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March 2020 Volume 37, No. 3

What You MAY HAVE MISSED At NAMM see page 20

Grand Rally For Music Education, Drum Circle, Women in MI


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Servco to Be Primary Fender Owner Fender Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC) announced Servco Pacific Inc. will acquire TPG Growth’s shares in the company. “Fender has enjoyed nearly a decade of sustained growth under the joint ownership of Servco and TPG Growth. We thank TPG Growth for its contribution on multiple levels, both strategic and tactical, and for its support to expand into digital products and services,” said Andy Mooney, CEO of Fender. “On an operational level, all will remain the same; Fender will continue with the same exceptional management team who have all been instrumental in our recent growth. We look forward to extending FMIC’s long-term relationship with Servco, which shares our core mission to support artists and players at every stage in their musical journey.” “We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done with Fender’s management team to strengthen and solidify Fender’s status as a leader and innovator in the world of music,” added Scott Gilbertson, partner at TPG Growth. “Since 2012, we’ve deployed significant resources to reinvigorate this iconic lifestyle brand. In 2015, we supported Fender’s transformation with the addition of Andy Mooney as CEO to reinforce the ongoing improvement of Fender’s business, from reenergizing channel relationships and deepening Fender’s com-

mitment to product quality and innovation, to engaging directly with consumers, launching market-leading digital learning resources, and reaffirming Fender’s unwavering dedication to the artist community. We are grateful for Servco’s commitment to Fender and wish them continued success.” Servco has been involved in the MI industry since 1937, and its relationship with Fender began as a dealer of its products in the 1950s. In 1985, Servco was part of the small investor group that backed industry icon, Bill Schultz, in the buyout of Fender from CBS. More than 25 years later, Servco increased its ownership with the purchase of Weston Presidio’s stake in Fender. Through this acquisition, Servco sought to optimize the potential of this iconic music brand and selected TPG Growth as an equal partner in this journey. “Ser vco is proud of what Fender has accomplished,” said Mark Fukunaga, chairman and CEO of Ser vco. “… Ser vco has a 100year track record that includes stewarding iconic brands through committed, long-term partnerships that span multiple generations. We look for ward to deepening our relationship with Andy and the Fender team that will prove beneficial to our community of artists around the world.”

Gator Celebrates Two Decades

To kick off its 20th anniversary year, Gator Co. launched two new logos for Gator Co. and Gator Cases to celebrate its growth and evolution since 2000. From starting as an idea cooked up in a family kitchen to growing into what is now known as an industry standard, Gator is “excited to be a leading solutions provider for transport, gear and accessories in the music, commercial AV, DJ, event and creative pro industries,” the company stated. Gator showed off its new look at The 2020 NAMM Show and received positive reviews from fans and customers. “We wanted a sleek and modern logo that reflects our innovative spirit and the high-quality, savvy nature of our products,” said Crystal Morris, founder and CEO of Gator. “Our fans and customers trust and expect our products to be strong to protect their valued possessions, and our logos should convey that strength. The logo upgrades are a great reflection of how much and how fast Gator has grown and improved. 2020 is a meaningful number for us; 20/20 perfect vision and outlook. We have over 2,020 products to celebrate. We’ve enjoyed 20 great years of growth, friendship, teamwork and fans, and we look forward to another outstanding 20 and more.” Gator Co. was founded by father-daughter team Jerry Freed and

Morris. Initially, they launched with a small offering of molded plastic guitar cases. From there, they expanded the product line to include case and bag solutions, accessories, gear and stands. Gator Co. is now the parent company of multiple brands, including GatorCases, Gator Frameworks, Gator Rackworks, Levy’s, Protechtor Cases and Slappa.

I Will Choose Free Will

For the first time in Hal Leonard’s history, the publisher now represents popular Canadian rock band Rush. The deal is a partnership with Anthem Music, a Canadian-based publishing company that represents Rush and many other popular artists like LoCash, Paul Cardall, Timbaland and more. At the announcement of the new deal, Hal Leonard will immediately publish four new books: “The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974-1987” for bass, guitar, and drums, and “Chronicles” for piano/ vocal/guitar. “The Spirit of Radio: Greatests Hits 1974-1987” collection features all 16 tracks on Rush’s compilation album of the same name from 2003. The folios, available for bass, guitar and drums, feature a collection of Rush’s most popular songs while signed to Mercury Records. “Chronicles” is also a compilation album of the band’s biggest hits, released in 1990 and featuring some of the most popular songs from their first 13 studio albums and three live albums. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



Cover Photos courtesy of Getty Images for NAMM. Pictured on the cover inset from left to right are MI retailers Lori Supinie, Gayle Beacock, DeDe Heid, Tracy Leenman and Cindy Cook.



31 20

On the Cover 20 What You May Have Missed at NAMM

Did you attend The NAMM Show but didn’t get to see everything? Or did you not attend the event? No matter which, you’re in luck. We look at some goings on that we did not cover last month.


26 The NAMM Show in Photos 30 38th Annual Music & Sound Award Winners 32 Five Minutes With

D’Addario & Co. Inc. announced that effective Jan. 1, John D’Addario III, son of John D’Addario, Jr. and nephew of the current CEO Jim D’Addario, would take on the title of CEO in addition to his current role as president. Jim D’Addario, one of the company’s founders and leaders since its inception in 1973, stepped down as CEO and assumed a new dual role as chairman of the board and chief innovation officer. We visited the D’Addario offices and asked both about their new roles and much more.

36 MI Spy

Part 2 of MI Spy’s journey to Chicago, including visits to two more stores. This month, Spy picks a winner.

38 Retailer Rebel

There are loads of different ways to engage your audience with content, so many that they may seem hard to keep up with. Supporting a piece of content with another piece is a great way to engage your audience on multiple levels, states Gabriel O’Brien.


Buzz 3 Latest 10 People 16 Products


40 In the Trenches

When customers walk in the door, MI retailers need to counsel them, educate them, or just help them out. It’s up to dealers to ask questions, figure out what they really need, and then explain to them the best path to take.

42 Shine a Light

Months ago, The Music Zoo moved its retail location from Roslyn, N.Y., to Farmingdale, N.Y. We get the reasoning behind this move and learn how business is going from The Music Zoo president Tommy Colletti.

44 Veddatorial

We have seen so much disruption in the economy, in retail and in the music products industry itself. Ignoring the changes and the opportunities these “new normals” present can confine us, states Dan Vedda.


46 Under the Hood

Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar took a huge step from being an MI retailer to also being a nationwide ukulele manufacturer. The company exhibited for the first time at The NAMM Show. We get the lowdown on the company from “Uncle Uke,” aka Robert Yates.

54 The Final Note

You may know that Jeremy Payne, national account manager for The Music People, On-Stage and TMP-Pro, won the Music & Sound Award for Rep of the Year the past two years. But you probably do not know that he is also a Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner.

26 MARCH 2020

The new and enhanced

program from Hal Leonard makes selling print music easier than ever – no matter how big or small your store is! Rack ‘N’ Roll is a continuously refreshed and merchandised assortment of best-selling music folios from Hal Leonard. Choose displays from ready-made mixes of our most popular product categories or work with your sales representative to customize the products for your unique business. Regardless of the product mix, the Rack and Roll program includes: SIMPLE PLAN-O-GRAM reordering through Hal Leonard’s Dealer Access website

FREE 64 POCKET, WOODEN DISPLAYS with recessed casters for easy portability ($550 value) FREE SHIPPING on new products and automated return authorizations for removed products INCREASING DISCOUNTS ask your rep for details


Contact your Hal Leonard sales rep to join our Rack ‘N’ Roll program 800-554-0626


Not What We Hoped For This editorial is often the first thing I write every month. Not this time. In fact, this go ‘round, I wrote this letter last. That’s because it was tougher to write than normal months. The 2020s started off in difficult fashion. Immediately on Jan. 1, the sports world lost Don Larsen, the only pitcher to throw a perfect game in the World Series, and David Stern, the former commissioner of the NBA, who was perhaps the most influential commissioner of our time. But that was not it for the sports world. NBA legend Kobe Bryant, 41, his daughter Gigi, who hoped to one day play for the WNBA, and seven other passengers, died due to an airplane crash on Jan. 26. The other deceased included John Altobelli, who coached the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the New York Mets’ Jeff McNeil, among many other hopeful baseball players. Although it was first discovered earlier, January also saw the Coronavirus, which leads to the COVID-19 disease, take hold, with no end in sight. Hearing daily reports of the number of people who have been sickened and who have passed away is, of course, nothing anyone ever wants to hear. The music industry was certainly not spared either. Jan. 7 saw the passing of Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist with Rush. Drum manufacturers at The NAMM Show held moments of silence for the legendary Peart, who passed away at the age of 67 of glioblastoma. Peart will be greatly missed in the years and decades to come. Also to be missed for many years to come is Ron Vater, who passed away on Jan. 25, his 63rd birthday. Vater’s life was immersed in drumming and

drumsticks from childhood. He spent many days of his youth at his grandfather’s store, Jack’s Drum Shop, in Boston. Jack Adams (Joan Vater’s father) would bring Ron and his brother Alan along with him to see many of his friends’ concerts when they came through Boston, including Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Elvin Jones and many more. Sadly, a difficult January did not end there for MI. Just after The NAMM Show concluded on Jan. 19, Lloyd Schwartz passed away. He served as Tech 21’s “Solutions Architect” for more than 27 years. Schwartz’ unique combination of knowledge, humor, patience and loyalty contributed to the love and respect he garnered from everyone who crossed his path, stated Tech 21. Unfortunately, January also saw the passing of Leon Louis Galison, 64. After graduating from the University of Miami in 1977, Galison joined the family business, music publisher, Edwin F. Kalmus & Co., which became his lifelong career. I was truly distraught to hear of all the people who passed away in January. In fact, it was difficult to maintain a dry eye while writing this letter. January did bring us another fantastic NAMM Show and an entertaining Grammy awards, so certainly not everything that month was a negative. All we can do now is hope the rest of 2020 brings better times as we continue to honor those who have left us. The many contributions they made to the world will never be forgotten.

March 2020 Volume 37, No. 3


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


ROBERT L. IRAGGI Advertising 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. TM and © 2020 Jerry Harvey Audio LLC. All Rights Reserved

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 2020


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ESP Celebrates 45 Years

The ESP Guitar Co., the international multi-brand instrument manufacturer based in Japan with subsidiaries and distributorships around the world, celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2020. The company was founded in 1975 by Hisatake Shibuya as a small shop in Tokyo that created custom replacement parts for guitars. The shop, called Electric Sound Products (ESP), eventually grew into a large manufacturer of electric guitars and basses. “ESP’s growth into becoming one of the world’s top guitar makers has been based on our commitment to listening to and serving the needs of our customers. It’s been an honor to be part of that process,” said Matt Masciandaro, president and CEO of the ESP Guitar Co. “ESP proudly offers highquality instruments for every level of musician from beginner to professional.” The global awareness of the ESP brand grew quickly after the company opened a U.S. office based in New York City in 1983, and over the next few years began creating custom instruments for high-profile players such as James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Page Hamilton (Helmet), Bruce Kulick (KISS) and Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones). In 1986, George Lynch of Dokken designed the very first ESP Signature Series model with his “Kamikaze” guitar. In 1993, ESP relocated its U.S. headquarters from New York City to Hollywood, first on Sunset Boulevard and later to its present location in North Hollywood. It was in 1995 that ESP’s greatest expansion happened with the introduction of the LTD Series guitars and basses at prices that musicians at every level could own, stated the company.


(L-R) Tarik Solangi, vice president of sales and Roni Nevo, president RCF USA; Aurturo Vicari, CEO RCF Group; Matt Pogorelc, sales rep, Quest Marketing; Justin Brock, retail sales manager and Jim Reed, product specialist, RCF USA

On the Right Quest

RCF USA Inc. named Quest Marketing of Miami Beach, Fla., its Rep Firm of the Year. RCF USA also named Matt Pogorelc of Nashville, Tenn., Sales Rep of the Year. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Quest,” said Tarik Solangi, vice president of sales and marketing at RCF USA, Inc. “They had an incredible year, and we’re grateful to have them as an extension of our sales team. Matt also had a tremendous year, closing a few major deals for RCF which helped us elevate our brand even higher. We look forward to what’s ahead in the coming year.”

Earthworks Honors 25 Years

Earthworks Audio accidentally started 25 years ago when David Blackmer began building hi-fi speakers. This was well after he sold dbx — the company known for audio noise reduction that he founded in 1971 — and well before the rise of high-resolution audio. Blackmer always believed in a world beyond 20kHz, and much of his pioneering work revolved around the role of ultrasonic frequencies in sound reproduction. He knew that something was missing in the signal chain, and he wanted to make speakers that viscerally sounded like what he felt when he sat in the front row of the symphony.  As he began measuring the speakers he was building, he noticed that what he was hearing and experiencing was different than what he was graphing. He noticed that different components affected not just how he perceived the high frequencies, but also how they affected the overall sound — even though on paper, everything read the same.   So, he built measurement microphones to capture and understand those discrepancies. “David enjoyed live music and interacting with the musicians” said Heidi Robichaud, co-founder of Earthworks Audio. “And some of those musicians took David’s measurement microphones to a gig — just for fun. Just to see what they could do. When they came back, they begged to buy them on the spot.” MARCH 2020

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David Is a Goliath

Reverb named David Mandelbrot as its new CEO. Mandelbrot has more than two decades of leadership experience within the technology, media and entertainment industries. Under Mandelbrot’s leadership, Reverb intends to focus on driving growth by improving the tools that enable music makers to find instruments and expanding the services that help sellers of all sizes connect with more buyers. Mandelbrot is also focused on continuing Reverb’s international growth. Reverb — which operates as a standalone business following its recent acquisition by the global unique and creative goods marketplace Etsy — plans continued expansion of its teams in Chicago and Amsterdam. “As a longtime guitar enthusiast, I’ve been an active Reverb user since shortly after it was founded. I have sold several items and spent count-

less hours exploring the wonderful instruments uniquely available on Reverb,” said Mandelbrot. “To join a company that combines my passion for music with my marketplace and technology experience is truly a dream come true. Plus, what could be a better way to find the perfect fingerstyle blues guitar than joining Reverb? The Reverb team has created something magical. I’m looking forward to keeping that magic alive while continuing to find new ways to help buyers and sellers connect over the perfect piece of music gear.” Mandelbrot will report to Etsy CEO Josh Silverman and succeeds Reverb’s founder and former CEO, David Kalt, as part of the previously announced transition plan.

Stephens Reaches the Peak

Alfred Music and MakeMusic, both part of the Peaksware Holdings LLC portfolio of companies, announced that Andy Stephens has transitioned from chairman of Peaksware and strategic advisor to each of the portfolio brands to CEO, leading both Music and Sports Brands. The previous CEO, Gear Fisher, is stepping down to pursue new projects and opportunities within the technology industry. “We are so fortunate to have had Gear Fisher be a part of the Peaksware family since its founding in 2014. His incredible passion for our customers and the quality of our products is unparalleled,” said Stephens. “With the Peaksware portfolio where it is today, I’m extremely excited to help further shape how we bring deliberate practice content and technologies to more teachers and learners every single day. We thank Gear for all of his contributions to each of the brands within Peaksware.”

Moss Makes the Most of New Role

QSC named Jason Moss vice president, alliances and market development. As part of the QSC Executive Team led by Joe Pham, president and CEO, Moss is responsible for developing and managing strategic alliances with leading AV/IT collaboration manufacturers and service providers globally. Moss joins QSC from Logitech, where he most recently served as head of go-to-market and alliances, video collaboration. With more than 20 years in the industry, Moss spent the last nine years developing partnerships with top collaboration and SaaS companies, and drove adoption and integration of Logitech products into many applications and markets. He also led global OEM strategic accounts, setting strategy and directing sales and business development initiatives.


MARCH 2020


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Put on a Schow

Fishman promoted Matt Schow to engineering manager. He started at Fishman in 2006 as a co-op while going to school full time at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In 2010, he was promoted to mechanical engineer, and four years later, he became the mechanical engineering manager. In

his new role, Schow oversees Fishman’s entire Engineering team and manages multiple projects across the company’s electrical and mechanical engineering divisions. “Matt’s ability to implement unique solutions using the latest manufacturing methods demon-

strates his broad knowledge, creativity and experience,” said Jason Cambra, Fishman’s chief operating officer. “His detailed eye for aesthetics can be found in countless Fishman products.”

In Memoriam Lloyd Schwartz Discover the Comfort in Exploring Your Sound

On the last evening of The NAMM Show, Jan. 19, Lloyd Schwartz passed away. He ser ved as Tech 21’s “Solutions

Ready-made for performers, the revamped AEG series employs features and specifications to support creators on stage and off. Multiple new models, st including the Solid Spruce top AEG200, deliver a variety of gig-ready options that offer great value and a variety of useful tones for gigging guitarists.

AEG A slightly thicker body adds just enough depth for noticeably improved projection and tone. A new preamp offers streamlined two-knob tone shaping and an easy-to-read LCD tuner.

Architect” for just over 27 years. Schwartz’ unique combination of knowledge, humor, patience and loyalty contributed to the love and respect he garnered from ever yone who crossed his path. “We take some comfort in knowing that Lloyd’s last days were spent not only doing what he loved most, but also in the fact that he had the opportunity to see so many of his friends and colleagues one last time. In fact, he relayed sadness over the show ending because he was having such a good time. As a company, we are shell-shocked to lose such an incredible and valued employee. As individuals, we are each shattered to lose such an amazing co-worker and friend,” said Dale Krevens, vice president of Tech 21. MARCH 2020

In Memoriam Ron Vater

Ron Vater passed away on Jan. 25, his 63rd birthday. Vater’s life was immersed in drumming and drumsticks from childhood. He spent many days of his youth at his grandfather’s store, Jack’s Drum Shop, in Boston. Jack Adams (Joan Vater’s father) would bring Ron and his brother Alan along with him to see many of his friends’ concerts when they came to Boston, including Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Elvin Jones and many more. His late teens and early 20s saw Vater working at C. Vater Music Center in Norwood, Mass., where he was a lifelong resident. Ron and Alan would help run the store with their father, the late Clarence “Clarry” Vater. It was while working at this store that the Vater drumstick business was essentially conceived. They experienced a drumstick supply issue from a well-known manufacturer at the time, and Ron and Alan took it upon themselves to rent machine time locally and start Amazing making their own drumsticks ance perform e, for the store, just as Jack Adpric for the ams had done at his store in the e really any pric early 1950s. P. -David The Vater brothers made drumstick manufacturing a fulltime endeavor in the mid-1980s. “Ron loved Vater Percussion. He loved his high school sweetheart and wife of many years, Susan. He loved their boys,

Leon Louis Galison

Leon Louis Galison, 64, of St. Augustine, Fla., passed away Jan. 11 with family by his side. Galison was born on June 18, 1955 to Joan and Lawrence Galison of Roslyn, N.Y. In 1973, the family relocated to Miami Lakes, Fla. He graduated from the University of Miami in 1977 with a degree in business administration. After graduation, Galison joined the family business, music publisher Edwin F. Kalmus & Co., which became his lifelong career. For more than 45 years, Galison’s mission was to bring sheet music to the musical world. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the American Bandmasters Association (americanbandmasters. org), an organization Galison truly believed in and admired.


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Eric and Dante Vater. He loved cars, fishing, spending time with friends and the many Vater artists that became part of his extended family over these years. He loved that the drumsticks Vater Percussion made were being used around the world by passionate musicians,” Vater Percussion stated in a tribute. “Ron Vater will be missed by all those who knew him and worked with him.”

works thing wish s i h T I eat! so gr d one I ha ago! ears 20 y is S.


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

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Note From Mary


NAMM: Advocating for Our Members’ Pocketbook Issues As your trade association, NAMM monitors and informs membership on policy and compliance issues. These are complex matters; compliance with federal and state laws and regulations is not optional and likely impacts your bottom line. These are “pocketbook” realities. Building on the success of our music education advocacy efforts of the past two decades, NAMM is investing more resources to represent the interests of our members in regulatory policies and to ensure that our members are heard by our elected officials and policy makers. Collectively and collaboratively, NAMM fights for the needs of its members. Mary Luehrsen, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations

Free and Fair Trade / Tariffs NAMM supports free and fair trade. Visit to review the recent informational webinar, including exemption-filing procedures and ongoing updates about the impact of the 2020 Chinese trade agreement.


AB-5 Worker Status

NAMM supports simple and reliable state sales tax collection and reporting requirements under the new “Post-Wayfair” Supreme Court decision. likewise hosts an informational webinar on resources to simplify sales tax collection requirements.

NAMM, along with other professional musician organizations and the California Chamber of Commerce, supports changes to California’s AB-5 employment law to accommodate employment realities of musicians and entertainment technology professionals.

Music education and the right of every child to learn and grow with music are the cornerstones of NAMM’s advocacy efforts. Learn more about music education advocacy resources that can be used in every community. getinvolved

New NAMM Lobbyist Advocating for Change Chris Cushing has 30 years of experience in government, politics and corporate public policy issues, and is an experienced political advisor and strategist, having served in leadership positions on winning presidential campaigns on three continents. Mr. Cushing has lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Institute of Management & Administration, the Public Forum Institute, and is a speaker in the United States and abroad. Chris will help guide our efforts, coordinating the resources and expertise of Nelson Mullins, to maximize the industry’s voice for “pocketbook” and other issues.

Prop 65 NAMM supports resolution to the “background noise” realities of Prop 65 labeling requirements. NAMM is participating in the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels, with pending federal legislation outlining clear compliance and enforcement for product components.

CITES and Sustainability NAMM and a global coalition achieved revisions to CITES wood listing (2019 Conference of the Parties) and has established a forum concerning sustainability in the music industry.

Stay informed. Be educated about compliance. Get engaged with advocacy.


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In Tune

Clear Tune Monitors Inc. announced its CE320 Triple-Driver Earphone, which delivers high-fidelity sound with a deep and clear bass provided by its three Balanced Armature Drivers. A universal-fit reference created to match the user’s lifestyle on and off stage, the CE320 features the AS-7’s shell shape and ergonomics, backed up by the same audio technology and engineering team behind the Da Vinci Series, stated the company. Additional features include 26dB of sound isolation, universal fit format, a high-quality standard two-pin detachable cable, soft-case and one-quarter inch adapter. MSRP: $249.99 Ship Date: Spring Contact: Clear Tune Monitors,

To the Moon and Back

Fishman created the Mike Inez Fluence Legacy series. The pickup set is multivoice and free from the hum, noise and inductance issues that plague even the most coveted wire-wound pickups, stated the manufacturer. It is designed to appeal to rock, metal and jazz players looking for their own bit of “magic,” and is a retro-fit replacement for most four and five-string soapbar-equipped basses. The Mike Inez Fluence Legacy Series pickup is available for four- or five-string instruments, as a single pickup or in a set with a standard Fluence Soapbar Bass pickup in the bridge position. Voice 1 is an exact sonic copy of Inez’s Moon bass, providing the same tone he has used throughout his career, from Alice Copper to Ozzy Osbourne. Voice 2 offers warm, vintage tones (passive). MSRP: $350.58 (sets) and $185.04 (single) Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Fishman,

House of Worship

Alfred Music released follow-up editions in the “Worship Essentials” series by Carol Tornquist: “Preludes for Worship,” “Offertories for Worship” and “Postludes for Worship.” The series is intended to offer a valuable resource for church pianists that includes collections with accessible piano arrangements (late intermediate/early advanced) specifically for preludes, offertories and postludes. It includes selections of contemporary Christian hits appropriate for prelude music. Titles include “10,000 Reasons” (Bless the Lord) (Matt Redman), “Come As You Are” (Crowder), “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship” (Brian Doerksen), “Glorious Day” (Living He Loved Me) (Casting Crowns), “Good Good Father” (Chris Tomlin), “Here I Am to Worship” (Light of the World) (Tim Hughes) and “Hosanna” (Praise Is Rising) (Paul Baloche). MSRP: $12.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Alfred Music,


Lucky No. 13

C. F. Martin & Co. introduced the SC-13E, designed to be comfortable and remove the limitations of a conventional cutaway acoustic-electric. Features include an all-new shape that is designed for comfort and sonic balance; a cutaway design that completely removes the heel, allowing full access to every fret without contorting a player’s hand; a Sure Align neck system with a linear dovetail neck joint that allows for easy adjustments to the action and neck tension; a 13-fret position neck joint with a 25.4-inch scale length that offers the tone of a long scale and the playability of a short scale; a low-profile neck, ergonomically designed for improved playing positions and comfort; an onboard Fishman pickup, complete with a built-in tuner; and new appointments that give the guitar a stunning aesthetic, including new inlays and koa fine veneer. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: CF Martin,

Han Solo

IK Multimedia introduced AXE I/O SOLO, developed for guitar players who want to record the best possible sound on a budget or on the go. It is a compact two-in/ three-out USB audio interface that features IK’s PURE microphone preamp; an instrument input with proprietary tone-shaping options; an exclusive Amp Out to incorporate real gear into a recording setup; and 24-bit, 192kHz converters with a wide dynamic range, for pristine recordings in all musical genres, stated the company. AXE I/O SOLO can also act as a controller for use with IK’s included AmpliTube or other favorite guitar-friendly software, offering a complete, affordable solution for players who want the best possible tone for their tracks. It offers IK’s Class A PURE mic preamp, designed for transparent and clean recording. An extended, flat frequency response captures the full tonal range of voices and instruments without “coloring” the sound. For seamless, out-of-the-box recording and processing, it comes bundled with AmpliTube 4 Deluxe, IK’s guitar and bass tone studio for Mac/ PC/iPhone/iPad, as well as a suite of T-RackS mixing and mastering plug-ins and Ableton Live 10 Lite recording software. MSRP: $249.99 Ship Date: Q2 2020 Contact: IK Multimedia, MARCH 2020

ABOVE. BEYOND. ULTRA. NEVER PLAY A JAZZMASTER® THE SAME WAY AGAIN. The American Ultra Jazzmaster in Mocha Burst features a dual volume phase circuit to unleash new sonic colors. American Ultra Series: All-New Body Contours. Ultra Noiseless ™ Pickups. Our Fastest-Playing Necks.

©2020 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. FENDER, FENDER in script, JAZZMASTER and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are trademarks of FMIC. Registered in the U.S. and foreign countries. All rights reserved.


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Going Vintage

Grover Musical Products introduced the Locking Vintage Deluxe (533 Series). The series is mechanically engineered to the most precise standards of excellence, with a classic look and styling, stated the company. Its guitar tuning keys now come with a “thumbscrew” mechanism that locks the string into place. Users insert the string through the post hole, wrap around once, then lock by tightening with the thumb screw. The housings are self-lubricated for a lifetime of trouble-free service, stated the company. It is available in 533N Nickel for sixstring, three treble and three bass, set of six; 533N6 Nickel for six in-line guitars, set of six; 533NK Nickel for six-string, with Keystone button, three treble and three Bass, set of six; 533NK6 Nickel for six in-line guitars, with Keystone button, set of six; 533G Gold for six-string, three treble and three bass, set of six; 533G6 Gold for six in-line guitars, set of six; 533GK Gold for six string, with Keystone button, three treble and three bass, set of six; and 533GK6 Gold for six in-line guitars, with Keystone button, set of six. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Grover Musical Products,

Put It in the Cart

On-Stage debuted the UTC1100 Utility Cart and UCA1500 Utility Cart Tray. Considered On-Stage’s most compact cart to date, the extendable UTC1100 holds up to 330 pounds per trip, while the UCA1500 is a versatile attachment that converts the cart into a portable workstation. Boasting a versatile frame that is purposefully built to accommodate gear of all kinds, the UTC1100 can haul everything from the heaviest P.A. speakers and DJ rigs to awkwardly shaped gear, such as lighting rigs and crates of cables, stated the company. Each caster can be locked — hands-free — to make straight-line transportation easy. Sold separately, the new UCA1500 Utility Cart Tray is ideal for DJs, AV techs and live sound engineers as it offers a sturdy 36- by 17-inch reinforced tabletop surface to the cart itself, letting users switch between “going” and “showing” in a matter of seconds, noted the manufacturer. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: On-Stage,


No More Mrs. Nice Girl

Nita Strauss, famed musician and touring guitarist for Alice Cooper, has created her first signature strap with Levy’s Leathers. Strauss created the design to complement the colors of her signature “Jiva10” Ibanez guitar that launched in 2018. The black and gold Baroque design (pictured right) prominently features her swirl icon, and her signature is foil-embossed on the leather ends. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: This month Contact: Gator Cases,

Can You Hear Me Now? VocoPro unveiled its Play, Hear & Record combo system, a way for guitarists to play, monitor, and record or stream their music from guitar to computer via USB receiver with a built-in audio interface while listening via the in-ear monitor, then send the signal to the guitar amplifier wirelessly, stated the company. Features include Tap-and-Sync, allowing users to change and sync frequency to ALL receivers within a 200-foot range; built-in rechargeable battery with six hours of run time on each charge. (3.7v Li-on 650MAh); and operation in super-low latency 900Mhz away from TV, radio and Wi-Fi interference. MAP: $199 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: VocoPro,

On the Road Again

Saramonic and BENRO (both distributed by MAC Group) released the Roadieographer Content Creation Series. Designed for solo artists, musicians and bands, the three levels of kits provide all of the tools needed for consistent professional content creation in audio, video and photography, stated the company. All of the kits start with a professional Benro Tourist Photo/Video Backpack. They fit easily under aircraft or bus seats for travel and touring. Kit 1 is the Roadieographer Content Creation Kit, which allows an at-home or traveling musician/band to create and share their moments and music with fans and friends. Kit 2 is the Roadieographer Pro Content Creation Kit, a professional-level content-marketing tool kit for musicians and bands who are ready to invest in professional photography and videography tools to up their content game and provide better engagement with their fans. And Kit 3 is the Roadieographer Ultimate Content Creation Kit, intended for musicians and bands eager to invest in videography and photography tools to further their careers from band to brand. MSRP: Roadieographer Content Creation Kit: $199; Roadieographer Pro Content Creation Kit: $249; Roadieographer Ultimate Content Creation Kit: $399 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Saramonic, MARCH 2020



Fender’s Acoustasonic Stratocaster is designed to be an elite tool for the modern player looking to push the boundaries of guitar playing and music forward. Features include an acoustic body that is naturally loud and resonant with plenty of projection, meaning the guitar sounds as great on a lap as it does live on stage, stated the company. A Fender and Fishman-designed acoustic engine powers the Acoustasonic Stratocaster and delivers a newly curated collection of acoustic and electric voices. Fender’s Acoustasonic Noiseless Magnetic Pickup is designed for authentic hum-free Fender electric tone this pickup can be played solo or blended with an acoustic voice to create new sounds. A mahogany Stratocaster neck with ebony fingerboard that offers a familiar playing feel and adds warmth to the guitar’s tone, and the patented Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS), inlaid top and modern electronics were created expressly for this instrument. MSRP: $1,999 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Fender,

VENN Diagram

D’Addario Woodwinds debuted VENN, which the company calls a “new species of reeds.” To mimic the organic structure of cane, D’Addario reverse-engineered cane itself, layering different strengths of polymer fibers with resin and organic reed elements to make up the reed blank, stated the company. Venn is not an injection-molded, plastic reed. The material is extruded incorporating the same fibers used in the cores of D’Addario’s ProArté classical guitar strings. After extrusion, the same proprietary D’Addario digital vamp cutting process is used to machine the critical vamp area in the same fashion D’Addario creates natural cane reeds. VENN lasts up to 20 times more than a cane reed and is resistant to splitting, chipping and breaking from use, added the manufacturer. Consistency is identical from reed to reed in contrast to the variant in natural cane reeds. VENN requires no prep, care, and maintenance and is resistant to environmental conditions including temperature, humidity and more. VENN is available initially for Bb Clarinet, Alto and Tenor Saxophone in core strengths. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: April Contact: D’Addario,


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Recloud 9

Artesia unveiled the Reclouder, a high-resolution, portable, easyto-use stereo field recorder, stated the company. Using Bluetooth Mesh networking technology, music and content creators can link multiple devices and record/sync several sound sources, thereby linking and syncing multiple Reclouders depending on the recording project needs. Files can be uploaded immediately to the cloud via Wi-Fi for an AI enhanced sound or for editing later in post. ReClouder will simplify all your recording needs. Features include: simple one-touch device control with single-button record activation; standalone two-channel audio field recorder; professional mic pre-amp for high-quality audio; compatible with all microphones (studio/live /video); record instantly on removable SDHC cards (up to 32GB); upload files automatically into the cloud with Wi-Fi internet; unlimited device expansion for endless multitrack recording; mobile and sturdy design built for heavy-duty usage on stage; mountable to DSLR or camcorder with optional accessory. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Artesia,

Ace of Basses

ESP Guitars announced several new bass models. The LTD Deluxe F-1004 and F-1005 (five-string) offer the F shape in a flamed maple top in See Thru Black finish. The new F Series basses are the first from ESP to offer Fishman Fluence Bass Soapbar active pickups. Also introduced were the F-204 and F-205 (five-string), offered in Black Satin finish and designed for musicians on a budget who still want a high-quality instrument. The LTD D-4, D-5 (five-string) and D-6 (six-string) basses offer a burled poplar top in Black Natural Burst Satin finishes. All three models are neck-thru-body designs. ESP has also updated its LTD TL Series basses with the new TL-4 and TL-5 models. These basses feature chambered bodies and allow for both acoustic and electric bass performance styles. And ESP introduced two new basses as part of its 87 Series, a new range of instruments that will only be produced in 2020 and pay homage to ESP’s production instruments from the late 1980s. MSRP: Varies Ship Date: Contact company Contact: ESP Guitars, 19

What You MAY HAVE MISSED At NAMM So much happens at The NAMM Show that it takes not one, but multiple issues to cover it. Whether you attended the January show or not, here were some fantastic events and occasions that you may have missed.

By Amanda Mullen and Brian Berk

Women@NAMM took a moment during this year’s SWIM meet to honor some of the well-known leaders in the MI industry.

Women Rule the Evening at NAMM’s Annual SWIM Meet

This year’s NAMM Show started with a bang, with Women@ NAMM hosting its annual Smart Women in Music (SWIM) Meet on Jan. 15. Each year, this event serves as a networking opportunity for women throughout the industry, enabling them to hear well-known leaders in MI speak about their own experiences and giving them the chance to connect with other women working in music. Among the MI leaders who spoke at the event were DeDe Heid of Heid Music, Robin Walenta of West Music and Crystal Morris of Gator Cases. Each of these women has built a career in the music industry despite obstacles, and through SWIM, they intend to help other women do the same. The SWIM Fund also offers scholarships every year, through which they provide a stipend for promising young women in the industry to attend The NAMM Show. These women were called onstage during the event to honor their achievements. The five scholarship recipients for this year’s show were Kristi Jacobsen of Alfred Publishing, Alice Monk of Music Industries Association, Heather Mansell of Yamaha Corp., Stacy Swanson of Music & Arts, and Alexandra Bosier of Strait Music Co.


SWIM scholars who were awarded stipends to attend this year’s NAMM Show were called onstage during the SWIM Meet to celebrate their achievements.

SUMMIT scholars were also discussed at this year’s SWIM Meet. The SUMMIT scholars are comprised of 16 women in MI who will have the opportunity to visit NAMM Headquarters during the first week of this month to partake in a two-and-a-half-day leadership emersion experience. These scholars come from music companies including Antonio Violins and Ukuleles, C.F. Martin & Co., Gator Cases, Harman International, KORG, Heid Music, San Diego Music Studio and more. Overall, the evening was full of moments worth celebrating for women in MI. The message was one of perseverance and hope, and that message will carry on to this year’s Summer NAMM Show, which SWIM is currently accepting scholarship applications for. MARCH 2020

PMC Drums Up New Programs for Its 25th Anniversary Celebration

The Percussion Marketing Council (PMC) always offers NAMM Show attendees a membership meeting and percussion industry gathering to remember, but this year the organization drummed up even more excitement with its 25th-anniversary celebration. In addition to providing members with organization updates and networking opportunities, this year’s event also took the time to honor longtime PMC members and introduce new programs the organization is launching in 2020. Karl Dustman, co-executive director of the PMC, opened the evening with a few words about the organization’s mission. “Twenty-five years ago, we had meetings like this in closets,” Dustman joked, highlighting how far PMC has come in its 25 years of advocacy. Dustman talked about what the night had in store for attendees before introducing Mary Luehrsen of the NAMM Foundation. Luehrsen spoke about “collective impact,” explaining to attendees that “nothing gets done alone.” This theme pervaded the speeches and announcements that followed over the course of the evening, offering a feeling of hope to those in the MI industry, and specifically, those invested in the future of percussion. Following Luehrsen’s speech, the PMC went on to honor Hal Leonard’s Brad Smith for his service on PMC’s executive committee. Smith has played a role on the committee for years, and he expressed gratitude for the opportunity, even though he’ll be moving on from that position to provide “special counsel” moving forward. “We are doing important work here at the PMC,” he said. Dustman himself was also honored for his years of contributions to the Percussive Arts Society, receiving recognition from the advocacy organization’s executive Joshua Simonds. When presenting this honor to Dustman, Simonds emphasized that the drummers and those who support them “are a community” and that they must “stick together.” PMC also announced two new initiatives at its anniversary celebration, both of which are intended to spread awareness about its mission and increase the number of drummers. The first of these initiatives is “Get Your Sticks Together,” which began in February. With “Get Your Sticks Together,” the PMC will gift 12 drum lessons to a randomly chosen winner during each month of 2020. Retailers participating in this program will be honored at next year’s NAMM Show during the PMC Membership Meeting and Gathering. MI retailers interested in getting involved can learn more about it on PMC’s website,

Joshua Simonds, executive director of the Percussive Arts Society (right), honored PMC’s Karl Dustman for his service on the PAS Advisory Board from 2014 to 2019. “Lessons With a Master” is another program that was announced at the Membership Meeting this year. This contest, which drummers can enter on PMC’s website, will present those participating with an opportunity to win a private, one-hour digital lesson with a famous drummer like Rick Latham, Rich Redmond, David Stanoch or Gorden Campbell. In honor of PMC’s anniversary, the organization is also holding a contest to win numerous special-edition items, such as snare drums, cymbals and instruction books, all of which

From L-R: Karl Dustman, Stacey Montgomery Clark, Rick Latham, Gorden Campbell, David Stanoch, David Jewell and Brad Smith

feature a 25th-anniversary badge to recognize the occasion. Each of these items was donated by PMC members, and winners will be chosen starting in May for International Drum Month and continuing for the remainder of the year. Yamaha’s David Jewell, who also serves as an executive officer for PMC, also stepped up to the podium to wrap things up. “Over the past 25 year years, the PMC has connected thousands of wannaplay and existing drummers with the PMC mission and nationwide retailer network through a series of educational programs and free online promotions that have consistently grown in scope, participation and impact throughout the organization’s tenure,” he said. “We are fortunate to have internationally recognized drummers and educators like Gorden Campbell, Rick Latham, Rich Redmond, and David Stanoch helping the PMC promote and create more nationBrad Smith was recognized for his wide awareness for these one-of-a-kind online contests and market contributions to the PMC at the organization’s 25th-anniversary event. development initiatives.”

Sennheiser 75th Anniversary Press Conference

“It’s a real honor to be with you to celebrate this 75th anniversary,” said Sennheiser’s Daniel Sennheiser during a Jan. 16 press conference at the company’s booth. “We are here to celebrate 75 years of innovation in the audio industry, and that wouldn’t have happened without all of you. I want to touch on some things that make Sennheiser. First and foremost, it is you, the people who are using our products; it’s the employees who are producing our products; and it is the journalists who are telling our story all around the world.” Reminiscing on some of the innovations during the past 75 years, Sennheiser noted he was speaking on a wireless microphone. “That was a big achievement from Sennheiser in 1957,” said Daniel Sennheiser. “Since Sennheiser developed the first wireless microphone, we have been continually innovating in that field. We now have a wide variety of wireless microphones.” Also developed during the past 75 years was the first bodypack transmitter. The company’s “SK 6212 is the smallest digital transmitter in the world and is used on all Broadway shows,” stated Daniel Sennheiser. In-ear monitoring has been another significant development in the past three-quarters of a century. “We saw a need to deliver better-quality audio for artists on stage,” said Daniel Sennheiser. “At the same time, we have developed the safety of the in-ear monitor so as to not destroy the hearing of the artist.” Lastly, Daniel Sennheiser discussed the company’s HD 25 headphones. “On the Concorde, the HD 25 was the in-flight headphone,” he recalled. “It was such a good and cool headphone that a lot of customers who were flying on the Concorde ripped out the product that was actually screwed in. DJs went to New York and London to clubs, went to the studio and asked if a new plug could be soldered to it and they used it for their productions. That’s how the HD 25, by accident, became the standard headphone for DJ production. Today on eBay, you can still find some HD 25s with a Concorde logo. They are actually quite expensive. So, part of our success was planned and part of our success was unplanned. That’s how it always happens.”


Daniel Sennheiser

MARCH 2020

Kyser Musical Products 40th Anniversary Celebration

Meredith McClung

Photo: ©Björn Olsson

Kyser Musical Products celebrated its 40th anniversary on Jan. 16 during a party at The Fifth Restaurant and Bar in Anaheim, Calif. “We want to celebrate this simple but genius invention of our founder, Milton Kyser, that has withstood the test of time. I would like to thank everybody who has [tried to] come up with a way to outdo it. It is still the same design from 40 years ago that is being used by major artists worldwide,” said Kyser CEO Scott Attebery. “You find it everywhere, from the studio to the junior-high kid learning to play his/her first few chords in his/her bedroom to every club around the world. It’s a signature style for every acous-

Your Partner in Profit

Milton Kyser

tic and electric guitar player. The power of music is so wonderful, and this little tool helps us to share that with the world.” “I love that [Kyser] is an international brand, but we all feel like a family,” added Kyser owner and president Meredith McClung. “I want to thank Milton, who passed away in 2014, but because of his clever invention, we are all here tonight. … Did you know Milton only graduated from second grade? And look what he came up with. Let’s raise our glasses to uncle Milton, Kyser Musical, and thank you to all the years of service to our company. To Milton!”

Coming in the April issue of the Music & Sound Retailer: • Our Annual Guitar Issue Gives You Data and Much More With the Help of MI SalesTrak • MI Spy Visits Connecticut’s “Gold Coast” • Under the Hood: Yamaha’s NX Series • New Columns From Allen McBroom and Dan Vedda And Much More!

Your source for the brands that your customers want, including:



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Drum Workshop/Slingerland Press Conference

During its press conference on Jan. 17, after taking a moment of silence to honor legendar y drummer Neal Peart, Drum Workshop officially launched the DW Music Foundation. “We have been ver y charitable for a long time,” said Scott Donnell, vice president of marketing for DW. “We have lots of strategic partners when it comes to donating equipment. This foundation will further that.” “We are just getting started,” continued Michelle Abrams, executive director of the DW Music Foundation. “We have put structure in place. We have a fun website and social media presence. We have some fantastic initiatives in 2020 for fundraising that includes supporting existing partners we have been working with over Michelle Abrams and Chris Lombardi

the years, including Notes for Notes, the Grammy Museum, In Concert for Cancer, the Alzheimer’s Association, Make-AWish Foundation — many great organizations. We recently sent some shakers out to an orphanage in Haiti, where kids had never been exposed to [musicmaking] before. It was ver y joyful to see what a difference music can make for these kids. We all know the great power music has to unite us, help us heal and bring us joy. Our mission truly is that simple. It is about sharing the gift of music and music-making. We do that in underser ved communities of all ages and around the globe.” During the press conference, DW also discussed the Slingerland brand that it recently acquired from Gibson. Following a performance by Danny Seraphine, DW founder Don Lombardi referred to the former Chicago drummer’s performance. “A lot of people have asked what we are going to do with the [Slingerland] brand. I don’t know how you can put it in print, but that’s what we are going to do with it,” he said. “… I was surprised about how many young drummers who didn’t play DW played Slingerland and came to our company from Slingerland. We were talking about giving [previously]. Another way of giving is giving this brand the due it is respected for. I got it as a birthday present, which surprised the heck out of me. Slingerland is the name of somebody, as was Rogers, Ludwig and Gretsch. When the drum set goes out the door, you have your name on it. I have always respected the fact that whenever we have something go MARCH 2020

GAMA Breakfast

The Guitar and Accessories Manufacturers Association (GAMA) hosted a Jan. 15 breakfast featuring a panel discussion “Teaching Guitar: What It Means to Me.” Panelists for the session were Adrian Galysh, the guitar virtuoso, teacher and Yamaha consultant who helped create Guitar Center lesson programs; Martha Masters, president of the Guitar Foundation of America and teacher at Loyola Marymount University and Cal State Fullerton; and Glen McCarthy, teacher at George Mason University and executive director of Teaching Guitar Workshops. Regarding how MI retailers can attract new students for lesson programs, Galysh answered that word of mouth is important. “Anyone who walks in and needs a pack of strings or a guitar for their kid, the next question from the salesperson should be, ‘We offer lessons. Have you thought about having lessons with that guitar you have?’” (continued on page 50)

Don Lombardi


outside the door, it has our name on it. We want to take [Slingerland] and give it the honor it is respected and look at the heritage that it brought to all of the music from the day.” Don Lombardi, who received the gift as a birthday present from his son, DW president and CEO Chris Lombardi, remarked that he talked about the potential of owning the Slingerland name for 10 years. “It was an honor to be able to do such a special thing for my dad,” said Chris Lombardi. “It is also a testament to just how lucky we are to have each other, in this family business, to be able to pull something like this off. It was not something we needed to get board approvals or go through all sorts of things. It came to us as an opportunity. His birthday was coming, and I thought I could do something to really blow his mind and be really special.” Lombardi then joked, “I don’t know if I will be able to top [the gift]. I definitely set the bar on gift-giving for my kids.” Regarding the future of Slingerland, “Whatever we do, we want to do it right,” said Chris Lombardi. “We are going to take our time with it. … Part of what we are doing now is learning the brand and just what it meant to ever yone. We will honor the tradition of what this great brand was. We are really fortunate to have guys like Danny [Seraphine] to keep us on that path. We are true to what this brand was always about and is about.”



Play sounds and virtual instruments from your guitar Create & record loops from any sound Easily record & share your compositions online

Play and edit loops and audio files with your guitar

Import and jam to backing tracks or loops directly from iTunes

Thank you to all the dealers who voted TriplePlay Connect Best Guitar Accessory of 2019!

Download The Free TriplePlay Connect App

Inspired Performance TechnologyTM Contact Fishman Sales at: 800-FISHMAN |

in Photos

ConventionTV@NAMM correspondent Hester Van Hooven interviews NAMM chairman and C.F. Martin CEO Chris Martin.

PRS’ Paul Reed Smith during the company’s Jan. 16 press conference.

Drummer Danny Seraphine of Chicago fame played during the Drum Workshop/Slingerland press conference.

(L-R) John D’Addario Jr., John D’Aaddario III and Jim D’Addario toasted John III being named CEO of D’Addario.

A performance at the Audix booth.

(L-R) Uncle “Uke” aka Robert Yates, Patricia Yates, Charley Yates and Robert Castell of Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar.

Daisy Rock founder Tish Ciravolo had plenty to celebrate.

Artwork at the entrance of Gibson’s booth.

Manhasset Specialty Co. celebrated 85 years while wearing Kansas City Chief jerseys. (L-R) Mary Rowden, Jason Carter and Dan Roberts.

Dunlop’s Jasmin Powell accepted an award during the Guitars in the Classroom breakfast.


D’Angelico sponsored a cornhole game near the ACC North hall.

Guitars in the Classroom founder and executive director Jessica Anne Baron speaks during the organization’s Jan. 19 event.

(L-R) Matt Payne, Rob Morales, Jeremy Payne, Chris Marchesseault, Vinny Delauria, Tammo Hinzmann, Jules Van Schelt and Tom Tedesco of The Music People/On-Stage Stands.

MARCH 2020

Ken Susi of Fishman and Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez at the Fishman booth.

Fender’s George Harrison “Rocky” Stratocaster.

Casio celebrated 40 years of electronic musical instruments.

San Diego Music Studio’s Kimberly Deverell displays her January column in the Music & Sound Retailer.

Fred Armisen hosted the NAMM TEC Awards.

Daniel Sennheiser celebrated 75 years of Sennheiser.



Rock guitarist Charlie Parra during the NAMM Media Preview Day.

The NAMM Media Preview was again a great event.

(L-R) Rob White, Nicolaas Kraster and Arielleh “Ari” McManus of the band Ari and the Alibis are joined by Sennheiser’s Christopher Currier.

Dexibell often had booth performances.

The Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) Jan. 15 reception at the Hilton Anaheim featured entertainment and networking opportunities.

Former World Series champion and current musician and music advocate Bernie Williams graced the cover of the January issue of the Music & Sound Retailer.

QRS-Connector Perform on Any Player Piano using Any Video Conference Tool - Music Focused Social Media Platform for the Student and Artist

QRS Widgets - Application Specific Functions That Utilize the I/O - Programmable & Assignable

Universal Digital Audio & MIDI - Controller, Interface & Tracker

Cloud & Social Ecosystem for Analytics, Sharing, Archiving & More Amazon Echo Show

QRS Music Technologies, Inc.


Skype, PianoMarvel


MARCH 2020

Ari and the Alibis played at the Sennheiser anniversary celebration.

Anakacia Shifflet representing Piano Marvel (left) and Joel Shifflet (right), along with Thomas Dolan of QRS Music Technologies. On the TV screen is teacher Josh Mills.

Crystal Morris and the Gator Cases gator.

Kyser’s Meredith McClung and Scott Attebery celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary during a Jan. 16 party.

(L-R) Matt Budd and Curt Altarac of Music Medic.

Herbie Hancock presents the 2020 Les Paul Innovation Award to the legendary Joni Mitchell during the TEC Awards.




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MARCH 2020


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The 2020 Music & Sound Award Winners

An all-time record 1,402 retailers cast votes. And here is who they determined are the 31 winners of the 34th annual Music & Sound Awards. Here is the list, along with a photographic look at the champions. 1. Best Percussion Accessory — Audio-Technica, Steve Savanyu 2. Best Acoustic Guitar — C.F. Martin, Chris Martin with Brian Berk, editor of the Music & Sound Retailer 3. Best Lighting Product — Chauvet Allan Reiss, Geoff Short, Albert Chauvet and Raglan Jones

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4. Outstanding Community Service and Best Strings — D’Addario Suzanne D’Addario Brouder and John D’Addario III 5. Best Effect Pedal — Electro-Harmonix, Owen Matthews 6. Best Cabled Microphone — Electro-Voice, Guy Low 7. Manufacturer of the Year and Best Bass Guitar — Fender Ed Magee and Justin Norvell 8. Best Website/App — Fender, Ethan Kaplan and Tammy Van Donk 9. Best Guitar Accessory — Fishman, Tom Ostrander, Ryan Fitzsimmons, Bryan Fishman and Jason Camba 10. Best Accessory Product — Gator Cases, Crystal Morris and the Gator 11. Best Bag/Case — Gator Co./Levy’s Leathers, Crystal Morris and Jen Tabor

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12. Best Electric Guitar — Gibson, J.C. Curleigh (right), pictured with Brian Berk, editor of the Music & Sound Retailer 13. Best Speaker — JBL Professional, Brandon Knudsen 14. Rep of the Year, Jeremy Payne, The Music People 15. Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame, Larry Morton, Hal Leonard 16. Best Non-Guitar Fretted Instrument — Luna, Adam Gomes 17. Best Acoustic Drum Product — Pearl, Chris Flatt, Raymond Massey, Terry West and Glen Caruba 18. Best DJ Product — Pioneer DJ Americas, Jay Brannan, Dave Arevalo and Christian Behnke 19. Best Book/Video/Software — PreSonus, Joe Gilder and Gregor Beyerle 20. Best Mixer/Console — PreSonus, Ray Tantzen

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21. Outstanding MI Service Provider — Reverb, Heather Farr Edwards and Mark Anzelc 22. Best Electronic Drum Product — Roland, Jules Tabberer-Stewart 23. Best Keyboard/Sound Module — Roland, Corey Fournier 24. Best Wireless System — Sennheiser, Tobias Von Allwoerden 25. Best Multitrack Recorder — TASCAM, Koichiro Nakamura Yosuke Matsuno, Yuji Hanabusa, Joe Stopka and William Branch 26. Product of the Year — Taylor Guitars, Andy Powers 27. Best Band & Orchestra Product — Yamaha, Brian Petterson and Ken Dattmore 28. Best Amplifier — Hughes & Kettner/Yorkville Sound, James Greenspan, Tobias Hauprichs and Laurence Bell 29. Best Cymbals — Zildjian, Jeff Westhaver, Christian Lyman, Cady Zildjian and Andy Tamulynas







John D'Addario III and Jim D’Addario D’Addario & Co. Inc.

By Brian Berk In December, Farmingdale, N.Y.-based D’Addario & Co. Inc. announced that, effective Jan. 1, John D’Addario III, son of John D’Addario, Jr., and nephew of the current CEO, Jim D’Addario, would take on the title of CEO in addition to his current role as president. John D’Addario III has held many positions within the organization over his 23-year tenure there, which we will find out more about. Jim D’Addario, one of the company’s founders and leaders since its inception in 1973, will be stepping down as CEO and assuming a new dual role as chairman of the board and chief innovation officer. The Music & Sound Retailer sat down with both John D’Addario III and Jim D’Addario at the company’s offices to find out why the move was made, how the company could be different in the future and much more.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Jim, can you first discuss the timing regarding why you made the move now to name John D’Addario III the CEO? Jim D’Addario: In December, I turned 70, and it was my personal goal, if we were prepared, to step down at this milestone, and John and our management team are ready. We are definitely prepared. There are also some personal family issues that need a great deal of my attention, so the timing is perfect. Succession planning is something our family and board of directors have been working intensely on. We have devoted pretty much half of every quarterly board meeting to this topic for the last three years. As a result, we have built out a great management team to support John. We added a strong chief of finance and administration officer, chief revenue officer and have recently promoted Chris Griffiths to assume the position of chief sales officer. Many other organizational changes have been made to support this transition. After much deliberation, the board, family and I felt John III was ready to take over as CEO. We have worked hand in hand, and he knows our business cold. Nobody works harder than John. He is well respected by all of our colleagues, and I am here to help him when he needs it. I am sure I will be a pain at times [laughs]. The Retailer: John III, can you tell us about your background, how long you have been at the company and your role models, which perhaps include Jim? And can you tell us about your business philosophies? John D’Addario III: I graduated from the University of Richmond (Va.) in 1993. I entertained a couple of job offers in the Richmond area, but I ultimately decided to come back home. When I did come home, I started out at D’Addario as a marketing coordinator. I did that for only a few months before Jim and my dad really needed me to help out with a diversification strategy. At the time, we acquired a small cosmetics 32

manufacturer; that was a turnaround situation. I worked in that role for three years, two years with Jim and my dad, and we successfully sold the business in 1995, the year the Evans acquisition opportunity came our way. Jim D’Addario: We helped a friend out with that business. We actually sold it for a profit, but it was a big distraction, and we were all excited about the Evans opportunity and focusing solely on the music business again. D’Addario III: When we sold the business, I agreed to stay on with the new owner for roughly a year. I learned a tremendous amount with that opportunity. I equate it to a mini MBA. When the new ownership took over, I was essentially the operations manager for the company, which was in Hauppauge, N.Y. I was only in my mid-20s, and there were 80 or 90 employees there. It was kind of crazy having so much responsibility at such a young age. Ultimately, I came back to D’Addario in 1996. I was initially involved in production planning. In fact, the first project I worked on was the due diligence for an acquisition. We had acquired the Kaman Musical String Division (originally the Black Diamond String Co.) in the summer of ’96. My first job was to drive to Bloomfield, Conn., and count all the inventory and validate all the other assets. There was a lot of work involved from there, but we were able to transfer most of the volume to our facility here. From there, I continued with production planning, and eventually, I got into brand management. I was involved with D’Addario’s fretted brand management for a brief period of time. Ultimately, I got more involved in the commercial side of the business. I was a national sales manager for a number of years. It was an exciting time to be a national sales manager, because Mars Music was still in the throes of expanding rapidly, as were Guitar Center and Sam Ash. They were all opening up stores, and the online business had yet to kick in. One of my role models at the time was Kathy Slezak, who was one of the first employees of the company. She was general manager for a number of years, and at one point was vice president of sales. When she was in this role, I was learning the ropes from her. Ultimately, she ended up marrying Mike Dawes, who owned our distributor in Australia. She moved to Australia and became our MARCH 2020

APAC sales manager, working from the Melbourne area. So, I took over her role as VP of sales. I continued in that role for many years, getting involved in the international side of the business. Eventually, I became an executive vice president, and I was working closely with the company president at the time, Rick Drumm. I learned a lot from Rick and eventually succeeded him in the president’s role, which was 2014. And now, I’m also assuming the CEO role. As for my other role models, they are, of course, Jim and my dad. I didn’t get a chance to work with my dad that long because he retired in the late ‘90s. But he was certainly very generous to me, lending an ear any time I needed his support. Of course, Jim has always been with me. I have learned a lot from Jim over the years. But as much as I have learned from Jim over the years, we are also very different in terms of management style and skill sets. I will never be a Jim D’Addario when it comes to innovative, creative thinking. But I bring other skill sets that are a nice complement. That’s how Jim and my dad were so successful. They were always different in terms of skill sets they had. They were great complements to each other. I have a little bit of a different approach. I am very analytical, organized and do everything I can to understand the person’s role I am interfacing with. Having worked in all these positions — even in high school as a teenager — I learned almost every facet of the business. That was invaluable to me because I have a good feel for what everyone is up against. That lets me collaborate with people in a productive, respectful way.

The Retailer: John III, tell us about your family and what you do when you’re not working. D’Addario III: I have three children. My oldest, Lily, is 20. She is in her first year of college. I have a senior in high school, Lucy, and the youngest, John IV, is a sophomore in high school. Lily is a violinist and an athlete. Lucy is a talented and passionate singer and dancer who has Broadway aspirations. John is an upright and electric bass player, and athlete. He loves both. So, they keep my wife Michelle and I very busy. I try to stay as active as I can outside of work. I love a wide range of sports, including tennis. It clears my mind and keeps me energetic. The Retailer: Do any of your children have an interest in becoming the next generation at D’Addario? D’Addario III: My daughter, Lily, has been the most curious about the business. In fact, she worked here for several months before going to college. She helped with our lean initiatives. She asked a lot of questions and has been involved in the family assemblies we have on an annual basis. You are eligible to be part of our family business meetings at age 16. She is also part of our family council, which is in charge of organizing our family assemblies and identifying other educational opportunities for family members. So yes, Lily seems interested. I am not sure about my other two children yet, but it is early, of course. Jim D’Addario: Janet and I have three children: two girls and a boy. Our oldest, Julie, worked as a graphic designer at D’Addario before she started her family and has been focused on that. Her husband, Pat, has been with our company in several roles and recently has been leading a diversification effort expanding our hand exerciser product range into the physical therapy and sports markets. Amy stepped down as director of brand in 2018 but was responsible for our rebranding and the build-out of our new MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

creative departments in Farmingdale and Brooklyn. She is still an active board member and sounding board for me and the entire management team. Our son Robert is running Cleerline Technology, which was a spinoff of our Planet Waves solderless connector and cable business. They are focused on wire, fiberoptic cable and all the components that are utilized in home and commercial control system installations. These two businesses are part of our family’s desire to diversify, using technologies and expertise we have developed for our music business in other industries. Between our two family branches, there are 19 grandchildren. In fact, in December, our daughter Amy recently had our eighth grandchild. The 19 generation-five members run from being only weeks old to 20. Fortunately, they are all healthy and have diverse interests. There are some very smart and talented kids with a wide range of talents and passions. There certainly might be another family member or two that want to join the business. That would be a dream for my brother and me. I would love to see it, but who knows?

The Retailer: Jim, with that said, how hard is it to keep a family business going? You would think some family members would want to do other things. Jim D’Addario: Well, there are a lot of people in John III’s generation that are not involved in the business. For example, my daughter Amy worked here for about five years because our marketing was suffering. She felt strongly at our family meetings that we needed to do better. She worked part-time as a consultant for seven years and helped with our rebranding. But she really wasn’t interested in doing that long term. It wasn’t where her passion was. She went back to screenwriting and just finished a screenplay she is pitching. Her husband is a successful screenwriter, too. But in John III’s family, several of their family members are intimately involved. John’s brother, Michael, is the VP of operations here. He is really involved and doing a great job. He is in charge of all the factories here in Farmingdale and the Promark factory in Houston. And John III’s brother-in-law, Esteban, is one of our most productive mechanical engineers. He is a fantastic designer who has built some great machine solutions. He is married to John’s older sister Laura, who worked here for a while, as well, before having children. And of course, Suzanne D’Addario runs our D’Addario Foundation in support of music education and is doing a fabulous job. We have quite a few family members working here, but nobody is forced to work here. We want our family members to truly want to be part of the business and to be passionate about it. The Retailer: Jim, are you amazed at what you built at D’Addario? Did you ever think in your wildest dreams you would build what you have now? Jim D’Addario: No. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but being a driven person, I always knew I would be successful at some level. Things fell into place for me and the company, and I believe we were clever enough to capitalize on the opportunities that came our way, with creativity, hard work and strong values. But no, I never dreamed we would be able to assume such a strong market position in the accessories market. When we started this company, we agreed to stick to small goods — just strings, at the time. Most guitar companies either didn’t have a string business, or if they had one, it wasn’t succeeding, because they would always put their best people on instrument projects. I 33

figured we could be “Switzerland.” We could be the “Gillette” of the music business, selling to every store. That philosophy paid in spades for us because we became known as strings first. In fact, our slogan at the time was “Making Fine Strings is Our Only Business.” We couldn’t use that one now! In 1986, as we grew our direct-to-dealer sales, we wanted to add more product lines to get the dealers’ attention. For 23 years, we were the North American distributor for Vandoren, and later we acquired Evans, Planet Waves, RealFeel, Puresound, Rico and Promark — all accessory brands. It just built from there. We developed a reputation as the small-goods experts. There is no conflict. We didn’t have to worry about managing exclusivity on the dealer level. It was tempting to go beyond small goods. We almost bought Guild Guitars in 1991. It would have been great timing had we bought it because, the next year, MTV came out with “Unplugged,” and the acoustic guitar went through a several-decade renaissance. But, in the end, we realized getting into instruments would have been a terrible distraction and complication for us. It might have ruined the good thing we had going.

The Retailer: John III, whether subtle or significant, will we see any changes at D’Addario under your leadership? D’Addario III: I don’t think you will see any dramatic changes. One thing we will do is always seek competitive advantages in everything we do. We are in control of most everything we go to market with. We produce the majority of the materials for strings now. We have our printing facility. We have our own engineering and machine shops where we literally design, program and build our own manufacturing equipment. These things create opportunities to create competitive advantages. These things will never change. It has made our company very successful. But, at the same time, as much as it’s a competitive advantage, it also creates a level of complexity as an organization. I joke that we are roughly a $200 million company, but billions in complexity when you consider all the manufacturing facilities we have and all of our distribution companies around the world. It’s a lot to manage. But to Jim’s point about the team we now have, we are more prepared now than ever to be able to manage that level of complexity and excel despite the challenges. We will continue to improve as a company. We seek talent that has one major characteristic: curiosity. That is the one quality we look for in everyone here. Being innately curious about how things can be

better. We are going to continue to drive that in a big way going into the future. I will say that with Jim being able to focus on the innovation side of the business, we are going to look at how we can be more of a market disruptor and how we can diversify the portfolio of accessories we have. One major change we will have is, we are in the process of transitioning to more of a business-unit structure. That means we literally have business-unit leaders of each area of the business. We have three defined business units: guitar plus (strings and other guitarrelated accessories), where Brian Vance is the VP; a percussion division where Randy Beck is our leader; and band and orchestral woodwinds division led by Bill Wrightson. We are empowering them to be virtual owners of those businesses. But each of them is competing for shared resources. We created a matrix-type organization to support our business units. They do have a lot of their own dedicated resources they are responsible for managing. We are leveraging the great shared services we have as a corporation, meaning finance, IT, HR, sales organization and our internal marketing agency. But at the same time, they are managing a highly focused team. One of the things that drove this structure is that most of our competition are single-brand-focused companies. They tend to be very nimble in terms of competing. We are trying to create that same environment, and yet take advantage of strong shared services and a global distribution network. The future of how we run the organization will be through these business units. Jim D’Addario: There are no surprises here. We have been discussing the changes we would make on the board level and management level for years and years. So, I don’t think anyone is going to notice any major changes, except that perhaps we are getting more efficient and better at what we do. I’m sure at some point we will have to make some other decisions that could be disruptive. For example, should we stay on Long Island forever with taxes the way they are and the inability to deduct real estate taxes, as well as state income taxes we have? That is changing the picture for us. I am a devoted, loyal New Yorker who has supported this state with my personal time, serving on Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s economic councils, and have really been a tremendous backer of business on Long Island. But business is business. We are still committed to New York, but as each day goes by, it is becoming more difficult to keep committing to it. In the end, there are no real surprises coming down the road.

The Retailer: John, the D’Addario Foundation has now won our “Outstanding Community Ser vice” award for seven years and counting. I am assuming this will also remain a priority moving forward? John D’Addario III: Absolutely. One thing I tell my sister [Suzanne], though, is that it can be more global in its reach. That is something we are going to look at more seriously. That is consistent with our goal to continue to improve. I would like to enhance the foundation’s work and reach more people around the world. There’s no question we will continue to drive the foundation forward in a big way. One of the biggest things I learned from my father and Jim is it is always very important to give back to the industry. Do your part to grow the industry. We are planning on doing that. Jim D’Addario: In terms of sales and revenue dollars, I think we probably do more philanthropic work than any other company in the industry. We would like to keep it that way. Perhaps, someday, we will be able to create a coalition out of it and get more companies involved. That would be great. On a personal basis, I listed 13 instruments on on D’Addario’s vintage store [in February], with all of the proceeds going to the Foundation An attreactive display just upon entering the D’Addario offices.

(continued on page 53) MARCH 2020



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Editor’s Note: Part 1 of this MI Spy story ran in the February issue, starting on page 36. Please see that article for the introduction to that story, as well as full descriptions of MI Spy’s visits to Sam Ash Music and Guitar Center in Chicago.

Welcome back, MI Spy fans! And welcome to Part 2 of my mission report from wonderful Chicago. Last month, in Part 1, I detailed my visits to the Sam Ash Music in Buffalo Grove, as well as the Guitar Center in Arlington Heights. The Chief had dispatched me to search for an affordable 12-string guitar that I could recommend to my (fictitious) guitar students and their parents. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, go ahead. I’ll wait. Now, at the conclusion of my last report, I was thrown off the trail by a mysterious organization whose ever-watchful eye had followed me around Chicagoland. Following a close call with an eye-emblazoned white van parked outside Guitar Center, I decided to revisit my (surely compromised) safehouse to search for more clues about my pursuers. So I made my way back to the nondescript apartment building where I stage my Chicago missions, clambered up the fire escape and crouched outside the safehouse’s rear window. Peering inside, I could see no one lying in wait for an ambush. A good sign. I opened the window and crawled in. A quick search around the safehouse revealed nothing particularly suspicious. No files were missing. All of my MI Spy gadgets were still safe behind the secret bookshelf, and my closet full of tactical tuxedos had been undisturbed. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the place seemed … tidier than I had left it. And 36

there was still the unmistakable scent of lemon lingering in the air. Other than that, nothing seemed amiss. My fresh-smelling foes had clearly done a good job of covering their tracks. Not even fingerprint scans or my trusty UV light turned up any clues. I thought I had reached a dead end in my investigation until I noticed the piece of paper tacked to inside of the front door, right there in plain sight. It was a bill. The mysterious eye logo was prominently featured at the top, and the only item on the bill was a $350 charge for “spycleaning services.” Spycleaning? Had some rival intelligence organization, or perhaps a vengeful music retailer who had received a bad review in a past report, hired the mysterious eye to rub me out like some unsightly stain? And for only $350!? I had already seen a bunch of entry-level 12-string guitars that cost more than twice that during this mission! Undeterred, I decided to con-

tinue my search in the apartment building’s garage. Much to my shock, the MI Spy Mobile, which I had abandoned outside Sam Ash for fear of tracking devices, was parked in my designated parking space! Another eye-emblazoned bill had been tucked underneath the windshield wiper — this one listed a $100 charge for “vehicle return services.” Were my pursuers so bold as to return an obviously bugged car to me and charge me for their efforts? Did they really think I could be stupid enough to use it? Well, readers, rest assured: Your MI Spy is stupid like a fox. I decided to drive the MI Spy Mobile to the next music store on my itinerary. Let the eye track me all it wants. This time, I’ll be ready.

Tobias Music 5013 Fairview Ave. Downers Grove, IL 60515 630.960.2455

I cruised down to Downers Grove, a charming community

due west of the city, with a classic Midwestern downtown business district lined with well-kept streetscapes, buildings and storefronts. I easily found Tobias Music, an independent, singlelocation, family-owned store that, for more than 40 years, has served Chicagoland’s western suburbs, and as I came to understand, also far beyond. Tobias Music specializes in up-market handcrafted acoustic guitars and also offers electric guitars, acoustic and electric bass guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, amps, related supplies and accessories, and sheet music. Its product offering also includes used instruments, and notably, a personal concierge-style service to help customers design and commissions one-of-a-kind guitars from among the top brands the store carries. On the service side, Tobias offers guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo and drum lessons. The store is also home to the Garage Band UniverMARCH 2020

sity Music School, devoted to helping develop aspiring performers in ensemble stage performance. In addition, the store provides guitar and amp repairs, both in-house, and in partnership with Chicago’s Third Coast Guitar Service. When I first walked into the store’s short entry hallway, I was surprised to find an open door across from the entrance that led into an inviting performance space. Its warm wood walls were adorned with antique guitars, and a breakfront display case pulls shoppers into its engaging atmosphere and folksy acoustic vibe. This well-appointed space, complete with stage, lighting and sound, can seat up to 80 guests, and when I popped in, it was set with a combination of theater and cabaret seating. I learned that they use this space for manufacturer and supplier demos, pro clinics and workshops, and select talent showcases. It also offers room for rentals, and for hosting events including parties, private showcases and worship services. What a unique space for a small hometown music store! On entering the small shop itself, I saw two other customers, one engaged with the owner, and the other waiting. I was immediately drawn into the front room devoted to the Taylor brand, where instruments hung two and three high on all four walls. The collection included four 12-strings ranging in price from $1,599 to $2,899, probably beyond the entry-level price point for my pretend students (and their parents), although it was an impressive selection. Also of note were a couple of eight-string baritone guitars, also beautiful instruments, yet in the same price range. Overall, the product mix felt quite well curated, though targeted to a decidedly up-market clientele. I learned later that the shop usually also had at least one Taylor 150CE in that brand’s entry-level $900 price range for 12-strings on hand, but demand at the moment was outpacing production. It’s interesting to consider that the two national chain stores I visited earlier both had MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

this model in stock, yet Tobias was sending them out the front door as soon as they came in the back. Go figure. I’d been scoping out the front room for less than 10 minutes when the owner excused himself from his other customer for a moment to welcome me, apologize for being busy, inform me that “pops” would be there shortly to help, thank me for dropping in, assure me that my interest was important to him, and invite me to make myself at home with the instruments. I was already so impressed with the layout and selection — and itching to get my hands on a few of these exceptional guitars — that his thoughtful consideration sealed the deal. I settled in to sample the goods and wait my turn with little concern for time or attention I spent the next half hour sampling the Taylor 12-strings and roaming the rest of the store. In the Taylor room, there was a $2,999 562CE on sale, marked down to $2,599. There was also a $2,299 362CE that was especially attractive in appearance, feel and tone for the price. There was another nook in the shop featuring the Martin brand with a great selection and inviting seating to sample the wares. The store also advertises and stocks many other top brands, including Santa Cruz, Gibson and Takamine guitars, along with Genzler, Fishman and NuX amps. While I was exploring, several other customers came and went, two with new guitars in hand, including the Taylor 362CE that had caught my eye. I learned later that a third sale was finalized on the phone while I was there. Pops had arrived and was at the center of the action. As it turns out, he is the owner’s father, the founder of the store, and though now supposedly retired, still unmistakably part of the heartbeat of this shop. With sales at hand complete, the owner then sat with me and focused on pulling out my story and interest. I concluded by remarking that his store’s offerings appeared far more upscale than my student’s (and their parents’) interest and

budget. On the contrary! Right away he recommended Washburn’s Oscar Schmidt models as just one appropriate quality and value fit for my first-time 12-stringers. Though they didn’t currently have these models in stock, he could certainly get them, and though I wasn’t buying myself, he said that he’d like to have at least one on hand anyway. With an assist from Pops, they quickly came up with a price range ($180-$280 depending on model) and in-store availability (soon). We had a thorough conversation as I peppered the owner with questions relating to how he would advise students and parents about a 12-string purchase. He went into great detail about body size and neck length considerations, informed in part by influence from Bob Taylor, Kurt Listug and the designers at Taylor guitars, with whom Tobias Music has enjoyed a personal and professional relationship since the early ‘80s. He also talked about his personal connection with Chris Martin of C. F. Martin & Co. guitars, and the shop’s website details its longstanding tight relationship with Richard Hoover of Santa Cruz Guitars. I asked about his take on Taylor’s ES2 electronics, as it was now becoming something of a litmus test for retailer product knowledge. He started by explaining the science behind the quartzcrystal-coated piezo pickups, distinguished by Taylor’s unique pickup placement, and concluded that the tone appeal is great but still subjective — not necessarily better, just different. And setup cost for a 12-string was $15, plus your choice of strings. Tobias Music bills itself as “The Ultimate Mom and Pop Experience.” If that means “expert in product knowledge and caring customer service,” then yes, they are. Exiting Tobias Music, I scanned the area for any sign of white vans with eyes painted on them, fully expecting a confrontation with my pursuers. But there were no white vans to be found. “I guess I lost them,” I half-shouted as I sat behind the wheel of the MI Spy

Mobile, hoping the agents of the eye were listening in. Maybe I could lull them into a false sense of security and catch them sleeping at my next destination….

Hix Bros. Music 1941 W. Wilson St. Batavia, IL 60510 630.406.0044

Finally, I headed straight west to Batavia, a suburb straddling the Fox River along the valley that marks the western edges of the Chicago metro area. The Hix Bros. Music store here is the second of two family-owned independent shops. The business was originally founded by John Hix in 1946 further south in Aurora, a major city southwest of Chicago. The founder’s three sons took over the business in 1996, built out an expansive new main location in 1999 adjacent to Aurora’s Fox Valley Mall, and opened the Batavia satellite store in 2003. The main store in Aurora houses studios for lessons, recording and ensemble space, along with guitar and amp repair shops. It sells a broad range of guitars, keyboards and percussion, and offers band and orchestral instrument rental through a third-party partner. Its educational offering includes its “Ukulele Club,” providing private and group classes; the “Hittin’ Stuff Percussion Ensemble,” creating a group experience for all ages and skill levels; and the “RocksCool” rock school, an eight-week live band adventure that includes recording and a live performance showcase. The Batavia store I visited is located in a strip mall on a busy major road. Though much smaller than the main store, this shop still stocks a healthy collection of guitar and keyboard instruments, amps, PAs and stage lighting gear, along with sheet music and all manner of accessories. It even has several band and orchestra instruments displayed to promote rental services. I also noted a single small, enclosed sound booth I guessed is used for lessons. There didn’t appear to be any other studio space at this store. (continued on page 52) 37




There are loads of different ways to engage your audience with content, so many that they may seem hard to keep up with. I talk often about video because it’s the key to retail buyers, but there are others worth exploring, many of which are also highly effective, especially when you pair them together. Supporting a piece of content with another piece is a great way to engage your audience on multiple levels. Because people have different lifestyles and methods of learning, it’s important to understand you can’t reach them all using one platform or format. People like to consume content in a variety of different ways. Eighty percent of all people watch videos regularly, and 90 percent watch them on their phone. While most people like to watch videos, some prefer to read an article or blog, or enjoy reading as a supplement to gain a deeper understanding. An online survey showed 68 percent of people felt blogs added credibility to a website, and seven of 10 people surveyed preferred articles to ads. Video blogs are also increasing in popularity, as are podcasts. Just more than half (51 percent) of Americans have listened to a podcast, and nearly one-third (32 percent) listen to podcasts monthly. People also enjoy listening because it can be done while doing something else, like commuting, cooking dinner or exercising. So, what is supportive content? First of all, I’m fairly certain I’m making this term up (if I’m not, please let me know so I can credit someone smart), so here’s what I mean: Supportive content is simply creating layers of content for your audience to experience, which also increases your potential reach by giving people multiple methods to experience what you have to say. It’s like having a bunch of on-ramps to a highway — the highway is the message you’re trying to deliver, while the on-ramps are the types of content. Maybe you have a really short direct ramp, like a graphic or 15-second ad for people with short attention spans. Maybe you have a longer ramp that’s a big turn onto the highway, such as a video that includes comparisons and sound clips. I’m out of highway-themed analogies, so bear with me here. Maybe you have some shorter videos about specific attributes. Maybe you have a great single image that’s an Instagram post. Maybe you have a podcast talking about history and your personal experiences, featuring a guest. So, what does that look like? What’s a specific example? I’m constructing this idea about a guitar, but it’ll work for any product or service.

Say you’re making a video about how to record a 12-string guitar for your YouTube channel and Instagram TV. You want to make a video encapsulating four main points about the guitar, which is featured on IGTV, YouTube and the product page on your website. Then, take those four points and make four one-minute videos for Instagram with them. That’s five videos, which is great. Writing a blog post about how to record a 12-string guitar for your website is another way to repurpose what you’re saying in the video, and it won’t require much more effort than simply putting your thoughts in written format. In fact, you probably already have some notes on what you were going to say in the video that can be used as an outline for your blog post. You can also record a podcast talking about the history of 12-string guitars on famous records, and the techniques used on those compared to the ones you describe in your video and blog post. You can invite a guest to talk about their experiences with 12-strings, and maybe even discuss Nashville tuning. What’s Nashville tuning? That’s your next series. Creating content to support other content is also great for search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines examine your website to determine how well it answers the search prompt, or to better put it, how well your information answers the question someone is searching for an answer to. Using my example, if someone were searching “how to record a 12-string guitar,” you’re giving Google five videos, a blog and a podcast, and the descriptions and links to each other that go with those things. That’s a lot of answers to that question. Plus, you can link those things to each other, both on your site and elsewhere. Your YouTube videos can include links to your blog and podcast. Your podcast, which can be recorded in both audio-only and video formats, can include links to your videos and blog. Your blog on your website can include links to your product page, which will feature your media about the product. Backlinks are great for SEO too. Common search terms like “best” (best beginner trumpet, best way to learn guitar, best music store) are a great place to begin this style of campaign, as 101-level content is evergreen, meaning it doesn’t expire and will always be good content to have available. Start with these building blocks, and alternate between them and new or niche products. These are the things that will have the best results out of the gate. Need help planning your content, or someone to bounce ideas off of? Write to me at MARCH 2020


WHEN By Allen McBroom

Being in music retail is a little like an advanced course in human interaction. Every sort of person comes through our doors. Some are seeking information (“How do I hook this up?”), some are seeking an education (“I think we need a PA for our church, but I don’t know where to start”) and some are looking to enjoy themselves outside their usual world (“I’m just looking, but can you tell me about all the guitars you have?”) All of these folks need someone to counsel them, educate them or just help them out. If they aren’t sure what sort of help they need, or if they’re wrong about the sort of help they need, it’s up to us to ask questions, figure out what they really need and then explain to them the best path to take. Yes, I did say “if they’re wrong about the sort of help they need.” Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, the customer isn’t always right, but the customer is always the customer. If they’re wrong, it takes a lot of skill in human interaction to gently lead them away from their wrongness and help them down the path of enlightenment, which, if successful, results in them listening to you and handing over their money in exchange 40

for the products their enlightened minds now desire. This involves a lot of listening, and questions, and answers, and, well, interaction. You can call it communication skills, or the ability to develop an interpersonal relationship at some appropriate level. Good sales folks do this all day long, and really good sales folks enjoy these exchanges. However, there are times when less customer interaction is a better idea. The world is full of folks buying on the internet, and you’ve probably noticed that they are a lot like the folks who come through your store’s entry portal every day. Some know exactly what they want, some need help and ask for help (bless ‘em), some are just buying “shotgun style” and hoping for the best. (Shotgun style means they are confused by the wide assortment of choices on the internet, so they just point and click “buy,” without knowing exactly what they’re needing or getting. If it doesn’t work out, they’ll just send it back. Thank you for popularizing that notion, Mr. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.) The shotgun buyers and the enlightenment-challenged buyers are the ones most likely to follow up their online purchase with a scathing email or review, expressing poorly concealed rage that the thing they bought did not include the optional widget cable, or that the item’s color isn’t exactly the same as the color they saw on the computer monitor they bought five years ago for $10 at a yard sale. These are some of the folks who really, really need the wisdom you possess, but they are also the ones with whom you do not need to share that wisdom. When dealing with indignant and/or furious online buyers or emails, the best thing you can do (unless there is some compelling evidence to the contrary) is usually to have short, polite, concise interactions. “I’m sorry the 1966 Fender Deluxe Reverb you bought wouldn’t float in water as you’d hoped. What would you like me to do?” may not be what you want to say in your email, but in the long run, it will have a much better outcome than what you really want to say, which is probably more along the lines of “Seriously? What kind of moron thinks a vintage tube amp will sound better on an inner tube in a swimming pool?” Likewise, keeping your interactions brief and replying succinctly to the main points is a better idea than replying point-by-point to every objection they enumerate. Years ago, I got some less-than-happy Amazon feedback from a customer MARCH 2020

who had bought a small item, and he was furious that the exterior packing carton shipping tape wasn’t exactly square. It looked “haphazardly applied,” and he listed all the terrible things that this could have caused. None of those things happened, he got his item in good order, but the somewhat crooked shipping tape made him ballistic. After some thought and a lot of write/delete, write/ delete, I finally cleared my head and replied to his public feedback with a note thanking him for bringing this to our attention, and assuring him that the miscreant had been identified, and sent to a tape re-education camp. I told him I was relieved his item arrived safely and assured him I would personally tape all outgoing boxes for his future purchases. I thanked him again, and that was that. In retrospect, a much better reply would have been simply “Thank you for letting me know, we’ll do our best to not let this happen again.” (On a side note, always reply to negative or critical reviews with something positive, and then leave it alone. In a review, it’s not about who is right, it’s about who will look like the bigger person to the other potential customers who read your reply.) Polite and succinct are good guidelines for heated emails and reviews. The more you say, the more grist you provide for their mill. The longer your reply, the more likely they are to continue the exchange. This is bad. You want the exchange to be as brief as possible, and the best way to do that is to apologize, offer a solution that is favorable to the customer and then leave it alone. In these situations, it’s not about who is right, it’s about making the customer feel like they were heard and the gears of commerce are turning in their favor. Polite and succinct are your friends. Less is more. There are a lot of instances where less is more, and you’ve probably encountered your share. Lessons provide a lot of MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

opportunities to practice the “less is more” approach. Scheduling lessons for a student when the parents are in the middle of a rancorous divorce springs to mind as a good place to withhold wisdom and practice the polite and succinct approach. Or explaining

to Suzie’s mom that not showing up for a month’s worth of lessons doesn’t mean the next month is free. Other examples from your own lesson program probably come to mind. In a nutshell, if they’re looking for help, for education and for en-

lightenment, delivering that in a way that makes them feel fulfilled delivers the cash to your coffers. If they’re looking for a pound of flesh, address the core of their concerns, apologize and make them happy without verbosity. Happy trails…


A Day at The Zoo

By Michelle Loeb The Music Zoo, under the leadership of president Tommy Colletti, has been a steady presence in the metropolitan New York City music community for more than 25 years. The Music Zoo started out in Little Neck, Queens, where it stayed for 17 years before moving into a larger store in an area of Roslyn, Long Island, which was rife with music history. The store finally, in June 2019, settled in a 21,000-square-foot facility in Farmingdale, located in Long Island’s Suffolk County. While The Music Zoo has continued to grow into new storefronts, it has remained a place where musicians from all over the New York area can come to find “everything you could need for guitar and bass,” according to Colletti. This steady growth has occurred in an industry that has been faced with new challenges that Colletti said have put additional pressure on independent music store owners, to the point that he noted the lack of many boutique guitar stores on Long Island today. “I can’t say why it’s gotten harder to maintain a musical instrument store. Maybe it’s just the passage of time,” said Colletti, who sadly listed the death of Mandolin Brothers’ Stan Jay and the end of the “guitar mecca” that was Manhattan’s 48th Street as seismic changes that left a great impact on the industry. “The store owners are also aging out, and the younger generation just says, ‘I can do this online,’ and opens a Reverb store and that’s good enough for them,” continued Colletti, who added with irony, “I guess we’re part of the problem, as well, because we are also an online dealer.” The Music Zoo was a pioneer in online sales back when the store first began, setting up an ecommerce site long before its competitors. “We had an [ecommerce] site early on, and that helped set a trajectory and gave us a head start,” said Colletti. “Back then, it was tedious to set up a website and it was an arduous thing to do. It took years for some of our competition to catch up. Now it’s as easy as clicking a button to build an online platform.” Despite having many of The Music Zoo’s sales originate online, “I think it’s in our best interest to maintain a footprint,” said Colletti. “I find there is less consumer loyalty online, but locally, people will come to you first because they want to go where they feel comfortable.” Colletti went to great lengths to create a comfortable atmosphere 42

in the new Farmingdale store, which effectively tripled the size of the Roslyn location The Music Zoo called home for 10 years. There are couches in the main room and art on the walls that spotlight the many guitar heroes who speak to the tastes of The Music Zoo’s diverse customer base. “Every guitar player is up there,” said Colletti. Beyond providing a place of comfort and community, the new location is designed to give customers an experience that they can’t necessarily find while shopping online. The Farmingdale store is set up to not only offer a variety of new, used, and vintage instruments and accessories, but also a unique experience where brands like Fender, Taylor, Martin, Gibson and Yamaha were invited to build freestanding rooms within the store that are dedicated to their products. “Our customer doesn’t just browse; they can really get a sense of the company’s products,” said Colletti. “Including a store inside a store isn’t anything new, but it wasn’t done much in the guitar world. We were the first store in the world to have a Find Your Fit Taylor room in our Roslyn store, and that was partially my idea,” laughed Colletti, joking, “not that I want to pat myself on the back.” Another thing that sets The Music Zoo shopping experience apart from its competition, both brick and mortar and virtual, is the abundance of custom models available to customers. Colletti first got the idea years ago, when a customer inquired about a particular Gibson model and, upon further research, he discovered that it was a Guitar Center exclusive. “That was very frustrating. It made me realize that we have to set ourselves apart, preserve our margins and offer exclusive products of our own,” he said. “[Some] companies have custom shops, so they are able to do one-offs, and it’s more palatable for them to do this for a small shop that only wants six.” Colletti estimates that between 5 and 10 percent of the store’s stock is custom. Colletti and his staff will come up with new ideas for features, colors and patterns to add to existing models, or even speak to companies about resurrecting old models. “We get constant feedback from customers on the front line, and it’s cool to take that back to the manufacturers. Plus, we are all guitar nerds here, so thankfully MARCH 2020

The Music Zoo 123 Smith St. Farmingdale, NY 11735 (844) 687-4296 Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tommy Colletti, President

there are enough ideas here that we keep coming up with new builds,” Colletti said. “The beauty of it is that we get these exclusives, but the downside is that they take a while to actually get in stock. If they sell quickly, it can take a year to get more.” Events help to support the store’s sales and add to the community feeling Colletti hopes to cultivate there. All of the furniture is on wheels in order to easily facilitate clinics that bring in musicians such as Steve Vai, George Lynch, Guthrie Govan, Bernie Williams and Megadeth, to the delight of customers. “At The Music Zoo, I’d like to foster a community where people can come to talk guitars and where you can sit with a guitar and discover it before speaking to a salesperson,” said Colletti, although he has noticed a generational divide in both his customers and his staff in this regard. “The younger generation aren’t talkers like the boomers, who like to come in and chat with us about the gear they own. I’ve noticed that my younger staff can have a harder time in dialogue with a 60-yearold customer,” said Colletti, who currently employs a staff of 20. “The younger staff will text each other even when they are in the same room, but the older generation will walk an answer to someone.” As time marches on and new generations of customers discover The Music Zoo, Colletti hopes to continue serving all of their needs while maintaining a successful business the community can rally around. “I want to keep upping the ante and growing this community of guitar players,” said Colletti. “That’s the goal for the next 10 to 20 years.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



By Dan Vedda

Regular readers have noticed my disenchantment with many of our industry’s business models. In the 20plus years I’ve been writing the Veddatorial, (and more than 30 in our industry), many of our cherished business practices have become inefficient or pointless, in my opinion. It’s not that I have any particular ax to grind against the models themselves. It’s just that we have seen so much disruption in the economy, in retail and in the music products industry itself. Ignoring the changes and the opportunities these “new normals” present can confine us. We can be locked in a perpetual cycle of damage control as we patch up our models like a car with 200,000 miles on it. At some point, that old

jalopy won’t run anymore. Over the years, we watched changing tastes and new products kill the organ market. The piano segment of our industry struggles to gain traction while it competes against dwindling commitment to a big-ticket “furniture” purchase and the legions of used pianos looking for a new home. Band and orchestra dealers also fight against their own used products, substandard internet instruments, and school budget woes, even as interest in music is high. Print is in the midst of a digital makeover. And the combo segment or our market deals with the cyclical nature of drumsets, a music scene without guitar heroes and relatively minor advances in technology. That’s not to say that

We have also seen the roster of retailers become ever more top-heavy, as the best-capitalized dealers lock down the lion’s share of sales. (Insert the “all your eggs in one basket” argument at your leisure.)


the picture is gloomy. Sales within the industry are trending upward and interest in music-making is widespread, in spite of the battles we fight. Indeed, the surge in interest may mask the fact that we are falling far short of our potential growth. Who knows what the numbers would be if we really captured all of that interest? We have also seen the roster of retailers become ever more top-heavy, as the best-capitalized dealers lock down the lion’s share of sales. (Insert the “all your eggs in one basket” argument at your leisure.) Also, when we see increases, those figures don’t really illustrate how much of our industry dollars are going to web-skimming ghost retailers, or how much of our industry potential is diverted by counterfeit goods or other missed opportunities. I think many of the smaller retailers in MI are merely surviving. Given our current distribution models, it’s hard to take advantage of many sales walking right in the door. That brings me to this episode’s rant about brand franchises. Manufacturers, the whole concept of protected territories and limited dealer networks is not just broken, it’s ludicrous. In general, manufacturers remain disingenuous about it, still pointing to “proper representation” of their product line, customer service and other supposed benefits. Really, folks, y’all can’t possibly be unaware that when you sell on the internet, the concept of “territories” is a fantasy. “Proper representation” isn’t a thing when giant dealers

cherry-pick your product line, or when regional B&O dealers use your line to populate a school bid and then get the director to sign off on different, higher-margin products once the bid is won. Customer service … oh please. That’s a column in itself. Certainly, there are longstanding dealers doing a spectacular job representing the brands they stock. But it often appears that suppliers look at sales figures without factoring in brand goodwill. Great dealers exist, but by definition as a subset of all dealers. How else to explain it, when not a week goes by that I don’t have consumers come to me and say, “Please, I’d rather buy _____ from you”? When I tell them I don’t have access to the product they want, I usually hear stories of lackluster or downright rude interactions with the franchisee that represents that product, or concerns about buying online. It’s happening constantly, manufacturers. What you will never know is how many of these potential sales went to a different brand (because another dealer they liked convinced them to buy a different product), or went to the used market, or perhaps didn’t even happen. That should keep you awake at night. What I’d like to see is an “entry tier” for a lot of prominent brands. Perhaps a company offers a selection of the opening half of their line, leaving the premium top end to “stocking” dealers. Require payment upfront, but make the pricing close to what full dealers pay, not 5 percent below MARCH 2020

the MAP ceiling. Make the buy-in minimal, no more than three to six pieces. Yes, that’s what I said. You need to make this affordable to any store that wants to get onboard. You can still decide who you’ll deal with, but be real. These will be small stores. There’s a precedent, in a way. Late last century, a major guitar manufacturer marketed an acoustic line via another company. A lot of stores that weren’t dealers of the major guitar manufacturer sold the heck out of them. But then, the guitar manufacturer discontinued the line, and one rep reported to me that full-line dealers of the guitar brand were disgruntled about the amount of traffic “stolen” from them by small dealers in their market. Seems laughable in this internet century, doesn’t it? If that was happening, that tells me that the non-franchise dealers might have been serving the customers better. I know without a doubt that any line I’ve ever carried sells because customers want to buy it from my store, not because the brand name pulled them in. The fact that any of us can sell against online retail proves it even more thoroughly. Sure, it adds credibility when a shopper finds a known brand on the wall. But that kind of customer will choose a store first. Think about it, manufacturers: Additional sales to established merchants who will pay upfront. No 120day (or longer) financing schedules, no counterfeiting and your gear is in the hands of consumers you might not have seen otherwise. Side benefit: You may discover great representatives for your brand, and you may build them into full-line dealers. I’ll let you ponder that

until our next episode. We’ll talk about a few ways you could implement new models of distribution that might actually strengthen your brand. Or maybe the other

guys are already moving to that, and you might get to the table too late. (Spoiler alert: It’s happening.) That, too, should keep you awake at night.

If you have a comment, feel free to share it on the “Veddatorial” Facebook page, and as always, post an inquiry if there’s another topic you’d like to see covered here. (Please post to the page rather than DM, so others can see the dialogue.)



By Brian Berk

It is something few MI retailers try because of the risks involved. But if executed correctly, MI dealers can create a formidable business when manufacturing products themselves. Officially entering the fray this year to sell its products industrywide (i.e. beyond just its two stores) is Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar, operator of two MI stores in Waikoloa Beach and Hilo Bay, Hawaii. At The NAMM Show in January, the company introduced its HUG Ukulele Exotic Mango Wood Series, handcrafted instruments made from mango wood and designed to deliver the warm tones of their tropical origin. “With beautiful styling, all-solid wood construction and high-quality resonance, the HUG Ukulele Exotic Mango Wood Series captures the sounds of Aloha and transports players to a sunnier state of mind,” stated the company. Just as there are different varieties of mangoes, there are different styles in the HUG Ukulele Exotic Mango Wood Series, including Super Soprano Pineapple, Concert, Super Concert, Tenor and Super Tenor, with MSRPs varying by model. Each ukulele has a styling that’s classically refined and sleek, and crowned with HUG’s signature Ocean Wave headstock with figured acacia overlay. Enclosed-gear tuners have the proper tuning ratio for the Aquila 10U New Nylgut Tenor Ukulele Strings. These strings are made in Italy from a patented synthetic material that’s close in sound to authentic gut strings. This new product series, as well as the decision to become a manufacturer, is the brainchild of “Uncle Uke,” aka


“Uncle Uke” Robert Yates


HUG Ukulele Exotic Mango Wood Series

Robert Yates, majority owner of the business. He spent his formative years growing up on the island of Oahu and began playing ukulele at the age of 9. At 10, he began playing guitar, studying with a young man who was learning under the legendary Andres Segovia. After high school, he studied music education at Columbus College (now Columbus University) in Columbus, Ga., and began studying guitar building in his spare time. After graduation, Yates started raising a family, and life seemed to quickly get in the way of his musical passions, but he still found time to perform when he could. When he retired from the business world, Yates began playing and performing on a more serious basis, and eight years ago, began building instruments again as part of his retirement. This is how HUG Ukulele was born. Believing that quality does not have to be expensive, Yates has dedicated his efforts to making the HUG Ukulele line second to none in quality and playability. By why make the jump to become an industrywide manufacturer? “Here at Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar, we have been building HUG Ukuleles full time for the last eight years and selling them in our shops on the Big Island of Hawaii,” Yates told the Music & Sound Retailer. “Soon after we started, we began supplementing our handmade Hawaiian-built ukuleles with less-expensive production models from other well-known companies that we felt were of sufficient quality and playability so as to complement our handmade ukuleles. We became aware ver y early on that, in order to find high-quality ukuleles to offer to our clients in MARCH 2020

the lower and mid-price range, we would need to find alternative sources rather than those readily available through the conventional market. “That is when we began developing professional relationships with master luthiers around the world,” added Yates. “Beginning with a partnership with a small workshop in Taiwan, we began producing a line of solid mahogany ukuleles that were built by hand to my design specifications. This line of handcrafted instruments quickly became an important part of our store’s offerings, and we seemed to always have a problem keeping enough stock on hand.” This leads to our next question: Why become an industrywide player now? Why choose The 2020 NAMM Show for this launch? “For years, the HUG Ukulele line of fine instruments has not only been a pillar of our business success, but, over the years, dealers from all across the U.S. and Canada have been asking us to wholesale the HUG Ukulele line of instruments to them. The only thing keeping this from happening was the logistics of volume production allowing us the ability to supply all of those who have expressed interest while maintaining the highest quality at the most reasonable price possible. We felt that there was no better time and place to launch the national debut of HUG Ukulele then at The NAMM Show among our friends and colleagues and celebrate the beginning of the newest chapter of our company’s life,” Yates answered. However, although ukuleles represent one of the fastestgrowing segments in MI, HUG has officially entered a crowded field with several players. What makes the company different? “The HUG Ukulele line of fine instruments has grown from this humble start born out of necessity to an offering of more than 60 different ukulele models produced by a network of small independent workshops around the world,” responded Yates. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

“From Taiwan, Indonesia and China to the Philippines, Canada and the Big Island of Hawaii; this partnership has allowed us to create a line of affordable instruments of the highest caliber by allowing each of us to do what we each do best. HUG Ukuleles

have been so well received by ukulele players from around the world who have been making the journey to our shops here on the Big Island of Hawaii for years and returning to their homes with their ukulele treasures. The HUG Ukulele line has been so success-

ful that we knew we needed to find a way to share it with the rest of the ukulele world.” Also on HUG’s side is its knowledge of MI retailers and their needs. “Being an instrument retailer as well as a builder (continued on page 53)



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AMAHI UKULELES...................45 CELESTION.............................C-III CHAUVET LIGHTING................10 CHAUVET LIGHTING................11 FENDER.......................................7 FENDER.......................................17 FISHMAN ....................................25 GATOR CASES............................27 GATOR CASES............................29 HAL LEONARD..........................5 HAWAIIAN UKULELE & GUITAR.....................................8 HOSHINO.....................................12 JERRY HARVEY AUDIO............6 JMAZ LIGHTING........................51 KMC MUSIC................................23 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY............................................3 NAMM..................................... 14-15 NEW SENSOR.............................24 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS...................................41 PRO X...........................................21 QRS MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES....28 RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE........43 TASCAM....................................C-II TMP / THE MUSIC PEOPLE!.....9 VOCOPRO....................................13 YORKVILLE.............................C-IV

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As for what drives students into stores to take lessons, Galysh noted it used to be because someone famous was playing the guitar. Today, some students see a person on YouTube perform and want to mimic them. However, more often, Galysh sees students whose parents listen to artists like Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica and Van Halen, and the kids are now listening to them too. “I also hear almost every day that a student Left to right: Glen McCarthy, Martha Masters and Adrian Galysh went on YouTube and tried to teach themselves, but they learned it is a jungle out D’Addario CEO Toast there and need a private instructor,” said Gaylsh. D’Addario & Co. hosted a CEO toast at its Most of Masters’ students already have booth that represented the passing of the CEO secondary-school music experience. “We try at [Loyola torch from Jim D’Addario, who is still quite active Marymount] to support regional high-school music in the business, to John D’Addario III. “We’ve had programs,” she said. “We have festivals every spring. a great five decades since I have been involved Throughout the year, we try to support [high-school] teachers with resources, and curriculum. … We are starting to see more classroom guitar programs that are having a big influence on [students’] lives.” “What makes a band, choral, orchestral, guitar program strong is not the program, but who is teaching that class,” added McCarthy. “That is what draws students. There is a reputation that gets developed at any school. … I used to have a song of the day at the end of class. The bell would ring and they wouldn’t get up from their seats once it did [though]. The rest of the school was walking by [in the halls] and said, ‘That sounds like a fun thing. I can do that next year.” A spring trip was another factor that got students interested in McCarthy’s classes. “We would take a spring trip to Nashville, Toronto and Florida. We had the reputation that if you play guitar, you are going to go on the spring trip,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing John D’Addario III and Jim D’Addario that will draw kids into the program.” Also fascinating was to learn why students quit lesson in the family business,” said Jim D’Addario. “It’s programs and what can be done about it. “Playing music been my passion and my love. I can’t say ‘thank is hard,” asserted Gaylsh. “If kids are used to winning a you’ enough to everybody. Our families worked video game vs. ‘Oh my God, this is hard and my fingers hard at succession planning. … I am not going hurt,’ that’s a whole new experience for them. That anywhere. I still have a role in innovation and affects most kids from 7 to 10 years old. By the time look forward to doing that. We are completely they are 11, 12 or 13, kids are used to a routine and confident John [D’Addario III] is qualified to take doing homework. They may even have a guitar practice the reins. Congratulations John.” routine. So, there is a bit more commitment.” “One of the things Jim and my dad have talked Galysh added if a teacher does not have a plan and to me about is what a privilege it is to be in a structure as to how lessons should go for the foreseefamily business and how much of a privilege able future, students will leave the program. “If the it is to be in an industry like this,” added John curriculum doesn’t extend beyond the book you grew D’Addario III. “We have so many great friends, up with and teach out of, you will be losing students loyal customers and great competitors. Everyone once done with that book. When I teach, I know that feels passionate in this industry. I am also very the following week, I have material to teach. I know lucky to have worked with my father John, who that for the next four years, I have curriculum and has taught me so much about business and life. books to teach out of. I have selected a path for them. And I am one of the luckiest guys in the industry [Students] know that every week they come in [for to work with as brilliant a man as Jim. I will never lessons], there will be new challenges and something be like Jim, but I learned a lot from him. One of fun to do. I once asked a student how their lessons the great things he has done has built me a great were going [with another teacher]. The teacher asked team. We have a phenomenal team at D’Addario. what they wanted to learn today. The student said to I really look forward to working with them.” me, ‘Adrian, I don’t know what I want to learn today.’ For more on D’Addario’s leadership change, see The teacher should know what I want to learn today. this month’s “Five Minutes With” on page 32. He needs to have a plan in place.”


(continued from page 54) The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Payne: “Never ignore the little guy in the corner.” Out of context it sounds kind of weird, but essentially the point is to treat everyone with respect, especially in a sales environment. The person answering the phone or restringing a guitar could very well one day be the buyer, the manager, the decision maker or the owner of your customer. Heck, they could even become your boss down the road! If you treated that person with respect from the day you met them, then they’ll remember that. Treat them with disrespect, and they’ll remember that too. As a salesperson, you can’t afford to be selective with whom you treat with respect or not; be a good human, and karma will take care of you.

The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Payne: I vividly remember sneaking down to the basement with my sister as little kids and cracking open an old smelly guitar case of my father’s. He played a little bit as a young man in the navy, but tucked it away and didn’t want us touching it (because we would have surely destroyed it). That spiked my initial curiosity, but I officially got my hands on an instrument as a third-grade student and chose the clarinet. I played that through seventh grade, when I switched over to trumpet. I played trumpet and baritone horn through high school as well. Outside of school, I picked up playing guitar when I was 11. I bought a used guitar from my best friend with my birthday money. It was a hunk of junk, but I took it everywhere with me. I quickly started writing music, singing and then eventually picked up playing bass, drums, piano, and a myriad of other instruments along the way to help in my writing and recording. Fast forward to being a broke guy in college. I started teaching guitar at a local guitar shop, then moved into sales and management. As the small company grew, we needed extra help, and I hired my retired father to work some day shifts. The [journey from] him yelling at me for touching that guitar in the basement to he and I working together in a guitar shop

is pretty “full circle” to me.

The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Payne: I would call myself a guitarist first and foremost. I play a little bit every day, even just to strum a few chords. Playing guitar really helped me develop my personality [and] my songwriting ability, [and helped me] make friends and ultimately end up working in our industry. It’s definitely a special relationship with an inanimate object that I hold dearly. The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Payne: Social media leaves little to the imagination these days, but I am an avid Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner. Aside from music, it’s the one hobby I’ve had in life that has really shaped me as a person, and I didn’t pick it up until five or six years ago, as an adult. I usually train five days a week and just received my fourth degree on my purple belt (which means if I keep progressing and training at the same rate, I might earn my brown belt within the next year). Jiu jitsu differs from a lot of other martial arts in that it is a slow progression toward belt promotions. You learn a lot about yourself as an athlete, as a mentor to others and in being a humble person. Many say there isn’t much room for an ego on the mats; you need to leave that at the door if you’re going to get better, and this fact has been a life changer for me.

been to? Payne: Have you ever been to a Tied to One concert? Probably not; that’s my band, and every time we play, I have the time of my life! OK, if I deflate my head and get serious, I’ll have to say Joe Bonamassa at Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y., is up there for me. I’m not a big blues nut, but the retail shop I was working for sponsored this big outdoor concert series, and we got box seating for this event. Joe played very well, and exceeded my expectations, but the most memorable part of that concert was sitting there watching my father get blown away by a guy he hadn’t heard of before. Fast forward 12 years or so and I bet my mother wishes he hadn’t gone, because she’s been listening to his albums on repeat ever since.

The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Payne: In my eyes, Freddie Mercury was the best singer/ performer in rock history. His charisma, vocal abilities, ability to captivate an audience and songwriting ability aren’t closely seconded. The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future?

Payne: I’ve been listening to Dave Grohl my entire life and have never seen him live. I grew up in the grunge era and was too young to have the opportunity to see Nirvana and have passed up far too many opportunities to see the Foo Fighters. You’ve got me looking for tickets already!

The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood and what do you remember about it the most? Payne: Probably Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out.” My dad had that record and my sister and I would play “Movin’ Out” on repeat just to scream the “Cadillacacacacacac” part at the top of our lungs. Later in life, I reconnected with that entire album and Billy Joel as an artist in general and found a lot of inspiration in my songwriting. The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod? Payne: I’ve bounced around in musical genres throughout my life, but hard rock is where my heart is. Some of my go-to artists these days are Foo Fighters, Sevendust, He Is Legend, Thrice and Incubus. I also am always game to throw on a “Best of the ‘90s” station and enjoy everything from

The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Payne: Well, as much time as I spend training jiu jitsu, my favorite activity is hanging out with my wife, Krystal. We’re both passionate about cuisine and therefore end up going out to a lot of different restaurants and breweries. I suppose in some ways the physical activity involved with jiu jitsu helps keep my body in check for all the good food I indulge in. The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever 51

alternative rock, pop, metal, ska, R&B, hip hop, rap and even boy bands of the era.

The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at The NAMM Show? Payne: Set up and tear down our booth. Just kidding! You know, I always have a blast at the NAMM Young Professionals events. I get to connect with friends I haven’t seen in a while and network with others to grow my professional and personal network. I can’t think of one event I didn’t have a good time at. The Retailer: If you had to select three people, past or present, to have dinner with, who would they be and what would you ask them? Payne: My wife: She’s my favorite person in the world and I can talk to her about anything. Joe Rogan: I love listening to his podcast and admire him as a martial artist and thinker. I’d ask him this same question, who would he have dinner with and what questions would he ask them. My halfbrother: I very recently learned of his existence, but am having trouble finding him and getting in touch with him. I’d ask him to tell me his life story. The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer

(without naming them). Payne: I had a really memorable trip to visit a customer and had breakfast with one of their team members the following morning. That breakfast really cemented our growing friendship and, through their guidance, I made steps to become more involved in industry groups that have changed the trajectory of my career. I feel like I am making contributions to MI in a much more meaningful way as a result of this interaction, and it was all from a simple conversation. No crazy story, just genuine relationship building.

The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry? Payne: The people. People in our industry are so laid back, friendly and approachable. So many of us are band nerds and just get along so well. There aren’t many stuffy, tight-tie types, and it makes coming to work feel like hanging with friends.

many other types of people in the world that have such a unique and expansive set of skills.

The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Payne: It seems clear to me that some form of augmented reality is going to change the way people experience music. I have to believe that AR can change the way we listen to music, enjoy live performances, write music, record and even shop for instruments. It really seems more like a “when,” not “if.” The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Payne: I. Have. No. Idea.

The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industr y and why? Payne: Chefs. You can find passion in a lot of industries, but there is something really romantic about the way chefs approach their craft. They combine creativity, precision, safety, beauty, customer service and nutrition into doing their jobs. There aren’t

The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there. Payne: I’m originally from Niagara Falls, N.Y. It’s a small city in the sense that everyone knows everyone. The city has a number of stark differences, including the beauty of the state park/namesake waterfall vs. the urban and commercial decay of a past, more industrial economy. Not surprisingly, the people of the city are well diversified, too, and as a result, it is easy for me to say that the thing I love most about Niagara Falls and western New York are the people. Folks from

at $770 and priced at this store for $500. Once he pointed out the guitars, he thoughtfully offered a tuner and brought me a stool so that I could sample the instruments. He then plugged in an amp directly behind me and resumed his vacuuming. Despite the problem with the bridge, the Fender tuned up nicely and had the tone one would expect from a $300 guitar. Imagining my (nonexistent) students’ smaller hands, I especially liked the slim neck style. Because of the bridge problem, however, the strings were lifting up out of alignment with the neck, and the intonation was clearly off, moving higher on the frets. Yes, this guitar needed to be returned for replacement. The Takamine played well, was in fairly good tune, and had tight action, good

intonation and a pleasing tone. I consider it a fair value at the $500 price offered. Having sampled 100 percent (meaning both) of their 12-string offerings, I browsed the store a bit to take in all else that it had to offer. I then engaged my staff helper and his colleague, who were involved in other tasks in a halfwalled-off, office-type area in the rear, to ask more questions. There were no other customers in the store during my visit. I dangled the “I’m a teacher researching product and dealer recommendations” carrot, but I got no bites. No probing about where I teach, what I teach, age and skill level of my students, and so on. The store staff was personable and responsive, but only reactive in answering my questions without pausing from whatever else

western New York are passionate and loyal, especially to their beloved sports teams. Go Bills and Sabres! There’s a sense of community, and the people really have this “can-do” attitude. A lot of people have a chip on their shoulder about a great many things, and that motivation and passion continues to move the region forward. I can barely recognize sections of the city from when I left there 10 years ago to join The Music People, and it makes me happy for the future of Niagara Falls and the people that call it home.

The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Payne: I’m not sure if living things count, but I love my French Bulldog, Gilbert (find me on social media and you’ll understand why). If that doesn’t count, my Les Paul Traditional, which was the most extravagant and meaningful gift I’ve ever received from the guy who gave me my start in the music industry: my former boss, Dave Augustyniak. The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Payne: “Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask.” Need I say more? Editor’s Note: Jeremy Payne also won the Music & Sound Award for Best Rep for a second straight year. To see photos of him and other winners with their awards, turn to page 30.


(continued from page 37) I was greeted as soon as I walked in by a pleasant fellow who’d been vacuuming. When I explained my interest, he immediately pointed out the two 12-strings they had in the store and said right away that one of them was admittedly in some disrepair. It was a Fender CD-60SCE-12 acoustic/electric cutaway offered at $300, and the bridge had started to pull away from the body. This store did not have the enclosed, humiditycontrolled space of the other three stores I visited, and he suggested that it was likely due to having hung on the wall in the open air for so long. He said that it needed to be returned for replacement. The other 12-string on hand was a Takamine GD30CE-12 acoustic/electric cutaway listed 52

they were doing. I asked about typical 12-string stock on hand (just two at a time), what kinds of lessons they offered (keys, guitar, bass, voice, some woodwinds) and instruments available for rental (pretty much anything band and orchestra, all provided by a third-party partner.) Hearing the scrape at the bottom of the barrel, I wished them good day and went on my way. The damaged Fender was back hanging on the wall when I left. As I made my way back to the MI Spy Mobile, a sudden chill came over me. There, on the far side of the parking lot, sat the dreaded white van, the unblinking eye branded on either side. I dove under a row of parked cars and crawled within spitting distance of the van. Once again, no one was inside. So I produced

my trusty Universal Lockpick, popped the lock on the van’s back doors, and threw them open. The van was filled with what I could only assume were surveillance devices cleverly disguised as cleaning products. As I leaned forward to examine what appeared to be a steam cleaner, a hand suddenly reached out and grabbed me by the shoulder. A voice cried out, “What are you doing breaking into our van, you nutjob!?” My MI Spy training kicked in, and I dropped to the asphalt in a strategic fetal position. “Don’t touch me, I’ve got the Modelovirus!” I screamed. “You mean the Coronavirus?” “That too!” My attacker muttered something unintelligible in disgust, then said, “Get up, MI Spy. I’m not here to hurt you.” He was wearing crisp white overalls with the familiar eye logo embroidered on the chest, and he was

holding out a card with the same logo printed on it. Dusting myself off, I stood up and took the card from him. The back read “Private Eye Spycleaners. Covering your tracks since 1953.” “The Chief hired us to keep an eye on you. We’ve been following you all around Chicagoland cleaning up after you so you don’t blow your own cover,” my assailant explained. “Do you know how hard it is wiping all your greasy fingerprints off the guitars after you’re done manhandling them? Not to mention picking up all your discarded martini olives. And this time you even left an MI Spy Mobile parked outside a music store! You’re getting sloppy, Spy!” A spycleaning service! Of course! That explains the lemony smell at the safehouse, among other things. And I was wondering how my tactical tuxedos stayed so pressed and fresh.


(continued from page 34) for Music Education. There are some very valuable guitars that were auctioned, including a D’Angelico and Gibson. The guitars are worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

The Retailer: Jim, speaking of your collection, what is your favorite guitar? Jim D’Addario: I would have to say it is the [C.F. Martin] D-35 that I bought in high school. I was 14, and I saved my newspaper route money. It is Brazilian rosewood, just before they couldn’t get any more of that [wood]. I just found the tags for it. It was a $440 list price with the case. I paid $220. My dad took me on one of his trips to deliver strings to [Martin headquarters in] Nazareth, [Pa.]. There was a shortage of guitars then. Martin would only make 3,500 guitars a year then by hand. Now they must make about 90,000 a year. The folk boom was so big then. I kept telling Martin they didn’t even need any salespeople. The Retailer: Let’s conclude by talking about your current products. Can you discuss the great success you have had with D’Addario XT strings and MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

a little about what you featured at The NAMM Show? D’Addario III: The new XT series of strings is far exceeding our expectations in terms of sellthrough, especially our XT electric offering. Up to this point, we hadn’t been a strong contender in the electric coated string market segment. But XT is changing that. We are seeing incredible success there. The XT launch was unique because we offered it in just about everything right from the get-go, whether it be bass, acoustic, electric, classical or mandolin. I am really proud of our team here. It was a lot of work to pull off. It was no easy task. XT was a big focus at the NAMM show, and in the string realm, we have more things to come. There are new areas we will get into also. Jim D’Addario: We also introduced an incredible synthetic reed at the show called Venn, and the Evans UV2 coated head launch has exceeded all projections so far. Venn and UV2 are going to be game-changers. D’Addario III: Venn is a formidable threat to natural cane. Jim D’Addario: There is some pretty good synthetic reed product out there, but Venn is on another level. It is one of our main focuses for this year.

I shook the man’s hand. “Well, thanks for your help,” I said. “But if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a mission report to file!”

The Sale

At the end of the day, the choice of a shop in Chicagoland for a 12-string guitar was crystal clear. Both Sam Ash and Guitar Center stores have strong selections on hand with competitive pricing. Guitar Center gets the special mention here for range of product and pricing for its entryand mid-level market, and for its excellent merchandising display. In defense of Hix Bros., I did have occasion some years ago to visit its main store, and it had an excellent selection, and I had a very good experience with a skilled and attentive staffer. I suspect that my visit to its Batavia location without an immediate buyer in hand made me just another “looky-loo” not worth much attention or effort. They have been doing business in this location for more than 15 years, so they must be doing something right. All that being said, it was Tobias Music that won the day, hands down. In addition to outstanding product knowledge

expertise, Tobias is in the habit of building close customer relationships with its consultative sales style. Though the quality and price of offering at hand was likely out of bounds for my, at best, intermediate-level students, the owner never hesitated to focus his attention on my needs, and quickly offered solutions he could provide. His attitude and action clearly rang out. In fact, I received an email from him the same evening of my visit saying that they’d ordered two different Oscar Schmidt 12-string models to have on hand in the shop, and to please feel free to stop by anytime to give them a test drive. Bear in mind, he knows that I’m not buying either of these. But it’s clear that he also knows that as a player myself, I am a prospective customer, and that as a teacher, I am a potential referral source for many other prospective customers. Tobias Music doesn’t just serve Chicagoland’s western suburbs. It is a destination dealer for discerning customers across the tri-state region and beyond. I’m going to swing back the next time I’m in town to play those Oscar Schmidt guitars … if they’re still there!


(continued from page 47) and performer has given me a different and somewhat unique perspective on the needs of the modern music store,” relayed Yates. “As a builder, I intimately understand what is involved in designing and building a quality instrument. As a performer, I understand what the serious player is looking for in an instrument and what the beginning player needs in order to have the best chance of success. And as a music store owner, I am acutely aware of the shop owner’s need to maintain a livable profit margin in an ever-increasingly hostile business environment.” Perhaps the final step to success is knowing how to market the brand in order to ensure that not only MI retailers, but consumers, know the product as well. Here is Yates’ game plan: “For more than 20 years, sales of ukuleles had been outpacing guitar sales, and successful ukulele companies raised the quality of their

offerings to the consumer. Then, for the last couple of years, new companies entering the market began offering ukuleles that can best be described as being little better than toys more at home on the shelves of Toys ‘R Us than in a music shop,” he said. “This decrease in the quality of instruments being offered on the market has coincided with a downturn in ukulele sales, taking them below the sales of guitars for the first time in more than 20 years. Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar and HUG Ukulele has been built on the belief that quality and an educated consumer are the best recipe for success in the music business. HUG Ukulele will continue to develop programs and materials to help educate the ukulele world and the buying public and continue to strive to raise the standard of quality of instruments on the market while keeping cost down for the consumer and [margin] percentages up for the retailer.” 53



National Account Manager, The Music People, On-Stage, TMP-Pro By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Jeremy Payne: This is a tough one for me to answer. I have so many people who have influenced me throughout my career; some are mentors who have provided guidance, some are peers who act as observed examples of success, others are authors or speakers who have shared tremendous insight and passion. It feels almost disrespectful to try and cement just one name. However, if I stop and think about who gave me the most opportunities to develop professionally and personally in my career, without a doubt, that person is Sharon Hennessey [president of The Music People]. I came to The Music People 10 years ago as an intuitive and passionate ex-MI retailer that had a lot to learn about the wholesale side of the industry. Sharon opened so many doors for me. She allowed me to take those preexisting skills, polish them, teach me about the larger industry and explore the different facets of our company by putting me in roles with growing responsibility. She holds me accountable, calls out and corrects my mistakes, praises my accomplishments, and all of these things together cultivate growth. We don’t often talk about the bigger-picture path she has taken me down, but I feel very fortunate to have the support and guidance of Sharon. (continued on page 51)


MARCH 2020


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Music & Sound Retailer March 2020, Vol 37 No 3