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March 2019 Volume 36, No. 3

New Class 2019 Page 28

What You May Have Missed At NAMM Page 24

We Take Full Responsibility for


Music education is a fundamental principle at Yamaha. So we’ve partnered with to support music teachers and help them acquire essential classroom supplies. Our #MusicEssentials program has assisted more than 700 teachers and 163,000 students in U.S. public schools. You can help schools in your area; visit to learn more.


König & Meyer Celebrates 70th Anniversary

König & Meyer, known for high-quality music stands, hardware and accessories, is celebrating its 70th anniversary. K&M’s origins trace back to the 1930s, when toolmakers Karl König and Erich Meyer set up a company to produce ice skates and measuring gauges in Zella Mehlis, East Germany. When Russians overtook East Germany after World War II and began confiscating private companies, König & Meyer risked everything and relocated its business in Wertheim, West Germany in 1949. The first factory in Wertheim opened with just eight employees. The original factory is different from K&M’s current operations. The company has invested heavily in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. As a result, K&M factories are outfitted with technologically advanced computer-aided design systems, laser cutting machines, welding robots and CNC operated machines to maintain precise tolerances while ensuring employee safety and minimal environmental impact, stated the company. A lot of the K&M designs have been hailed as “classics,” such as the 210/9 microphone stand, the 101 music stand, the In-bell B&O stands, the Spider Pro Keyboard stand and the 214/6 speaker stand. Various products are registered for design or utility patents. Every year, K&M introduces numerous new innovative products at the different trade shows worldwide. Customer feedback and industry needs are constantly at the forefront of its designing process. Management at K&M takes pride in its factories and product. But an equally important key to the company’s long-running success is a team of skilled and dedicated employees. “Our greatest asset is unquestionably the exacting skills of our workforce,” said CEO Gabriela König, who represents the König family in the third generation. Currently, König & Meyer products are sold in more than 80 countries and five continents. Nearly 60 percent of the production from the Wertheim factory is exported. Introducing new products to the market while ensuring the entire line of catalog products is always available is the family-run company’s central objective and the key to its continued success. To continue to offer the customers the best possible service and respond quickly and flexibly to orders and requests, the company invested in a new distribution center in 2017 with more than 7,500 pallet spaces. For its 70 birthday, K&M will host a number of events to celebrate the anniversary with customers, suppliers, friends and all employees.

NAMM Welcomes Eight New Board Members

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L to R: Robert Baker, Kimberly Deverell, Brian Ball, Brian Douglas, Doug Lady, Bryan Ottens, Tristann Rieck, and Gary Winder

During the Annual Meeting of Members at the 2019 NAMM Show, NAMM welcomed eight new board members to the organization’s board of directors. Each board member will serve a three-year term and provide oversight, input and direction to the organization. “Our all-volunteer board of directors is a remarkable group of industry leaders who, through their advisement, will help to advance and strengthen the industry. It’s with great enthusiasm that we welcome the new board members and thank them for their willingness to serve,” said Robin Walenta, chair of the NAMM board of directors and president of West Music Co. “And with deep gratitude, we thank our outgoing members who have helped shape the organization through their guidance and oversight.” NAMM welcomed the following members to the organization’s board of directors: Robert Baker, Schmitt Music Co.; Brian Ball, Ernie Ball, Inc.; Kimberly Deverell, San Diego Music Studio; Brian Douglas, Cream City Music; Doug Lady, Hal Leonard LLC; Bryan Ottens, Peter E. Schmitt Co.; Tristann Rieck, Brass Bell Music, Inc.; and Gary Winder, DANSR, Inc. The meeting also celebrated the service, leadership and the many contributions of the outgoing members of the board: Steve Ceo, C.A. House Music; Cindy Cook, The Candyman Strings & Things; Larry Fishman, Fishman Transducers, Inc.; Richard McDonald, Fender Musical Instruments Corp.; Clinton Muntean, Mainline Marketing, Inc.; Myrna Sislen, Middle C. Music Corp.; Tabor Stamper, KHS America, Inc.; and Clint Strait, Strait Music Co.

Palmer Rebrands

Palmer, the audio tools division of the Adam Hall Group, has a new brand identity. The new identity includes a consistent design language for all new products, which both radiates modernity and incorporates the warm, personal, user-focused attitude of the Palmer brand, stated the company. The modernized logo still includes palm trees and the familiar retro-style font of the ‘60s and ‘70s, but it’s now visually flat design has a significantly more modern and clean appearance. “The message: Palmer remains a traditional brand loved by numerous target groups around the world, but it also attracts digital natives.” At the same time, the new brand claims, “Be true to your sound as well as the revised website, communications, advertisements and promotional mediums focus more on the needs of the user.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER




Features 24 Everything You May Have Missed at The NAMM Show


Two NAMM University Breakfast Sessions, press conferences and the She Rocks Awards are among the items that made the list of this all-encompassing story that follows up last month’s The NAMM Show cover story.

28 NAMM 2019: The New Class

The NAMM Show had many first-time exhibitors ready to take the MI industry by storm. We feature eight of these companies, all of whom bring innovation and passion to the show floor.





Columns 31 NAMM Photo Spread 34 Music & Sound Award Winners in Photos 36 Five Minutes With

Odyssey Innovative Designs will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in just 10 months. We get the latest about the California-based company from CEO John Hsiao.

38 MI Spy

San Francisco has a tremendous amount to offer, including top-notch MI stores.

42 Not Your Average Column

Being an excellent retailer requires more than taking in great NAMM University sessions. Creating the proper work-life balance can prove to be a significant challenge.

44 Retailing Better

Your suppliers are of course critical to your success. Here’s how to strengthen your relationship with them even more.

46 In the Trenches

According to one of Allen McBroom’s vendors, there are three types of MI


retailers. McBroom knows at least one retailer who fits into each group.

48 Retailer Rebel

There’s no doubt that posting social media content regarding your store takes a lot of time and effort. Using a social media management platform is a great answer to this problem, explains Gabriel O’Brien.

50 Shine a Light

In 2001, John Fowler was “doing hard time in corporate management.” But then he was presented with the opportunity to purchase Colorado’s Shoreline Music.

52 Veddatorial

“Vetting” is a word often bandied about. But Dan Vedda explains why it’s so important for your business.

54 Under the Hood

For those seeking a powered loudspeaker that is lightweight and provides performance, quality, reliability and an ultra-compact form factor at a value price point, QSC’s CP Series is definitely an option.

62 The Final Note

Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, executive director of The D’Addario Foundation, has led a group that has won the Music & Sound Award for Outstanding Community Service an incredible six consecutive times. Find out what she thinks about this accolade, her greatest influence and much more.


Buzz 3 Latest 12 People 18 Products MARCH 2019


U 67

Return of the Legend 33RD ANNUAL


Breaking New Records

I’m excited to announce a lot of new records were set regarding our 33th edition of the Music & Sound Awards. Retailers cast a record number of votes (1,377), and we handed out the most awards in our history: 30. I want to thank you for casting your votes. It’s truly a great list of winners this year. The list is led by Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland Corp., who won our Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame award. Kakehashi sadly passed away in 2017, but his son Ikuo happily accepted the award on his father’s behalf during The NAMM Show. Considering all of the tremendous accomplishments Ikutaro Kakehashi had in his illustrious career, it’s difficult to think of a more fitting recipient of this award. Other highlights include D’Addario, which won the most Music & Sound Awards: five. This includes Manufacturer of the Year honors, as well the Outstanding Community Service award, which the Long Islandbased company won for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year. For more about the D’Addario Foundation, D’Addario’s tremendous charitable division, check out our Final Note interview with Suzanne D’Addario Brouder in this issue. Fender had a great year, grabbing three awards for Best Electric Guitar, Best Bass Guitar and Product of the Year. In addition, Yamaha, Roland and The Music People/On-Stage all won multiple awards, including the latter’s Jeremy Payne, who earned the victory in the rep of the year category. Also of note was the first winner of our new category, Outstanding MI Service Provider, which went to Reverb. And we had one company winning its first-ever Music & Sound Award. This honor went to Dexibell, which took the Best Book/Video/Software category. I want to congratulate all of our 30 manufacturer

winners for their tremendous work in 2018. I got to hand out several of the awards and met representatives from several of the winning companies, with some of the reactions captured on our ConventionTV@NAMM broadcast. No stone was left unturned though. For any company I was unable to visit due to scheduling conflicts, Associate Editor Anthony Vargas and Assistant Editor Amanda Mullen picked up the slack during The NAMM Show. Beyond our Music & Sound Awards, I offered my initial NAMM Show reactions last month. Most of these thoughts still hold water, but after taking some more time to think about the show after the dust settled, I have a few additional thoughts about it. First, I was quite pleased with the quality of product launches. I’m not sure if the pure quantity of products introduced at the show was higher than any other year. But I can say anecdotally there were fewer “me-too” products and more cool items that will hopefully be strong sellers at your stores. The other comment is I thought the celebrity quotient was down a bit. Still solid, but down as compared to prior years. Of course, big names like Nancy Wilson, Ed Sheeran, Peter Frampton and more were on hand, but perhaps there was a bit less buzz than in past years about the celebrity appearances? Despite this comment however, even if true, I’m not sure it’s so bad. Although celebrity appearances are definitely exciting, they tend to draw large crowds to booths that include many who don’t have buyer badges. We do need to remember this is a trade show, and the top goal is for you, as an MI retailer, to see the latest product launches and take part in high-level discussions with your manufacturer representatives. We need to make sure we stay true to this goal.

March 2019 Volume 36, No. 3

BRIAN BERK Editor ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor AMANDA MULLEN 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 Report • Convention TV @ NAMM • InfoCommTV News VTTV Studios The Music & Sound Retailer (ISSN 0894-1238) (USPS 0941-238) is published 12 times a year for $18 (US), by Retailer Publishing, Inc., 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779. Periodicals postage paid at Port Washington, N.Y. and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Music & Sound Retailer, PO BOX 1767, LOWELL MA 01853-1767

MARCH 2019

#playoutloud Š2019 QSC, LLC. All rights reserved. QSC and the QSC logo are registered trademarks of QSC, LLC in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries. PLAY OUT LOUD is a trademark of QSC, LLC.


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Rain Adds New Features Rain Retail Software announced the integration of My Music Staff with the Rain Retail system for private lessons, as well as product data for more than 200 top music industry vendors to streamline adding products to retailers point

of sale system. My Music Staff is a software as a system tool designed for setting up, scheduling, and managing private lessons, and is used by music teachers, studios and music retailers that offer private lessons.

“One of the top feature requests from music retailers has been private lessons management,” stated Sean Roylance, Rain Retail founder and CEO. Additionally, Rain now offers product data for more than 200

StickItStand Achieves Sales Milestone

StickItStand Guitar Stands sold its 5,000th unit in the United States. StickItStand was invented by guitar teacher and working musician Denny Gerard. “I recall the sound of my guitar hitting the floor once too often,” he said. “It suddenly occurred to me that a soft, pliable silicone attachment to the guitar’s base would keep it from slipping. I’ve saved on neck and peg repair, as well as the potential of a cracked body, and it fits in your gig bag or guitar case too.”


In the February issue of the Music & Sound Retailer on page 25, we had the wrong photo for the Verity Monster Tower. It is presented here. On the same page, we also misstated Tech 21’s website. The correct website is We apologize for the errors.


top MI vendors. Retailers can add new products for more than 500,000 products to their point of sale and website by scanning a barcode to auto-populate product details such as titles, descriptions, images, manufacturer, UPC and vendor number to their point of sale. “It’s hard for small retailers to compete with national retailers and Amazon when their time is consumed by busy work, like adding new product details to their point of sale and website,” stated Roylance. “By adding product data from hundreds of vendors to our system catalog we are helping retailers get a chunk of their time back to focus on other areas of growing their business.”

Letter to the Editor:

Dear Ravi: I read your article about Mike Rabuazzo (January, P. 59), and it really touched me. Thank you for telling your story and sharing what a wonderful person Mike was. It makes me proud to be in this industry and reminds me why we are here. Scott Riedle, Sales Rainbow Guitars Tucson, Ariz.

Sweetwater Visits ‘Pensado’s Place’

Sweetwater is now the title sponsor for “Pensado’s Place,” an online show in the pro-audio space with over 170 million minutes consumed on YouTube. The hour-long weekly web series was created more than five years ago by Grammywinner mixer Dave Pensado and executive producer and cohost Herb Trawick. It includes interviews with the top artists, engineers, producers, mixers and record executives in the music industry and features in-depth tutorials in production, engineering and mixing. “We are proud to sponsor ‘Pensado’s Place,’” said Sweetwater executive vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer David Stewart. “Dave and Herb have an outstanding reputation in the audio world, and the show is an excellent resource for engineers, producers and artists who will become the next generation of audio greats.” MARCH 2019


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Hal Leonard Honors Centerstream

Hal Leonard honored one of its longest-standing distribution partners at the 2019 NAMM Show. Hal Leonard chairman and CEO Keith Mardak (left) presented Centerstream president Ron Middlebrook with a plaque commemorating 35 years of working together. Centerstream is known for its unique publications for a variety of instruments, especially instructional titles for guitar and folk instruments, but also children’s picture books about music, reference titles about instrument manufacturers, and other historical songbooks.

“Ron has been one of our longeststanding business partners, and I’m honored to have been the one to sign the deal 35 years ago,” said Mardak. “We’re proud to distribute Centerstream publications and happy that they’re continuing their mission of keeping musicians of all genres well informed.” “The hard-working folks at Hal Leonard have always been good to work with, making me feel like part of the family,” said Middlebrook. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years! How can that be when Keith and I are still 39?”

Furch Forms Special Panamanian Partnership


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Furch Guitars has forged a partnership with the Panamanian indigenous community Arimae, dedicated to protecting local tropical forests and cultivation of exotic woods. Under the partnership, Furch will provide the community with financial assistance to care for six hectares of exotic woods, the annual growth of which corresponds to the guitar maker’s yearly production needs. “Even though wood is the most easily renewable raw material in the world, we must treat it with respect and preserve it for future generations. By forging a new partnership with the Arimae community, we want to compensate nature as well as society for the amount of wood we consume. Apart from cocobolo and mahogany, we plan to extend our support to other wood species in the future,” said Furch Guitars CEO Petr Furch. Every year, Furch makes approximately 8,000 guitars, which on average requires 43 cubic meters of exotic woods. Exotic woods account for two thirds of all materials used in the manufacture of acoustic guitars. For illustration, the making of one acoustic guitar requires 0.00734 cubic meters of materials, including waste, of which exotic woods account for 0.00537 cubic meters.

My ambition

is to share my passion with other musicians, no matter what they play. You want to give every musician the ability to play at their very best. Our payment solutions, tools and technologies make it easy to offer your customers more purchasing power. They’ll also help you increase store traffic, raise average transaction size and build repeat business. Just right for your future. Find out how we can help you realize your ambitions. Visit or call us at 888-393-1955.

Credit extended by Synchrony Bank. ©2019 All Rights Reserved.

What are you working forward to?


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David Is a Goliath

Music & Arts named David Matchim as the winner of its 2018 Music Educator of the Year award. Matchim was selected from more than 1,000 nominees nationwide for the annual distinction, which recognizes a full-time music educator for his or her outstanding achievement in music education. Matchim is currently the director of bands at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Md. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Music, and has received numerous accolades from his district, community and other educational institutions. Matchim was selected for his dedication to increasing his program’s participation, offerings and level of excellence. “We are proud to honor Mr. Matchim as our 2018 Music Educator of the Year winner,” said Steve Zapf, president of Music & Arts. “In addition to his distinguished professional experience and prior recognitions, we were struck by Matchim’s ability to grow his program and motivate students to be a part of something bigger. He utilized flexible schedules to accommodate a growing program, and created new, diverse offerings that inspired and empowered his students. His innovative and uplifting approach makes him a role model in the field of education and an inspiration to his students.” The awards committee, consisting of former music educators and music industr y affiliates, has also selected second- and thirdplace winners: Jeff Quamo of Mesa High School in Mesa, Ariz., and Michael Basham of C.D. Hylton Senior high School in Woodbridge, Va., respectively. All three winners will receive monetar y awards that can be applied toward educational resources, publicity opportunities and additional prizes.

Rice Is Nice for Harman

Roland Rice joined Harman Professional Solutions as vice president and general manager, North America Sales. Rice has more than 30 years of experience in North America sales. During his career, he has held a number of senior leadership roles at Altec Lansing, Diamond Multimedia and Avid Technology, where he successfully restructured divisions and developed new logistics and sales channels. Most recently, as vice president of Sales at Plantronics, Rice was responsible for roughly $540 million in annual revenue. “This is a remarkable opportunity to join an organization with a best-in-class team and some of the most iconic and innovative brands in the industr y,” said Rice. “I’m thrilled to be entrusted to grow North American sales while working closely with the HARMAN team to deliver customers the best solutions and experience.”

Ford ‘Goes Further’ TAMA named Mark Ford as a concert endorser and educational director for TAMA/Bergerault. Ford is an accomplished Marimba artist and music educator, holding the position of coordinator of percussion at the University of North Texas College of Music. In addition to his standing in the field of music education, he is also an accomplished composer and

John Packer Musical Instruments


performer. He has been a featured soloist performing throughout the United States as well as internationally in Europe, Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia and South America. Hoshino U.S.A. President Shogo Hayashi describes the level of enthusiasm within the company: “The recent announcement of our partnership with Bergerault is an exciting development for TAMA as we seek to expand our presence in the band and orchestral market. Now, we have been fortunate to acquire the talents of Mark Ford, a highly accomplished marimba artist and educator who will ser ve as the ideal ambassador for the TAMA & Bergerault brands. As a result, we feel a great sense of optimism for the future of TAMA/ Bergerault.” MARCH 2019


In Memoriam: Jim Dunlop

Jim Dunlop, who started the Dunlop Manufacturing Co. in 1965 in Benicia, Calif., passed away on Feb. 6. Among his many achievements, he created the Dunlop Cry Baby, an innovative wah-wah pedal for the electric guitar. Dunlop focused on the accessories market and put out a line of capos, guitar slides and a new brand of plastic guitar picks he named Tortex, among other products. Over his long career, Dunlop also served as a mentor to many of his employees. “It would be difficult to find a guitar player who hasn’t been affected by Jim’s thoughtful innovations,” Dunlop Manufacturing wrote on its website. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to MusiCares.

On the Mark

Shure promoted Mark Humrichouser to vice president of Global Sales. He now leads Shure’s Global Sales team, which oversees its worldwide sales operations for pro audio, retail, integrated systems and emerging markets. Humrichouser has been with Shure for more than 15 years. During his tenure, he has held key sales positions, including vice president of the Americas and Asia/Pacific Sales organizations, general manager of the Americas Business Unit, general manager of the U.S. Business Unit and director of U.S. Sales.

Cranley Takes Top Spot in Kentucky Retail Federation

Kevin Cranley, president of MI retailer Willis Music Co., was named chairman of the board of the Kentucky Retail Federation. Cranley has served on the board since 2016 and brings 40 years of retail experience as a third-generation owner of Willis Music, also known as a sheet music publisher. Willis Music is headquartered in Florence, Ky. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

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Note From Mary

What’s in Store for the 116th Congress With the 116th Congress sworn into office, the House of Representatives is one of the most diverse federal legislative bodies in history. These changes could bring a variety of outcomes for the music products industry. While only time will tell, here is a brief overview provided with thanks to our collaboration with Leo Coco, NAMM’s advocacy advisor at D.C.-based firm Nelson Mullens. House of Representatives Democrats now have control of the House, holding 235 seats,

education agenda is not anticipated. However, the long-time

41 seats higher than the 115th Congress. Republicans maintain

chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

199 seats, having lost 42 seats. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

(HELP) Committee and NAMM SupportMusic Champion

was re-elected as the Speaker of the House, and notably, Rep.

awardee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has announced that

Bobby Scott (D-VA) is the new chair

this will be his final term in the Senate.

of the House Education and the

Support for full funding of the Title IV

Workforce Committee.

grant program will be an ongoing

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) was a key proponent of the bi-partisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act. Rep. Scott and the committee he chairs are important to NAMM’s advocacy efforts to fully fund the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant (Title IV Part A), a key element of ESSA that seeks to advance well-rounded education opportunities

We will bring these new members of Congress

request to Senate HELP Committee members along with support for music teacher training policies as they are addressed in the Higher Education

into a unified chorus that

Act (HEA) reauthorization.

celebrates and reinforces

Priorities of the 116th Congress

the role that music making and music education has in our communities.

for all children.

Unlike the last two years, the House and Senate are politically divided in the 116th Congress. This is likely to mean more oversight of the administration by the House and deepening tensions between Congress and executive government branches leading up to the 2020 Presidential


Election. It is conceivable, however,

In the Senate, Republicans hold 53 seats, increasing their

that the divided Congress could lead to more bipartisan

majority by two seats. A significant change to the Senate’s

activities and discrete opportunities could emerge if House

Democrats and President Trump work together on issues including infrastructure, vocational education/ apprenticeships, early childhood education or paid family leave. What does this mean for NAMM and its ongoing music education advocacy efforts? There are 92 new members of the US House of Representatives, which is about 20% of the total number. This also means that there are new chiefs of staff and office directors for constituent relations, along with education and cultural liaisons. In our ongoing advocacy efforts, and at our Washington D.C. Advocacy Fly-In the last week of May, we will introduce them to NAMM and inform them of our ongoing policy

NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In

and funding priorities to advance music education for

May 20–23, 2019

every child. We will be paying special attention to the

NAMM members and music industry leaders will meet with members of Congress to champion music education for all children.

newest members of the education and appropriations committees in both the House and Senate. Along with many congressional champions for music education, we will bring these new members of Congress into a unified chorus that celebrates and reinforces the role that music making and music education has in our communities. There are two things every NAMM member can do now. 1. Contact your regional office of your member of Congress–both congressional district and Senate –and make sure they know who you are, what your business does to support the musical life in your community and region; ask to receive ongoing updates from the office, and if possible, encourage the member to visit your business. (It is also important that your

NAMM Member California Delegation in Sacramento The Coalition on Coalitions provides tactics, resources and best practices to support NAMM members working on state-level music and arts education advocacy efforts.

Coalition on Coalitions

state legislature, city council, mayor know you and your business!) For information on contacting elected officials, visit 2. Get involved at your state capital–information is available at NAMM’s Coalition on Coalitions. While the future remains uncertain, we know that NAMM and its members will continue to champion music education and ensure that all people can learn and grow with music. Mary Luehrsen DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

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In Memoriam: Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee, a 30-plus-year music industr y veteran, has passed away. He recently contracted a severe lung infection, and was unable to recover from it. He passed on Jan. 21, with his loving wife Kathleen and family with him. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. He was a giving person, witty, intelligent, and a great leader, mentor and friend. Lee got his start in music by attending North Texas State University, where he mastered the art of drumming. His band toured extensively before he settled into the San Francisco Bay area. He managed Swains House of Music for several years before joining the sales team at Kaman Music, where he rose to the position of senior vice president of sales. After leaving Kaman Music, Lee became the VP Sales at Samick Corp. After Samick, Lee had a short stint at Rhythm Band before finally joining St. Louis Music as senior VP of Sales.

In Memoriam: Vickie Volesky

Vickie Volesky, a former district manager for the Band & Orchestral division of Yamaha Corp. of America, passed away on Feb. 15 after a long and courageous fight with lung cancer. During her 35 years with Yamaha, Volesky held several different positions, but most of the time she ser ved as district manager for the northern Midwest states, including Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. “We will greatly miss Vickie’s cheerful heart, devotion to customer ser vice and positive outlook,” said Garth Gilman, corporate vice president, Yamaha Corp. of America. A prayer ser vice for Vickie took place Feb. 18 in Detroit Lakes, Minn. A Mass of Christian burial took place Feb. 19. Volesky’s family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to either the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center or 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in Fargo, N.D.

In Memoriam: Bill Boyce

William Clifton “Bill” Boyce, Jr., who distinguished himself as a highly successful piano retailer throughout his 60year career in MI, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Feb. 2 in Bradenton, Fla. He was 78. Boyce was best defined as a tireless entrepreneur, savvy businessman, guiding mentor, devoted husband and wonderfully loving father. He, along with his wife Sandy, was the owner of and guiding force behind Palmetto, Fla.based Piano Distributors. Born July 9, 1940, in Raleigh, N.C., to William and Virginia Boyce, Bill grew up in Windsor, N.C. His six-decade career in the music business effectively began in 1959 when, at the age of 19, he was invited by his uncle, Edwin Poole, a band director in North Carolina, to join his Raleigh piano store, E.R. Poole Music Co. Boyce Jr.’s initial calling was in the field of engineering, which he studied at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He worked parttime in the store to pay for college, selling his first piano in 1959. He earned $40 a week plus a 3-percent commission on anything he sold. Upon graduation in 1961, now earning $10,000 a year at the music store, Bill was approached by a recruiter for IBM, who offered him a starting salary of $5,400 per year. “I told them I was making [more] in the piano business,” Boyce told a reporter several years ago. “I couldn’t take the pay cut.” From that moment, Boyce Jr. became a lifer in the piano business. He opened his first store, and eventually had a chain of full line stores in North Carolina under Bill Boyce Music. In 1962, he began selling both pianos and organs, renaming his business, Piano and Organ Distributors.


MARCH 2019


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From Another Galaxy

With its 16 selectable UHF frequencies, 50mW of audio power and included EB4 ear buds, Galaxy’s AS-950 is designed to offer highquality stereo monitoring even in a crowded RF environment. The AS-950T transmitter includes a L/R level display, channel up/down select with LCD display, stereo XLR/1/4-inch inputs and headphone output with volume control. The AS-950R receiver offers a 50 megawatts stereo output with RF and stereo indicators. The EB4 ear buds feature titanium drivers, extended bass response and aluminum alloy construction. A single/dual rack mount kit is included. MSRP: $199.99 Ship Date: 2Q 2019 Contact: Galaxy Audio,

At a Premium

Music Nomad introduced a Premium Guitar Tech Screwdriver and Wrench Set, designed to offer versatility in one compact, rugged case that can fit in an end user’s pocket. Designed specifically for guitars, it comes with 18 screwdriver bits, seven hex wrench sizes, plus a Premium Spanner Wrench. The large, ergonomic handle is made from strong ballistic nylon material that won’t scratch or ding your hardware and is engineered for the most popular hex wrench sizes, the company stated. MSRP: $39.99 to $44.99 Ship Date: Spring 2019 Contact: Music Nomad,

The Kyser® Low-Tension Quick-Change® Capo. Optimal fit and less tuning for low-action guitars.

MADE IN THE USA Since 1980

Guitar Stand Co. launched a guitar stand collection, featuring eight new designs. The company combines materials such as brass, chrome, stainless steel and hand-carved wood to create thematic styles that enhance any setting, stated the company. Special attention is paid to of all the custom-designed yokes and black silicone rubber specifically designed to cushion a guitar. Guitar Stand Co.’s stands are intended for acoustic, electric, bass guitars and most banjos. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Guitar Stand Co.,

Streemline Operations

Odyssey Innovative Designs’ Streemline BMSLTKS2MK3 is an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) carrying bag for DJs. It features embossed corners and a dual foamed-lined padded interior, perfect for a Traktor S2 MK3 DJ controller, as well as for essential compact accessories such as laptops, tablets, power supplies, hard drives, cables, folding stands, microphones and more, stated the company. This durable, yet lightweight carry bag has large top-grade custom logo zippers, comfortable rivet enforced double handles and non-slip shoulder straps to ensure secure mobility. MSRP: $89.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Odyssey Innovative Designs,


Covering All Basses

Electro-Harmonix unveiled the Bass Mono Synth, which transforms a bass guitar into 11 different bass synthesizers, from vintage synth emulations, to thick, stacked voices to deep pulsing sounds and more. The Bass Mono Synth is designed to work on bass guitar without any modifications, special pickups or MIDI implementation. The pedal’s DRY dial adjusts the dry bass volume at the Synth Output while SYNTH controls the volume of the synthesizer sound at the Synth Output. Used together, they provide enhanced level mixing. The SENS control, short for sensitivity, adjusts how playing dynamics trigger the synthesizer and permits fine-tuning the pedal’s response to a player’s bass rig and playing style. Street Price: $123.50 Ship Date: Now Contact: Electro-Harmonix,

Because It’s So Smooth The SE Santana Singlecut Trem pays tribute to Santana’s one-off gold leaf Private Stock PRS. Modeled after the gold leaf Singlecut that Carlos plays on stage, the SE version of this special instrument began when Santana heard the 2018 Paul’s Guitar TCI pickups. Impressed with their tone, Santana requested a set of those pickups without the coil taps, and from there, TCI “S” pickups were born. Wanting to capture their full-range tone in a special model, Santana and Paul Reed Smith looked to Santana’s personal instruments and choose the gold leaf Singlecut. Additional features include the classic Santana/PRS combination of a 24.5-inch scale length, 24 frets, and a tremolo bridge, the SE Santana Singlecut Trem, providing two full octaves with the comfort of a shorter-scale guitar. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Spring 2019 Contact: Paul Reed Smith Guitars,





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Against All Odds

Godin Guitars unveiled the Daryl Stuermer DS-1 Signature Edition guitar. Built to the legendary guitarist’s specifications, the DS-1 comes with plenty of rocking tonal possibilities, thanks to a Seymour Duncan Jazz SH-2 neck pickup and a Seymour Duncan Custom/ Custom SH-11P in the bridge. A five-way switch ensures a variety of tonal possibilities between the pickups. The long-time Phil Collins guitarist’s model comes standard with a Canadian Laurentian Basswood body with an AA Flame Top in a high-gloss Trans Red finish. Other notables include a 25.5inch scale length, Richlite fingerboard, Godin Tru Loc Tremolo system, and the Godin High Definition Revoicer, which changes the EQ curve of the pickups at the press of a button. Street Price: $1,650 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Godin Guitars,

In Complete Synergy

Yorkville Sound introduced the Synergy Array Series, its largest and most powerful point-source system to date. The Synergy system consists of the SA153, a three-way full-range active cabinet, along with the SA315S active subwoofer. Synergy is scalable in both horizontal and vertical planes and the perfect sound reinforcement solution for the club, outdoor festival, theater and arena. This system is adaptable to suit any coverage pattern needed. For the first time, the user is in complete control of where the sound is projected, stated the company. The Synergy series components have been optimized for power handling and protection inside the box. The user has the ability to run a signal through the Synergy system, turn up the volume and not have to worry about overpowering or overexerting the cabinet, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Yorkville,

I Will Choose Free Will

Geddy Lee partnered with Tech 21 to design a signature rackmount SansAmp, the GED-2112. The SansAmp YYZ offers Geddy’s core sound and the versatility for many different styles. Features include all-analog SansAmp technology to record directly and enhance previously recorded tracks. For live performances, the SansAmp YYZ can drive a power amp and speakers, augment an existing amplifier set-up, or run directly into the mixer of a PA system. A Mix control blends the ratio of high-end studio clean and dirty bass tube amp tones. The Tight button adds definition to notes in cleaner settings and make distorted tones snappier. Other features include a Drive control, active three-band EQ and Master Volume. Operable with 9-Volt alkaline battery (not included) or optional DC power supply. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Tech 21,

PURE, OPEN-AIR SOUND EXCEPTIONAL REALISM The Audix SCX25A large-diaphragm studio condenser microphone uses a unique housing and patented suspension system to completely isolate the capsule from the microphone body and electronics, dramatically reducing reflections, vibrations, and coloration. The result is a faithfully reproduced, transparent sound, rich in nuanced details. Designed for stage and studio, the SCX25A is ideal for vocals, guitar, piano, and a variety of other acoustic instruments. Learn more at “The SCX25A is my go-to mic for acoustic guitar. It adds a gentle presence boost that makes any acoustic sound better.” — John Gatski, Pro Audio Review | 800.966.8261


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Rocking Out on a Keyboard

Yamaha released the Sonogenic SHS-500 “keytar”— a musical keyboard that can be held like a guitar — which enables young music fans to play famous hit songs, regardless of musical ability. Central to the SHS-500 experience is a Yamaha app called Chord Tracker, which can analyze the music library residing on a smartphone or tablet and then send chord data directly to the instrument via wireless MIDI over Bluetooth. With the

JAMmode enabled, keys on the SHS-500 will trigger only the correct chords — and any soloing notes that go with them — as the song plays back through either a separate listening system or the one built into the SHS-500, via its 3.5-millimeter stereo mini input. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Yamaha,

Uke Debut

Farida Guitar & Ukulele unveiled its lineup of ukuleles, inspired by classic designs and built using cuttingedge techniques, stated the company. They are available in soprano, concert and tenor sizes, with five levels of tonewoods and appointments. The ukulele introductions comprise: Series 2 — Solid cedar top, laminated nato back and sides, nato neck, acacia fingerboard and bridge, simple seven-ring rosette, nickel geared tuners; Series 3 — Solid mahogany body, mahogany neck, acacia fingerboard and bridge, simple seven-ring rosette, nickel geared tuners; Series 5 — Solid acacia body, mahogany neck, acacia fingerboard and bridge, simple seven-ring rosette, nickel geared tuners. Series 6 — Solid koa body, mahogany neck, koa fingerboard and bridge, “rope” binding and rosette, gold-geared tuners; and Series 8 — Solid flamed koa body, mahogany neck, koa fingerboard and bridge, “rope” binding and rosette, gold-geared tuners. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Farida Guitar & Ukulele,


Proud to Be an American

Fender Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC) unveiled the first in a new generation of Americanmade acoustic guitars. Dubbed the American Acoustasonic Series Telecaster, it is acoustic, electric and everything in between, stated the company. Handcrafted in Corona, Calif., it is designed for fearless artists who want an inspiring instrument with a diverse set of sounds and Fender’s signature feel. On stage, acoustic guitars have several qualities that draw audiences in. To avoid multiple instrument changes, artists often have to choose one guitar per song or use back-up guitarists to layer different parts. The Acoustasonic Telecaster eliminates many of the challenges associated with playing an acoustic guitar live by cutting out feedback and making it easy to access electric and acoustic tones without switching instruments. The body features an integrated forearm contour and a patent-pending Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS), which delivers a naturally loud voice. It comes in Natural, Black, Sonic Gray, Surf Green and Sunburst. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Fender,

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Big Things Come in Micro Packages

IK Multimedia debuted the iRig Micro Amp, a battery-powered, ultra-compact combo amplifier with three on-board analog channels, plus a high-quality digital interface for direct connection to iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC. This allows users to expand their tone palette by unlocking a variety of amp and FX models in the included AmpliTube software/app bundle, as well as connecting to their favorite apps for learning, recording and playing. iRig Micro Amp also offers powerful sound that rivals larger amps, plus the ability to connect to external cabinets for even more volume. Three analog channels — clean, drive and lead — deliver a full palette of sounds with distinctive characters, created by the same tone gurus behind IK’s AmpliTube software, stated the company. On board are bass, mid, treble and gain controls to cover a wide range of tones. MSRP: $149.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: IK Multimedia,

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Chris Woods performs at the Jan. 25 NAMM U Breakfast Session.

Daniel Burrus talks about "Trends, Game-Changers and Opportunities."

Scott Stratten speaks at the Jan. 26 NAMM U Breakfast Session.

Chris Woods, Daniel Burrus and Marcus Bell attend the NAMM U Breakfast Session.

Adrien Prevost, Jessica Fichot, Ippei Ichimaru and Sylvan Carton.


ast month, we offered plenty of information about Thursday, Jan. 24’s “Breakfast of Champions” at The NAMM Show, as well as attendance figures and a couple of other tidbits. This month, we dig much deeper into the show, with a look at two other breakfast sessions and some press conferences. Let’s start with Friday, Jan. 25’s NAMM University Breakfast Session, entitled “Transforming the Music Industry: Trends, Game-Changers and Opportunities,” which was presented by Daniel Burrus. Burrus is a futurist thought leader who has given many speeches on global trends and innovation, an advisor to several Fortune 500 companies, and author of the best-selling books “Flash Foresight” and “Technotrends.” His breakfast session presentation was inspired by his latest book, “The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage.” Burrus’ talk was centered on the concept of identifying disruptive trends in business before they happen and being anticipatory so that you can position your company to take advantage of disruption rather than becoming a victim of it. He warned the audience against falling into the trap of being too busy at work to notice disruptive trends developing until it’s too late. “My biggest fear for everyone is, after The NAMM Show is done, we’re going to go back to our lives and we’re going to get busy again doing what we’ve always done,” he shared. “You’ve heard the old saying: ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had,’ which is obsolete now. Today, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get much less of what you’ve always had, because the world has changed.” Burrus identified two distinct categories of disruptive trends: hard trends and soft trends. “A hard trend is based on a future fact. It will happen. You can’t stop it. However, you can see it before it happens,” Burrus described. “The other type of trend is a soft trend. That’s based on assumption. It might happen. No guarantees here.” He identified a number of hard and soft trends. For example, hard trends include the passing of government regulations, the advancement of technology and the aging of populations. Soft trends include things like the increasing cost of healthcare in America and rising global obesity rates. Burrus added that hard trends are based in certainty, while soft trends are based in uncertainty, and that certainty is more conducive to making smart business decisions. He also drew a distinction between “change” and “transformation.” “Change comes from the outside in, forcing us to react,” he said. “Transformation, whether it’s personal or business, comes from the inside out, giving you control, allowing you to shape your future. I don’t want us to be passive receivers of the future — ‘Let’s wait and see.’ Because if you do that, I don’t think you’re going to have a very good future. I think you’re going to be very unhappy. I want you to be active shapers of the future, creating the disruptions and the changes that need to occur.” Burrus also implored the audience to end the generational warfare happening in their offices in order to maximize their companies’ ability to anticipate change and transform their businesses on their own terms. According to Burrus, “Here’s what the war is: If you’re younger, you’re looking at the older people in the organization, and you’re saying to yourself, ‘Man, they’re like a fossil. They’re not changing fast enough.’ […] And if you’re older, you’re looking at the younger people and you’re saying, ‘How is the world going to survive them?’” Burrus suggested that, if the different generations in the workforce would work together, they would see how well they complement each other. “If you’re older, what’s your gold? What’s your platinum? Your wisdom, your experience. But you’re also in the box, and you can’t get MARCH 2019



out,” he explained. “Young people haven’t built their box yet. They know all about technology. What don’t they know? What to do with it. Good. You’ve got some ideas. You don’t have to know how it works.” As far as the MI industry itself goes, Burrus identified a certainty that he believes the industry can capitalize on. “The future is all about relationships, not just technology. Why? Because we live in a human world,” he said. “The more we disconnect from each other, the more disharmony we get. The more we connect with each other, the more harmony we have in our lives and with our planet. Music is the great connector. And right now, we’re very disconnected. We’ve got to get more people playing instruments. We’ve got to get more people into the music.” Burrus also identified several opportunities for transformational change that exist right now. “The tools to transform every single business process are already right there for you, and it’s amazing how many of them are free. If you don’t do it, someone else will,” he said. He pointed to geolocation, artificial intelligence, app-based purchasing and logistics, and in-store digital kiosks and as technology-based solutions to common problems plaguing the MI industry that are available today. He also suggested that the future of business will be driven by a major customer-centric trend: XaaS, or Everything as a Service. However, Burrus warned that the trust of your customers should be your chief concern whenever you decide to transform your business. “Before implementing any kind of change, ask yourself where is the trust between us and the people who will be impacted by the change?” he said. “Think of it like an old-fashioned gas gauge. If I implement a change in this way, what happens to trust? And if, in your mind, trust goes down, don’t implement it in that way. […] Change how you implement it so that trust stays where it is. And by the way, if any of you can raise the bar on trust, you’ll be in business for a long time, because we live in a human world.” Ultimately, the central message of Burrus’ presentation was that the future of retail, and therefore the MI industry, is brighter than the naysayers would have you believe, but realizing that brighter future will require transformational change, and it is up to each individual member of the industry to implement that change. “Some brick-and-mortar retailers think the good old days are behind us,” he said. “They’re closing over a hundred stores. Sears and others are doing that right now. At the same time, there are others who are saying the future of brick and mortar [doesn’t] look like the days behind us, but the good old days are actually ahead of us. And they’re opening stores, hundreds of them. What’s your future view? Are you glancing up at the rearview looking backwards, or are you looking through the windshield, seeing what’s really there for you?” He added, “You might be thinking, I don’t know if the future is going to be good. Then make it good. It can be a less human, less connected future, or we could be more connected, more enlightened. ‘Wait and see,’ I don’t like those odds. Let’s get involved.”

Who Decides Your Brand?

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the NAMM University Breakfast Session, “How to Win in the Age of Disruption,” featured Scott Stratten, author of the books “UnMarketing” and “UnBranding,” who offered his approach to making your business stand out in the digital age. And as you can likely tell from the name of his book alone, Stratten’s view of marketing isn’t always conventional — but it’s certainly a perspective worth taking into consideration. When many of us hear the word “branding,” our minds jump to all the different strategies business owners are using to promote their companies. Branding is often treated as something that managers and employees do in order to make their businesses stand out, but Stratten opened Saturday’s breakfast session by offering a different take on creating a brand. In fact, he rejected the notion that an organization’s brand is




Photo by Andie Mills


Celebrating Women in MI

In recent years, the MI industry has increased its efforts to welcome women into its ranks. The Smart Women in Music (SWIM) Fund and the Women’s International Music Network (WiMN) are just two of the organizations making strides in celebrating women’s accomplishments in MI. Both organizations hosted events at The NAMM Show that honored these accomplishments and encouraged women to pursue opportunities in a historically male-dominated industry. The SWIM Fund held its SWIM reception at the Hilton Anaheim on Jan. 23. Women @ NAMM presented the event, with SWIM Captain and NAMM Chair Robin Walenta opening the discussion with a toast. Crystal Morris of Gator Cases then came onstage to welcome special guests Eva Gardner, bassist for Pink!, and Arnetta Johnson, trumpet player for Beyoncé. The two artists spoke of their experiences growing in the industry, highlighting the importance of actively supporting and lifting up other women. They gave advice to business owners and employees, ranging from forging genuine bonds with everyone you meet, to writing all of your ideas down on paper. Following their commentary, it was announced that the SWIM Fund has created a new website where women in the MI industry can expand their reach and connect with mentors to guide them in their careers. A scholarship opportunity was also announced, through which six emerging female leaders in the industry will be able to attend Summer NAMM. The scholarship will help cover the travel and hotel expenses, and will give these women opportunities to shadow successful industry figures and attend numerous educational sessions. In addition to these announcements, Christie Carter of Carter Vintage Guitars also offered to match every donation to the SWIM fund up to $15,000 until Feb. 28. Overall, it was an inspirational evening with many positive outcomes for women pursuing careers in the MI industry. And the WiMN always makes its presence at The NAMM Show known by hosting the annual She Rocks Awards. At the 2019 installment of the event, taking place at the House of Blues Anaheim on Jan. 25, the WiMN honored a number of female musicians and leaders in the industry with prestigious awards. Honorees included Terri Nunn, Macy Gray, Lisa Loeb, Nita Strauss, Erika Ender, Dana DuFine, Dale Krevens, Lynette Sage, Samantha Pink and Terri Winston. Interspersed between award presentations and acceptance speeches were several impressive performances. Strauss rocked the house with a cover of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” and Ender sang the hit song that she co-wrote, “Despacito.” Other highlights included Loeb playing “Stay (I Miss You),” which was featured in the movie “Reality Bites,” as well as Laura Clapp’s cover of Macy Gray’s GRAMMY-winning song “I Try.” And the finale showcased covers of several of Janis Joplin’s greatest hits. The WiMN also premiered songs from “Girl, the Album,” a female-friendly collection of pop songs the organization is working on. This year’s She Rocks Awards certainly gave attendees a night to remember, and it showcased just how far female musicians and leaders can go.


decided by those on the inside. Though retailers can certainly brainstorm ways to implement their desired image, a company’s brand is ultimately created by its customers. “A brand is simply when you see something — when you see a logo, when you see a person or a band, or even an album cover — whatever you think, that’s the brand,” Stratten explained. “It’s not what I think of myself.” This isn’t the most conventional view of branding, but it’s one that business owners would do well to pay attention to. “Psychologists say when we see a logo, we think of two things: our most recent experience with the brand we’ve had or heard and the most extreme experience with the brand we’ve had or heard,” Stratten added. He then recounted the experience of a family that had stayed at the Ritz Carlton while on vacation. After checking out of the hotel and traveling home, they realized that their son had left behind his favorite toy, a stuffed giraffe named Joshy. The father told his son that Joshy had decided to take an “extended vacation,” calling the Ritz Carlton in a panic immediately after. But he needn’t have worried. The employees at the hotel had found Joshy while cleaning the family’s hotel room, and they agreed to overnight the stuffed animal back to them at no cost. This alone might have left this family with a positive view of the company, but the father’s expectations were exceeded when he

Pre-Show Events

Although The NAMM Show officially started on Jan. 24, those who attended early discovered a treasure trove of educational sessions, events and press conferences. The C.F. Martin press conference on Jan. 23 featured tons of new product releases, but also an introductory speech by Chris Martin IV, who joked he was attending his 746,000th NAMM Show. “About seven years ago, [Hal Leonard’s] Larry Morton at this show came up to me and I asked if I would want to become a part of the NAMM Executive Committee. [Morton was NAMM chairman at the time]. I said, ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘It’s a journey, but it will be fun.’ I asked [my wife] Diane what it would entail. I said, ‘I don’t know, but it will be fun.’ She said, ‘OK, go for it.’ “I am six years into that journey now,” Martin continued. “I started out as treasurer. … I am the vice chairman now. Next, I will transition to chairman.” As vice chairman of NAMM, Martin also serves as chairman of the NAMM Foundation. “I am so honored to be [at the NAMM Foundation] with [NAMM Chris Martin IV chairman and CEO] Joe Lamond, [Two Old Hippies’] Tom Bedell, [former New York Yankees superstar] Bernie Williams and [Sweetwater founder and CEO] Chuck Surack. When Bill Collings passed, I knew he left a legacy that was worth preserving. I want to thank many of you who have supported the Bill Collings fund. It’s very important to me. I miss Bill. Bill was a character with a capital C.” Press conferences took place in droves on Thursday as well, once the show started. Most debuted some excellent new products, but other headlines were made as well. Case in point was the PRS press conference. During this event, company founder Paul Reed Smith recapped the company’s recent success. “Three years ago, we were at $40 million [in sales]. Two years ago, we did $50 million, and last year we hit $58 million.” Smith then went on to describe that the company has achieved such success by not striving to be a “brand” but by making high-quality musical instruments. “What’s extraordinary to me is that we’re guitar makers and amp builders. We try to provide you with something that when you get it out of the box, you’re really excited and you don’t want to sell the next day…the first goal of the company is to build the best tools. Our artists would never play our guitars unless they loved them, unless the instruments do the job for them… and if there’s a better tool, I’d better be concerned cause they’re going to start using it.”


The Loudspeaker System Showcase

The 2019 NAMM Show included the first-ever Loudspeaker System Showcase, which took place in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. The event served as a “shootout” for loudspeaker manufacturers to demonstrate their sys-

tems in a real-world live environment. Eleven manufacturers, including Alcons Audio, BASSBOSS, Crest Audio, dbTechnologies, EM Acoustics, Martin Audio, RCF, TW Audio, Verity Audio, VOID Acoustics and Yorkville Sound, showed off their speaker systems. Each company also had representatives on hand to answer the audience’s questions about the systems and educate attendees on the finer points of live sound. “The Loudspeaker System Showcase was designed to offer member companies the opportunity to demonstrate both flown and portable systems in a real-world setting to a mix of industry professionals,” said NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond. “The controlled environment of the Anaheim Convention Center Arena provided side-by-side listening opportunities for evaluating leading loudspeaker systems from around the pro audio industry, in addition to getting further technical details and pricing information from qualified representatives of each company.” In addition to offering a new attraction for The NAMM Show attendees, the Loudspeaker System Showcase also reflected The NAMM Show’s growing emphasis on the pro audio side of the MI market. According to Lamond, “The Showcase is a natural extension of the tools and technologies in which people make and listen to music. For those professionals on the road, the ability to visit, engage and hear the differences in the systems and have the signal chain all in one place — plus the education to support it — made sense to us. In many ways, it completed the signal chain of the tools and technologies found across the show floor.” He added, “We look forward to the Loudspeaker System Showcase returning to The 2020 NAMM Show.”

received the package the next day. Not only did the box contain the stuffed giraffe, but inside of it were pictures of the Joshy’s so-called “extended vacation.” The employees of the Ritz Carlton had taken photos of the toy giraffe lounging by the pool, and they’d even given him his own Ritz Carlton nametag. “You see how your view of a brand can change with a story?” Stratten concluded. “We all want word of mouth for our business, but we forget the one thing that makes that happen, which is doing things worth talking about.”

It Matters Who You Hire

Stratten tells this story every time he has a speaking engagement about marketing because it perfectly captures how to make a name for your business. And after stressing the importance of giving people a good reason to talk about your brand, Stratten moved on to discuss his favorite part of the Ritz Carlton story: its “authors.” He pointed out that the staff members who found Joshy and took the photos were a frontdesk clerk and a laundry worker. “Two of the lowest paid and lowest appreciated people at the workplace are the biggest brand creators,” Stratten emphasized. “Which is the same as your business. Whoever’s dealing with the public the most, whoever’s dealing with the clients the most … they are your brand.” This is why it’s so crucial that retailers hire employees who are passionate about providing good customer service. Stratten also highlighted the importance of training workers and making them feel valued. Even if their time at your business is “just a job” to them, Stratten believes that employers can keep staff members interested in their MARCH 2019

The 34th Annual NAMM TEC Awards

Photo courtesy Jesse Grant, Getty Images

The 34th Annual NAMM TEC Awards took place on Jan. 26 at the Hilton Anaheim. At the event,

Peter Frampton

winners were announced in 23 technical and eight creative excellence categories centered on audio production for music, television, film and live events. Comedian Demetri Martin returned for his second year as host of the TEC Awards. With the notably self-deprecating Martin setting the pace for the proceedings, the event struck a decidedly irreverent tone, much to the apparent delight of attendees looking to unwind after several hectic days on the show floor. However, Martin and his fellow presenters were sure to get serious at times and give kudos to the impressive achievements of the award winners and nominees. Highlights of the event included the legendary Herbie Hancock inducting Skywalker Sound engineer, producer, and director of music and scoring Leslie Ann Jones into the NAMM TEC Hall of Fame. In her acceptance speech, Jones offered her own unique perspective as a woman who made a name for herself in the old boys’ club of studio production, and she also highlighted the efforts of herself and other women in the recording industry to champion up-and-coming female audio engineers and artists. The event ended with a spectacular performance from Les Paul Innovation Award honoree Peter Frampton, whose setlist included his smash hit “Do You Feel Like We Do,” as well as a stunning cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” during which Frampton used his trademark talk box to pay tribute to the late Chris Cornell’s incredible vocals. To view a complete list of winners, as well as video clips of the event itself, go to


work by providing feedback and taking their suggestions into consideration. And yes, that includes millennial staff members. “I don’t care what age you are, you still want to feel valued in the workplace,” Stratten said. “Is there a difference between the millennial generation right now than when we were that age — when [Baby] Boomers were that age? Yes. The difference is disruption.” From there, the author segued

into one of the main themes of his lecture: disruption. Disruption, as Stratten defines it, is “change without time to resist it.” And the faster that technology — and society in general — advances, the more valuable it becomes to have a staff of workers that can quickly adapt. It’s also necessary, of course, to be capable of adapting yourself. Businesses that don’t change to accommodate new developments are the ones that won’t survive the digital age.

Gone are the times when employers and business owners could avoid change until retirement, leaving the next person in their shoes to figure things out. “Change is not slow anymore,” Stratten pointed out. “And if a generation — especially the younger half of millennials — has grown up in disruption, and that’s the only norm for them, that’s an asset to your business.” Of course, having a versatile (continued on page 56)

NAMM 2019: THE NEW CLASS THIS YEAR’S FIRST-TIMERS BRING INNOVATION AND PASSION TO THE SHOW FLOOR. BY AMANDA MULLEN AND ANTHONY VARGAS Each NAMM Show welcomes dozens of first-time exhibitors, from brand-new startups to passion projects for MI industry stalwarts to established brands looking to expand into new markets. Although the big-name manufacturers dominate the bulk of NAMM Show coverage, these smaller companies often have their own intriguing stories to go along with their groundbreaking products. That’s why, each year, The Retailer spotlights a handful of standouts among the NAMM Show’s new class. This year, we present eight more.

Pedal Pods

Website: Facebook: @pedalpods Those looking for a unique take on a well-known MI accessory should make a point of checking out Pedal Pods. Based out of Richmond, Va., Pedal Pods was created by Jerry Calder, a consumer electronics industry insider, and Rick Garrett, a musician who was frustrated with the limitations of the average pedalboard. “I was on the basement floor rewiring my pedalboard,” Garrett recounted. “I had a new effects pedal I wanted to add, and it just would not fit. I was sitting there, frustrated, then I noticed a bag of Legos nearby that my daughter had left on the floor. At that moment, the lightbulb went off. I thought, what if we built a pedalboard out of interconnected pieces? I then pitched the idea to Jerry, and he got started on the mechanics and design.” That’s the story behind the evolution of Pedal Pods, a modular, powered, locking pedalboard system. “Our system provides power and audio for each pedal location,” Garrett said. “Musicians now have the flexibility to make their pedalboards wider, deeper, smaller or taller in just minutes. There are two separate audio loops that you can combine with a switch for easy transitioning between different types of amplifiers. Each pod provides isolated power and selectable, regulated voltage — nine to 18 volts per location.” But what really makes Pedal Pods unique is that users can reshape their boards at any time. “You can make it smaller for a small stage or bigger for a larger venue using a Phillips screwdriver. Also, whenever you want to add additional pedals, you don’t have to rewire your board all over again or buy a bigger board. You just add a pod for each new pedal.” Thanks to the flexible cabling capabilities, Pedal Pods users can route the wiring/signal path in any direction they choose. “We employ Cat6


cable inside the pods that takes the signal and power from pod to pod,” Garrett explained. “And through the routing channels, you can wire in any direction. For example, if you have a boost pedal and you want to add other pedals to that boost circuit, you can route in any direction to incorporate other pedals in that boost loop.” The wiring and power are housed inside the pods giving users a neat, decluttered layout. With that sort of convenience, it’s no surprise that Pedal Pods attracted positive attention at The NAMM Show. In fact, on day one of the show, the brand was listed in’s Top 10 most exciting announcements of the show — an impressive feat for a first-time exhibitor. “We are pleased with all of the positive feedback we’ve received,” Garrett said. “We’ve gotten some great suggestions too, which we will strongly consider going forward.” Calder and Garrett are aiming to have Pedal Pods available this April.

MARCH 2019

Flint Percussion

Website: Facebook: @flintdrums U.K.-based Flint Percussion managed to rise above the drum hall din thanks to its innovative line of lightweight, high-tension snare drums. The company, which has been around since 2005, is helmed by mother-and-son team Julie and Paul Holding. The Holdings explained that their idea to create a much lighter snare drum came from Julie’s daughters’ interest in playing the snare for pipe and drum, and her concern, as a parent, about the effect the weight of the heavy snares would have on her daughters’ health. The Holdings took a look at the design of a typical snare drum and determined that much of the excess weight came from the tensioning system. “So, we’ve developed this tensioning system now which is through the shell,” Paul Holding explained. “We call it a Suspended Shell. All of the drums that Flint Percussion makes use this design. The shell is held in suspension by the drum skins. Nothing touches the drum skin externally. These drums are fully resonant, because nothing touches the shell externally.” Flint Percussion currently offers two varieties of marching snare drum: the Super XTS 2 Pipe Band Snare Drum for traditional pipe and drum, which weighs 4.2 kilograms (about 9.3 lbs.) and the Drum Corps Snare for American-style drum corps, which weighs 4.1 kilograms (about 9 lbs.). The company also offers a lightweight harness for both models. “The pipe band snare is fitted with two snares. That’s one under the batter head, and one under the bottom, the resonant head. They are fixed because pipe band snares these days are only ever played with the snares on,” Holding described. “The drum corps snare drum has two snares, again. We have a fixed internal snare on the bottom skin, and we have a throw-offable external snare. So, the drum can be played either half snare with just the internal snare, or we can put the throw lever up, and that can be played with full snare.” In addition, Flint Percussion offers the Reggae/Ska Snare Drum for drum kits. “The reggae shell is a one-piece, solid-aluminum shell, fully suspended on a 12-lug snare drum,” Holding said. “The reggae shell itself is piccolo, that’s 3.5-inch deep. Both the butt plate and the snare throw, our own unique snare throw, are fixed to the bottom hoop. Once again, nothing touches the shell.” He added, “We sent an example of this drum over to the world’s most successful reggae band ever, that being the U.K. band UB40. Their drummer, Jimmy Brown,

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tried it out and said he will never go back to any other snare. This is the best he’s ever heard.” According to Holding, The NAMM Show crowd was very receptive to Flint Percussion’s product line. “More than half of the people we’ve spoken to [said], ‘I’ve got a bad back because I was forced to carry these heavy drums when I was younger. I wish that I’d had this drum then.’ So, OK, the day for them has passed, but the day is here now for the next generation. So hopefully, the days of drummers developing bad backs with heavy drums might be coming to an end.” The Holdings added that their company is very interested in the U.S. market, and as an incentive for U.S.-based dealers, they’re offering the Super XTS 2 Pipe Band Snare Drum and the Drum Corps Snare for $650 each.

Culebra Guitars

Website: Instagram: @culebraguitars At The NAMM Show, you’re likely to find guitars of just about every variety, but cigar-box guitars remain a niche item for most manufacturers. However, one new upstart, Culebra Guitars, is seeking to dominate that niche with its multiple lines of production-model cigar-box guitars, as well as its custom offerings. Culebra Guitars draws heavily on its name — the Spanish word for “snake” — for inspiration. According to Culebra’s Greg Baez, “Culebra has many meanings. The biggest meaning for us is that a snake sheds its skin, and we felt like we were at that part of our lives. The whole reason the snake sheds its skin is for growth, and they never stop. It’s something that means a lot to us, and we really want to grow this company into something that’s just going to blow up.” That inspiration extends to Culebra’s entire product line; all models have names inspired by snakes, and feature accents like laser-etched snake scales and matching headstocks modeled after the silhouette of a coiled boa constrictor. At this year’s show, Culebra Guitars demonstrated its Cobra and Rattler production-model cigar-box guitars. “The Cobra [is named for] its wider body and its really slim profile, like a cobra with its crown extended,” Baez explained. “We’re doing a single-coil lipstick pickup, and we do all of our frets, we do all of our inlays. The frets are Dunlop, and then the bone nuts, we’re shaping all those ourselves. We’re using maple and walnut woods, and our boxes are Spanish cedar. And then the graphics were all done in-house.” He continued, “The Rattler has a beautiful aluminum cone that’s spun on a lathe. It’s named the Rattler because of that certain sound it has. It has resonator strings, it has that resonator cone. It reminds us of a Western feel. All of the artwork was done in-house, and we laser engrave scales on the side to give it that diamondback feel of a rattlesnake.” The company will also soon debut a third production model, the Mamba. The production models will be available in both righty and lefty configurations. Culebra Guitars decided to roll out its production models to bring some consistency to the world of cigarbox guitars. “You love your favorite artists not only for their lyrics, or their performance, but the way they sound, the instruments they play. And when that influences you, you go out and buy that same instrument. You want to be like them. So that was something that we really wanted to do with these guitars. We wanted to have a consistency of sound, of feel, of the way it looks,” Baez said. “We’re always going to continue building traditional cigar boxes, but the thing is, we have no control over how those boxes are going to sound until they’re built. With our production line, we know how it’s going to sound, we know how it’s going to look and we know how it’s going to feel. And all three of those really matter for any type of instrument you’re playing.” According to Baez, the decision to exhibit at The NAMM Show was a good one for Culebra Guitars. “I’ve been here as a consumer, but I’ve never been here as an exhibitor, and as this experience is going, I think we’re going to be at NAMM for years to come, because it’s been great for us,” he shared. “We’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. People here are great.” (continued on page 58)


MARCH 2019

Bob Weir rocked out at the D’Angelico booth. Fender’s Alternate Reality guitars

Dr. Randall Faber (center) of Faber Piano Adventures was honored during Roland’s press conference.

Orianthi showed some of Nexi’s products.

Gibson’s booth featured tons of live performances.

Steve Vai joined Hal Leonard’s Jeff Schroedl and David Jahnke.

Daniel Shatzkes of Gig Gear

Chauvet put its Maverick Storm lighting product to the test.

Peter Frampton at the TEC Awards

The Celestion party featured live music and line dancing at The Ranch.

Godin’s Robert Godin received Guitars in the Classroom’s “Biggest Heart for Children” award.

The fog was rolling in at Froggy’s Fog's booth.

A view of the outside of Alfred Music’s booth


The “fire” was burning at the Chesbro booth


Namm pics

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Goldbergs” star Jeff Garlin chats with guitarist Greg Koch.

Traveler Guitar offered a unique way to demonstrate its new products.

The RCF booth was often busy.

Lisa Loeb rocked the She Rocks Awards.

Yorkville’s James Greenspan

IK Multimedia’s Happy Hour was packed.

A makeshift sign offering NAMM parking

Peavey’s Fred Poole

Dexibell offered live performances throughout The NAMM Show.

Lee Oskar hailed “For All/For Life,” an exhibit featuring dramatic fine art photography by Michael Weintrob, showing people of all ages, stages, walks of life and professional backgrounds.

Brianna Alomar performed at the Warwick booth.


Gibson’s 125th Anniversary Monarch guitar

MARCH 2019

Music Nomad’s Morgan Miles and Rand Rognlien

The Command Sisters play at a C.F. Martin pre-NAMM press conference.

Namm pics A wall demonstrating Kala’s products

Adam Hall Group’s Nikke Blout

Lyon & Healy’s party featured musical performances, tacos and much more.

Roland debuted a keyboard with Alexa built into it.

Fishman’s booth was rocking during the show.

Performers at the Gruv Gear booth on Jan. 27.

The Sabian booth is always a sight to see

Gibson CEO JC Curleigh (left) was joined by Charles Berry Jr. and Charles Berry III.

The Kyser booth was a place to be.

Manhasset Stands’ Dan Roberts, Mary Rowden and Jason Carter were joined by Lenka Werichova and Jindrich Strelka, retailers in the Czech Republic, as well as Kyle Ewalt of Frederick Export.


Laney offered a fun, unique booth.

Adam Smith, executive director for the Comic-Con Museum, announced a ollaboration between Roland and the museum.


Best Acoustic Guitar of 2018 Taylor Builder’s Edition K14ce Best Bass Guitar of 2018 Fender American Original ‘60s Precision Bass in 3-Color sunburst Best Guitar Accessory of 2018 D’Addario Accessories Auto Lock Strap Best Electric Guitar of 2018 Fender Eric Johnson Signature Stratocaster Thinline Best Effect Pedal of 2018 Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 Reverb Best Non-Guitar Fretted Instrument of 2018 Kala Wanderer U-Bass Best Strings of 2018 D’Addario Nyltech Ukulele Strings Best Band & Orchestra Product of 2018 Promark Tim Fairbanks Signature Series Best Keyboard/Sound Module of 2018 Yamaha MODX8 Best Amplifier of 2018 VOX AC30 OneTwelve


Best Speaker of 2018 JBL 3 Series Best Mixer/Console of 2018 Allen & Heath SQ-7 Best Multitrack Recorder of 2018 Roland R-07 Best Acoustic Drum Product of 2018 Ludwig NeuSonic L24023TX and L26223TX Best Electronic Drum Product of 2018 Roland TD-17 KVX Best Cymbals of 2018 A Zildjian Uptown Ride Best Percussion Accessory of 2018 Yamaha HW3 CROSSTOWN Advanced Lightweight Hardware Best Wireless System of 2018 Shure ADX Series Transmitters Best Cabled Microphone of 2018 Neumann U 67 Best Lighting Product of 2018 Chauvet Freedom H1 X4 Best DJ Product of 2018 Pioneer DDJ-1000


Best Bag/Case of 2018 Gator Cases Transit Lightweight Series Guitar Cases Best Book/Video/Software of 2018 Dexibell XMURE iOS Keyboard Arranger App Best Accessory Product of 2018 On-Stage LED2224 Dual USB Rechargeable Sheet Music Light 2018 Outstanding MI Service Provider Reverb 2018 Product of the Year Fender Player Series 2018 Rep of the Year

Jeremy Payne, The Music People

2018 Outstanding Community Service Award D’Addario 2018 Manufacturer of the Year D’Addario Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame Ikutaro Kakehashi, Roland (posthumous)


3 MARCH 2019












6 1 Best Keyboard/Sound Module and Best Percussion Accessory — Yamaha 2 Best Guitar Accessory, Best Strings, Best Band & Orchestra Product, Outstanding Community Service Award and Manufacturer of the Year — D’Addario 3 Best Lighting Product — Chauvet 4 Best Acoustic Guitar — Taylor Guitars 5 Best Mixer/Console — Allen & Heath 6 Best Electronic Drum Product — Roland 7 Best Book/Video/Software — Dexibell 8 Rep of the Year (also Best Accessory Product) — Jeremy Payne, The Music People 9 Best Speaker — JBL 10 Outstanding MI Service Provider — Reverb 11 Best Effect Pedal — Electro-Harmonix 12 Best Cabled Microphone — Neumann 13 Best Bass Guitar, Best Electric Guitar and Product of the Year — Fender 14 Best Bag/Case — Gator Cases 15 Best Amplifier — Vox 16 Best Cymbals — Zildjian 17 Best Mulitrack Recorder — Roland 18 Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame — Ikutaro Kakehashi (accepted by his son Ikuo Kakehashi) 19 Best DJ Product — Pioneer 20 Best Wireless System — Shure 21 Best Non-Guitar Fretted Instrument — Kala 22 Best Acoustic Drum Product — Ludwig







22 35



CEO, Odyssey Innovative Designs By Brian Berk

San Gabriel, Calif.-based Odyssey Innovative Designs will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, so it’s a good time to check in with CEO John Hsiao, to talk about his career, the DJ industry and much more. Hsiao answered the questions on behalf of both himself and president Mario Montano. Enjoy.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Please describe your career, background John Hsiao and the story behind the founding of Odyssey. John Hsiao: Both Mario (Montano) and I come from entrepreneurial backgrounds, so we have a strong affinity toward the small business owner. Our roots are deep in the DJ community, dating back to the 1980s, when I ran a DJ shop/record store and Mario had a DJ/event production company. Back then, there were just a few custom case manufacturers that would build one-off cases, all catering to live sound. Because of the labor and technology involved with custom cases, there was no real cost-effective solution for the mobile DJ. So, after creatively piecing together a few cases to protect his own DJ equipment, Mario and I had the idea of why not make cases for the main DJ gear at that time? We could build a dozen pieces at a time, and I could sell them at my DJ shop at a much lower price than the custom built cases on the market. After an initial trial period, we quickly learned that DJs loved our ready-built cases, and they loved the fact that we had cases in stock that supported their gear. This meant no more expensive, long lead time, custom cases were needed because we offered the perfect solution. Mario and I collaborated on the concept further, building out a plan for mass production, and Odyssey was born.

Mario Montano

The Retailer: Please tell us about the products you offer and what need your products fulfill. Hsiao: Odyssey has always been a champion of the DJ community, “For DJs, By DJs.” And so our entire team, from research and development to sales, is built around veteran DJs with powerful knowledge of the market. At our core, we design and manufacture professional cases to protect DJ, live sound and event production equipment. I don’t think there’s a piece of DJ gear on the market we don’t have a case for, and if we don’t, we can build it. Over the years, we’ve expanded into a variety of accessories for DJs and event producers from road cases and professional trunks, to stands, tables and bags, while our sister companies offer trussing, mobile stage solutions, as well as custom, made-to-order cases. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve been protecting DJs for more than two decades, and the community puts their trust in our products. The Retailer: How was your NAMM Show? Were you happy with the traffic flow at the booth? Were you pleased with the number of MI retailers who swung by your booth? Hsiao: We have always had a good turnout at NAMM, and I think it’s really a testament to the great relationships we’ve built over the years. From our professional equipment partners who we work closely with to design and craft protective cases supporting their products, to the strong dealer and distributor network we’ve come to call friends. We’ve all grown together in this tight-knit industry. The Retailer: Tell us about some of the new products you announced at or around the time of the show. Hsiao: Odyssey is heavily embedded in the DJ and event community, so we feel we have a good understanding of all their evolving needs. At The NAMM Show, in addition to some new cases to support new DJ and lighting equipment, we further enhanced our patented Glide Style platform to provide even more versatility and functionality for the performing DJ. We took this new Glide Style design and incorporated it into our Flight Zone and patented Black Label series cases. We also introduced extensions to our Streemline EVA bag series and our popular BACKSPIN DJ backpack series. The Retailer: What is the state of the case market today? Are you optimistic? Hsiao: The professional case market is essentially as strong as the professional DJ, lighting and pro audio equipment industry we support. Overall, the MI, PA and DJ industries seem to have continued to grow and prosper, and I think it’s because the foundation of the industry is built on the resiliency of the small business owner. From the shop owners to the sales reps, the manufactures to the customers, it’s really a community of entrepreneurs rooting for each other. 36

MARCH 2019

We’re very optimistic about the market. Odyssey has always invested in our industry, from our staff and technology, to our dealers and the DJ community, and the success we’ve had is a direct result. Our extensive backgrounds and real-world experiences, from managing a DJ shop to operating a production company, has positioned us at the forefront of our industry by delivering solutions that truly enhance the world of the DJ, event producer, musician, etc.

The Retailer: Are your sales specifically tied to the products you are protecting? Is that of any concern? Hsiao: Our product sales are really tied to the community we serve, from the bedroom DJ to the club DJ, the mobile entertainer to the event producer. There’s no shortage of DJ or MI equipment in the market, and so we’re not as concerned about equipment sales. We’re more focused on constantly advancing our innovations to stay ahead of the industry. Whether it’s a one-person show or a mega corporation, we exist to support and protect their business and investment. The Retailer: What are your hottest-selling products right now? Hsiao: We’ve been fortunate with our assortment of products because we’ve done well across the board. I think having a good handle on the needs of the market has allowed us to design and produce a good mix of industry leading products. If we had to pinpoint one product, all of our cases that incorporate our patented Slide Style and Glide Style platform have been extremely popular, from our Flight Zone to our patented Black Label DJ cases. When we brought these built-in platform technologies to the market, it really revolutionized the way DJs set up their gear because it addressed their exact need; a system to effectively support their evolving digital gear, such as laptops, controllers, interfaces, drum machines, etc. The Retailer: You have a strong MI dealer network. Tell us about what your philosophy is toward these retailers. Hsiao: With the MI and pro audio markets, the dealer network is really the backbone of the industry, and so we’ve always been strong proponents of supporting the network as best we can. Our philosophy has been to do business in an honest and trustworthy manner, always putting our dealer network first. It’s just good practice to all work together in order to move our industry forward. If we can ensure their success, it naturally translates to ours. The Retailer: What does the future look like for Odyssey? What might we see from the company in the future? Hsiao: For almost 25 years now, Odyssey has continued to grow with the mindset of always exploring and learning, so we’ll naturally evolve alongside the community that we’ve championed from the beginning. Our roots are in the DJ and event production community, and we invest in technology and innovation, so we’ll continue to design and build innovative tools needed by DJs, musicians and entertainers to enhance their world. We were there from the early days of vinyl and analog and stayed ahead of the curve into the digital movement. Whatever the future presents, we’ll evolve alongside it. The Retailer: Anything you would like to add? Hsiao: Odyssey was essentially created to fill a need in the market, which was ready-made cases for DJs and event production equipment. We have tremendous pride in the fact that we created this industry category of cases, and 25 years later, we’re still the industry standard as more brands attempt to enter the market. It’s speaks to the amazing team we have, and the fact that we listen to what DJs and event producers need, and creatively develop innovative solutions for them. And it’s really a testament to the community we’ve built around us, from our dealers and distributors, to our equipment partners and all the DJs supporting us. We’re very fortunate to be where we are today, and we look forward to continuing to lead through innovation. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



LEAVING MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO Ah, San Francisco, home of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, the world’s most crookedest street, and the late-great Human Jukebox (now memorialized on a porta potty, believe it or not). Few can resist the charms of this fair city with its lovely architecture, varied cuisines and durable cable cars. You exercise by walking up and down many of those really steep streets. (Or have a fun car ride instead.) This town is almost a shrine to psychedelic rock and hardcore punk. The Summer of Love was long ago, and the legendary music club Mabuhay Gardens is too, but the legacy lingers on. (Check out the one-time Grateful Dead House at 704 Ashbury Street, from the sidewalk.) And of course, I trooped into Amoeba Music on Haight Street, which purports to be the “world’s largest independent record store” (MI Spy bought a 5-CD set of the Count Basie Orchestra live!). But of course, there was more to this excursion than just looking for cool tie-dyed magnets: MI Spy went in search of musical instrument shops. Yes, I keep talking in the third-person this month. I was dismayed to find out that at least two music stores I had heard about had closed, and I thought that there would be more stores than I actually encountered. I found four shops to visit, and there are at least three other prominent stores in the city itself. Nearby Berkeley and Oakland also have musical instrument stores as well. But I thought that San Francisco, with its reputation for so many bands and musical genres, would be home to more such stores. 38

Haight Street, the stuff of legends. Having visited this fair city many times since 1973, I can state with certainty that “the Haight” has changed a lot over the years. To a great extent it is much more commercial than it had been, and skeptics scoff at the higher-priced tie-dyed apparel being hawked in stores. But some things do have staying power on Haight Street, and one of them is the Haight Ashbury Music Center, which opened in 1972. It has had the same management for more than 30 years, impressive credentials for an independent store. MI Spy took a family with me [borrowed a friend’s family] to get more perspectives on the visits to each store. I found the store easily, with its burgundy-colored canopy, and strolled inside. The older teen with me honed in on the sheet music section, and was impressed by the deep selection of genre books. The younger teen checked out the many acoustic guitars, both new and used. Spy’s partner rummaged through the store’s signature T-shirt in bins, available in shades of blue, yellow, white and more. As soon as we shuffled through the entrance, a gray-haired fella at the counter asked us “How’s it going?” And later I went back to him to inquire about the Theremini. MI Spy had not previously encountered this gem of an instrument, a synthesizer version of the Theremin. “What is this thing?” I asked him. “Well, it’s an update on the Theremin. Did you try it?” I told him I had, after watching two other customers grow giddy with its features (and yes, you pass your hands over and around it, like the classic Theremin). “It’s like a magnet for some folks,” he said with a dry chuckle. “But it’s more than a gimmick. It has a lot of possibilities

Haight Ashbury Music Center 1540 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117 415.863.7327

MARCH 2019

for certain kinds of bands.” When I couldn’t recall the last name of Clara, the noted female musician who gave concert tours playing the Theremin, the music store guy smiled and said “Rockmore.” (Wikipedia confirms this.) I asked him if the Theremini was a holdover from the days of New Wave rock, and he shook his head. “It’s a more recent invention. And different types of bands like it — rock, pop, jazz, experimental. It has a lot of possibilities.” The Theremini aside, the most floor space at Music Center is devoted to guitars of many types and prices. New and used, beginner models and sophisticated axes, guitars filled the walls and freestanding areas, along with accessories and amps. At some point the older teen was gazing at Telecasters and Strats, of which there were several. Toward the back of the store, a teenager was playing a Lenny Kravitz song, fairly well, while his friends attempted to keep pace on percussion. There were about two dozen customers in the store when we visited, and while some just seemed to be having fun, testing out gear and instruments, a few older folks were buying effects pedals, strings and a music stand. Music Center stocks some oddball instruments, including plastic skull shakers in a rainbow assortment of hues, as well as various ethnic instruments such as steel pans

and Latino percussion pieces. We were glad to see so much sheet music, and the older teen settled on a book of blues numbers for the guitar. We chatted about this with a younger guy working there. “We sell a lot of sheet music here, and people of all ages come for it. We have guitar sheet music, also a lot of piano and vocal mostly, but also flute and others.” He pointed out ukulele books as well. Music Center is a fun store, and a serious store for musicians and students alike. They have an impressive inventory, and the staff have a laid-back but very helpful attitude. It’s the type of place to go with specific items in mind, but it’s also good for impulse shopping. It is kind of crowded, but orderly. Prices are clearly marked and there is a wide range, from a few bucks to a few thousand bucks.

Sunset Music 2311 Irving St. at 24th Ave. San Francisco, CA 94 415.731.1725

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The penny whistle is a cute instrument, and it seems to have pride of place at Sunset Music; in fact, a handwritten sign declared “Don’t Miss Our Pennywhistle Sale!” with two

“Writing music has given me the ability



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to express myself and nothing has helped unlock that part of me more than playing the ukulele! It’s playful and easy to learn the basics so you have more space to have fun and let go!”

– Mandy Harvey

shamrocks placed strategically. So, grab one while you can. If you are a traditional music teacher and just want to look like one, Sunset Music has a lot of what you need. It has a lot of sheet music and a lot of instructional and inspirational music posters for your classroom or studio. In fact, on the store’s website, sheet music and books are the top draw, followed by instruments. The front window is loaded with sheet music. To be honest, sheet music seemed to dominate this shop, rather than actual musical instruments. (And there is a free bin on the counter, a nice touch.) MI Spy was impressed to find out that Sunset Music has been around since the late 1940s; that’s staying power. The pleasant lady who was working there told me that the store has carved out a niche for itself as a “great place to find all different types of sheet music. People do come in and browse. We can’t compete with the Internet for the widest selection of musical instruments, but we stock a lot of sheet music and span many genres of music.” I noted the sheet music to a Panic at the Disco song and other rock and pop, along with a lot of classical music and show tunes. “I know that some teens have asked about Panic! at the Disco, and they also come in asking for The Chemical Romance band’s songs,” she said. (I gently corrected to My Chemical Romance.) I spotted an intriguing black-and-white poster of a cathedral, which was made of musical notation. The lady smiled and told me, “Not everyone even notices the poster, but it is a lovely piece of art. I don’t feel that I have to stock only the splashiest musical items.” And about the penny whistles here? “Children enjoy playing them, and there are many adults who purchase these for themselves as well. They are compact and full of charm.” There is an assortment of musical instruments but not a huge selection, and they are further back in the store. Sunset Music’s mission seems to be more about musical education than about picking an instrument. It offers lessons, repairs and piano tuning, and other services. There is a more scholarly air to this store than the others I encountered in the city, and it has an old-school charm that revolves less around the pushy hard-sell and more around the educational journey. On occasion, a music store doubles as a museum. The San Francisco Guitar Center is a good example of this. There were a few displays that featured musical instruments formerly owned by well-known musicians such as the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. There were photographs of rockers associated with this city, and memorabilia that fit the theme. This is definitely a store where a customer might just want to take a selfie with the wall displays. This is also a Guitar Center that has the bestdisplayed restroom I have encountered. There is a big sign showing you where to find both the restroom and the elevator. I’m not mocking them for this; it’s actually very helpful and considerate. This two-level store also has escalators; however, the morning that I stopped by, Down was not working but Up was fine. This branch of the familiar Guitar Center chain is located on the wide, well-known Van Ness Street, a north-south artery. Unfortunately for Guitar Center and many other nearby businesses when MI Spy visited, there was a lot of disruptive, noisy road work going on along Van Ness. In fact, I asked one of the store salesmen if the road work was impacting business. He grimaced and said “Not usually, but people have griped about the parking situation. Did you have trouble finding a

Guitar Center 1645 Van Ness St. San Francisco, CA 94109 415.409.0350


spot?” I told him “no” and he looked pleased. “I don’t think it’s held back too many customers, but people do bring it up a lot. It’s like the weather, everybody talks about it, but you can’t do much about it.” Sage words. The staff at this large store was friendly and helpful, and I watched one guy working patiently with an older man who was pricing guitar cables. Soon after that, I discussed used guitars with another salesman, who made sure to be forthright about the prices of the various guitars. “Every one of these has its tag. And we have a wide variety of guitars available for a wide variety of prices. We really hope to fit everyone’s budget.” Near the front of the store, I noticed a particular electric guitar propped up in a small office; it had a light shining on it. I was a bit amused, so I pointed to it and asked one of the sales guys, “Is it using a tanning bed?” He smiled at my tepid attempt at humor (danke schon) and said, “Well, it’s being showcased. We had it fixed up by a tech, and now we’re figuring out where to place it on the floor.” Like all Guitar Center stores I have visited, it had a large supply of guitars. It also had one room filled with some very expensive models. The acoustic room had inexpensive as well as quite pricey guitars too. (And a few guitars sported cutesy ribbons, holdover decorations from the recent holiday sales season.) The second floor had drums galore, percussion pieces both familiar and ethnic, with much emphasis on Latino percussion. Overall, this store was very well stocked, neat but far from sterile, and the work crew was very pleasant and knowledgeable. The price tags are clearly marked.

Exploring Music did not come up on my radar until I was actually in San Francisco, unlike the other stores, which were listed on various sites such as Yelp. In fact, I only found this store after we parked our rental car down the block and ate dinner at the trendy Tasty Pot, an Asian eatery across the street. At night Exploring sported a big, imposing gate across the entrance. But I sensed that behind that gate was an interesting musical find. Interesting it was. In the light of day, this turned out to be a friendly, if innocently funky, neighborhood music store with a wide range of new and used instruments. And perhaps the most intriguing aspect here was the assortment of “ethnic” instruments. Several of these less-typical instruments were Asian instruments, such as the Yueqin and the Ruanqin, stringed instruments that MI Spy may have seen in a museum collection. And there was the Meihuaqin, a sort-of flower-shaped stringed instrument that would have looked fab in a Peter Max painting. (Spelling counts!) Thus, Exploring Music offered me a bit of musical instruction that was eye opening. Most of the “exotic” instruments offered here were of Asian background, but they also stocked Middle Eastern percussion instruments too. You had to see the Hapi Bell in D Minor; note that it is made in California. A very busy woman ran the show at Exploring Music but she took time to greet everyone, including me. She asked me if I was interested in new or used instruments, or if I had a child “who would like to sign up for lessons.” Off the top of my head I asked about ukulele lessons. (I had

Exploring Music 814 Clement St. San Francisco, CA 94118 415.831.2500

MARCH 2019

make an informed decision, that the most enjoyable musical store experience in San Francisco is Music Center on Haight Street. For selection and energy level, and for a particularly unique Bay Area atmosphere, Music Center is a highly enjoyable experience. If you are looking for an unusual musical instrument purchase, or a true bargain, Exploring Music is a real find. I’m glad that my sleuthing and stumbling around brought me to

this store. Guitar Center is quite good. You can find a very good selection guitars and drums especially, and you can bow your head to their rock ‘n roll historical goodies. Sunset Music is a really nice shop and definitely a plus for the neighborhood. I hope that it will continue to be a long-time resident of its area, helping to teach students music and anchoring a commercial strip that has one

noticed a few ukes standing off to the side.) “Yes, and children like the ukuleles because they are easy to hold,” she told me as she handed me a business card. “Please watch and listen to this girl at the piano. She’s a very good student!” And so I did; a child who looked to be about 10 played a spirited rendition of a Bach minuet. Everyone clapped. I noticed several musical instruction books devoted to the Suzuki method; I asked the manager if this was especially popular in the area. “For some children yes, but not all,” she said. “You have to figure out the child’s temperament. Some children thrive with this, but others don’t.” And that is quite true. In addition to the Asian instruments, other parts of the musical world were represented: African thumb pianos, Middle Eastern percussion, and the standard instruments such as guitars (mostly acoustic here), violins and cellos, autoharps, drum sets, one or two synthesizers. Most of the people in the store were children with parents, but there was one older woman who took delight in playing a sounding bowl, over and over. This store was the least slick shop I encountered in San Fran, but with its eclectic collection of instruments, a great deal of sheet music especially geared toward kids and a warm maternal figure overseeing it all, I had a fun time here. The many blocks of the Clement Street commercial strip are primarily full of restaurants, food stores, a few bars, some furniture and clothing stores. Thus, Exploring Music is a surprise, a novelty full of exotica and more mainstream musical instruments and equipment. And Exploring Music is also a bargain hunter’s delight. There were at least three used upright pianos for sale, and two cost less than $200 each. I did not plunk their keys, but heck, $200 for a used piano is a definite find, especially in a somewhat expensive city such as San Francisco.

The Capo Company




The teenagers helped me to


proud music store amongst the eateries and clothing establishments. Each of these stores also offers lessons on the premises. Music Center on Haight Street was my favorite and hence the winner. Exploring Music was my surprise delight. Guitar Center is a worthy store in this wide-ranging chain. Sunset Music was a good neighborhood shop.

For US dealer enquiries: Davitt & Hanser. A Division of JAM Industries USA, LLC Tel: 866-817-3822 E: KMC Music. A Division of JAM Industries USA, LLC Tel: 855-417-8677 E:



I was flying back home to Alabama from The NAMM Show, reflecting upon my week in Anaheim. It usually takes me at least a week or two to comb through the pages of notes I take at the Retail Boot Camp, Breakfast Sessions and NAMM University sessions. I absorbed an overwhelming amount of beneficial information in a whirlwind of a few days. This year, I have one thing on my mind as I return home: control. This topic has been on my mind for a while, and this NAMM trip has brought out a new urgency with how I handle control in my company. Owning a six-year-old business has its ups and downs. There are a lot of positives that come from running a smaller team. It’s easy to unify everyone for a common vision, and it’s easy to make an abrupt change if something isn’t working correctly. It’s also easy to lead a small team incorrectly, which I may or may not have done a few times throughout the years. I have realized that in some key areas I am leading my team incorrectly. This really hit home for me during my NAMM week. I hope my column causes you to take a step back and look at your business from top to bottom to see if you are battling control in your company, and how you can resolve it. I have a tiny problem with control, though my wife would probably tell you it’s a tad bit bigger than a small problem. Control can completely halt business growth if left unattended. I am focusing on the control my business has over me and the control I have over my staff. As a business owner, my business is my baby. For the most part, it’s all I think about. It drives my life. I have a strong vision of what my business can become, and I am charging full steam ahead to accomplish it. Although this comes with the territory of owning a business, it can be easy to shift a healthy love of business into a control issue. Perfecting a work-life balance is a challenge that I haven’t quite grasped yet. If it were up to me, I would spend every hour I can at

Spicer’s Music. I love to work, and I love spending time in the store. My issue is that I feel guilty when I’m not at work. Although I don’t believe there is anything wrong with loving work and wanting to spend time at my business, I do believe it can cross the line when it affects quality family time. There isn’t a cookie-cutter recipe for the perfect work-home-life balance. Communication is key here. Challenge yourself to create a healthy dialogue between your family and your business. Taking time to travel and taking time to focus on family can recharge the soul. In return, this can fuel business growth exponentially. Controlling staff is a completely different, but an equally important, issue I have struggled with as a business owner. As I mentioned earlier, I have a strong vision for my business. Every business needs a unified vision to keep every decision on track. My issue has come from the delegation of tasks. Will Mason of Mason Music (and author of the “‘Hire’ Learning” column in this magazine) hosted a powerful NAMM University session on team motivation. “If you delegate a task, you are creating followers. If you delegate authority, you are creating leaders,” he said. I’m afraid I’ve spent too much time creating followers instead of focusing on creating leaders at my business. Effective leadership doesn’t happen overnight. You must be comfort-

able letting your employees fail a few times as they learn proper ways to lead and make decisions. It is acceptable to fail a few times as long as the company’s vision and values are not compromised. A well-run team of diverse and effective leaders can bring new strengths to the table. Mason has a phrase he often uses with his team when they come to him for a decision. He likes to tell his staff, “You decide.” I believe this is an incredibly empowering statement that will grow and develop a team to new heights. I am personally making 2019 the year I use control more effectively in my business. I am going to be intentional about how my business controls my life, and I am going to be intentional about how I control my staff. I challenge you to take some time to look through your leadership styles as you observe your business from top to bottom. Involve your staff as you discuss ways to improve. Regardless of the size of your company and the quality of your team, there’s always room for improvement. Let’s make 2019 our best year yet! As always, I’d love to hear your opinions. You can reach me at

“If you delegate a task, you are creating followers. If you delegate authority, you are creating leaders.”


MARCH 2019


(continued from page 62) an MI retailer who was moving his store to a larger location and planning a grand-opening party. He wanted to give a percentage of the event’s proceeds to the D’Addario Foundation and has since been collecting donations from customers for our work. It was touching that he thought to reach out to us, and we are so appreciative of the support.

The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry? D’Addario Brouder: My father and my uncle, and in turn myself, siblings and cousins, have grown up in this industry. To me, it is a very familial industry. I have begun to meet the next generation of young adults (daughters and sons of industry folks) interested in pursuing careers, and it warms my heart to see that familial quality continue. The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industry and why? D’Addario Brouder: Anyone who is an innovator and unabashedly takes risks doing what they love.   The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? D’Addario Brouder: I tend to feel that we might actually see a simplification of how we live life, distancing ourselves a bit from technology, but I am not on the product innovation side. I am on the education side of this business. I think we are beginning to see a resurgence in public interest in music making that stems from our innate need to exercise our brains and connect to something tangible and meaningful. The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you be doing and why? D’Addario Brouder: I’m passionate about architecture and interior design. I dabble in it on the side when time allows. Ultimately, I’m a closet entrepreneur. I have a Google doc filled with business ideas that are mainly thoughts on how to address modern problems or make the world a safer, cleaner, more humane place.   The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you

enjoy living there. D’Addario Brouder: I grew up on Long Island. It is incredibly beautiful, like living in an enchanted forest with close access to the water. I also loved being so close to New York City as a kid. I still absolutely love New York City.

The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? D’Addario Brouder: I am obsessed with photos and videos that document the history of my

family, past and present. I would die if those disappeared.

The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? D’Addario Brouder: Another tough question. I tend to get very passionate about the books and films (mostly documentaries) I am reading and watching at this very moment. Right now, I am really enjoying the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” I’m actually reading it for a second time (this time with a highlighter).  

The Retailer: The D’Addario Foundation has won the Music & Sound Award for Outstanding Community Service the past six years in a row. Tell us what that means to you. D’Addario Brouder: It is hard for me to process, and I tend to compartmentalize stuff like this and just get back to work. But it truly is so incredibly meaningful. When there is an acknowledgment of your work, it only compels you to want to do much more. I’m humbled and inspired.



Just a few minutes ago, I was sitting at my desk, happily thinking back to what an amazing experience we had at The NAMM Show. Then reality intruded on my thoughts long enough to give me a monumental wakeup call, reminding me that this column is due … yesterday. Well, they say “write what you know,” so why don’t I share some of what I’ve been reflecting on since returning from the show. In “Retailing Better,” I write so much about relationships, I sometimes feel like a therapist. But I believe good relationships are the fuel that drive any successful business. We’ve addressed this idea with coworkers and customers in this column, but since returning from The NAMM Show, I’ve been thinking about how important our suppliers are to our business. This is another level of business relationship that requires our attention. The way we approach our suppliers should be part of our strategic plan. Take a minute to think of how much of what we offer as a music shop, be it products or services, is dependent on our suppliers. Still, many of us view our supplier relationship backwards. There are plenty of us who think that because we are spending money with a supplier, we’re in a leading position, and can exploit the relationship with unreasonable demands.


Suppliers are innovators. Our suppliers are on the front lines, contributing to new product development and improving the things you already sell. They love their products even more than you do and are busy dreaming up the next product your customers can’t live without.


Let’s think this through. The truth is, the easy, engaging and convenient shopping experience provided by the internet has led customers to expect more from retail. Customers want a better experience and want to be in charge of how they engage. Online surveys indicate the main reason internet shoppers ever visit a brick-and-mortar retailer is they want to see, touch and try out a product before they purchase it. This experience is something your suppliers spend a lot of time and money thinking about, and good ones are there to help you provide it. Other customers want to interact with a trusted expert. Who better to make you an expert on the products you offer than the people who build and sell them? Even your loyal regulars might shop elsewhere if you are unable to provide them with exactly what they want, and when they want it. For every type of customer, there is a reason you’ll need good and reliable suppliers. When you find one, never take them for granted, and be loyal. Those companies you choose to do business with are essential to your shop’s good health and growth. Think of this relationship another way. A good supplier is a nuanced, bootstrapping strategy. A good supplier relationship will impact your company in five key ways:

Suppliers are driving improvements in quality. The quality of the products you offer can positively, or negatively, affect your customers’ experiences. Offering higher quality products should provide a better customer experience and decrease warranty issues or returns that negatively impact your bottom line.


Suppliers make you more competitive. Many suppliers offer great training programs for you and your co-workers. Taking advantage of these can make your shop full of “go-to” experts. They also provide ready-made images for point-of-purchase materials, displays and advertisements that help shops look great, even those without deep pockets for marketing. Choosing suppliers carefully can give you a competitive advantage, too, based on their pricing, terms or unique offerings.


Suppliers can help you avoid inventor y shortages. The timeliness of your suppliers’ deliveries is vital to how customers view your reliability. Consistent, fast turnaround is the key to minimizing your on-hand inventory. Lower inventory levels mean less risk of stock going “stale” or becoming obsolete on the shelf. It also means you have lower cash needs.

Suppliers can help improve your cash position. Customers who have proven to be loyal and make timely payments can often receive more favorable terms. Being a good partner can make a supplier willing to offer additional financing when you need to grow. Suppliers frequently offer reliable customers debt postponement or extended terms on new purchases. 44


MARCH 2019

While unreasonable demands are never OK, it is acceptable to be a demanding customer on occasion. Any healthy relationship is bilateral. Sure, your suppliers are critical to the success of your business, but that doesn’t empower them to steamroll over you. My advice? Go ahead and be demanding when necessary, but make your demands fair. Hold your suppliers to their agreements and shop them to be sure they are staying competitive with their pricing and terms. Most importantly, never allow them to charge you higher prices than other purchasers. If a supplier can’t perform to your expectations, you may need to move on from them. Before doing so, be fair, and try to help them change to better meet your expectations. Being loyal does not mean

I’m suggesting you rely on one supplier for any given product category. Customers, after all, expect you to have a variety of offerings. A good supplier will expect you to have other relationships. You should never be hesitant to tell a key supplier who else you are working with. Like all of us, they appreciate your honesty. So how do you become a valued customer? Honestly, it’s not complicated; it’s just doing the things you already know. Always pay on time. Pay your obligations on time, every time. Negotiate for all the favorable payment terms, guaranteed delivery dates and perks you want before you place an order. After that order is placed, don’t try to re-open negotiations. Things happen, however, and

if there comes a time you can’t pay, don’t ignore the problem until you get a “nastygram” from your supplier. Make the call and tell them what the issue is and when you will have the ability to pay. You will not believe the credibility and goodwill you will earn by observing this simple rule. Be a good communicator. Keep your partners informed; they’re interested in your company. If you make changes in your staff, or have a special event on the horizon, let them know. Many times, you’ll find your suppliers will have helpful insights when they are aware of what’s happening in your business. Avoid surprise rush orders. Understand how much time your suppliers need to fill your orders and do your best

to give them that time. At The NAMM Show, we often share our projections with our suppliers, unless we have a competitive reason not to do so. Get personal. Take an interest in your suppliers’ operations. Offer to visit their office or ask for a factory tour. Invite them to your store and ask them to participate in staff meetings. Also, remember it’s not always about work. These are music people just like you. Make them part of your staff social activities, like concerts or nights out. Developing solid relationships with your manufacturer partners is simple. In the end, they only want from you what you want from your customers. So, pay your bills on time, communicate effectively, be demanding but fair and show a little loyalty.

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The Three Types of MI Retailers Here’s how this one vendor sees the community of music retailers: We have to examine the past to really understand the first group. There was a time when there were 20,000 music stores, and now it’s probably something closer to 8,000 stores, so the majority of the first group have been weeded out. The rest I coin as the survivors. These are guys who have gigged or are gigging and have a great love for gear, and in their defense, just simply don’t have the interest in being in retail. They ended up with a room full of gear and an open sign and no marketing plan. They’re holding on to pay bills with what they know and eventually sell their company.  Before the internet, you could have a 300-mile radius around you with no competition and sell C.F. Martin’s above list and get away with it. Between you and me, in those days they called Atlanta Discount Music the biggest store in Nashville. The same thing goes for Don’s Music Land in Peoria. It was known as the biggest Martin dealer in Chicago. It existed because of the opportunity and social network, not because of drive and business sense. The majority of the survivors don’t even have a grasp of the models of each brand they themselves stock. They just respond like Pavlov’s dog to phrases chanted by the rep of the day, like “deal” or “free freight” or “10-percent off.” These guys tend to be naturally pessimistic and blame the internet and Guitar Center for all the ills of their world as a sort of rationale for their own failure at retail. Again, in their defense, their ambition was never to be retailers to begin with. It’s not their personality. They survive. ...That’s why these days they’ve been pushed into the corner of the industry, where they just provide a service that their given community demands. You often hear them say things like “once the guitar market tanked, I really just focused on installs” or lessons, or repair etc. ... Personally, I don’t believe retail is dead; I just think bad retail is dead, and those who were in that group have been pushed into focusing on local services to survive.

By Allen McBroom Last fall, I was traveling to a family event, and I stopped in to spend some time with one of my vendors. He’s a good guy, very thoughtful, and in the midst of our conversation, he threw out the term “numbers hawk.” I asked him to explain, and he told me a numbers hawk was someone who knew their inventory, who ordered what would sell and who didn’t sit on dead inventory. As our conversation continued, he got around to describing his view of MI retailers, and how he categorized us into survivors, entrepreneurs and academics. Since most vendors are reticent about telling us what they really think of us, I was fascinated with his viewpoint. He agreed to write down his three group descriptions and let me share this with the Music and Sound Retailer’s readers. I’ve read the following at least a half-dozen times. While I’m not going to say these three categories are all-encompassing, I will say that I know at least one MI retailer who fits in each of the three groups. I’ve decided which group fits me, and I hope you’ll find some enlightenment trying to see which of his cubbyholes fits you best. 46

The rest I coin as the survivors.

The second group I’ll call the entrepreneurs.

The third group of MI retailers are the

The second group I’ll call the entrepreneurs. These guys, if not musicians, would still own a small business in another industry. These personalities get no greater joy than reading a 30-day report just to see if a decision they made a month ago was justified. This lot tries something out, and if it sells, they buy three, and if those sell, they buy six, and so on until there’s a diminishing return regarding the time they held it. They never let something get to just one in stock because the idea is that they could have sold more in the time it took to restock. In the big picture, they chose to adapt to change rather than run from it and survive. They want to be relevant, not just survive. They have strong personalities, they’re naturally optimistic (which you have to be to take big risks) and they manage people well.

academics. MARCH 2019

The third group of MI retailers are the academics. They have degrees in Music Education, or Sax Performance and didn’t want to stay in academia.  I know this line of thought all too well. When you went into college and majored in music, you were told ad nauseam by your parents that all you could do with your music degree is teach. They simply found a career outside of teaching. Often you find them as the heir to a successful store, and they didn't go through the “process” like your entrepreneur father. What’s the easiest way to demand legitimacy in owning a big music shop when it was given to you? Go to school and get a degree in music. This group you’ll also find as the buyer of a statewide chain. They regularly try to be proactive as the vice president of industry groups, and they love event planning. It’s almost as if they were directly groomed for it after joining student council, or the Greek life on campus. It always baffled me to find that the guitar and guitar-accessory buyer had an oboe performance degree. They are team leaders and operate in groups. They are feelgooders that mistake money allocation with inspiration to get the next generation to learn instruments. After all, inspiring others takes great drive and creativity, and organizing groups and organizations takes money and outside incentives, like an annual rebate if you do

X amount of business with a particular manufacturer. They are union management, award presenters, band and orchestra dealers, and donation recruiters. As opposed to the entrepreneurs and survivors (who are remarkably individualistic), these people find legitimacy in social standing. These are obviously gross generalizations, but fair assessments in the major personalities that make our little big industry. I have to say, I have immense respect for all of these people in different ways. As someone who was raised by a survivor, mentored and groomed by an entrepreneur, and who holds an advanced degree in Music Theory and Composition, I completely understand and sympathize with each personality. I find myself a part of each. 




F O R D E A L E R I N F O R M AT I O N :


P + 1 .3 1 2 .2 2 6.1 70 5 E info @



Creating Time for Social Media Posts


By Gabriel O’Brien The problem is time. Over and over again, when I talk to people about social media, content and marketing their store, I hear the same problem repeated: “I just can’t find the time.” It’s not that store owners and managers don’t care. It’s that, more often than not, they’re stretched too thin and are dedicating themselves to so many other things than sitting down and working through things like brand identity, marketing ideas or creating social media content — let alone posting it. I’ve talked a lot about creating content recently, but not very much about how to manage it. This is where social media management platforms come in. While managing all your social media accounts can seem like a ton of work, using a social media management platform greatly simplifies that in a variety of ways. By allowing you to take a broader overview of all your accounts, you can see interactions across all platforms as they happen. Many of us who manage social media accounts are used to natively responding to everything in-platform via a phone. However, the only time I now do this is when it’s a direct question messaged to the page. Instead, I now schedule a few minutes at regular hourly intervals to sit down and look at all the comments coming in on all platforms through my social management platform, which allows me to respond the same day as they’re posted and more efficiently by going through them as a group. Because I can see in a broader overview everything that’s been posted, I’m less likely to miss anything and more likely to respond to everything. Using a social management platform allows you to schedule your content all from the same place, saving hours of uploading time. Individually scheduling posts on multiple platforms ahead of time, or worse yet, posting them all in real time each day, is a gigantic time suck. By scheduling most of my social posts ahead of time, I can plan out the month in a calendar accounting for holidays, planned sales, product release dates and other events. I typically do this on slow days or in the morning before anyone else is around. Using a social management platform allows me to schedule my content from a central location, so I’m not wasting time manually writing posts and uploading photos and videos to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms. I can MARCH 2019

create a post one time and the platform posts it across all my social channels. The platform I use, Social Report, even allows the post to be modified per platform, meaning I can change the text to account for Twitter’s character count and any other platform-specific limitations. Many platforms also offer automatic services to fill holes in your calendar with evergreen content. Some even offer to curate potential content based on your parameters. This is a great way to fill in gaps with things you want to regularly talk about, like your lessons program or school band instrument offerings. This can help repopulate messaging into your various social timelines and keep it in front of customers. The only caution I’ll add is that if you don’t have enough other content built up, evergreen reposts will happen much too commonly. You don’t want the same thing posted to your Instagram grid two days apart. Using a social management platform is a great way to allow other team members to contribute, while still having approval controls in place to avoid potential pitfalls. You can manage all the posts various team members create and turn on post approval, giving you or your social media manager final say over what gets posted. This allows you to empower your team to help create social content and fill up your social calendar. Having approval can be an important factor with team members who are still learning to use social media for business, or for making sure all your posts stay within your plan. Powerful analytics make it easier to see your return on investment and place your emphasis where it counts. The ability to see where your customers are, what posts they interact with, what types of posts are garnering the most impressions and interaction, and how you’re performing month over month across platforms indiMUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

vidually or as a whole, makes the analytics tools of a social platform incredibly valuable. This helps you focus your time on posting the things your audience likes to see and interact with and helps inform your future planning as well as where your ad dollars should

go. This can also help inform your inventory planning decisions and give you the opportunity to compare what people interact with on social media versus your sales data. Valuable insights like this are a great reason to use social media management platforms to

guide your posts. What platforms have you tried, if any, to help you manage social content? What’s holding you back from converting your social following to into sales? Write to me at gabriel@




By Michelle Loeb In 2001, John Fowler was looking for a change. A lifelong musician, worship leader, and former philosophy professor and entrepreneur who had been performing in rock and roll bands, musical theater and more since the age of 5, Fowler was “doing hard time in corporate management, praying for a way out,” when he was presented with the opportunity to purchase Shoreline Music. The store, originally known as Shoreline Acoustic Music, was a trailblazer in the industry as first owner, Chuck Bloom, pioneered the idea of selling guitars online. “The way I recall the story, Chuck and Larry Fishman [Fishman Transducers] were at a guitar camp together and started wondering why no one was selling musical instruments online. So, Chuck created the world’s first online instrument store,” said Fowler. “To give you some perspective, his registration of this shop’s original domain,, predates eBay, and roughly coincides with the launch of Amazon. So, there was no competition at the time, because no one else was doing this yet, but he still had a real uphill climb for hearts and minds.” By the time Fowler purchased the store, Shoreline Music had a loyal following and it was his job to stay true to those years of history while also putting his own mark on things. He opened a small showroom in his garage, much like how Chuck Bloom had first launched the store’s physical presence in his living room. “I lived at the beach in San Diego, and humidity was perfect for high-end instruments,” said Fowler. “Obviously, my garage wasn’t

MARCH 2019

holding cars; it was decked out like a shop, with couches, carpets and displays. Because of the uniqueness of my selection, people would fly from all over the country to play my guitars. No one seemed to mind that they were in my garage!” By 2004, Fowler had moved to Colorado and decided to open up a brick-and-mortar shop to support Shoreline Music’s online activities. After moving around a bit, Shoreline Music settled into its current home approximately seven years ago. A new building with no studs and plenty of open space, the new location allowed Fowler to build the store of his dreams. “Everything in the new shop was entirely my design, which is sort of a cross between an Apple store — with long sight lines, wide open space, gear demo tables throughout — and my living room — with hickory flooring and area rugs, residential instead of retail lighting, leather couches, custom walnut furniture and displays,” said Fowler. “I have so much love for our current shop, I don’t foresee relocating any time soon, even if my business were to double. I have plenty of room to grow.” Fowler has been the sole employee for much of his 17year tenure at Shoreline Music, though today he has one other person on staff. When looking to hire, Fowler likes to hire musicians who can make videos for the store’s popular YouTube channel, but his main focus is on finding someone with good customer service skills. “We spend much of our day on the phone or in the shop chatting with folks, so I need someone who loves interacting with people,” he said. “Product knowledge can be learned. Operating a point-of-sale system can be learned. But a love for people cannot.” Good customer service is at the heart of Fowler’s business, where his philosophy is: “Treat people the way I would want to MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Shoreline Music 89 Trimble Crossing Drive Durango, CO 81301 (970) 403-3654 Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. John Fowler, Owner

be treated. That’s it.” At the core of this philosophy is a return policy that Fowler says is unrivaled in the business. “As a shopper, I want the peace of mind that this expensive thing I’m buying sight unseen is backed (continued on page 61)


Betting on Vetting

By Dan Vedda

Continuing our arc on the Future of Retail, at least as it pertains to the music products industry, let’s talk this time about vetting our suppliers. “Vetting” is bandied about regularly in the corporate world. In its simplest form, it describes the research done to determine if a candidate is suitable, trustworthy and capable of doing a sensitive job. This is part of the “due diligence” required to make any important business decision. In our industry, it’s easy to replace proper vetting with simple price comparisons. To be clear, when we talk about vetting a supplier, that’s the last thing on the list — if it makes the list at all. Think of all the qualities you look for in an employee for your store. If you have two candidates, one highly qualified and motivated and the other basically “meh” on the quality scale, do you choose the lesser candidate because the better one asks for a higher salary? You do so at your peril, because that so-so employee can wreak havoc on your business. So too, a supplier can either elevate your game or send you down the tubes. Yet, regularly though over 35 years in the industry, I have heard store managers base their buying decisions on price without considering variables like supplier efficiency, reliability and after-sale support. We all understand how far the bar of customer expectations has been raised in the last few years. Shoppers expect more than a good price — they demand everything be in stock or at least rapidly delivered, and those goods must be the required quality. They expect everything to run without a hitch, and a problem isn’t just a deal-breaker; it may lose the customer forever. 52

First, I determine that the products are the quality I want to represent. The next factor I look at is speed. The third requirement is accuracy.

Finally, perhaps the most important factor I select for is loyalty: support for individual dealers, and support for the consumer, even after the sale.

With that sort of zero-tolerance atmosphere, a supplier screw-up is, unfortunately, your screw up. Oh, you may be able to solve a problem, and sometimes the best way to win a lifelong customer is to solve a problem spectacularly well. But when a supplier — or multiple suppliers — doesn’t perform well, it potentially costs a lifetime of sales. How many hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars do you want to risk? Remember too, that is isn’t just the customer you lose, it’s everyone they influence. Obviously, vetting those suppliers should be a top priority. We too can’t continue to shop based only on price. So what criteria do I use when going through this process? First, I determine that the products are the quality I want to represent. We’ll talk more about curating inventory next time, but a significant amount of product available to us is either redundant or substandard. On the other hand, we have some suppliers that I deal with solely because certain products they offer are superior to others on the market, in my opinion. Were they to discontinue those items, though, I would never call them again, because on all other levels, they fall short. But those companies are exceptions. Normally, I expect more from every supplier. The next factor I look at is speed. I will always favor those with fast order processing, particularly when they are a one- to two-day shipping distance, because this is the Age of Amazon (for the moment) and we will always be compared to two-day shipping. While customers will usually give us an extra day of grace, beyond that, we’re often toast if we can’t deliver. Extra points go to the sources that send me an email with a MARCH 2019

tracking number so I can tell customers exactly when they will have their order. The third requirement is accuracy. Nothing kills the sales buzz like an order that arrives with wrong, broken, or backordered goods. There are still companies in this industry that pack goods like some bottomtier eBayer living adjacent to the Piggly-Wiggly loading dock. There are companies with horrible fill rates. Receiving a 10-item order with four backordered items is unacceptable, particularly when it’s a surprise. Finally, perhaps the most important factor I select for is loyalty: support for individual dealers, and support for the consumer, even after the sale. I have discontinued or deemphasized several brands or sources because they sell direct, sluggishly support warranty claims, or seem to skew product availability in favor of the big chains or Amazon. All the other qualities can be in place, but it doesn’t matter if I can’t get support and stand behind their goods. It should be no surprise, then, that we have disconnected from more suppliers than the number we work with regularly. Using the metrics above, the viable companies rise to the top immediately. I would think it would be obvious that a supplier with these qualities is the way to go, but I’m amazed at how many times I’ve heard a dealer say, “Yeah, but my margins are better with...” Are they, really? Because inferior quality, slow or inaccurate fill rates and a tainted support relationship cost margin, and not just for a single transaction but over and over again at the expense of lost sales and diminished reputation. Over time, the costs will be immense, and you’ll never know how immense. To me, that’s a chance I am unwilling to take. So, when I have a relationship with such a supplier, I

make sure to nurture it, and I look for every opportunity to enhance it. It has paid off in spades over the years, particularly in terms of extra opportunities, promotional spiffs and, yes, even better

pricing. With those advantages, vetting your suppliers is a path to a better overall business. For the retailer that wants to thrive in a changing market, it’s crucial. If you have a comment, feel free

to share it on veddatorial, and as always, post an inquiry if there’s another topic you’d like to see covered here. (Please post to the page rather than PM, so others can see the dialogue).



Most MI retailers and consumers alike know QSC as a manufacturer of powered loudspeakers and subwoofers for live sound. For those seeking a powered loudspeaker that is lightweight and provides performance, quality, reliability and an ultra-compact form factor at a value price point, QSC’s CP Series is definitely an option. The CP Series, intended for both portable and installed applications, comprises two twoway models, the CP8 and CP12. Both models feature an efficient 1,000-watt Class-D power module, one-touch preset DSP contours for the most common sound reinforcement applications, and line, mic/line and 3.5 mm stereo inputs. Each can also be pole-mounted, utilized as a floor monitor, or deployed in a fixed or temporary installation. Available accessories include carrying tote, outdoor cover and quick-connect yoke mount. The CP8 retails for $499.99, while the CP12 retails for $629.99. The CP Series represents everything consumers enjoy about QSC products in a compact, highly portable box. “It’s the perfect loudspeaker to sell to the first-time audio buyer, as well as the more seasoned buyer looking to add to their rig. It’s easy to use, easy to set up, and like all QSC products, sounds great. Its performance really belies its size and weight and it is flexible for so many applications. And of course, it’s incredibly reliable, making it easy to sell and feel good about,” Ray van Straten, senior director, global marketing for QSC, told the Music & Sound Retailer. The CP Series certainly was not conceived overnight. Producing a high quality, powered loudspeaker at an excellent price point proved to be quite a challenge and was elusive for a period of time for the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company. “It’s been difficult for us to sit on the sidelines and not have anything to offer in the sub-$500 range,” noted van Straten. “We sat it out, not because we didn’t want to play there, but because we didn’t know how to do it and still stay true to our brand values. A couple of years ago, we added some amazing people to our engineering, sourcing and manufacturing teams and we figured out how to create a value-priced loudspeaker that still ticked all the QSC attributes for performance, quality and reliability. With CP, we now have a great product that introduces QSC to a whole new 54

audience, while also providing a really unique selling proposition for existing customers who want to add to their existing setups without spending much.” Added van Straten: “It sounds simple, but what we choose to build is largely driven by our long-term product strategy, our ability to execute on the product plan and, of course, our expectations for return on investment. While many brands opt for making as many new or derivative things as they can and seeing what sticks, we’re very deliberate in our approach and seek to ‘go for the win’ with every new release. What is also thoroughly understood within our walls is that every product must meet our brand standards for performance, quality and reliability. At the end of the day, it says ‘QSC’ on the product and that needs to mean something.” The CP Series launched on Oct. 1, so QSC has had plenty of time to analyze feedback from MI retailers and consumers alike. Thus far, the company has been quite pleased with what it has heard. “Many dealers tell us that this product is destined to be ‘the K Series of value-priced loudspeakers.’ They are finding them easy to demo and easily win the point-of-sale in the stores,” van Straten said. “End-user sentiment is also quite good, and actually, I’ve heard a few customers communicate that they almost feel like they stole something by getting way more for the money than they thought they would. Across the board, I think the most commonly heard remarks have to do with the products’ performance, given the incredibly compact form factor and weight. It’s really a great box.” Although MI retailers may choose to sell the CP Series in a pro-audio section, van Straten said the CP8 can really ring the register in another section in your store as well: guitars. “Guitar amp dealers know that there is a growing movement among guitarists to utilize modeling amplifiers, whether as pedals, rack-mount, computer plug-in, etc. Modeling amps need quality FRFR (full range, flat response) powered loudspeakers to help deliver their sound on stage. Due to its compact size, high output and FRFR capabilities, the little CP8 is finding its way into the rigs of guitarists at a rapidly increasing pace. I would highly encourage dealers to merchandise the CP8 in ‘Guitar Land’ and see the joy on guitarists’ faces as they explore amp modeling technology through the CP,” concluded van Straten. MARCH 2019


AUGUST 12-15 2019

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(continued from page 27) staff isn’t the only means of keeping your business afloat in the age of disruption. According to Stratten, taking your customers’ concerns and complaints seriously can go a long way when it comes to keeping them around. This is one of the best ways to adapt when it comes to competing with online retailers like Amazon. It’s inevitable that things will go wrong at some point — whether a customer is shopping online or at a brick-and-mortar store — but making the effort to fix those situations is the sign of truly valuable customer service. And that is often what keeps consumers shopping at independent retail stores, even when there’s an easier alternative. Stratten cited the example of a review left for an Ashley Furniture HomeStore in Texas. The reviewer initially left the store a one-star rating on Yelp, detailing her unfortunate experience with her furniture delivery. Everything from the delivery date and time to the color of the furniture she ordered had been wrong, and the delivery workers merely shrugged off her complaints. The writer revised her review, however, after the owner of this particular store immediately reached out to her to rectify the situation. Not only did he apologize for her unpleasant experience, but he went out of his way to ensure that she received the products and service she should have gotten in the first place. And that extra effort changed her mind about whether or not she would ever shop at that store again. “To be great at service in retail, you only have to be average, because everybody else sucks,” Stratten quipped. But there’s some truth in that statement, especially when it comes to competing with corporate giants. At the end of the day, consumers will often choose brick and mortar over convenience if their experience with the former is a positive one, he added. The opposite is also true; if a customer has a negative experience with a retail store, or if they find that they’re ignored and invalidated when it comes to seeking your business, they’ll likely be inclined to shop online instead. “Sometimes,” Stratten said, “just sometimes, it’s us. Sometimes, maybe, and I’m stretching here, but if my feet are in your store, and I choose to work with another company somewhere else — virtually — maybe it hasn’t gone as well as it could have in the store.” Stratten’s advice to retailers is to look at themselves and be honest about where they stand. If you’re providing the quality of customer service that brings people in and keeps them there, great. And if you aren’t, it’s better to own up to those flaws than to blame the changes in retail. Because when retailers blame Amazon and big-box stores, they relinquish their control over the situation. But when they analyze how they’re contributing to the problem, they’re able to fix it.


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Ad Index



(continued from page 30)

AMAHI UKULELES...................51 AUDIX CORPORATION.............21 BANDLAB TECHNOLOGIES....43 BOURNS PRO AUDIO................59 CELESTION C-III CHAUVET LIGHTING................17 FARIDA GUITAR & UKULELE.59 G7TH, THE CAPO COMPANY....41 GALAXY AUDIO........................3 GATOR CASES............................9 HAL LEONARD..........................29 HOSHINO.....................................49 JOHN PACKER............................12 KALA BRAND MUSIC CO........39 KORG...........................................20 KYSER MUSICAL PRODUCTS...............................18 LUDWIG DRUMS.......................19 LYON & HEALY..........................47 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY................................6 NAMM.....................................14-15 NEUMANN..................................5 NEW SENSOR.............................27 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS...................................22 PRO X...........................................53 QRS MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES....45 QSC AUDIO.................................7 RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE........10 SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL.......11 TRUSST........................................16 U.S. BAND & ORCHESTRA SUPPLIES.................................23 VOCOPRO....................................13 WD MUSIC PRODUCTS............8 YAMAHA.....................................C-II YORKVILLE...............................C-IV While every care is taken to ensure that these listings are accurate and complete, The Music & Sound Retailer does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors.


Abernethy Guitars

Website: Instagram: @bottomlineguitars The NAMM Show floor is the proving ground for many talented luthiers who have decided to break out on their own and start their own guitar companies. These companies are often the passion projects of talented craftspeople who have invested years of time into learning the finer points of guitar making. For Justin Abernethy, founder of Abernethy Guitars, that passion and skill was evident in the guitars on display in his booth. “I’m personally three hours up the coast [from Anaheim] in Guadalupe, Calif. Just a small, one-person shop in my backyard,” Abernethy said. “I’m now doing basically everything, all the painting, all the rough millwork. I’ve spent a lot of real, intimate time fixated on each one of these guitars.” According to Abernethy, The NAMM Show was the perfect opportunity to get his guitars into the hands of the public and get some exposure in the MI industry. “I’ve been doing everything direct and using Reverb, but I’m looking for some dealers, and just really trying to get some exposure and some feedback. It’s nice to see and hear what people want, what people like, where I went right, where I went wrong. I’ve really been blown away, because everybody really seems to dig ‘em, which I hoped they would, but you just never know.” Abernethy has been building and repairing guitars since he graduated from high school, and was mentored for large parts of his career by legendary luthier Gene Baker. Abernethy’s own background as a luthier includes working for Ernie Ball, National Resophonic and Fine Tuned Instruments, as well as some time in the Premier Builders Guild making guitars for Saul Koll, Giffin, Fano and Jason Z. Schroeder. After parting ways with the Premier Builders Guild, Abernethy decided to start his own company, culminating in his NAMM Show debut this year. “The model I have at the show is called the Sonic Empress,” Abernethy described. “It’s a 25.5-inch scale based on my favorite guitars from the ‘60s Fender era. A lot of the student models had a tiny neck, but with a really short scale, so I’m taking that feel to a full 25.5-inch scale. I offer lots of different options, neck sizes, colors. People are really digging the feel, the sustain of

them. Everybody’s saying that they feel great, they’re some of the best guitars they’ve felt, which is kinda blowing my mind.” For Abernethy, exhibiting at The NAMM Show was well worth the investment. “I’m really glad I decided to do it because the exposure’s been priceless,” he shared. “This day and age, everything’s Instagram and Facebook, and it’s just really nice to meet some of these people that I’ve been friends with for a really long time. I feel like I know them, and to be able to find this camaraderie through guitars — it’s just been really great.”

MARCH 2019

AirHush Website: Facebook: @airhush The NAMM Show is loud. With so many companies demonstrating their latest instruments and speaker systems, often competing with each other to be heard, it can be just about impossible to escape all the noise. However, while so many companies were trying to be the loudest, AirHush took the opposite approach. Its inflatable, modular noise-attenuation system offered a way to tame excess noise in just about any space. The inventor behind AirHush, Jim Pilaar, invited us inside a booth made of AirHush panels while we discussed this innovative new product. “We’ve taken inflatables and sound-attenuation materials and put them together to create transportable, storable, shippable, see-through building blocks. So, you have an Erector Set-style system that you can put together to create inflatable structures like a vocal booth or an interview room, to gobos to amp cubes to anything else that you can imagine.” Pilaar drew inspiration for the AirHush system from his own life. A musician himself, Pilaar came up with the idea for AirHush when he and his son began playing music together in the basement of their family home. “We wanted to make music together in the basement in a crowded part of San Francisco, and I went out to try and find a [soundproofing] solution, and nobody could propose anything that made any sense,” he recalled. “Acoustic foams are fine for taking the high energy out of a room, but they don’t actually block sound. And as my professor friend says, you can’t build an aquarium with sponges. You need to first block the sound, and then you can treat a room.” Pilaar was already familiar with inflatables, owing to years spent trekking in the Himalayas, where the quality of inflatable shelters and rafts could mean the difference between life and death. He was also familiar with experimental polymers thanks to a stint as a consultant for a Japanese biotech company. So Pilaar decided to combine his knowledge of inflatables and experimental materials into a solution that would let him and his son play music together without drawing the ire of the neighbors. This solution evolved into AirHush’s modular panel system. “We’re achieving STCs (Sound Transmission Coefficient) of approximately 38.5 to 38.7,” Pilaar described. “We’ve had readings from 34 to 40 STC, which isn’t [that] high compared to some bunker-like technologies, but it’s actually as good as a university classroom wall. With the native AirHush panel, we’re getting about .2 NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient). And when you combine it with standard acoustic absorption foams, you’re getting like .85 NRC.”

Pilaar imagines the AirHush system can be used in a variety of ways, from soundproofing existing spaces to creating individual soundproof booths within larger spaces. “There’s all kinds of opportunity to split up space, but in a way that still keeps you part of the flow, and for supervisory reasons, you’re not in a lot of small, closed-off rooms,” he said. “My wife’s a teacher, and she wants an X made of AirHush panels to be able to have different pods of students, but be able to supervise them. Then for music schools, people have come here and said, ‘We have a beginning bassist here and a beginning violinist there and a beginning drummer there, and it’s kind of painful.’ But if you can provide a little more acoustic privacy, then people can relax and maybe practice a little more than they would if they’re being listened to by too many others.” He added, “The whole world comes to NAMM to find out what’s going on, and we’re just really fortunate to be able to tell everybody about a new way to be creative and effective and efficient with your space and your time.”

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Anaconda Basses

Website: Instagram: @anacondabasses Anaconda Basses has received plenty of attention from the U.K. market since the company’s inception, consistently receiving 10-out-of-10 reviews from Bass Guitar Magazine for both sound quality and build quality, and even winning Best Fretted Bass of 2018 in the £1,000 to £2,500 category in the magazine’s January 2019 issue. The company was started by Andrew Taylor-Cummings and became a full-time venture at the end of 2013, when he decided he wanted to pursue his passion for musical instruments in a full-time capacity. Taylor-Cummings spent his years as a bass player searching for “the Holy Grail” of instruments — always on the lookout for better tone, better sustain and the like. With Anaconda Basses, he’s been able to create the quality of instruments that he was looking for as a musician. Given Anaconda Basses’ success back at home, the company decided to head to The NAMM Show this year to expand its presence and to show off its instruments to U.S. vendors. “I’ve had a lot of guys say to me, ‘We’ve seen your YouTube channel. We love the way your basses look and sound. When are you coming to the U.S.?’ So, I figured you have to take that step sometime,” said Taylor-Cummings. He added that taking that step was no easy feat. “There are a lot of costs involved, but it has been incredibly rewarding.” The company brought four different basses to display at its NAMM booth this year. The first of these was the Fifth Anniversary Limited Edition Crusher, which was Taylor-Cummings’ first design for the company. The Crusher is a combination of everything that he learned about building a bass early on, incorporating all of the benefits of various instruments into one final product. The booth also showcased three basses catering to the jazz bass market. The Ultra J is similar to a jazz bass in its appearance, but it offers players much more flexibility tonally. “You have coil switches. You have Delano pickups, which give you a more punchy, mid-range,

prominent kind of sound,” Taylor-Cummings explained. “The construction is using exotic timbers as opposed to just your standard timbers.” The Tribute J, on the other hand, plays and sounds like a jazz bass, but its body design doesn’t resemble one, and it also gives the player a broader palette of tones. And finally, the six-string Ultra Jazz also features a traditional look, despite its nontraditional sound. It has an Aguilar P/J pickup configuration, as well as more tonal options than a traditional bass. Anaconda Basses had a great experience exhibiting at this year’s NAMM Show — so much so that Taylor-Cummings expressed excitement to return to Anaheim in 2020. “I’ve had a lot of traffic through the booth, and a lot of support — not just from the U.K., but from people from the U.S.,” he said.

Emerald Bay Guitars and Ukuleles Website: Facebook: @emeraldbayinstruments

It wouldn’t be The NAMM Show without guitars and ukuleles lining the show floor, and though this was Emerald Bay Guitars and Ukuleles’ first time exhibiting at NAMM, the company made quite an impact with its “guilele” display. Based in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Emerald Bay was founded by brothers Chris and Dave Taylor. The company has plenty to offer musicians, including acoustic and electric guitars, basses and ukuleles, and it also carries a line of six-string “guileles” that are ideal for guitar players looking to learn the ukulele. It also fills custom orders. When it comes to producing ukuleles, Emerald Bay’s main objective is to ensure that the instruments have a good tone. “What’s hard to do is get a good tone out of ukuleles,” Dave Taylor said. “Because a lot of the woods that are offered — like Koa — are not really great tone woods unless you get the tolerances correct.” For this reason, the company tap tones all of its instruments. It strives to get all of its guitars and ukuleles at the right tolerances, using the woods available to achieve a good tone. Emerald Bay also specializes in fanned frets and scalloped necks, which are popular among metal players. The company offers all of its instruments fan fretted, even the ukuleles. “The fan frets are a multi-scale instrument,” Taylor explained. “Every string has its own scale, so you get perfect intonation. You get a lot of deep, richer notes because you’ve got a longer scale, almost like a baritone on a 25 1/2-inch guitar.” The company also hosts building classes at its shop, where visitors can learn to build their own ukuleles and guitars. Depending on visitors’ preferences and schedules, it offers 10-day seminars and two-week classes. These allow musicians to get involved in the creation process of their custom instruments. Now that Emerald Bay has conquered its first NAMM Show, the owners are looking to make connections with people across the industry. “This is our first time, and we’ve done a lot of festivals and everything, but we just wanted to step up,” Taylor said. And Emerald Bay certainly has stepped up its game, as Taylor confirmed that the products received a positive reception during the course of the show.


MARCH 2019

Solid Ground Stands

Website: Instagram: @sgstands Stands can often be as important as the instruments that sit on them, particularly for musicians and music store owners who want their instruments to look good even when they’re not in use. Solid Ground Stands understands this, and that’s why they make high-quality guitar stands for mid- and upper-range guitars. The company uses hardwoods to build its stands, ranging from native woods like Walnut Cherry and Maple to more exotic ones like Morado and Chechen. The quality is one of the most important components of Solid Ground Stands’ products, and it’s something the company is willing to spend money to achieve. “I’ve had a few people say, ‘I’ve spent less on my guitar than this stand.’ But, you know, it’s really targeted more for the mid-range and upper guitars,” said Mark Tindle, founder and designer at Solid Ground Stands. “We’ve done really well at several luthier guitar shows across the country because they’re looking for a nice, hardwood guitar stand to complement the really nice guitars that they have. Of course, it costs more to produce these than a typical $20 music store guitar stand.

But they’re very secure, very stable. That’s why we feel that we’re very unique in that regard, putting all those three together — the portability, the stability and the hardwoods.” When it comes to portability, Solid Ground Stands produces products that can easily be transported from one performance to the next. The stands are built with functionality that allows them to fold, using rare-earth magnets built into key locations that enable the stands to snap together.

“The stands will fold to a footprint of about six inches by six inches, and then the length is about 42 inches,” Tindle explained. “So, they fit comfortably in a nice little carry bag that we include with each stand. Think of it as maybe like a mic stand — about that size. And they work very easily. There’s no tools; there’s no extra hardware or pieces.” Tindle attended The NAMM Show last year to determine whether or not Solid Ground Stands should exhibit there. “Ev-

erybody’s been saying, ‘You’ve got to go to NAMM,’” he said. “So, I visited here last year to kind of scope it out and see what it was like, and I was like, ‘Yeah, we need to be here.’” After exhibiting at this year’s show, the company is looking to establish dealers and expand beyond just selling to consumers. “We want to get them into stores,” Tindle added. “We believe there’s a strong niche market for them — and we’re excited to be here, and we’re having a

great success.” Solid Ground Stands is also planning to come out with similar products for other stringed instruments soon, starting with banjo and acoustic bass guitar stands, which will be built to accommodate the longer neck. Tindle also confirmed the company is currently developing smaller stands for ukuleles, mandolins, and even violins and violas. “Those variations will be coming up next,” he said. “Hopefully in the next few months.”

when he purchased the store so that he could restore and maintain the website, and he takes great pride in his store’s online presence, making sure that the website is engaging and easy to navigate for customers both on their computers and their phones. “One way I stayed ahead of the mobile curve was by introducing mobile responsiveness to MI,” said Fowler. “Everyone else at the time was using separate mobile and desktop sites, which of course worked just fine, but ultimately wasn’t what Google, or our customers, wanted. Nowadays, I just try to keep an easy-to-

navigate, fast-loading site.” Just like with his retail shop, Fowler is satisfied with his online store and foresees no major changes in the future. His focus is on maintaining the quality of the Shoreline Music shopping experience and keeping his customers satisfied for years to come. “Honestly, our only goal is to keep finding great gear and making people happy,” he said. “The music business is pretty darned fun, and you get to meet some great folks along the way. There are a lot worse ways to put food on the table and I’ve sure enjoyed the last 17 years.”


(continued from page 51) by some sort of guarantee. So, I extend that peace of mind to my customers,” he said. Not only is it easy to make returns at Shoreline Music, but when the issue is the store’s fault, Fowler is happy to take responsibility. “Mistakes are inevitable. That’s retail,” said Fowler. “I love fixing mistakes because it’s an opportunity to make a lifetime customer. “I had a customer buy a piece of open-box gear, and it had a problem. We test it all before it reships, but occasionally a slight defect will escape our examination,” recalled Fowler, who immediately apologized to the customer and MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

offered to not only replace the item but supply him with a label for the return. “There’s really no magic to this, no secret sauce. I’m not re-inventing customer service. I simply apologized and made it right, immediately. Based on his response — he was stunned and overjoyed — and the response of other folks we deal with, these simple graces appear to be in short supply in the online world.” The online world is what makes up the “nerve center” of Shoreline Music’s business, with the back of the store built out to handle its shipping operations. Fowler taught himself HTML




Ex ec u t i v e Dire c to r, T h e D ’A ddar i o Foundat i on By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Suzanne D’Addario Brouder: My father for sure. He has a great sense of humor, humility, wisdom, and a bit of grit all wrapped up into one. Education is extremely important, but being a compassionate, curious, grateful human being is really the key to success in life. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received?   D’Addario Brouder: Dreams don’t work unless you do. Which is a message I want to communicate to my children that anything is possible, and you should pursue whatever it is that brings you joy but you have to be prepared to work hard for it. The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument?   D’Addario Brouder: We had a beautiful piano in the house I grew up in. My mother is an amazing pianist, and she would play for me. She has these beautiful long fingers and always played so musically. The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing?   D’Addario Brouder: I take guitar lessons now. I dabbled in a little violin in school, but I really love playing the piano.   The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn.   D’Addario Brouder: I was a Division 1 All-American athlete in college, playing field hockey on a scholarship for four years. I have run two marathons (one with my father), and I’m generally really into any sport you throw my way.   The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? D’Addario Brouder: At home, I love to cook and am trying very hard to impart the joy of cooking on my three boys. I also love to travel and dance. The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? D’Addario Brouder: That’s a tough one, most concerts are your best concert in that moment. This is a bit random, but it was an overall experience: the Squirrel Nut Zippers in New York City many, many years ago, when they first hit the scene. I attended the show with my then boyfriend, who is now my husband. I’d also have to say Lenny Kravitz in Chicago years ago, as well. Oh, and the Black Keys. They are just awesome. The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? D’Addario Brouder: I could give a few answers, but I would probably say Django Reinhardt. I absolutely love gypsy jazz. I would love to be transported back to that era for a moment.    The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future? D’Addario Brouder: I have been listening to Leon Bridges entire album lately. It’s really great. I would love to see that live. I just saw Phosphorescent, which was a great show. I hope to see Kamasi Washington 62

in Chicago soon. I definitely end up loving someone’s music more once I have seen them live.

The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most? D’Addario Brouder: Haha, I have to answer this with bands. I went through a hip hop phase in high school. I loved dancing in clubs in New York City, listening to De La Soul, Arrested Development, Dee-Lite, Salt-nPeppa and MIA, but as a child (before MTV), I remember loving Queen. We had a pretty vast collection of Beatles albums, which we played over and over again but my favorite song still is “Blackbird.” I also had a friend that introduced me to reggae so listening to Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals really transports me back to childhood as well. The Retailer: What songs are on your smartphone/iPod, etc. right now? D’Addario Brouder: “Sing About It” by the Wood Brothers, Benjamin Booker, Ibeyi and Nathaniel Rateliff’s new album. The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? D’Addario Brouder: My youngest son’s soccer coach from Ireland is actually a ridiculously talented guitarist and social influencer (@zeppelinbarnatra on Instagram). D’Addario, Fender and a few others in the industry have now discovered him, and he was invited by Fender to come to the show and play in their booth. I got to see him in Fender’s beautiful booth jamming out. I was so excited for him. The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them).   D’Addario Brouder: Out of the blue last year, we were contacted by (continued on page 43) MARCH 2019


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Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer March 2019, Vol 36 No 3