Vertical Stripe and Satin Silver Vertical Stripe finishes. Street Price: ML40HZBN2: $1,999.98; ML52HZBN2: $1,399.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Tama,

SNAP is an innovative new tool that makes cable management, an absolute ……. SNAP SNAP - built to handle cables of all sizes: power, audio, lighting and data cords SNAP - compatible with all industry truss manufacturers and systems SNAP – robust, reusable and environmentally friendly. No more tape or zip ties! SNAP - non-scratch design available in silver, black & a variety of additional colors SNAP - an affordable, profitable solution for set-ups of all sizes Contact us to get your FREE sample box SNAP - Music & Sound Retailer-NO NAMM.indd 1 12/5/2017 1:49:43 PM

Eye of the Storm Alesis’ Vortex Wireless 2 USB/MIDI keytar controller features an enhanced control layout and a collection of virtual instrument software, all in a durable glossblack housing. This MIDI keytar controller connects wirelessly to any computer and integrates with popular virtual instruments, plugins and DAWs. The PC- and Mac-compatible USB dongle uses a single USB port to establish a reliable, wireless connection. The Vortex Wireless 2’s controls include 37 velocity sensitive keys with aftertouch for compact size with complete melodic range; eight RGB back-lit velocity sensitive trigger pads to create beats or trigger clips; eight back-lit faders for controlling virtual instrument parameters; embedded MIDI-assignable

tilt sensor performance control with on/off button; and MIDI-assignable touchstrip. Street Price: $299 Ship Date: Q1 2018 Contact: Alesis,




Bass Hit Yamaha has made two additions to its TRBX series of electric basses: the four-string TRBX604FM and five-string TRBX605FM. The basses feature flame-maple tops and matching headstock veneers to go along with comfortcontoured mahogany bodies and bolt-on, five-piece maple/ mahogany necks. For both basses, custom Yamaha H series pickups use four Alnico V pole pieces per string. Flexible onboard electronics allow players to take full advantage of the pickups’ range with balance control and a three-band EQ. Both models are available in gloss Translucent Black, gloss Dark Red Burst, matte Amber and Natural Satin. MSRP: TRBX604FM: $970; TRBX605FM: $1,070 Ship Date: Now Contact: Yamaha,



We are confident your customers will love our Teton Guitars. Try them in your store at no cost. If, within 30 days, you are unsatisfied for any reason, we pay return shipping and you owe nothing! TETONGUITARS.COM

20 Terrific

Table Talk MXL Microphones’ AC-360-Z USB-powered web conferencing boundary microphone is a low-profile, sturdy conferencing microphone that captures clear audio in 360 degrees within a 25-foot radius, and uses a single USB 2.0 cable for both power and signal. The design of the AC-360-Z builds upon the MXL AC-404, a three-capsule boundary microphone. The AC-360-Z expands upon the AC-404’s 180-degree sound arc, with 360-degree pickup, so that, if placed at the center of a large conference table, everyone speaking around it will be clearly audible. The AC-360-Z is compatible with any Mac or PC device through simple plug-and-play connectivity without needing to download any drivers, and works with any webconferencing codec on the market, including Skype, Google Hangouts, BlueJeans and Zoom. When used with Zoom, each quadrant of the AC-360-Z is independently addressable for custom arrangements within an installation. Contact: MXL Microphones,

Rebourn Bourns’ two new guitar potentiometer design kits were developed to help simplify new and upgraded guitar designs. Each Bourns Model H-1202-1 and Model H-1202-2 design kit includes a collection of guitar potentiometer (pot) part numbers, allowing guitar designers to select the right potentiometer products from a variety of miniguitar pots, blend-balance pots, mini-guitar pots with push-pull switches and mini-guitar pots with push-latching switches. Both guitar-pot design kits can be used in both electric guitars and bass guitars, or any other electric instrument where space is a constraint. Street Price: H-1202-1: $13.20; H-1202-2: $31.23 Ship Date: Now Contact: Bourns,

Flower Power




Levy’s introduced two new straps at The NAMM Show: Utopia Magnolia and Utopia Wild Rose. The Utopia Wild Rose guitar strap, MS317ER, is available in sand (SND) and burgundy (BRG). According to the company, the strap was inspired by tattoos of roses. This strap is made in two different versions. The first is made in sand, so that the linear design is highlighted and also mimics the skin as a canvas. The second is done in burgundy because it is bold and beautiful, just as the essence of the rose is. The Utopia Magnolia guitar strap, MS317EM, is available in sand (SND) and purple (PRP). The strap was inspired by the beautiful flower, the magnolia, where Levy wanted to design a more gentle and feminine counterpart to the wild rose with pinks, purples and greens. In designer Danica Levy’s opinion, the Magnolia is the company’s most feminine “pretty” strap in the 2018 collection. Contact: Levy’s,


Sir Mix a Lot Audio-Technica’s ATDM-0604 Digital SmartMixer is a six-channel automatic mixer. A-T’s SmartMixer technology allows channels to be mixed automatically in gate or gain-sharing mode, ensuring consistent audio output from all inputs in a setup, without the introduction of feedback, excessive ambient noise or comb filtering. Controls and LED indicators on the mixer’s front panel allow users to easily adjust input/output and gain levels; set and recall presets; turn on/off phantom power, low-cut filter, automatic mixing and acoustic echo cancellation (AEC); and change IP configuration (auto or static). Digital signal processing is available for

inputs and outputs, including parametric EQ, compressor, limiter and feedback control. Control and monitoring tools are accessible locally on the front panel or via the Web Remote interface, which allows users to handle adjustments from a Windows-based PC, Mac, iOS or Android device. Street Price: $899 Ship Date: Now Contact: Audio-Technica,

On Your Mark JBL’s 3 Series MkII features patented technologies derived from the JBL 7 Series and M2 Master Reference Monitors and sports a sleek, modern design. The MkII monitors are available in three configurations: 305P MkII (five-inch woofer), 306P MkII (6.5-inch woofer) and 308P MkII (eight-inch woofer). The monitors come equipped with JBL Image Control Waveguide to deliver detail, ambience and depth. The 3 Series MkII delivers deep, accurate and tightly controlled bass thanks to long-throw woofers and the patented JBL Slip Stream low-frequency port, while woven-composite one-inch Neodymium tweeters offer detailed highs. For MkII, JBL refined the low-frequency transducers for greater linearity and lower harmonic distortion and fine-tuned ferrofluid damping in the high-frequency transducers for faster transient response. Dual, integrated class-D power amplifiers, custom designed for each transducer, offer dynamic range. A new Boundary EQ setting attenuates the low-end boost that can occur when monitors are positioned directly on the desktop or near walls, plus a three-position HF Trim switch allows users to adjust the high-frequency response. Ship Date: Now Contact: JBL by Harman,

Predictable, Precise Tuning. Every String. 12:1

W W W. GR A P H T E CH. C OM / MS R 0 2 18






NAMM Breaks Another Record as 115,000 Pack the Anaheim Convention Center

By Brian Berk, Matt Van Dyke and Anthony Vargas


biggesty e t The Music & Sound Retailer is celebrating 35 years in 2018. Way back in its first issue, December 1983, we ran a story titled “Winter NAMM The Biggest Yet.” The story touted that The NAMM Show, then called the Winter Market, offered 152,345 square feet of exhibit space and a record 325 exhibitors. For this year’s show, which took place Jan. 25-28, The NAMM Show added 200,000 square feet of space via the addition of ACC North, a new two-story convention space attached to the main Anaheim Convention Center via skybridge, and the exhibitor list nearly reached 2,000. Attendance was perhaps the biggest story, however. Last month’s Anaheim show attracted a record 115,085 registered attendees, more than a 9-percent increase versus last year’s NAMM Show. “NAMM members, alongside our partners and guests, deserve all the credit for creating such an incredibly powerful industry gathering,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO. “The ‘crossroads’ of industry pros, coupled with the passion and dedication to drive business forward in new and innovative ways, ensures an exciting year ahead for all aspects of music making and production.”

Time to Take a Risk

Although there were several pre-show events, The NAMM Show officially kicked off with Lamond leading Thursday morning’s Breakfast of Champions. In order to succeed in today’s MI, taking risks is of utmost importance, noted NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond Thursday during the event. However, he cautioned that people can’t take risks just for the sake of doing so. So how do we approach risk? Lamond pointed to the example of Chuck Surack, who went from trying to build a business in a Volkswagen van to become the founder of Sweetwater. “These are people just like you and me,” said Lamond. “Now, we know them as icons.” Lamond even pointed to NAMM taking risks of its own. “We needed to change. ACC North and a new education [session] area in the Hilton are examples of changes this year.” Furthering the risk theme, NAMM’s president and CEO pointed to several businesses who have taken risks: Andertons Music’s Lee Anderton, QSC and JAM Industries. “Most successful companies made tough bets,” said Lamond. “My hope is, when you leave here, you will be inspired to take that gamble. Bringing music to the world is more important than ever.” British-based Andertons Music was founded in 1964 and was a respected mid-size single store. But things really changed for the better



JAM Industries' Marty Szpiro with NAMM's Joe Lamond

in 2010, when Lee Anderton first became the star of entertaining YouTube videos. We originally had QVC-style videos,” Anderton said. “The video channel evolved. I made sure it was entertaining, honest and fun ... I’m not a fan of a vanilla approach to marketing.” “YouTube had an astronomical effect on business,” he added. “It’s better to have people love me and hate me than never have heard of me.” “To be successful in videos, it helps to have an ego,” he acknowledged. The toughest part are the critics. “Anonymity of the internet is the worst part,” he said. To prevent an outpouring of negative online commentary, Andertons Music told people who went over the line they would be banned and then banned again if they returned. The results of viral videos have been outstanding. Andertons went from $5M in sales 10 years ago to $40M in online sales and $8M in in-store sales today. In honor of its 50th anniversary, QSC (Quilter Sound Co.) co-founder Pat Quilter talked about building his first amp at age 22 in the 1960s. The company had to take a lot of risks over the years, which Quilter undertook with partners John and Barry Andrews. Times were tough for a time at the beginning, and QSC needed to take several risks. “We went from boom to bust for a couple of years,” Quilter said. “We owed money and had to discount products to pay [our creditor] and get some money even though the products didn’t make a profit. That was our last major crisis.” Building its first speaker was definitely a risk for QSC, but speakers are now a great source of company growth, noted John Andrews. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Grateful Dead Co-Founder Bob Weir with Lamond

(continued on page 58)




By Brian Berk Peavey Electronics Corp. is certainly a company that needs no introduction. So, let’s dig right in and get the latest from both Founder and CEO Hartley Peavey and Chief Operating Officer Courtland Gray. Enjoy.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Hartley, you founded Peavey more than 50 years ago. What have been some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned and what has changed during that time the most? Hartley Peavey: I founded Peavey my senior year in college, 1964. Actually, my first patent was in 1964, but I generally regard June 1, 1965 as Peavey’s official starting date. That was 52 and a half years ago, and I never thought that I’d ever be “the oldest man in the amp business,” but that is apparently what has happened. To survive for over 52 years in this crazy business has been quite a trick, and it still is. If I were to even try to catalog everything I have learned after over half a century, it would take up more pages than your magazine. Much of what I have learned has been kind of painful because of all the mistakes I have made. Every mistake (ours or others) is a learning opportunity, and I’ve sure had lots of “learning opportunities” over the years. One great advantage Peavey has benefitted from over the years is by closely watching the mistakes of our competitors. Incredibly, mistakes are often repeated by new ownership of companies in this business. Most of the major names have been bought and sold numerous times, and, while the brand 34

names are the same, the organizations behind those brands is totally different! If “experience is the great teacher,” I’ve been in the classroom longer than anybody in our end of the business. People have often asked me what keeps my interest after more than five decades. The answer is simple. Every day I get to learn something! After 52 years of learning, you begin to realize that you have discovered a lot! The good news is that I’m still learning, and still applying those lessons to ever more innovative products. That’s just one of many reasons why Peavey has been able to survive so long under the same ownership and management!

The Retailer: Hartley, you’ve passed several responsibilities to Courtland. How long did this process take? What were the most important things you wanted Courtland to know? Peavey: This is a complex question, but I’ll try to answer it by simply saying that Peavey has been a company that does not just make things, we also make people by creating opportunities and challenges. “Court” came to Peavey to begin our equipment leasing program. His background and training is in the financial domain and is one of the things that is not my strong suit. Court utilized his previous experience in leasing to bring success to that program. I then assigned him to other projects that needed attention. He also learned our processes quickly, and I realized that he could be a vital part of the team I was putting together to run the company if something happened to me or I decided to retire. After numerous changes of Court’s responsibilities over the past 16 years, he has taken over the day-to-day operations at Peavey as our chief operating officer. He brought a lot of previous knowledge to Peavey and has continued his education at Harvard Business School. Court’s abilities and mine are somewhat different, but he is a quick study and has learned a lot about this business by working with me, as well as the rest of our team. The Retailer: Hartley, if you could write a quick elevator pitch about the company, what do you want Peavey Electronics to be most known for? Peavey: When I started the company back in 1964-65, it was intended as a vehicle to allow me to do my thing. I never realized that the company would also be a vehicle for lots of other people to also do their thing. I started out with the prime directive to “be the best.” Obviously, one cannot be the best without being different. We are different. Peavey is one of the very few companies in our end of the music and sound business that is still run and owned by its founder. Peavey is proud to say that we have earned over 180 patents around the world. Most of our competitors have not earned even a single patent, which is sadly indicative of the “cow FEBRUARY 2018


path” (copycat) mentality so prevalent in today’s marketplace. Another thing that I believe sets Peavey apart is its passion for our products and for our dealers and distributers in 136 countries around the world. We have gotten huge numbers of product awards over the years and we continue to introduce new and industry changing products at nearly every show we attend. We always take unconventional approaches, such as making our own loudspeakers. We were first to use computer-controlled machines to make guitars back in 1977! We revolutionized the commercial sound installation business with the 1993 introduction of our Media Matrix, the world’s first digital audio networking system. There have been so many things that Peavey has accomplished it would be hard to name them in a brief interview. I believe Peavey is better because it is different, and that is why we have been able to survive under the same ownership and management while most of our larger competitors have changed ownership, location and management three, four or five times over the last five decades. Down south, we have an old saying: “When you are making good biscuits, you don’t change the recipe!”

The Retailer: Courtland, please tell us about your background. Courtland Gray: I joined Peavey almost 16 years ago. Hartley wanted our finance company, PVF, to lease sound systems to churches and businesses, and I was working for a commercial finance and leasing company. I started the program for PVF and took over the management of PVF shortly thereafter. I became more involved in different parts of the business over the years and in 2003 I went to Harvard for its Advanced Management Course and became executive vice president and later chief operating officer.

The Retailer: Courtland, what’s the greatest advice Hartley has given you? Gray: If anyone has ever been to one of our dealer seminars, they might recall some of the things Hartley hands out with various sayings and quotes. If you chase two rabbits, both will get away. There’s another one about the lion and antelope getting up in the morning. At Hartley’s Walk of Wisdom, behind our museum, there’s a plaque about not changing the recipe when you’re making good biscuits — exactly what he said earlier. That’s a good one. But Hartley always speaks of stickability and being able to weather the storm and to hang in there when the going gets tough. Keeping that in mind and persevering is a very valuable piece of advice.  The Retailer: Courtland, what separates Peavey from the competition? Gray: I think the passion that the employees of Peavey put into making a different and better product is a big part of what makes Peavey a different company and separates us from the competition. We have enthusiastic, dedicated engineers and musicians at Peavey who really care about what goes into the products we make. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. The Retailer: Courtland, please tell us about what you debuted at NAMM and what makes it cool. Gray: We have our new powered line array, the Versarray Pro, based on many of the great features of the original Versarray, like 36


a ribbon tweeter and a dual voice coil neodymium Black Widow speaker with a field replaceable basket. Now, it is powered and contains a powerful DSP with FIR filters. They can be linked together with network control using Ethernet or a Dante connection. We have redesigned the flyware using our FlyQWIK hardware that makes setup and configuration a breeze.

The Retailer: To both Courtland and Hartley: There’s been a lot of talk lately about the manufacturers getting stuck with the bill, as well as counterfeit problems on Amazon. What are your thoughts on this? Also, what is the importance of MI retailers to you? Gray: Counterfeiting is a continuing problem we deal with all around the world. I am not aware of any issues on Amazon, but certainly the Chinese sites are loaded with counterfeits. We have distributors in various parts of the world who at times find some in their territory. We do what we can with them in their country, but it is very challenging to get cooperation and enforcement from the Chinese officials.  MI retailers have been the life blood of Peavey for 52 years. We want to do all we can to support and sustain them. An educated salesperson in a store can educate a customer about products better than most websites. That’s why Hartley has always pressed the dealers to learn about the product, so they can understand the customer’s needs. We have several dealer education seminars a year to help dealers do just that.  Peavey: Today’s marketplace has changed drastically since the 1960s and 1970s. We have tried to “selectively” change with it. The advent of China’s entry into music and sound brought about profound change in our industry, as well as the rapid proliferation of the internet- and web-based retailers. The aforementioned factors, combined with our industries’ tendencies to just copy or reintroduce older, successful products, have combined to create a difficult environment for MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

both retailers as well as suppliers. Counterfeit goods are a huge problem around the world. Especially in the export market. Some of this is caused by the sad fact that anybody that can afford to bring in a container suddenly is a “supplier” and the goods in that container are often copies and sometimes counterfeit. I was raised in my father’s music retail shop, and I have had the good fortune to be able to learn the music business from the inside out, as opposed to others that tried to learn this business from the outside in. We have always tried to support our dealers, believing that a big part of our responsibility is to supply products that have the features, advantages and benefits to allow our dealers to sell our products profitably. Peavey was the first company to provide scheduled training seminars to its dealer on audio and MI products. We have continued to do this for more than 30 years here at our Training Center in Mississippi. That’s commitment!

Peavey: The wonderful thing about music is that it is all about passion. There are only about four or five things that people will fight you over and one of them (besides politics, religion and romance) is music. Passion is the driver and most of us are passionate about the music we

like. And that’s good for the music and sound business. You might say, “once a guitar player, you are always a guitar player,” and thankfully you will rarely find a guitar player that has just one guitar! The “dirty little secret” about our industry is that those of us in it are having fun!

Let Red Label help shape your music. Let Red Label help shape your music.

The Retailer: To both Courtland and Peavey: There has been some talk about the death of the electric guitar. What are your thoughts about this? Gray: To steal one from Mark Twain, I think the reports of the death of the electric guitar are greatly exaggerated. The way people spend their personal time has changed greatly over the last decade, and I think people are starting to reevaluate their use of smart devices during those times. Sitting down with a guitar is a far more enlightening way to chill out.  Peavey: The talk of the “death of the electric guitar” is pure B.S.! The lure of the electric guitar has varied over the years and has always come back bigger than before! Anybody that thinks otherwise has never enjoyed the applause of an appreciative audience, especially applause from attractive young ladies!  The Retailer: Anything else to add? A portion of sales will benefit Greyhound Rescue



SEARCHING FOR A GUITAR IN THE ARCH CITY If you want a charming Midwestern city that’s a state capital with a rich college sports history, as well as its own NHL franchise, Columbus, Ohio, situated about halfway between Cleveland and Cincinnati, is a great choice. The way into Columbus is usually by car, because this sprawling city has no train service. As you drive from the airport or along one of the interstate highways that bisect the city, you don’t get much “big-city” vibe until you are almost downtown. Yet, with a population of nearly 900,000 and a metro area of two million, Columbus is the second-biggest city in the Midwest, after Chicago. In a state that occupies the very heart of the “rust belt,” Columbus regularly tops national rankings for plentiful jobs, economic growth and overall quality of life. It is one of the few northern boomtowns, home base to such household names as Nationwide Insurance, Wendy’s and Safelite. The city was also the title for, but not the setting of, Philip Roth’s 1959 novella, “Goodbye, Columbus.” A decade later, a popular film of the same name introduced then-newcomer Ali MacGraw to movie audiences. Jim Yester of the easy-listening band The Association penned a boppy theme song for the flick, yet it never quite achieved the popularity of hits such as “Windy,” “Cherish” and “Never My Love.” Musically, the city’s roots are less in pop than they are in bluegrass. Appalachia starts about an hour south and you can hear a distinct southern twang in the speech of many Columbus residents. This resulted from the coal-mining diaspora of the ’50s and ’60s, which sent people and their music from Appalachia to the industrial north, including Columbus. My goal while in Columbus: find a good buy on a new — or nearly perfect used — beginner’s guitar for a 15-year-old boy.

German Village Music Haus 350 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43215 614.228.8467

The first stop on my shopping trip was within walking distance of downtown. German Village Music Haus gets its name from a nearby Columbus neighborhood that dates to the early 1800s and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of German Village, however, is now on the south side of Interstate 70, while this 1950s-era store is several blocks north. The store is flanked by the new-looking buildings of Franklin University, a commuter college. Inside, posters of classic rock bands adorn the walls. Upon entering the store, I met a salesperson. “Music is my passion,” he said. “When I take over the world, everyone will play a musical instrument.” While German Village Music Haus carries other musical instruments, its stock-intrade is the guitar. It offers every kind of guitar, from the beginner’s acoustic I sought through basses, electric guitars, amplifiers and other key accessories, and even high-

The Mission: find a good buy on a new — or nearly perfect used — beginner’s guitar for a 15-year-old boy.


end mandolins. “I just got this Lyons in,” the salesperson noted, eager to meet my need for an entrylevel guitar. Priced at $150, this instrument — a Lyons by Washburn acoustic guitar — was a trade-in from a happy customer who had graduated to a more high-end model. But that low price would give a beginner everything he or she could want, he said. “You have to crawl before you walk, before you run,” he said. “You will get a lot of use out of this guitar for a low price.” Should I want a comparable new model from Washburn, the salesperson said he could get one for approximately $289. The instrument was in excellent condition and offered the student an easy “feel” while he or she mastered the craft. “It’s easy to use and ready to play,” he said. “That’s really what you want most for a beginner.” In addition to offering a large array of guitars, the store offers lessons at a modest price.

Bluegrass Musicians Supply 1370 S. High St. Columbus, Ohio 43207 614.443.3558

High Street is one of Columbus’ main thoroughfares. In the Merion Village section south of I-70, the store occupies one row of pre-war, brick, two-story houses. Once inside, I was waited on by a 20-something salesman who also said that he plays the guitar professionally. I explained that I was shopping for a 15-year-old boy, so he showed me a used three-quarters size Corbin Alba acoustic guitar for $139 that would exceed the needs of any beginning student. This model was less than a year old and in excellent condition; new guitars of this model go for around $175 to $200. A key feature of this model, he explained, was its pick guard. This decorative acrylic surface helps prevent damage to the guitar’s body from the hands of an inexperienced learner. “Basically, it helps keep you from scratching the top surface of the guitar when you are playing the strings with a guiFEBRUARY 2018

tar pick,” he said. “I would not get a guitar for a beginner without one.” Nonetheless, pick guards are also popular with more experienced players and can be ordered in finer materials, he added. A kit and carrying bag would add another $30 to the price tag. Nobody knows this about MI Spy, but I am short. I explained that the boy is now three inches taller than me, so the salesman gave me a look at a full-size “adult” guitar. This was the Jay Turser Dreadnought acoustic guitar. “Assuming he could handle the full size, it would also be an easy-playing first guitar for any student,” he said. He also echoed the sentiment I heard at German Village Music Haus: Go for what will be easiest for the learner. Try to add on too many frills, and you can easily turn a kid off to all kinds of music. This is a store for music aficionados of every stripe, and functions as much as a “hangout” as a retail establishment. Besides the salesman, the owner was present, as well as several regular customers. One offered up an anecdote as evidence of the importance of musical appreciation. “My little grandson was born premature and with some hearing loss,” he said. “My daughter gave him a keyboard that she had that nobody was using, and he started plunking on it. Now, he’s playing the theme music from Harry Potter — something we thought we’d never see.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Guitar Center 4661 Morse Centre Rd. Columbus, Ohio 43229 614.436.2600

The next store on my list required a 20-minute drive on Interstate 71 north, where the signs point you north to Cleveland. Guitar Center is along Morse Road, a six-lane, well-traveled thoroughfare lined almost entirely with large shopping centers and big-box retailers. This big, well-appointed store has a separate soundproof room where music aficionados can try guitars out before purchasing one. The evening I was here, a 50-something-year-old man strummed silently: the soundproof glass doing its job of shielding him from the main sales floor. I was assisted by a salesman in his 20s. He demonstrated a clear command of the world of musical instruments. And, among the stores I visited, he showed me the largest selection of merchandise. He started with some familiar advice. “For the beginner, look for what’s easiest to play,” he said, echoing the sentiments from the earlier stores. In his view, Yamaha guitars make an excellent first choice. He held up an F335 Dreadought Acoustic that comes with a price tag of $159 — though the store “always offers sales,” the salesman assured me. The larger Yamaha FG800 was priced at $40 more. I was assured that either model would be good for beginners. “I also like Luna guitars,” the salesman said, showing me a Luna Gypsy Spalt, a hybrid acoustic-electric guitar. It has the same price tag as the Yamaha FG800, but gives the student the option of plugging in an amplifier if he or she wants. “This is a good guitar, too,” the salesman then remarked, holding up a Breedlove Discovery acoustic guitar with a “clearance” sign on it. The price: $249. “It probably won’t last,” he said. “The holidays are coming, so someone will buy it in the next week or two.” Regardless of model purchased, Guitar Center offers an added benefit to buyers: free group classes for beginners. That’s not to mention a glassed-in staging room for more-experienced amateurs and even pros who happen to visit and want to try out the wares on offer. (continued on page 60) 39


Photo by Stephen Morton

From 1883 to Today: GRETSCH Celebrates 135 YEARS

Dinah and Fred Gretsch

By Brian Berk Life magazine is founded. The Ladies Home Journal is published for the first time. Oxygen is liquefied for the first time. New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge is opened to traffic. And Babe Ruth would not be born for another 12 years. All of these facts can be made about the year 1883, when guitar and drum manufacturer Gretsch Co. was born. This year, the company is celebrating its 135th anniversary. The celebration kicked off at last month’s The NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif., where current president Fred Gretsch and Dinah Gretsch, executive vice president and chief financial officer, respectively, along with several generations of family members, were visible in the Gretsch Guitar, Gretsch Drum and Bigsby booths. “We’re one of the few remaining musicalinstrument manufacturers that is still family owned,” said Fred Gretsch. “I’m the fourth generation and am delighted to have the fifth and sixth generations of family members involved in the business my great-grandfather started in 1883. He would be proud that his entrepreneurial gene continues to be passed down to each generation.” A special, full-color 135th Anniversary Gretsch history poster and House Telegram newsletter have been produced, as well as a 135th Anniversary page that will be featured 40

on the newly refreshed “Just like our milestone anniversaries of the past, the Gretsch Company’s 135th will be chock full of fun ways to celebrate our family, our history, our relationships and the pride we have of being in business for 135 years,” remarked Dinah Gretsch, who in addition to being EVP and CFO, also oversees the extensive educational and philanthropic initiatives that the Gretsch family supports, including the Gretsch Foundation, the Mrs. G’s Music Foundation, and scholarships and facilities funding at schools across the country. The Gretsch company was founded in 1883 when a German immigrant named Friedrich Gretsch opened a musical instrument shop in Brooklyn, N.Y. When Friedrich died suddenly in 1895, his 15-year-old son, Fred Gretsch Sr., took over the company. Initially, he was aided by his mother, Rosa. By the turn of the 20th century, young Gretsch Sr. had expanded the business significantly. In 1916, he built a 10-story building at 60 Broadway, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Though the factory is no longer in operation, the building remains a neighborhood landmark — and a continuing connection between the Gretsch family and its Brooklyn roots. Gretsch Sr. initially partnered with his two younger brothers, Walter and Louis. When they left to pursue other interests, he continued to direct company operations. Eventually, his two sons — Fred Gretsch Jr. and William W. “Bill” Gretsch — joined the business. Fred Jr. took over when his father retired in 1942, but left to serve in World War II. Bill Gretsch then ran the company until his own untimely death in 1948. Fred Jr. returned to lead the company until his retirement in 1967. Fred Gretsch is the son of Bill Gretsch and the nephew of Fred Gretsch Jr. He began working in the family business in the 1960s, and, as a young man, he looked forward to taking his place as the fourth generation to run the Gretsch Co. But in 1967, amid widespread change in the industry, Fred Gretsch’s uncle sold the Gretsch operation to the Baldwin Piano Co. After that sale, Fred Gretsch continued working for the company, relocating to suburban Chicago from Brooklyn. Later he founded his own business as wholesaler of musical instruments. But he vowed that he would one day make Gretsch a family business again. He was able to make good on that vow in 1985, when he brought the company back into (continued on page 61) FEBRUARY 2018





In the midst of the civil rights movement, the first humans to orbit the moon, the Green Bay Packers winning Super Bowl II, as well as the Beatles rocking the airwaves with “Hey Jude” and the Rolling Stones unveiling “Jumping Jack Flash,” the company known today as QSC was born in 1968 as Quilter Sound Things in a small industrial building in Costa Mesa, Calif. The company’s original focus was hand-built guitar amplifiers. QSC only later transformed and evolved to become a prominent poweramplifier brand. “Our early vision was to take over the world with high-powered, giant guitar amps, but we missed that boat and refocused our efforts on power amps,” said Pat Quilter, QSC co-founder. “Since the beginning, QSC has always focused on staying close to our customers, which is the foundation for the company’s success.” “Our story is one of constant innovation and forward transformation, always with the passion to serve our customers’ needs,” added Barry Andrews, QSC co-founder. “When we decided to enter the loudspeaker category, for example, we listened carefully to our customer feedback to develop the acclaimed K Series — establishing an entirely new standard in powered loudspeakers, and rapidly elevating our brand to No. 1 in the category. Our passion to serve our customers is the mission in every aspect of our business.” The latest iteration of the K series was introduced at The NAMM Show last month. QSC’s Ultra-Compact KS112 Subwoofer is intended for anyone needing a high-output, low-frequency extension in a compact and portable package. It is powered by a 2,000-watt class-D amplifier module and features a single 12-inch transducer in a sixth-order bandpass birch cabinet. QSC was an early pioneer in networked digital audio systems. According to the company, it was the first licensee of CobraNet in 1996. CobraNet, widely regarded as the first commercially successful implementation of audio over Ethernet, enabled QSC to develop industry-first digital audio signal processing and networking solutions that brought new capabilities to demanding, large-scale commercial sound reinforcement applications. Today, QSC’s Q-SYS integrated audio, video and control platform is installed in venues around the world.


Moving Forward

QSC is honoring its 50th anniversary with “50 Years and Forward.” This year, QSC will host a number of events, activities and key product introductions that will take place during 2018 around the globe. But QSC added the celebration is more than just a golden anniversary. 50 Years and Forward is committed to continuing to offer innovations in its company and technologies, new opportunities for people and solutions for customers across the globe. Today, QSC is now known as a designer, engineer and manufacturer of award-winning highperformance audio products, including power amplifiers, loudspeakers, digital mixers, digital signal processors, and the Q-SYS networked audio, video and control platform. According to the company, it uniquely leverages a broad range of technologies located under one roof, so that its products “outperform the sum of their parts by delivering reliable, scalable, and flexible solutions for professional installed, portable, production, corporate and cinema customers worldwide.” “We have always strived to achieve operational excellence, by sharpening our focus and building a state-of-the-art factory in southern California, utilizing computer-controlled precision assembly and rigorous testing and control to provide build-to-order flexibility,” said John Andrews, QSC co-founder. “This has given QSC an ability to respond to customer needs by building products on demand. From that first build-to-order manufacturing facility, we’ve continuously expanded to our modern manufacturing footprint and supply chain capabilities, which span multiple countries and serve millions of customers throughout the globe.” “Looking forward, we will continue our commitment to be both a technology platform leader and a customer experience leader in the markets we serve,” concluded Joe Pham, QSC president and CEO. “The future at QSC is about continuing to innovate and deliver connected, integrated technology platforms that elevate customer experiences, create new opportunities for our employees, more value for our partners, and new applications and capabilities in the markets we serve. In this world, everybody wins.” FEBRUARY 2018

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As independent MI retailers are well aware, dwindling margins are probably the greatest threat to the continued existence of the independent store these days. We’ve gotten used to lower margins on serialized products (e.g., guitars, mixers, keyboards), and have learned to rely upon higher-margin accessories for our operating capital. Now, even the accessory manufacturers are starting to lower our profits for common accessories by creating MAP prices on previously non-MAP products. At the time of this writing, I’ve just received an email from a major manufacturer telling me that to “better compete against existing premium products and to properly position its products in the market” it is creating MAP prices for their popular accessories. We all know that MAP (aka “maximum asking price”) quickly becomes the online standard price for MI products. While MAP usually halts the race to the bottom, this particular MAP pricing changed previously profitable accessories to 25-point margin accessories. With little profit in serialized goods and shrinking profits in the accessories markets, many small, independent stores are left with only one profitable line of goods: used gear. Used gear often still turns the 40 to 50 points small stores need to stay open. In talking with other store owners, we all agree used gear is now the king of profits. Used gear (even common used gear) tends to be unique. Different levels of playing wear, player modifications, and patina add and subtract value for each piece, making it difficult to find an exact match when comparing prices. Even with the advent of, eBay and Craigslist, we still get offered gear to buy, and we make trades for used gear. Unlike the new market, where we know exactly the source of the gear, the used market can be fraught with peril for the uninformed or careless buyer. It’s not uncommon for those hawking used gear to be selling gear they may not really have permission to sell. (Try not to look shocked.) Guarding against fraudulent sellers can be more of an art form 44

than an exact science, so let’s talk a bit about making a profit margin while maintaining a margin of safety. First, know your state’s laws. Some states require newly purchased used gear to be held for a specified number of days before it can be sold, and some may require used gear purchases to be reported. Make sure you are compliant with your state’s statutes. Second, make it uncomfortable for less-thanhonest sellers to complete the sales transaction. The easiest way to do that is to make up a bill of sale, and fill one out on every seller you don’t trust personally. The bill of sale should have room for the item’s description and serial number, and unshakeable identification on the seller. Ask for the seller’s driver’s license, make a copy and staple it to the bill of sale. An honest seller will be fine with handing over an ID, the less-than-honorable seller, not so much. I’ve seen a seller suddenly decide he doesn’t want to sell when he’s asked for identification. Not only does a good ID help weed out the felony-minded sellers, it helps local law enforcement when you are quizzed about a specific piece of gear, and you have a copy of the seller’s driver’s license. Next, certain selling approaches may indicate the seller doesn’t really have the right to sell the gear. Phrases such as “Whatever you can give me is OK” and “I just need to get rid of it” are red flags that something may be amiss. Over-eagerness to sell regardless of price should start a conversation between you and the seller. Ask direct questions. Why are you selling it? Are you in a bind, or did you quit playing? How long have you had it? Where did you buy it? If the seller can’t come up with plausible answers to those simple questions, you probably don’t want to buy what they’re selling. A seller who seems uninformed about the gear he or she is selling can also be a red flag. A seller who passed other stores to try and sell to you is also a red flag. Recently, we had a fellow (he called himself Richard) call the store to make sure I was in, and he showed up with an American Strat and a new amp with the hang tags. The amp has been out of production for a couple of years, and the Strat was a limited production guitar that looked unplayed. My initial interest waned quickly when I started a conversation about the gear, and the seller told me he buys and sells gear all the time, and that’s how he makes his living. That sort of conflicted with the guy’s unrealistic price of $1,600 for the two pieces. That faux pas, coupled with him being from a small town an hour away from us (he had three stores closer to him than us that he didn’t go to), killed all interest I might have had in buying his gear. It was all way too fishy. Long before I got down to asking for ID, the guy dropped his price to $1,200, and he told me I was crazy for not jumping on that “deal.” I just told him I was going to pass on all of it. With an offended air, he grabbed the gear and left. Twenty minutes later, Richard called me one more time, and offered me all of it for $750, “so he wouldn’t have to haul it home.” Fishier and fishier. Used gear is one of the last good margins we have, as long as we are careful about the sellers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask for identification and always (always) pay with a check. Good paperwork saves lots of headaches down the road, and helps make sure the gear you buy is legally yours to sell. Maintain that margin of safety, and you’ll have fewer unpleasant surprises. Happy trails. FEBRUARY 2018

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Texas Music Emporium 132 FM 1960 Rd., Ste D Houston, TX 77073 281.233.0100 Mon. – Fri. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sun. 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Jim Cappiello, President

REBEL RETAIL By Michelle Loeb

The story of Houston’s Texas Music Emporium is an unlikely one. An auto mechanic by trade, but a guitar player at heart, the store’s president, Jim Cappiello, opened his very own MI store on a whim, learning the ropes and breaking the rules along the way. With a bit of skill and a whole lot of luck, Cappiello was able to turn that impulse into a multimillion-dollar business that’s still going strong after 35 years. “I had no business opening a store,” said Cappiello, who had been working as an auto mechanic since the age of 19. “Besides running the Chevy Olds dealership service department and learning the value of a dollar from my parents, I had no business experience. But I just didn’t see myself doing mechanic work for the rest of my life, so I quit.” Cappiello noticed a strip shopping center that was offering one year of free rent and jumped at the opportunity, opening the Texas Music Emporium in 1982 with $10,000 borrowed from his parents and sister. “There was no thought about it. I just did it,” Cappiello said. “I always loved music and loved playing the guitar. Plus, music stores were a cool place to be. I was able to turn my passion into my job.” The store was stocked with Cappiello’s personal gear — 17 guitars, a PA system and one keyboard. “Thank God they didn’t all sell,” he said. “Some of those pieces were irreplaceable.” The store worked hard to establish credit at the start, but companies like C. Bruno and Sons and St. Louis Music took an early chance on Cappiello, with Washburn Guitars and others following soon after. “I called what we did at the time Rebel Retail because we were brave to be doing this with nothing,” said Cappiello. “I put on a good poker face.” After the free rent ran out, and several break-ins had taken place, Cappiello moved his store to a new location on Richey Road that gave him six more free months of rent. It was with this location that the store was able to double in size and do its first million dollars in sales. “The Richey Road store was a crazy vibe. When you walked into the store, you were greeted by a 50-foot wall of Marshall stacks, Gibson Les Pauls, SGs and U.S.A. Fender Strats. It was something to see,” he said. “It was so disorganized it was funny, but we also knew where everything was.” Cappiello called Texas Music Emporium the internet retailer of its day, back before online retailing even existed, because, “We were stuffed with gear and we were selling cheap, literally selling gear at cost plus beer money. Our competition hated us,” he recalled. “We did that formula for one year out of desperation. Back then, we spent stupid amounts of money on TV and radio ads, but it tripled our business and people dug it. We put out some pretty bizarre stuff, and it put smiles on people’s faces. We did a lot of business but didn’t make much profit.” Then Guitar Center came to town, renting space on the same side of the street where the Texas Music Emporium had been for 10 years. For its grand 46


opening, Cappiello staged all sorts of stunts to get customers’ attention, ranging from bands and go-go dancers performing in the parking lot to driving around in a truck with a PA system in the bed telling people about its ongoing sale. “We also had our G. C. sucks sale — buy a wireless because guitar cords suck,” Cappiello recalled. “They hated us!” “After a year of competing with [Guitar Center], our next strategy was to move closer to them,” said Cappiello, who moved the store across the street. “That way everyone would see us either coming off the highway on the way to Guitar Center or on the way back to the highway leaving Guitar Center,” he explained. Despite the rise of Guitar Center, a short-lived Hermes and now Sam Ash nearby, Texas Music Emporium has been able to achieve a modest increase in sales every year. Cappiello is hesitant to give away all of his trade secrets, but when asked to give credit for the store’s longterm success, he said, “Let’s just say it’s the personality of the store employees, guitar luthier, teachers, and the fact that we actually have friendly customer service sets us apart.” The store is home to best-inclass repair services offered by Dr. Guitar and guitar lessons from “some of the best local players in town,” including Rusty Cooley, Joel Gregoire and Wendall Landers. It also boasts a five-member staff that has stuck with Cappiello for a long time. “We don’t lose many employees at all. Once in a while, one will move on to better things, but our staff has been here a minimum of five years, and most have been here longer,” said Cappiello. “They know how to take care of people. It means something to a customer, if they walk in the door and you know their name.” Cappiello is now on his third generation of loyal customers, and he continues to capture new ones through great customer service and education, as well as a little patience and savvy. “We’ll see people come in and be on their phones, taking pictures MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

of things, and we recognize that they are looking for a cheaper price. So, we will ask them if they found it cheaper,” he stated. “If they say, ‘Yes, it’s $10 cheaper here,’ we are willing to not only price match but also throw in some strings. But that’s only because we asked the question. You have to be savvy enough to

know what they are doing.” Looking to the years ahead, Cappiello is slowly edging toward retirement. “For 15 years, I worked here seven days a week, not because I had to, but because I like it. I stopped doing that two years ago, but I come in once a week to make sure things are going well,” Cappiello said. “My

35 years of work is paying off, and it’s time to slow down, but I expect to keep doing this forever.” “This store is my kid,” he continued. “There’s a lot of sweat in this building. Let’s keep going and help the third generation, and fourth generation, of customers. We kill them with service and make them happy.”


ADDING TO THE TEAM By Will Mason Adding a new team member is one of the biggest decisions we make at Mason Music. We say it all the time. The people we add to our company will have a bigger impact on our company than the company will have on them. In other words, you can’t expect to change people (at least, not completely) after you hire them, so you better hire good people who are going to make your team better. After all, what is a company other than the people it comprises? Your values and mission are only words on paper until you have the right people carrying them out with you.

What’s at Stake

Every time you hire a new person, you are adding a new ingredient into your cultural stew. Personality, character, competency, ability and attitude (especially) are all interactive. In other words, they have an effect on the other people already in your company, staff and customers alike. We started with a staff of two and have grown to over 50 people at four locations. I can tell you that the single most important decision I make is who we bring on board.

Have No Fear!

Choosing the next person to hire in your company can be a daunting and stress-filled process, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, this is something you will be doing again and again throughout the life of your business. Just like reordering inventory or closing your store at the end of the day, hiring new people is a process that needs a plan. Once you have this plan in place, the result will be better hiring decisions, less employee turnover, and you will be freed up to focus your energy on growing your business instead of worrying about who’s going to work that shift after so and so leaves next week for a different job.

Learning Curve

To take some of the pressure off, go ahead and accept that there is a learning curve here. You will make bad hires. If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you probably already have! That’s OK! The best way to learn, after all, is to act. Get out there and do something. Then, follow up and decide what went right, and where you could have done better. So, when (not if) you make a bad hire, don’t consider that a failure. Rather, it’s an opportunity to learn. Failure would be making the same mistake again (don’t do that).

Step Zero: Expectations First

Before you even start interviewing, you need to be crystal clear about what it is that you need this person to do. Expectations can only be met if they are communicated up front, and you as an employer need to know what those expectations are before you can communicate them to an applicant. The best time to communicate expectations is always before. I’ve heard that disappointment is the distance between your expectation and your experience. If that’s true (and I believe it is), then how unfair would it be to feel disappointed (or frustrated) with someone who never knew the expectation that you had for them? How were they supposed to do the things you didn’t tell them up front? And, by the way, this goes both ways. Your applicants have expectations about the job they are applying for, too. It’s best to talk through this and manage expectations on both sides before moving forward with someone who just wouldn’t be a good fit. So, first things first. Put together a detailed job description, even if the job title alone seems sufficiently clear to you. Doesn’t everyone know what a salesperson does? The problem with this line of thinking is that we, as humans, tend to fill in a lot of details based on our own experiences, so your idea of what a salesperson does might be totally different than your applicant’s idea. For example, you may assume that a salesperson would also be responsible for cleaning

Will Mason is the CEO and owner of Mason Music in Birmingham, Ala. He grew up in Birmingham, left to tour the country with his band, Moses Mayfield, then settled back down to start a family and a business. Mason leads a growing staff of instructors, managers, receptionists and administrators on a mission to keep music alive by inspiring the next generation of musicians to pick up an instrument. Mason’s passion is motivating and encouraging people to realize their potential. To this end, he speaks at local schools and industry conferences, and writes for various publications. 48


and counting inventory, while your applicant may come from a previous job where salespeople were only responsible for talking with customers and working the register. You can save yourself (and your potential new hire) a lot of grief by supplying a detailed job description before you make a job offer. Your job description will also be very helpful when creating interview questions. So, what needs to be on your job description? Job Title: Make it short and sweet, with no room for interpretation. Mission Statement: Get this out front, so an applicant knows the point of all the work to be done. Areas of Responsibility: What are the functions of this job? Accountability: Who does this person report to? How does this job fit into the organization? Competencies: What professional attributes are required to be successful in this role? Hours and Pay: Though this seems cut and dried, be sure not to underestimate the importance of communicating clearly and accurately on this topic. Remember, you are providing someone with an opportunity to support themselves (and possibly their family) financially. Work-life balance and pay are at the top of the list for most people when deciding which job is right for them. Opportunity for Advancement: Lack of clarity in this area is a reason many people identify for leaving their jobs. It is consistently the second most common reason behind simply disliking their boss. Make it clear up front what advancement looks like in your company, both in terms of merit raises and promotions. OK, so that’s what you need to do before you go any further. Take some time and put together a clear job description and you will be on your way to better hiring decisions! If you already have job descriptions for every position in your company, good for you! It’s time to refresh them. Update them with new responsibilities, pay rates, etc., and have everyone sign off on the current agreement you have implicitly in place. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

I hope this is helpful information to those of you reading! I know it has taken me a lot of trial and error (mostly error) to learn what I’m writing about, so put it into practice and let me know how it works for you! Over the next year, we will be diving into the process for making great hires. Here’s an overview of

the steps: Step Zero: Expectations first (create a great job description) Step 1: Now hiring (refining your application process) Step 2: Interviews aren’t everything (but they still matter) Step 3: Reference and background checks Step 4: Decision time (yes or no?)

Step 5: You’re hired, now what? (orientation, training and reviews) You can find me on twitter @goodwill314. In my next article, we will take a look at how to create a great application and how to conduct an effective interview. See you back next time!

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Everyone who’s doing big things in this industry wakes up every day searching for ways to improve.

By Gabriel O’Brien As I’m writing this it’s barely January and, as we take our first steps into the new year, I wanted to talk a little about 2017 and where we go from here. As I look back on the topics I’ve covered this year, both in this column and in feature stories about Reverb and Sweetwater, the through line that develops is one of resourcefulness — using every means at our disposal to make the most out of what we have. This can be in the form of underused social media platforms, like Instagram; productivity apps, like Slack; NAMM Show attendance (and I hope you all went); or simply reaching out to smart people on your staff or in the industry for guidance and inspiration. As I look through these topics, one theme becomes clear to me over and over again: Every day is an opportunity and, if we want to grow as retailers, we have to make every single one of them count. As I talk to some of my older mentors and family 50

members, the great disappointment many feel with younger generations is at their apathy toward the world around them, the general sense of disengagement with anything meaningful or related to values like hard work and going the extra mile. While I understand that each generation feels this toward the generation that will eventually replace them, as part of the natural cycle of all things, I think there’s some truth to the strength of apathy we’re currently experiencing, with one caveat: It isn’t isolated to young people. More and more, I sense a growing apathy among some independent retailers, world-weary and watching an industry exponentially change at a rate that makes it, at times, difficult to predict or keep up with. Business models have shifted and some have struggled to keep up, or feel overwhelmed by the internet onslaught, and silently believe they’ve lost their toehold and they’re not getting it back. Some have already checked out. But I believe small groups of hardworking people are a business’s greatest assets. Cultivating that culture of inclusion and inspiring dedication, instead of relegating staff to secondary roles because they don’t have an ownership stake, is the path to sustainability and growth. A business is an organism, and, in order for that organism to be healthy and flourish, all of its parts must understand not only their function, but also the importance of their role in the growth of the whole. If you want to effect the biggest change in your business in the new year — no matter your job title, pay grade or seniority — look for the ways in which you can support your fellow staff members. Nothing will have so great an effect on those around you as solving problems for people who need help. And, trust me, everyone around you needs help. If you want to build a team, to bring people together, to create a cohesive unit with a common goal, start by finding ways to serve others. It’s easy to say and incredibly hard to do. When a customer comes in with an issue, don’t search for the person who waited on them. Make that problem your problem and fix it. When someone drops the ball, don’t complain to the boss and your co-workers, pick the ball up and dunk it for the team. When I was 19, I worked in the worst job I’ve ever had: a paint factory. When something went wrong, it went really wrong. One day, a forklift driver took out an entire rack of five-gallon buckets of paint. Thousands of gallons came crashing down on him, his forklift and the floor. Nobody threw a fit or complained to the boss. Everyone stopped what they were doing, cleaned it all up and then went back to their post to finish the day’s work. We were still going when the second shift arrived, so they didn’t have to pick up the slack. That’s teamwork. Don’t complain, pitch in. If you want to improve your sales, improve yourself. It’s the scariest thing in the world to admit you don’t know something, that your approach isn’t working and that you need to find a new path. If you’re FEBRUARY 2018

watching other stores do things that you can’t, pick up the phone and call people you respect. Get on a plane and go visit their stores. Go to The NAMM Show and sit in the Idea Center like your job is to milk as much information as you can get out of those sessions. Ask everyone questions and assume they’re all smarter than you. Nobody you respect in this industry thinks they’re the person with all the answers, and I say that after talking to Sammy Ash, Reverb’s David Kalt and Sweetwater’s Chuck Surack. Everyone who’s doing great big things in this industry wakes up every day searching for ways to improve. They empower their employees to try new things and people around them to speak up and challenge the norms. If you want the people around you to be better and do more, give them reasons to become the people you wish they were. Encourage them, high-five them, send them to The NAMM Show to sit through Idea Center sessions; find out what they’re passionate about and find a way to capitalize on it and use it to benefit your business. Nobody is done learning and improving, and if they think they are, all they’re really done with is improving your business. If you want to connect with new customers, alter your approach. This is the YouTube generation, and if your reaction to it is to recoil, find staff whose reaction isn’t and stand them in front of you three-people deep. If you don’t think growing your internet and social media presence is a huge key to growing your sales, watch the social pages of the stores whose sales numbers you wish you had. They very clearly do, so there may be something to it. You may not understand, and it may not appeal to you, but it’s incredibly important to connect with customers on their turf. We all reach a point when things seem to have moved MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

passed us, when we seem to stop being cool to younger musicians and seem more like their dad. The way we talk to our customers about signing up for lessons or learning an instrument is the way we need to think about approach-

ing customer relations and new media platforms. You are not too busy. Nothing is too hard for you to try. Every day is a new opportunity and your business depends on it. Try something new. Talk to your co-workers. Listen to your

customers. Push yourself outside what you think is comfortable. If you want to be great at something, you have to get up every day and make it count. Write to me at gabriel@

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curated as well. I ran afoul of this during the Christmas season with a couple of suppliers, and had my faith rewarded with others. An example: I had a customer ask me for a lastminute classical guitar within her budget. I found a good value. Called the supplier. Voicemail. No callback for two days, even after a second call and message. Could I have pushed through to the operator and talked to someone else? Sure, but I initially took it on faith that my rep would call back — and there were about 100 other fires to stoke during the Christmas season, and only one of me. It turns out our rep was out of the office — but no “out-of-office” message, no automatic push to another rep, just a voicemail black hole. Thankfully, we have plenty of suppliers that aren’t going to drop the ball this way. But wait, there’s more: We’re down to the last two guitars of that model. Our rep said he’ll check and call if there’s a problem. (Another reason I call: If he can’t trust the computer, I can’t trust his business-to-business site. Not at Christmas, bro....) Two days later, without warning, the box shows up without the guitar. I called and talked to him, and he said the warehouse guys just didn’t find the instruments. He went back to the warehouse and showed them where they were. Two days later, no warning, no guitar. It’s the 18th, and this present won’t be under the tree. I get that outages happen, instruments get double sold or turn up defective. Sure. But tell me. Don’t let me twist in the wind. That supplier cost me more than that sale — my credibility is in question on anything I do with this customer, if there’s any more business with them in the future. On a positive note, some suppliers really stepped up, in service, fill rate and speed. I gave a couple of them props on the Veddatorial page on Facebook ( Feel free to check it out and chime in with your hero suppliers. Finally, even the best suppliers had some stock outage problems this season, but there were some who had a pitiful fill rate. One of two things that usually happens when items are out early in the season: either sales are unexpectedly good and conservative buying left the shelves empty prematurely (one supplier was out of some staple items before Halloween, and still hadn’t gotten replenished by December 15!), or the company can’t buy enough to meet demand and is struggling financially. Yes, I know stuff can get held up in customs or show up defective, but insiders tell me those problems are often exacerbated due to sluggish ordering or gambling on delivery schedules for just-in-time inventory. Neither situation is a good one. Jobbers especially need to be stocked for small dealers. Folks, Amazon isn’t going to keep you on the map, and if you don’t support the small stores, you’ve got precious little to fall back on. I think this is a much bigger problem in MI than retailers or suppliers believe. The good news: We can do this. I saw a definite uptick in people who preferred to buy local, even when ordering, as long as I get it in time to be under the tree. They actually like shopping in a nice environment, decorated like the old days, helped by a person who really wants to help give their kids/spouse/friend a great present. Broader market trends support the idea that people will heavily prioritize their buying for convenience, and further, pay for that convenience. The key here is what the consumer’s idea of “convenient” is. For many, it’s not “change the lock, add a camera and let the Amazon zombie in by remote,” or “The tracking number stopped updating.” Sometimes, it’s really, “Hey Dan, set aside those reeds she uses and a Manhasset stand. And two sets of the guitar strings and a 20-foot cable. I’ll grab them during her lesson, Thursday.” If this sounds quaintly old-school, so be it. But I think it’s the thing we can do better than a robot, because all those algorithms are just trying to mimic human behaviors wired into our brains. In theory, we’ve still got the edge … if we’re willing to work that hard.

Shopping in a Nice Environment By Dan Vedda

As I’ve mentioned before, my store aims for what I consider to be a “curated inventory”: the products we carry, from strings to books to instruments, must either be a specific customer/teacher request or a product that in our judgment offers the best value and quality in a price bracket. Of course, in a perfect world, products meet both criteria. At least one must be true, though, so we can tell customers “this shoulder rest is the one most teachers ask us for,” or “we’ve looked at a number of tuners on the market, and this is the one we like the most.” Armed with this endorsement, we can confidently tell our customers that our products will do the job, and, in our opinion, do it better than many or most of the similar products on the market. Our customers increasingly count on these recommendations, and being able to do this grows loyalty, enhances sell-through and boosts profitability, because we order fewer products in greater quantity at a better price. The problem, of course, is when suppliers are out of, or no longer carry, a product that is part of your curated model stock. It’s much harder to go back and say, “Well, we like product X, but it’s backordered, but....” But what? Here’s our second choice? Here’s the one we make more money on? While I realize many dealers still stock by price point (“Give me a mic I can sell for $79 and make 18 points”), I really believe that the IoCT (Internet of Crappy Things) is beginning to sour people on products that are substandard, knockoffs or fake. That $79 mic needs to be a good value, too, because a shoddy mic is $39 on the IoCT. So, if you buy into the concept of increased customer loyalty and profitability through curated inventory, your suppliers have to be






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By Anthony Vargas In 2018, nostalgia is king, everything old is new again, and remakes and reimaginings abound. Fender is capitalizing on this resurgence of oldschool cool with its latest line of guitars and basses, the American Original Series. The American Original Series is inspired by some of Fender’s most popular models from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. “The idea was to honor the past but look to the future,” explained Justin Norvell, Fender’s senior vice president, Fender Products. “We wanted to create a line that celebrates all of the things that players love about vintage-styled instruments — lacquer finishes, the neck shapes, pickups and sonics, etc. — but to marry that with a subtly more modern playability. If someone desires a vintage-styled instrument, these have the same specs as the old guitars and basses for a fraction of the price. Plus, with modern manufacturing tech, the quality and repeatability to make great instruments is at an all-time high. These are professional, connoisseur-level tone machines.” Fender prioritized the playing experience when designing the American Original Series, rather than simply recreating the tried-and-true classics. With this approach in mind, Fender was able to mix and match highly regarded features from past models and combine them with modern flourishes to create entirely new instruments. “We wanted to unshackle ourselves a bit from the dogma of a specific year’s specs, freeing us up to make ‘greatest hits’ feature sets from a decade — the neck shape of a ’56 Strat with the pickups of a ’59 strat, etc.,” said Norvell. “We make instruments for players to use, so playability trumps accuracy for accuracy’s sake.” Fender anticipates that the American Original Series will be a big hit among instrument connoisseurs and musicians who have an appreciation for the instruments that were used to write America’s musical history. “The ideal customer is someone who knows specs, and who values the origin story and era of vintage instruments,” said Norvell. “Tone-conscious players will love these instruments. The craftsmanship, materials and specs are all catered to that higher-end player.” However, the American Original Series has plenty to offer fans of vintageera music, whether they’re high-end players or not. “There’s the attachment, the inexorable link to musical history that these instruments provide, and those sounds and images are edified in our collective consciousness via the musical history that was written and recorded on these instruments,” said Norvell. “The American Original Series hits the right notes in that recipe.” Early feedback on the series from musicians and retailers alike has been positive. “Players are very happy with the playability improvements, and dealers and consumers are excited about certain features that haven’t been available in a long time, like the double-bound Telecaster,” said Norvell. “These have everything people want from a vintage perspective, but nothing that they don’t.” The American Original Series consists of the following models: ’50s Stratocaster (available in left- and right-hand variants), ’50s Telecaster (available in left- and right-hand variants), ’50s Precision Bass, ’60s Stratocaster (available in left- and right-hand variants), ’60s Jaguar, ’60s Jazz Bass, ’60s Jazzmaster, ’60s Precision Bass and ’70s Jazz Bass. Models in the series are available in 13 color variants: Aztec Gold, White Blonde, TwoColor Sunburst, Olympic White, Candy Apple Red, Three-Color Sunburst, Butterscotch Blonde, Fiesta Red, Lake Placid Blue, Surf Green, Ocean Turquoise, Natural and Black. All American Original guitars and basses are handcrafted in Corona, Calif. According to Fender, the American Original Series is intended to replace the company’s American Vintage Series. MSRP for American Original Series models ranges from $1,799.99 to $2,099.99. All American Original Series models are available now. FEBRUARY 2018

I n C as e You Mis s e d It ConventionTV@NAMM, the official news program of The NAMM Show, delivered the latest news and events at this year’s record-breaking event in Anaheim. If you missed our TV coverage, don’t worry, you can easily catch back up on our Facebook page, where you’ll find video segments on many companies, and Music and Sound Award winners, that attended the show!

For more up-to-date news on MI, don’t forget to like our page. CONVENTIONTV.NET Written by the Editors of the Music & Sound Retailer


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Ad Index




ADAM HALL...............................47 AMAHI UKULELES...................33 AUDIX CORPORATION.............43 BITTREE......................................59 BOURNS PRO AUDIO................61

(continued from page 33) Quilter concluded his comments with some advice for new manufacturer builders. “We are each on the planet for a limited amount of time. Follow that passion and make it rewarding enough. Build the best product you can at a reasonable price,” he said.

back now. We knew a hurricane was coming.” In the future, Hines added, retailers must expect the unexpected. “But adversity creates opportunity. Embrace the opportunity as quickly as possible.” The Breakfast of Champi-

explained that people expect more from their digital experience than they’re likely getting from the MI industry. He joked, “Someone can find someone to mate with faster than they can find the phone number on your website to call you.”

CASIO...........................................35 CHAUVET LIGHTING................45 CHEM-PAK..................................60 CHESBRO MUSIC.......................29 D'ADDARIO.................................9 D'ANGELICO GUITARS.......C-III FENDER.......................................5 FISHMAN TRANSDUCERS.......49 GALAXY AUDIO........................3 GATOR CASES............................7 GEORGE L'S................................36 GLP - GERMAN LIGHT PRODUCTS...............................28 GRAPH TECH..............................31 HAL LEONARD..........................21 IMS TECHNOLOGIES................61 KALA BRAND MUSIC CO........30 KYSER MUSICAL PRODUCTS.26 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY................................6 MARSHALL ELECTRONICS.....25 NAMM.................................... 14-15 NEW SENSOR.............................11 PEAVEY.......................................41 PJLA MUSIC................................32 PRO X...........................................17 PRS GUITARS.............................27 PURE TONE.................................22 RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE........10 RCF...............................................C-II REMO...........................................12 ROLAND................................. C-IV THE CAVANAUGH COMPANY...... 37 TRUSST........................................19 U.S. BAND & ORCHESTRA SUPPLIES.................................16 VOCOPRO....................................13 WD MUSIC PRODUCTS............8 ZILDJIAN.....................................23 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.


QSC's John Andrews and Barry Quilter with Lamond

(For more on QSC, see page 42.) When JAM Industries’ Marty Szpiro joined the company 25 years ago, it had $25 million in sales with 50 employees. Today, it’s a $500 million company with 700 employees. Its brands today include Allen & Heath, U.S. Music, Davitt & Hanser and KMC. “We learned a lot of lessons over the years,” Szpiro said. “Many doors opened we didn’t go through. And for the ones we did, not all worked. Some took years to straighten out.” “Regarding the future, there is still lots to do in North America,” he said. “A lot online regarding drop shipping. The ability to operate efficiently in different marketplaces crucial.” AIMM founders and retailers Skip Maggiora, George Hines and Bob Bankston all started their businesses in the 1970s. By the mid-1990s, they saw big changes in MI, including the expansion of chain stores and the mail order business. The internet made changes happened faster, so all three retailers felt getting together as a group to get in front of the change was of the utmost importance. “We often felt alone as entrepreneurs,” said Bankston. All three noticed one huge change since AIMM was founded. “The power shifted to the consumer,” said Hines. “The industry used to be controlled by manufacturers and suppliers. We saw with the internet, the consumer will be the ultimate power. It isn’t going

ons ended on a high note with Lamond presenting the Music For Life Award to Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir. Regarding taking chances, Weir noted it was a combination of figuring things out and going with your gut. “It’s all an exercise of faith. We assumed nothing would come easily to us. Especially the meaningful stuff.”

Pardon the Disruption

For day two’s NAMM U Breakfast Session, Mitch Joel presented on digital disruptions and the way business is transforming to match consumer habits. The session focused, mainly, around the “big bad wolf,” called disruption, and the “three little pigs” that businesses can rely on as guides, namely digital transformation, innovation and transactions. Understanding digital transformation (pig number one), Joel explained, is just as much about looking out as it is about looking in. Of course, retailers need to adapt to new technologies in their day-to-day, but it’s also about understanding the transformation occurring online right now. The major trend that we see businesses taking advantage of digitally is providing image-based content in a mobile-first environment that is social by nature. We can consider this the modern, digital experience. In discussing the experience consumers have gotten used to with apps like Tinder, Joel

He continued to hone in on the fact that we live in “the age of efficiency,” where technologies like smart speakers are disrupting older tech, placing it on the back burner (e.g., many see their PCs as an accessory to their tablets and smartphones, and screens are falling out of favor for voice control). It became clear throughout the speech that retailers need to adapt much more quickly in the digital realm, based on how far we’ve already been left behind. And this is going to continue to affect our industry in major ways. Joel commented, “The brands that you sell to your customers are working very aggressively to sell directly [online].” It’s never been easier for brands to ramp up their own digital marketing and sell directly to their online followers, but that shouldn’t stop retailers from taking action and making their own digital transformations; it should actually do the opposite. It’s now or never, really, and the tools are there, and often free to use. Norman’s Rare Guitars, which specializes in old and vintage guitars, for example, began using YouTube to create videos of its store. Now, the channel has 180,000-plus subscribers and a total of around 69-million views. Technology is out there to help brick-and-mortar to succeed. Joel urged, “Embrace the idea of using technology to truly inFEBRUARY 2018

novate.” And this brings us to our second little pig.


Much on the topic of innovation focused on providing context of how manufacturers and online retailers are changing the digital

His overall message was clear: MI is ripe for digital transformation, and it’s time to stop lagging behind consumer expectations.

Be a Web Guru

Day three kicked off with Marcus Sheridan, online marketing

all in attendance to avoid the pitfalls of “Ostrich Marketing,” or ignoring the needs of the customer and perpetuating the status quo. To help attendees better address the questions of customers, Sheridan provided a list of the five

simply because no one else had written one, leading to $4.5 million in sales. Sheridan then discussed how being honest about potential problems that may arise with the products you sell, while counterintuitive, can build customer trust

most common things customers really care about: cost, problems with the product, comparisons, reviews, and whether or not a given product is the best fit for them. As far as cost is concerned, Sheridan explained how customers become frustrated if they can’t find price listings on your website and will move on to another site that has them. And, for “It depends” pricing, he emphasized the need to explain to customers approximate costs and the reasoning behind them. To illustrate this point, Sheridan shared a story about how he took 45 minutes to write a post for his website explaining the costs associated with fiberglass pools, and how that post became the go-to resource for people researching the cost of fiberglass pools online

and position your company as an objective expert for customers doing online research. He explained how the popularity of the search term “problems with fiberglass pools” convinced him to write a post on the topic for his website, which drew a wealth of visitors to the site and generated a ton of leads. Sheridan then moved on to the popularity of “vs.” search terms, or direct comparisons between competing products and companies — think “Brand X vs. Brand Y.” He noted how the common approach of avoiding any mention of your competitors is self-defeating, because your customers are interested in knowing how one brand or company stacks up against another (and, despite your best efforts to pretend your competitors don’t exist, most educated

AIMM's Bob Bankston, George Hines and Skip Maggiora join Lamond

landscape. Joel thought our industry should take notice of things like Facebook Messenger, which now allows payments in-app, and the oddity, but major success, of companies who have stores solely on Instagram, utilizing free software like WhatsApp and PayPal for customer support and payment, respectively. Basically, a storefront doesn’t just have to be a landing page on a website. There’s always room for innovation.


“It’s the little things that create big change,” Joel said. He explained that businesses should try to daisy-chain small micro transactions, such as sign ups and video impressions, into major transactions and sales. This combines the last two points, where transforming your digital approach in an innovative way will influence the volume, type and success of transactions your company completes in the digital realm. On this point, Joel also touched on small-payment subscription services, which he referred to as “the drip.” This is something that is now so prevalent for consumers, it’s impossible to ignore. He explained, “We’re willing to give up everything to have access to everything.” Joel concluded by acknowledging that our industry is one that promotes an experience, not just products, and that people need music and the music industry. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

guru and author of “They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer.” Sheridan offered a wealth of actionable advice for music retailers looking to boost their online presence and attract more customers through their websites, drawing on his experience as the owner of a fiberglass pool installation business, River Pools and Spas, and his “They ask, you answer” philosophy to illustrate his points. Sheridan began his presentation by explaining the importance of the “zero moment of truth,” or the first time a prospective customer contacts your company to do business. According to Sheridan, on average, 70 percent of buying decisions are made before the zero moment of truth — in other words, seven out of 10 customers have already made a decision about what they want to buy before they even come to your store or site. For this reason, Sheridan emphasized the need to make sure your store is the first in line when a customer decides to buy. He explained how business owners can boost the popularity of their websites by taking a “They ask, you answer” approach to marketing their products and services to their customers. He stressed how, if you can’t answer a customer’s questions, the customer is all but guaranteed to turn to another retailer who can. And he implored


customers already know all about them). According to Sheridan, if you offer honest, unbiased comparisons, that is another way to position your company as a trustworthy expert on the questions that matter to your customers. To illustrate the traffic-boosting potential of reviews, Sheridan pointed to two interesting statistics: Over the past two years, mobile searches for product reviews have grown more than 35 percent, and videos with “review” in the title have amassed about 50,000 years worth of watch time. Sheridan then pointed to the growing popularity of “for me” search terms, which have grown by 130 percent over the past two years. He explained how using web tools or apps that help prospective customers select the best product for them from your inventory can provide a large boost in web traffic and sales. Similarly, Sheridan explained how “should I” searches have grown by 60 percent over the past two years, further illustrating the desire among customers for expert guidance in their buying decisions. He encouraged retailers to use all of these popular search terms when writing posts for their websites in order to maximize web traffic from these types of searches. To wrap up his presentation, Sheridan then offered the following pieces of advice for online marketing and website design:


Marcus Sheridan

1. It ain’t about you — Make sure your website puts the customer, not your company, front and center. 2. Don’t show bias — Most people get turned off if your web content is too obviously biased in favor of your own brand or the products that you sell. 3. Sliders are bad — The slider that appears near the top of many websites and cycles through featured posts at a set speed usually moves too fast for most users to process the

Mitch Joel

information posted. According to Sheridan, “Sliders do not agree with our brain.” 4. Site speed (especially on mobile) matters a lot — The average retail mobile site loads in 6.9 seconds. However, 40 percent of consumers will leave a web page if it doesn’t load in three seconds. 5. Consistency with your brand matters — Making sure your online content is visually uniform and your branding, logos, colors, etc., are consistent across multiple pages lends a veneer of

professionalism to your site. 6. Teach, communicate and sell the way they want it — Always cater your marketing and educational content to the customer. 7. Know your customer and speak to them — If you interact with your customers, they’ll tell you what matters to them, and all you have to do is provide it. 8. By the year 2019, 80 percent of the content consumed online will be video-based — If you haven’t already, make video a priority or you’ll get left behind.

construction, as opposed to laminate,” he said. That extra level of durability matters when purchasing a beginner’s instrument, he added. “Either guitar is something he’s not going to outgrow for a long, long time,” he continued. “It’s a bit of a toss-up. If you think he’s apt to grow another few inches before he graduates, get the full-size Yamaha.” Yamaha also has an acousticelectric model, the FX325A, for the same price as the two aforementioned instruments. The tradeoff is it has a laminated top, as opposed to solid. “So, unless your kid wants to go electric in the near future, I’d stick with the first two,” he said. Most models, including Yamaha instruments, come with a limited lifetime warranty, which is an important consideration for an instrument that might encounter some damage. In addition, Sam Ash offers a service plan for 10 percent of the instrument’s price. “The normal cost of a service visit, such as to replace a broken string, is $65, so purchasing the service plan will pay for itself,” he said.

Prices were comparable at all four stores, as well. The downside to such a huge selection is when you have to sort through a lot of offerings you don’t want or need. But the salespeople at the sort-of big Sam Ash and the very big Guitar Center made up for that by quickly ascertaining my wants and needs and zeroing in on products they had on hand to meet those. But, but, but … so did both the little guys! You can’t go wrong with any of the stores that I spied on. I was impressed. Is there no need for MI Spy anymore? That’s a question for another day. According to my boss, M, as well as the editor of the Music & Sound Retailer, I need to pick a winner, though. Nobody was bad at all, but I have to pick the best of the best. So, the winner in my search was Bluegrass Musical Supply, which offers just the right combination of homegrown musical expertise, small-retailer service and a good selection. There’s a postscript to all this, too. There were lots of other choices for music stores in Columbus proper and in the surrounding towns. Plenty focus almost exclusively on guitars or stringed instruments. A few shops in the vicinity of Ohio State handcraft their own instruments, too. How cool is that?


(continued from page 39)

Sam Ash Music Store 1690 Morse Rd. Columbus, Ohio 43229 614.436.3919

This store is also located in the same stretch of Morse Road strip malls as Guitar Center in the northeast corner of Columbus. The nearby The Ohio State University campus possibly accounts for the chain’s decision to establish a store here. This Sam Ash outlet is small in comparison to some of its neighboring retailers. It’s in a small shopping center that also houses a GameStop and Payless Shoes and, somewhat incongruously, a former big-box store now occupied by an office of the state elections bureau. The salesman at this store steered me to two Yamaha models, both priced at $199. They were the Gigmaker DLX and the FS800, the latter featuring a smaller body. He asked me how tall the boy is, and I replied, “Just under 5'8".” Given his height, the FS800 might be a better choice, he said, because when a kid is just starting out, the somewhat shorter size makes it more comfortable to play. As someone who has purchased short suits from Macy’s and J.C. Penney’s his entire life, I appreciated this extra level of insight. “They both offer solid wood

The Sale

All four stores offered attentive service, though the large chain stores obviously enjoy an advantage when it comes to selection.



(continued from page 62) beginning to immerse myself in music.

The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? Price: I’ve been a part of some of the best and most memorable NAMM dinners with colleagues, vendors and dealers over the years. The NAMM shows really helped build many of the longstanding relationships I have in the industry. I still really look forward to going every year.

The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industr y? Price: There are so many great things about the MI industry. I love the passion and the sense of mission that most people have. Those things really connect all of us who are in the industry in a way I think few other industries can experience. There are so many great people in the industry with so many things in common. When you meet people

in this industry it’s almost like you’ve known them all your life. In many cases, there are very similar paths and answers to the question, “How did you end up here?” We all have a lot of the same DNA. We all couldn’t wait to get home to play. We all spent countless hours trying to get better. We all thought being in a great music store with other musicians was the best place you could be. No matter what facet of the business you are in, you have to take pride in the

fact that you are in the music business! What could be better than that?

Cindy Blackman-Santana, Mark Guiliana, Stanton Moore and Matt Sorum are just a few of Gretsch’s extensive list of artists. “Today’s Gretsch guitars are the finest and most consistently built guitars in our 135-year history,” concluded Fred Gretsch.

“The recipes my father, uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather used in creating ‘That Great Gretsch Sound’ generations ago are still used today. This is truly the second ‘Golden Age’ for Gretsch guitars.”

The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Price: Roland has been a leading innovator in music technology for education. Continuing the development of current and future education technologies will result in more lifelong musicians, and that should be a core mission for all in this industry.


(continued from page 40) family ownership. Commenting on the Gretsch family continuity, Fred Gretsch said: “When you add it all up, it’s a whole lot of years, with the company guided by a series of exceptional leaders starting with my great-grandfather, Friedrich. My grandfather, Fred Sr., put 40 years into the business. My uncle, Fred Jr., had 49 years in the business, and now there’s me with 53 years, my wife Dinah with 39 years and our daughter Lena with 24 years. “I was fortunate to get a gift from my grandfather. When, in the 1950s, he took his young grandson into the factory, and I got his spirit for the business. It may be that spirit, as much as anything else, that has motivated our family through all these years.” “When I’m asked what the most important aspect of the Gretsch family’s connection to the business is, I always say that Fred and I have ‘the three Ps’: passion, pride and persistence,” added Dinah Gretsch. “We have such passion for the business, and we’re so proud of it. But perhaps persistence is the key …

because we know that we always have to be the best. And no one can ever tell us we cannot do something. As an example, look at Fred’s dream of wanting to buy the Gretsch business back from Baldwin. It was his persistence in pursuing that dream that ultimately made it a reality.” “Although 2018 will be about celebrating family, friends and relationships, I also want to recognize the important contributions Dinah has made to the Gretsch Co.,” continued Fred Gretsch. “She played a big role in bringing back Gretsch guitars.” Gretsch also praised the high quality and craftsmanship of its current line of Gretsch guitars and fretted instruments. For 16 years, the Gretsch Co. has had a special alliance with Fender Musical Instrument Corp., which is responsible for manufacturing, marketing and distributing Gretsch guitars worldwide. Artists have played a pivotal role, as well. Vinnie Colaiuta, Charlie Watts, Stephen Ferrone, Phil Collins, Taylor Hawkins, Keith Carlock, Matt Chamberlain, Stephanie Eulinberg,

Coming in the March issue of the Music & Sound Retailer: • Class of 2018: Companies who debuted products for the first time at The NAMM Show • The complete 32nd annual Music & Sound Award manufacturer winners are announced • MI Spy heads to the nation’s capital • Five Minutes With: Robert Troke, Veritas • Shine A Light: Penny Lane Emporium • The Final Note: Andy Mooney, Fender And much more! MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Tony Price: In my personal life, it was my parents. They were tremendously supportive people who created a great family environment for my siblings and me. In my career, I’ve worked for many great companies and have been extremely fortunate to learn from the best anywhere I ever had the pleasure of working. I realized early in my career that a key to future success was listening to and learning from the successful people around me. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Price: A pastor of mine once told me, “Eternal things matter most” and that made an impact on me. Life is short, and it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day to-do list and lose sight of what is most important.

TONY PRICE, Vice President of Sales, Roland Corp. U.S.

The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Price: It was a Hohner mini harmonica that my parents bought for me. I still have it. I had a thirst for all things musical, and this harmonica and the recorder were the two instruments I was able to get my hands on first. I did short stints with the accordion and violin and then played trumpet through high school, but I would say I wasn’t completely obsessed until I picked up the guitar and got my first Led Zeppelin record in seventh grade. The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoying playing? Price: The guitar, of course. Mostly acoustic, lately. Up until about a year ago, I was doing a very casual house gig at a neighborhood bar. It started off as just solo guitar/vocal, but then I began inviting other musician friends to come and sit in. It’s great when you perform solo and you can connect with the people listening, but connecting with other musicians in a live performance setting is the most rewarding experience. The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Price: I saw Kiss in Duluth, Minn., when I was 17. It was an amazing intro for me to a real rock show — blew my mind! At that stage of my musical journey all I could think was, “How are they able to run around, do all that other crazy stuff and still play?” The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Price: I would love to have seen Led Zeppelin in their prime because I love the great musicianship and depth of their compositions. Those four guys defined chemistry and charisma for me. As an aspiring rock vocalist, I was a huge [Robert] Plant fan, and as an aspiring guitarist, I was a huge [Jimmy] Page fan.

Price at the mic with his band back in the 1980s.


The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most? Price: I know it is a bit cliché, but I would have to say, “Stairway to Heaven.” I loved the mystery, power and uniquely great musicianship. I would stop everything I was doing and listen to every note when I was (continued on page 61) FEBRUARY 2018


Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer February 2018, Vol 35 No 2  

Music & Sound Retailer February 2018, Vol 35 No 2