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SUMMER NAMM PREVIEW ISSUE June 2019 Volume 36, No. 6

RPMDA offers education, outings and fun By Brian Berk

In It to Win It

NAMM set to produce a strong summer show By Brian Berk “Are you playing to win or are you playing not to lose?” This is the question Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM, poses regarding Summer NAMM, taking place at Nashville’s Music City Center from July 18 to 20. “The thing about the fourth quarter of any game is often, when a team is behind, they come back to win,” he told the Music & Sound Retailer. “That’s because the team that is ahead is playing not to lose. They are being conservative. But the team that’s behind has nothing to lose and has a much different philosophy.” Lamond acknowledged there are many strong MI retailers who have been doing well for many reasons and have reasons to protect that success. But then, competition, which has nothing to lose, opens shop nearby. “They are going to try new things. They will try new ways to sell. And if it doesn’t work, they will try something different until they find the right formula. They ultimately can be successful because they have that philosophy of, ‘I will try anything to make sure this business succeeds,’” he said. Many of the people who attend Summer NAMM are playing to win, NAMM’s CEO noted. (continued on page 56)

(continued on page XX) The 2019 Retail Print Music Dealer Association’s (RPMDA) 43rd annual convention at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina in San Diego offered something for every one of the 140 attendees, including 22 who went to the show for the first time. Options ranged from several educational sessions, as well as an outing to NAMM Headquarters on May 2, the Los Angeles Dodgers-San Diego Padres game on May 3 and even a boat cruise the afternoon of May 4. The morning educational sessions were geared more toward all MI retailers, starting with NAMM director of market development Zach Phillips interviewing NAMM chairman and CEO Joe Lamond on May 1, and Jenn Herman, known as the “world’s forefront blogger on Instagram marketing,” providing several tips on how to improve one’s social media presence during her “Marketing to the Generations” speech. (continued on page 32) (continued on page XX)


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Guitar Center Says Aloha to Hawaii

Guitar Center opened its first location outside the continental United States, a 19,000-square-foot facility in Pearl City, Hawaii. This marks the third of six planned openings for Guitar Center in 2019. The grand-opening celebration took place on Friday, May 10, kicking off with a special gala celebration that lasted all weekend, including special in-store offerings. Prominent Guitar Center executives were in attendance, including CEO Ron Japinga and executive vice president of store operations Wayne Cowell. Weekend festivities included live music by award-winning local talent, exclusive giveaways, specials on lessons and rentals, and much more. “The opening of our first store outside of the continental U.S. is a landmark moment for Guitar Center and reaffirms our company’s ongoing strategy for long-term growth and expansion,” stated Guitar Center’s Ron Japinga. “Today’s musicians are looking for accessibility

RBI Music Acquires Grover

Rhythm Band Instruments LLC (RBI Music) acquired the assets of Grover Pro Percussion Inc., which since 1979 has produced and sold orchestral percussion instruments, including its signature Super Overtone triangles, Projection Plus tambourines and concert snare drums. “We are thrilled to be able to work with Neil Grover and to offer, as a key component of our RBI Music initiative, the world-class instruments and accessories that Neil has designed,” said Brad Kirkpatrick,

Josh Tatofi

to a large number of brands and services, and the new store reflects the future of retail experiences by offering a completely immersive experience for the music community in Pearl City and beyond.” The opening celebration began with Hawaii Councilmember Brandon Elefante, Stage Rep. Gregg Takayama and Sen. Brenne Harimoto, presenting Japinga, Cowell and Guitar Center Pearl City Store Manager Tim Ball with honorary certificates, followed by a presentation by the husband-wife team behind Kanile’a Ukuleles. Acclaimed musician and ordained minister Kahu Kawika Kahiapo then conducted an official “blessing” ceremony. The evening featured live entertainment from award-winning local musicians such as Anuhea and Kawika Kahiapo, as well as Grammy-nominated Polynesian musician Josh Tatofi. Additionally, the Pearl City High School Band Ensemble performed and was presented with a grant of wind instruments including flutes, trumpets, trombones and saxophones, donated by the Guitar Center Music Foundation. Guitar Center Pearl City features showrooms filled with guitars, drums, keys, live sound, DJ and recording.

president of RBI. “For as long as I’ve been in the music industry, Neil has designed products with the performer in mind. He’s performed for years with the Boston Symphony and the Pops so he knows percussion, and all of the products he produces are exceptional.” “I’m really excited to be joining RBI, and I intend to remain very active in the design of new products for RBI, as well as continuing a role I’ve always enjoyed in demonstrating and teaching percussion techniques to both professionals and students,” said Grover Pro founder Neil Grover. “What I’ve been most impressed with though, is how professionally RBI has approached the acquisition of our brand. I’m confident that our artists, vendors and dealers will not even notice the changes that naturally come with an acquisition. RBI has planned the transition with great attention to detail, so we’re not going to miss a beat. I’m confident that, with their existing distribution machine and ability to improve Grover Pro marketing, the brand I created will flourish,” Added Lane Davy, RBI’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, “I don’t know if we’re more excited about adding the exceptional Grover Pro products to our existing offering or working with Neil Grover on new product development and introductions. We are supremely confident that he’ll help us further the image and use of Toca products in the education world, but we are also looking forward to introducing certain tools and products that Neil has in the design phase for the education market, including the elementary instruments which are the historical foundation of the company. Coupled with the planned growth in Grover Pro sales, the next few years are going to be very exciting for RBI.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



On the Cover Hitting It Out of the Park VOLUME 36 NO. 6

The RPMDA Annual Convention offered education, outings and fun.

In It to Win It 22

NAMM is set to produce a strong summer show in Nashville next month.


Features 28 33rd Annual Music & Sound Award Dealer Nominees 26

30 NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In Photos 36 Special to the Retailer

Danny Shatzkes concludes his trilogy of articles exploring health and safety in MI.

38 Five Minutes With

Gator Cases CEO Crystal Morris offers plenty about the company, advocacy efforts and being one of the founding members of Smart Women in Music.

40 MI Spy

MI Spy searches for pedals in western Massachusetts.

42 Confessions of a Retailer

Donovan Bankhead returns for part four of his “Keeping Your Pipeline Moving” series.

43 RPMDA in Photos 44 Not Your Average Column

Need to host a promotional event? Tim Spicer has all the answers you need.

46 In the Trenches

Allen McBroom handles a similar theme of planning a store event.


48 Retailer Rebel

Summer can be a tough time for sales at MI stores. Gabriel O’Brien offers some tips to keep the register ringing.

50 Shine a Light

Rick Thacker founded Plum Grove Music to be one of the industry’s premier destinations for stringed and band and orchestral instrument rentals, lessons and repairs.

52 Veddatorial

An explosion of house brands and boutique or distributor lines of combo products means it’s not unusual to walk into a store that carries unfamiliar brands. These are often more profitable, less plagued by counterfeits, and generally offer equal or better value than similarly priced name brand goods.

54 Under the Hood

The hottest show of the spring had to be HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” We take a look at Fender’s Game of Thrones Sigil Collection.

62 The Final Note

When not at Celestion, Ken Weller, head of marketing, loves watching motorsports, whether it’s Formula 1 or Banger Racing, at the local oval track. Pictured on the cover from L to R: Alex Ordoñez, Alfred Music; Ian McLoughlin, J.W. Pepper; Steve Shorney, Hope Publishing; Mark Kjos, Neil A. Kjos Music Co.; David Woo, La Jolla Music; Pam Hendricks, Alfred Music; and (kneeling) Karl Kjos, Neil A. Kjos Music Co.


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I Wish They All Could Be California … Trade Shows Yes, I am a trade magazine editor, so it’s probably hard to believe there is a trade show I had not attended in 10 years. But it’s true. I’m referring to the Retail Print Music Dealers Association (RPMDA) Convention, which I attended last month. I sure am glad I attended the show at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina in San Diego. That’s because RPMDA has really stepped up its game since the last time I attended. One thing I can specifically point to is NAMM’s involvement in the annual trade event this year. This began with a morning session on May 2, when Zach Phillips, NAMM’s director of market development, interviewed NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond. The interview was enjoyable to listen to, with some highlights noted in this month’s cover story. NAMM’s involvement didn’t stop there, with the highly respected trade organization hosting RPMDA attendees for a visit to NAMM headquarters that evening, which included entry to the excellent Museum of Making Music, a musical performance, an open bar and a food truck dishing out Mexican food, from which I enjoyed enchiladas, tacos, rice, and guacamole and chips. Dessert highlights included M&M cookies. (Are there any better cookies than that?) The next day featured an informative and fun speech from social media expert Jenn Herman, and that night offered an awesome trip to the San Diego Padres-Los Angeles Dodgers game. Thanks to Neil A. Kjos Music Co., not only was my ticket to the indoor/outdoor suite at the game free, but a bus took us from the hotel to the game and back. Food and beverages were included

as well, and the weather held up, despite cool southern California temperatures throughout the entire show. Another fascinating educational session came from Senseney Music’s Lori Supinie. In a speech titled “Print is Dead … Long Live Print,” Supinie acknowledged that she cut back on her print music department and discussed how it affected her business. Supinie, this year’s RPMDA Dorothy Award winner, explained the details of how she came to this financial decision, how many jobs it affected at her store and more. Overall, RPMDA was a great experience, as you will see further in the pages of this issue. I got to spend time with employees from Alfred, Hal Leonard, Music Gifts Co., and more, as well as several retailers, including Kimberly Deverell from San Diego Music Studio and David Woo from La Jolla Music. In fact, I even had an entire “Avengers: Endgame” discussion with Woo on the way to NAMM headquarters. When RPMDA hosts its next gathering at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans on April 30, 2020, I certainly expect to be there. Of course, our issue offers more than just RPMDA coverage. Our second cover story previews Summer NAMM, with the annual show returning to a July affair next month. What will you see at this year’s show? Why should you attend? Make sure to check out the cover story to find out.

June 2019 Volume 36, No. 6

BRIAN BERK Editor ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor AMANDA MULLEN Assistant Editor

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. Periodicals postage paid at Port Washington, N.Y. and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Music & Sound Retailer, PO BOX 1767, LOWELL MA 01853-1767

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A Century for Thomastik-Infeld

Thomastik-Infeld is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Since 1919, the company has developed a wide variety of strings for bowed and fretted instruments in the heart of Vienna, Austria. The product variety includes strings for instruments such as violin, viola, cello and bass. Thomastik-Infeld also specializes in guitar strings, as well as ethnic instruments such as the Arabic short-neck lute-type instrument, the oud and the traditional two-stringed Chinese instrument, the erhu. Connolly Music Co. is the U.S. source for Thomastik-Infeld strings, König & Meyer stands, Faith Guitars, Revelle Instruments & Accessories, The Realist products by David Gage and Magic Rosin.

(L to R): Brad Smith, vice president of MI Products for Hal Leonard; Stephen Greisgraber, president of Augustine; Elias Blumm, marketing director of Augustine; and Peter Carlson, Sales Manager — MI Division for Hal Leonard.

Hal Leonard to Distribute Augustine Strings

Augustine Strings has granted Hal Leonard exclusive distribution for all of its U.S. guitar string products. The deal becomes effective June 1. Augustine was founded in 1947 in New York City. “It was time for us to choose an exclusive distributor. Augustine Strings has two priorities: to make the best guitar strings in the world and to nurture our market through a commitment to education and community. Hal Leonard understands the needs of retailers in our changing landscape and has decades of experience working closely with educators. Its commitment to excellence in quality and service reflects our own values, and we are thrilled to be partnering with them,” said Stephen Griesgraber, president of Augustine. Added Brad Smith, vice president of MI products at Hal Leonard, “Hal Leonard strives to represent the best companies in their field, and Augustine Strings certainly qualifies. Our mutual interest in supporting the classical guitar market — in schools and with professionals — makes this addition a natural expansion to our growing lines of accessories for fretted instruments.”

COMING Coming in the July Issue of the Music & Sound Retailer:

Full recap of the NAMM Advocacy Fly-In in Washington, D.C.

The Retailer visits Italy New products being launched at Summer NAMM MI Spy visits the “City of Champions” The Final Note features Yamaha’s Tom Sumner And much more! 8

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Taylor Guitars Makes Big Difference in Cameroon

Chris Sorenson/Taylor Guitars

Taylor Guitars successfully planted 1,500 West African ebony trees in Cameroon’s Congo Basin region in an effort to help preserve the future of the species. The planting, part of Taylor’s initiative called “The Ebony Project,” is the largest known planting of West African ebony, the impact of which Taylor hopes will be felt for generations, stated the company. The project also planted an additional 1,500 fruit trees. The planting is part of a larger effort to plant 15,000 ebony trees by the end of 2020. Ebony has long been one of the most relied-upon tonewoods among makers of stringed musical instruments. In Western

Africa, agricultural land conversion, the bushmeat trade and logging have significantly reduced ebony populations, stated Taylor. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the species as “vulnerable.” “I’ve dedicated most of my life to building the best guitars I can make,” Bob Taylor said. “Taylor is known for its high standards of quality and performance, but now I want to make sure we’re also creating a better future for ebony and leaving more than enough resources for generations of instrument builders long after I’m gone. That’s why this planting is so meaningful.”

On the Mark

Mark Allison Marketing LLC now represents St. Louis Music (SLM) and its family of brands in the mountain states. Mark Allison brings decades of experience as a manufacturer’s rep servicing Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona. “We are thrilled to have Mark on board representing SLM,” said Richard Grossman, national sales manager at St. Louis Music. “Mark’s commitment to Mark Allison customer service will serve our dealers well in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona.” Allison’s MI career began in retail and grew from there to include experience working for Gretsch Drums and HHS before starting his own rep firm Mark Allison Marketing, LLC. “I am honored and excited to represent St. Louis Music, a legendary company, here in the Rocky Mountain states,” said Allison.


JUNE 2019


z z u B fiers, the importance of biasing and more. The program was split into two parts: general theory and hands-on training. “I’ve been toying with the idea of an apprenticeship for a while. When I was in school, I was lucky enough to work with an engineer who mentored me and taught me everything I needed to know to have a long and successful career. Servicing keyboards, guitar amps; it’s not easy. We have to learn quickly, so I felt it was important to expose the next generation of technicians to what goes into this line of work,” said Tom Imparato, national service manager at Korg USA.

(L to R): James Martin, student at Island Drafting and Technical Institute; Giancarlo Amato, service technician; Tom Imparato, National Service Manager; and Rob Uebel, service technician.

The Apprentice

Korg USA Inc.’s service and repair department has created an apprenticeship program for local students to learn the basics of instrument engineering. The four-week long program invited select students from Island Drafting and Technical Institute located in Amityville, N.Y., to work with top personnel of Korg’s technician department to learn about vacuum tube theory, different classes of keyboards and ampli-









The first nylon string for classical guitar - and the first choice of Grammy winner Jason Vieaux

Flight Instruments Soars With Hal Leonard Pact Ukulele manufacturer Flight Instruments granted Hal Leonard exclusive distribution of its products in the United States and Canada. Based in Slovenia, Flight offers a wide selection of ukuleles crafted in a variety of styles and materials. Since 2010, Flight has stayed true to its original mission to create the best-priced, quality musical instruments and make them available for everyone who wishes to play. As the ukulele explosion has grown, Flight has expanded beyond Slovenia and Europe, and is now available around the world. Through collaboration and partnerships with popular YouTubers, Instagrammers and bloggers focusing on bringing ukulele tutorials to the masses, Flight maintains a strong presence in the socialmedia age. Hal Leonard is adding Flight ukuleles to its roster of ukulele accessories, books and instruments, including Kahua Ukuleles, Woodrow Guitars and more. Hal Leonard already distributes Flight ukuleles throughout Europe and Australia. “Hal Leonard has always placed great value on service and education and is exactly the type of partner we at Flight love to have. We’re very excited to continue to work with Hal Leonard in the U.S. to continue to cultivate ukulele players everywhere,” said Primoz Virant, chief operating officer of Flight. Added Doug Lady, senior vice president at Hal Leonard, “We’re thrilled to offer U.S. dealers the assortment of Flight products. We look forward to helping the Flight brand expand across the U.S. and Canada and reach new markets with our retailers.”

Fretlight Teams With Graph Tech

Jason plays Regal/Blue


Augustine is proud to be distributed exclusively by Hal Leonard @augustineguitar

Fretlight Guitars partnered with Graph Tech Guitar Labs to equip its new line of FG-671 PRO electric guitars with Ratio Machine Heads. The FG-671 has a classic Telecaster body shape with a swamp ash body, binding on top and back, and a maple neck. The combination of the Advanced Polymer Fretboard and maple neck produces a noticeable increase in tone sustain, stated the company. “What that means to the player is, each string feels and responds the same to any tuning adjustment. Learn how one string responds to tuning adjustments, and you’ve learned them all. You get incredibly fast and accurate with any tuning adjustment, including open tunings. How does that improve the Fretlight experience? Faster, more accurate tuning while Fretlight guides you through learning your song or riff. Fretlight makes it easier to learn, Ratio makes it easier to tune. [It’s a] match made in heaven,” said Dave Dunwoodie, president, Graph Tech. JUNE 2019


Guitar Works Celebrates 40 Years Evanston, Ill.-based Guitar Works kicked off its 40th anniversary celebration with a special version of its popular “Closed Door Sale” on May 1, beginning a string of special in-store events that will extend through the end of the year. In 1979, guitar player and motorcycle enthusiast Terry Straker had recently quit his job at a local music store. When his bike broke down in front of a vacant storefront on the corner of Main Street and Sherman Avenue in Evanston, Straker decided the time was right to open his own guitar store. With no start-up money for the business, he stocked the store with his own collection and found help from local friends, including mandolin legend Jethro Burns, who lived nearby and signed on as a teacher. Forty years and a move a few doors to the east later, Guitar Works Ltd. is still going strong, serving established and aspiring musicians and offering a wide array of guitars and other stringed instruments, amps and accessories, as well as lessons for players of all ages and skill levels, from preschool to retiree. Kids from Evanston and Chicago’s north side have grown up as musicians in the store. Among its hundreds of lesson alumni, Guitar Works counts Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers), the Omori brothers (Smith Westerns) and current up-andcomers Man Wolves. Prominent local musicians like Justin Roberts, Steve Albini, Robbie Fulks, Jason Narducy (Bob Mould, Split Single) and Nora O’Connor (Decemberists, Iron & Wine) are frequent visitors, and with Evanston’s SPACE music venue just a few blocks away, it’s not uncommon to see national artists like Jackson Browne or J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. browsing as well. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Sonarworks Receives Financial Infusion Sonarworks has received 5 million in Series A financing. “This is another milestone for Sonarworks. With the new investors on board, we are now heading in the right direction toward delivering the ultimate sound experience on any

device,” said Helmuts Bems, Sonarworks co-founder and CEO. “We are now working with companies in music streaming, headphones, smartphones and the automotive sector. Having our team closer to these customers will enable us to deliver even

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better integration capability.” Sonarworks has a database of more than 10,000 measured sound devices and a unique set of artificial intelligence-based technologies to precisely map individual hearing and sound preferences.

Note From Joe


Are You Playing to Win? Or Not to Lose? Making the case for attending your industry’s mid-year gathering. Recently, some industry friends and I were pondering this seemingly simple question. Like many things in life, it began by watching football. We talked about the numerous occasions where a team entered the 4th quarter with a commanding lead, only to have the opponent dramatically come back from behind to win the game. It happens so often, it is almost predictable! Giving this some thought, it occurred to us that the team with the lead wasn’t playing to win; they were protecting the gains they had earned—playing not to lose. The underdog, in contrast, had little to lose, so they were trying everything in their power to change their situation. In other words, they played to win. We considered this question in terms of our own business lives, and it triggered some interesting responses. It made me think of the recent NAMM Board meeting where we carefully analyzed a 42-year trend in NAMM retail membership. While our retail membership is up 135% during that period, we have noticed a decline in this category since the peak in 2001. Notably, a similar number of overall stores exist today, but they are held in fewer hands. This trend is due to many factors, including the expansion of chains and industry consolidation. There are likewise some new and innovative startups in the retail space. These young MI entrepreneurs are exciting to watch as their ideas are changing the face of the music industry.

But this contrast between innovation and contraction brought me back to my question. If you’ve been in business for a long time, it makes sense to want to protect your hard-earned gains and keep doing what got you there in the first place. And for those who are just starting out, what is there to lose? Newcomers tend to experiment, to try new things and keep iterating until they arrive at a successful formula. We are seeing these differences in strategy play out at Summer NAMM. The retailers that are attending are the folks who seem to truly understand how fast the world is changing. They know that the clues to their future growth can be found by attending as many NAMM U sessions as possible and by keeping their ear to the ground, fully involved in the countless conversations occurring in and around the show. In my opinion, our retail members are the ones on the front lines, bringing music to their communities, and as an industry, we should all be encouraging them and cheering them on. But we know one thing for sure: Summer NAMM will be another waypoint to success for our retailers who are playing to win. Won’t you join them? Joe Lamond NAMM President and CEO

July 18–20, 2019

Nashville, Tennessee

ur Advance Yoix M t Produc

Fine-Tune on Your Operati

Learn New Ideas

stomer Improve Ceunce Experi

Review your business with top brands and find new products to differentiate your inventory.

Multiple education tracks help future proof your store, hone skills and train your staff.

The Top 100 Dealer Awards will showcase best practices for every department of your store.

Shep Hyken, New York Times bestselling author, will showcase strategies to grow customer loyalty.

If I say, I’m part of the problem, that’s good because I can help fix it. If it’s always some big box store problem or it’s somebody else’s problem, there’s nothing we can do but die. Yes, we can’t control it. We’re screwed. Or, we can say music is emotion. Music is experience. We are part of that experience, and therefore that is contagious. You determine what that’s gonna be. Scott Stratten, Co-Owner, UnMarketing Inc.

Learn More and Register at


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Morris Nominated for Award

Ernst & Young LLP announced that Crystal Morris, owner and president of Gator Cases Inc., is a finalist for the Entrepreneur of The Year 2019 Award in Florida. The program recognizes entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities, while also transforming our world. Morris was selected as a finalist by a panel of independent judges. Award winners were announced at a special gala event on June 13 at the Hilton Orlando. “I am extremely honored and humbled to be a finalist among such an outstanding group of business and thought leaders who inspire me,” Morris said. “When I started Gator in 2000, our mission was to make great products that customers would love, be a brand that fans would trust and create a company culture that team members would be proud of. I share this honor with the rest of the Gator family who works so hard to carry out that mission every day.”

Let’s Be Frank

Frank Rosso joined St. Louis Music (SLM) as district sales manager for the Northeast USA area. He brings decades of experience in the industry, with a focus on band and orchestra products. “We are thrilled to have Frank join SLM,” said Richard Grossman, national sales manager at St. Louis Music. “Frank’s expertise and reputation is second to none, and our customers in the North East will surely benefit with Frank’s partnership.” Rosso’s long career in the music industry began at the age of 10, cleaning rental returns at his family’s music store. Early in his professional career, he held store manager and sales management positions with the largest national retailers in the music industry. For the last decade, Rosso has been the district sales manager in the Northeast for Conn-Selmer. “I’m so happy to join SLM,” said Rosso. “Daniel Barenboim said it best: ‘Music is not a profession. Music is a way of life, one that requires much professionalism.’ It is truly a pleasure to be part of the SLM family that shares this same belief.”

Kris Is Bliss

Yamaha Corp. of America announced that Kris Paquin has joined the company as vice president of operations. She reports directly to Jeff Scott, corporate vice president of finance and administration. Before joining Yamaha, Paquin spent nearly six years with Neovia Logistics as director of supply chain transformation, where she oversaw seven product distribution centers across North America. In this capacity, she spearheaded changes in

Kris Paquin

Greg Macias

John Packer Musical Instruments


management activities and led the way on various workplace upgrades and improvements, such as the full implementation of the Oracle warehouse management system across all seven locations in her charge. “Today, Yamaha is at a stage where team-building opportunities are plentiful,” Paquin said, “both to develop existing members into areas of greater responsibility and also to bring in new ones who will further diversify the company’s experience profile. I’m eager to focus my efforts on creating the most engaged and motivated team in the industry for Yamaha.” Yamaha also announced Greg Macias has joined the company as brand director. He reports directly to Matt Searfus, corporate vice president of integrated marketing. Before joining Yamaha, Macias held the position of chief marketing officer at start-up brand Magnivation, where he worked alongside the company’s founder to introduce and raise funding for its Bluetooth Low Energy technology. “Yamaha is transforming its approach to branding and marketing, and I’m excited to be on the front line,” said Macias. “I welcome our team’s challenge to bring the ‘Make Waves’ promise to life, inspiring and empowering musicians, potential musicians and anyone who enjoys listening to music.” JUNE 2019

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Paisley Joins PMC

The Percussion Marketing Council (PMC) appointed Jennifer Paisley to its executive committee. She joins the allvolunteer committee consisting of David Jewell (Yamaha Corp.), Stacey Montgomery-Clark (Sabian) and Karl Dustman (Dustman and Associates). Paisley is trade shows and partnerships director at Alfred Music. “I’m delighted to be joining the PMC Executive Committee and am looking forward to supporting the PMC in its efforts to help more future musicians discover their love of drumming,” said Paisley. Added PMC co-executive director Karl Dustman, “We are extremely fortunate to have Jennifer join the executive committee as our new industry relations representative. As Brad Smith, of Hal Leonard, moves off the board into the newly created ‘special projects director’ position for the organization, Jennifer will be working closely with us on further growth of the many PMC initiatives, such as May’s International Drum Month, Percussion in the Library, Hand Drumming for Life and March to Your Own Drum.”

New Kid on Taylor’s Block

Taylor Guitars hired longtime music industry veteran Craig Yamek as key accounts manager within its North American sales organization. Yamek will be leading Taylor’s relationship with Guitar Center and its 293 retail locations across the country. He will be responsible for the product assortment for all of Guitar Center’s retail locations nationally, as well as the online assortments for and With more than 22 years of experience, Yamek’s expertise includes a deep understanding of handling national accounts and overseeing partner performance, executive relationships and high-level contract negotiations. Yamek is also a seasoned musician; he holds a degree in music education from Bowling Green University and has worked as a professional studio musician and as a touring musician with Tiffany and New Kids on the Block. “We’re thrilled to have Craig join our team,” said Dave Pelletier, Taylor’s director of sales. “It’s a particularly exciting time for our company as we continue to innovate, and especially as demand for our products is higher than ever. Craig’s extensive industry experience and knowledge will be a valuable addition as we continue to grow.” “I’m so excited to be joining the Taylor team,” added Yamek. “The commitment Taylor shows to its retail partners is truly unparalleled. Together with Taylor’s industry-leading product innovation and sustainability initiatives, this promises to be a deeply rewarding place to work.”


DEG Marching Lyres I N S T O C K F O R I M M E D I AT E D E L I V E R Y

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265 Brands . 13,000 Products . WORLD-CLASS SERVICE St.Louis Music is a division of U.S. Band & Orchestra Supplies, Inc.

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Chisena Sets Himself Apart

Apart Audio named Aaron Chisena its director of business development for North America. Chisena brings more than 20 years of experience in product, sales and marketing management to his new role, as well as a vast knowledge of consumer electronics, commercial electronics, technology and the music industry. Based in Stamford, Conn., Chisena will further develop the Apart businesss, together with its exclusive U.S. distributor TMP-Pro. “We are very happy to welcome Aaron to our team,” said Kris Vermuyten, Apart CEO. “His strong and impressive background in the industry makes him extremely qualified and the perfect individual for our specialized fixedinstallation market. His proven track record of brand building and sales team building can only support our distribution partners in furthering the growth of the Apart brand of quality loudspeakers and electronics in this strategically important market/region.” “I am very excited and honored to join the Apart Audio team,” added Chisena. “They provide exceptional products built for installers combined with first-rate performance, design and value. Apart Audio is a world leader in small- to mid-size commercial installations. Current growth in North America is inspiring, considering Apart Audio has only been recently available in the United States and Canada. We are looking forward to continuing to grow in North America as we expose this region of the world to the great culture and capability of Apart Audio.”

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Mastering His Craft

Fender Custom Shop promoted Carlos Lopez from apprentice master builder to master builder. After 12 years working in the Fender Custom Shop, including four years as an apprentice master builder under Fender master builder Todd Krause, Lopez brings comprehensive understanding of the business to his work.  “I have had the opportunity to learn and be mentored from the best of the best throughout my professional career,” said Lopez. “I can’t put into words how special it is to be a part of such an iconic brand with some of the finest builders in the world.”

You Know the Why, We Are the How. Authors

Our authors are experts in their field, with extensive years of teaching, performing, and composing experience.


Alfred Music is a leader in music education, providing methods, resources, and literature for students and teachers for nearly a century.


Learning music should be fun! Our methods are engaging and interactive, increasing student retention.


Teachers have relied on the solid pedagogy of Alfred Music piano methods for decades to teach millions of students.

Expert Instruction

Our piano methods provide teachers with sound pedagogy backed up by video content, live piano workshops, and more.


Alfred Music is dedicated to helping the world experience the joy of making music.


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A Whole New Team

Spector Musical Instruments (SMI) has named a new management team for the brand. John Stippell has been named as global brand manager, Corey Witt has been named global marketing manager and Taylor McLam has been named USA Series sales specialist. Stippell has become a seasoned brand manager through his work with Korg USA, L to R: John Stippell, Taylor McLam, Spector artist Doug Wimbish, Stuart Spector and Corey Witt. working directly on brands like VOX, Blackstar, KORG and Spector. “John has a keen eye for brand building, but he also intimately understands the supply chain and sell-through process, making him the right choice for the position,” said SMI CEO, Joe Castronovo. Don A. Mozingo, who was owner of Mozingo Music in MisWitt and Taylor McLam bring a wealth of experience to both Specsouri, passed away at the age of 88. Mozingo was husband to tor’s marketing and sales needs moving forward. “Spector has thrived Lenella, father to Jeff and David Mozingo, grandfather to five, since 1976, due in large part to a faithful following of performers and great-grandfather to four and brother to six. In addition to being players,” said Stippell, “and Corey and Taylor are assets to the Spector owner of Mozingo Music in Ellisville, Mo., and O’Fallon, Mo., mission because of their ability to be simultaneously brand-centric and he was a retired band director at Palmyra and Philadelphia high player-centric. Spector is a player’s brand, and we honor that through schools in Missouri, as well as Sioux Center High School in Iowa. the leadership we put in place.” He also ser ved honorably in the U.S. Navy. In addition to Stippell, Witt and McLam, SMI has assigned recordkeeping and international documentation oversight to Casey Scourby. According to Castronovo, “she has become the ‘go-to’ person for Spector administration.” “We are so pleased with the efforts of so many people in the Retired music industry veteran company, and we are definitely headed in the right direction,” said Harry Rosenbloom passed away in Fort Castronovo. “We enter our first full year with a tremendous amount of Wayne, Ind., from congestive heart excitement and confidence.”  failure. He was 89. Born in Washington, D.C., to Russian immigrants, he spent most of his life in Philadelphia. His first job out of school was working for his brother, the late Max Rosenbloom, at Upper Darby Music Center, while also playing bassoon professionally in symphony orchestras. In 1954, with a $2,000 loan from his wife’s grandmother, he and his wife (the late Ileana “Lenny” Rosenbloom) founded Medley Music Corp. in Ardmore, Pa., a full-line music store that eventually ranked in the top 50 in the nation during its 54-year run. In the 1960s, he began an importing company, Elger Importing Co. Its first products were guitar kits imported from Germany. (The name Elger was derived from the combination of his son Gerson and daughter Ellen.) He also began manufacturing acoustic guitars (Elger Guitars). He later began importing guitars from Japan, where a relationship with Hoshino Gakki Ten was born; this eventually led to the distribution of Ibanez guitars and Tama drums to the U.S. market. Rosenbloom is credited with a shift in the thinking at the time, from a focus on price to a push to improve quality. Rosenbloom also served a long stint on the C.F. Martin & Co. board of directors. In 1996, he retired to Florida, where he lived until he moved to Fort Wayne for the last two years of his life. He is survived by a son Gerson Rosenbloom (Connie), a daughter, Ellen Katinas, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the NAMM Foundation at

In Memoriam: Don A. Mozingo

In Memoriam: Harry Rosenbloom


JUNE 2019

©2019 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. FENDER, FENDER in script, TELECASTER and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are registered trademarks of FMIC. Acoustasonic is a trademark of FMIC. All rights reserved.




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Face to Face

IK Multimedia’s AXE I/O audio interface is designed to deliver high-end sound, plus tone-shaping features designed for recording guitarists. It offers adjustable impedance for unique interaction with electric or acoustic pickups, a variety of instrument input circuits (PURE and JFET), and a built-in tuner. A dedicated Amp Out enables streamlined re-amplification without DI boxes or other accessories, and it eliminates ground loops. AXE I/O also features high-end mic preamps, 24-bit, 192 kHz conversion, and more. Included is a selection of software and plugins, IK’s AmpliTube 4 Deluxe and T-RackS 5, plus Ableton Live 10 Lite. Street Price: $349.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: IK Multimedia,

Seeing Red

Yamaha launched the FG Red Label series of acoustic guitars, inspired by the original FG Red Label acoustic guitars of the 1960s, the company’s first steel-string guitars, which became widely known for their high-end Japanese craftsmanship. The new guitars retain the retro aesthetic and classic tone of their predecessors, while adding a new pickup system and the company’s proprietary wood-aging process to create a guitar that sounds like a seasoned, vintage instrument right out of the box. All models in the FG Red Label line are crafted with solid Sitka spruce tops, mahogany back and sides, and ebony fingerboards. The top is reinforced with scalloped bracing, a specialized latticework to enhance tone and projection. The overall design evokes the look and feel of the original FG Red Label models launched in 1966 under the Nippon Gakki name that preceded the presentday Yamaha brand. MSRP: FG3/FS3: $1,275; FGX3/ FSX3: $1,585; FG5/FS5: $1,900; FGX5/FSX5: $2,320 Ship Date: Summer 2019 Contact: Yamaha,


Paradise City

Fender released the signature Duff McKagan Deluxe Precision Bass, based on the White Pearl instrument McKagan used while recording Guns N’ Roses’ debut album. It is a distinctive, sleek and full-sounding reissue of his ‘80s-era Jazz Bass Special with the following features: a master TBX tone circuit; Modern-C-shaped maple neck; a pair of vintagestyle, split-coil Precision Bass pickups; a Seymour Duncan STK-J2B single-coil Jazz Bass bridge pickup; Pure Vintage ‘70s bridge; and Duff’s signature skull n’ crossbones artwork adorns the neckplate. A must-have for live performance, the bass also includes a Hipshot Bass Xtender that allows for instant drop-tuning with the flick of a lever. McKagan incorporated a subtle nod to his favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks, with the number 12 inlaid on the fretboard at the 12th fret. MSRP: $1,199.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Fender,

Make a Switch

Electro-Harmonix debuted Switchblade Pro, a compact switching pedal with advanced features, including true mechanical bypass, soft switching, high-quality/low-noise buffers, volume controls for all input signals and high headroom, stated the company. The Switchblade Pro’s versatility enables it to perform a variety of functions, including switching between two different amplifiers or turning both on at once. Footswitchable effects loops can run in series or parallel, and can swap order when run in series. It can mix and switch between three instruments/audio sources with individual volume controls sent to one amplifier. Dry level makes it ideal for bass players by mixing in the dry and processed signals to keep the low-end clear and focused. True bypass helps avoid “tone suck” and noise from vintage pedals placed in the Switchblade Pro’s FX loops. And it provides an adjustable volume boost with up to 6dB of gain for each input. Street Price: $123.50 Ship Date: Now Contact: Electro-Harmonix, JUNE 2019


DJ Times Magazine You can read our magazine online as soon as it comes out. All it takes is three easy steps:

NAMM University’s New Innovations in Music

Looking for ways to keep your store’s lessons program fresh? Join the Music & Sound Retailer at NAMM University’s New Innovations in Music panel, moderated by the Retailer’s editor, Brian Berk, with commentary from columnists Will Mason, Tim Spicer and Kimberly Deverell!

During the discussion, you’ll learn how to: • • • •

Keep your programming relevant Use promotions to attract more students Use technology to your advantage Effectively manage operations

Who? All Summer NAMM attendees are welcome to attend When? Friday, July 19 — 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm Where? Music City Center, Level 3, Hall C, 453 WWW.MSRETAILER.COM



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Get in the Spirit

Hughes & Kettner released the Black Spirit 200 amplifier. Black Spirit 200 is the first amplifier to feature Hughes & Kettner’s “bionic” Spirit technology, stated the company. Made in Germany and housed in a sealed PCB, the Spirit Tone Generator faithfully recreates the vivid interactions of traditional tube amp circuits in a strictly analog way, intended to deliver excellent tone and responsiveness. The amp features four channels, which cover all the iconic guitar sounds of the last 60 years, plus a comprehensive range of built-in reverb, delay and modulation effects, stated the company. Black Spirit 200 is also the world’s first analog amp to feature a power amp sagging control, letting players adjust the amount of power amp sag regardless of the volume level, the manufacturer added. The Black Spirit 200 can be played through any kind of speaker, from standard guitar cabinets to active and passive PA speakers, studio monitors and even a home stereo. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Yorkville Sound,

X Marks the Spot

The ProX XS-282620LASPW is designed specifically to house and protect two line array speakers. The speaker case employs a 3/8-inch laminated plywood that has a hard shell with internal impact-resistant padding. This case rests on four four-inch casters designed for easy traveling and also comes equipped with caster dishes on top to facilitate stacking with other flight cases. The XS-282620LASPW is the perfect case for AV production companies, touring bands, entertainment groups, mobile DJs or anyone who owns line array speakers, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: ProX,

“Wireworld makes a great sounding cable that is true and transparent – worthy of a badass guitar player. I highly recommend them .” MARK FARNER FROM GRAND FUNK RAILROAD

Patented design clears the signal path for pure tone Unique Kevlar core provides strength and durability Custom blended insulation controls electrostatic energy

Super flexible with high quality construction Silver, nickel and Amphenol switching plugs available 24

JUNE 2019


Reed-ing Is Fundamental The Reed-Well by Hagen is designed to soak and maintain saxophone and clarinet reeds. Made of high-quality glass, this 12-sided numbered vessel enables the consumer to organize and rate reeds as each one clings to the desired number panel. It comes with a sponge to keep in the moisture and a lid to seal it. It makes reed

A Sound Investment

Alfred released “Sound Percussion for Individual or Group Instruction.” Dave Black, one of the best-selling percussion authors in the world, and composer, clinician and instrumental music teacher Chris Bernotas have teamed up to write this complete and comprehensive resource for teaching percussion. “Sound Percussion” is comprised of four books: “Snare Drum & Bass Drum,” “Mallet Percussion,” “Timpani” and “Accessory Percussion,” all of which focus on developing skills of intermediate to advanced percussion students. Each book can be used independently to focus on a particular instrument or in any combination with each other as a full percussion ensemble. With a clear and consistent approach, students will learn the fundamentals necessary to become well-rounded percussionists. Lessons are presented in a fun and interesting way so that all members of the percussion section are engaged. Every student has a meaningful and thoughtful part for every exercise. A teacher’s score is also available. MSRP: $7.99 each book Ship Date: Now Contact: Alfred,

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management easier, and saves time and frustration so that users can devote more time to playing and less time agonizing over reeds, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: RS Berkeley,


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Strength in Numbers

Hercules Stands introduced its Plus Series stands, a line of 13 different styles. Features of the Plus Series stands include an upgraded AGS yoke designed to fit a wider range of instrument necks, from wider-neck instruments like classical guitars to narrow-neck instruments like ukuleles, mandolins and banjos. The Plus Series stands come with specially designed N.I.N.A. (Narrow Instrument Neck Adjustment) cuffs to ensure all instrument types are safely locked. The product line also has a reimagined footpad, intended to maximize friction to better prevent sliding, and an instant height-adjustment clutch that allows for super quick, easy and secure positioning, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: KHS America,

Take Command

VocoPro introduced the Commander-SingAndHear Series, the first wireless microphone series to combine a wireless microphone, wireless mic receiver and wireless in-ear receiver in one easy-to-use and affordable system, stated the company. With the new Commander-SingAndHear Series, the wireless microphone simultaneously sends the vocal signal directly to the wireless in-ear receiver and the wireless mic receiver going into the sound system without the need for an additional in-ear monitor transmitter or mixing board to connect them. Using VocoPro’s tap-andsync function, users can synchronize their mic and vocal signal to all other Commander receivers within RF Range to monitor or record the performance on a PC, Mac or even an iPhone. Four different frequency groups allow users to run up to four transmitters to unlimited receivers. MAP: SingAndHear Solo, $149; SingAndHearDuet, $299 MAP; SingAndHearTrio, $449 MAP; SingAndHearQuad, $599 MAP Ship Date: Now Contact: VocoPro,

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

MADE IN THE USA Since 1980


JUNE 2019


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Chad Is Rad

“The Hal Leonard 12-String Guitar Method” features Chad Johnson, who provides a guide for six-string guitarists who want to apply their skills to the 12-string guitar. Through a combination of exercises featuring nearly 60 popular songs and riffs and audio tracks, Johnson gives guitarists an inside look at beginning to master the acoustic or electric 12-string. The book features eight chapters of lessons covering: mechanics and maintenance of a 12-string, acoustic and electric tips, chords, arpeggios, fingerpicking, alternate tunings, playing with a capo, recording ideas, technique tips, and more.

The Perfect Music Gift

Jacksonville, Fla.-based The Music Gifts Co., along with LudwigMasters Publications, released the “Coloring Book of Black Composers.” Produced by The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation and illustrated by Sho-Mei Pelletier, the book introduces students and educators to 40 black composers from around the world who have made invaluable contributions to classical music from the 1700s to today. The book offers a biography of each featured man or woman, as well as a full-page color portrait. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: The Music Gifts Co.,


The more than 100 demonstration and play-along audio tracks can be accessed online using a unique code in the book and streamed or downloaded. MSRP: $19.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Hal Leonard,

And the 33rd Annual M U LT I - S T O R E


BEST GUITARS & BASSES Blues Angel Music (FL, AL) Dietze Music House (NE) Ted Brown Music (WA) West Music (IA, IL)

BEST RECORDING-RELATED PRODUCTS Ted Brown Music (WA) Guitar Center Tarpley Music (TX, NM) Springfield Music (MO)

BEST KEYBOARDS Springfield Music (MO) Guitar Center Music Man (FL) West Music (IA, IL)

BEST PERCUSSION Mississippi Music (MS) Tarpley Music (TX, NM) Springfield Music (MO) Summerhays Music (UT)

BEST INSTRUMENT AMPLIFIERS Guitar Center Heid Music (WI) Beacock Music (WA, OR) West Music (IA, IL)

BEST DJ EQUIPMENT Guitar Center I DJ NOW (NY) C.A. House Music (OH, WV) Sam Ash

BEST SOUND REINFORCEMENT Guitar Center Blues Angel Music (FL, AL) C.A. House Music (OH, WV) I DJ Now (NY)

BEST CLINICS A&G Central Music (MI) Mason Music (AL) Skip’s Music (CA) Marshall Music (MI)

MULTI-STORE DEALER OF THE YEAR The Candyman Strings & Things (NM) Guitar Center West Music (IA, IL) Blues Angel Music (FL, AL)


DIVISION BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE A&G Central Music (MI) The Candyman Strings & Things (NM) Robert M. Sides Family Music Centers (PA, NY) West Music (IA, IL) BEST SALES STAFF A&G Central Music (MI) Mason Music (AL) The Candyman Strings & Things (NM) West Music (IA, IL)

Dealer Nominees Are... SINGLE-STORE BEST GUITARS & BASSES Casino Guitars (NC) Mike Risko Music (NY) LAWK STAR Guitars (OR) Five Star Guitars (OR) BEST INSTRUMENT AMPLIFIERS B’s Music Shop (MI) Matt’s Music (MA) Righteous Guitars (GA) Shoreline Music (CO) BEST KEYBOARDS Fox Music House (SC) Instrumental Music Center (AZ) Backstage Music (MS) Senseney Music (KS)



BEST SOUND REINFORCEMENT Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center (MD) Bill Harris Music (UT) Andy’s Music (AL) Bill’s Music (MD)

BEST DJ EQUIPMENT Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center (MD) Canal Sound & Light (NY) Rock and Soul (NY) Musically Yours (NJ)

BEST RECORDING-RELATED PRODUCTS Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center (MD) Island Music (MD) Full Compass (WI) Sweetwater (IN)

BEST CLINICS Spicer’s Music (AL) Mike Risko Music (NY) Creative Music Center (CT) San Diego Music Studio (CA)

BEST PERCUSSION PM Music Center (IL) Buddy Roger’s Music (OH) LAWK STAR Guitars (OR) Arthur’s Music Store (IN)

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE All County Music (FL) Spicer’s Music (AL) Sweetwater (IN) San Diego Music Studio (CA) BEST SALES STAFF Music Villa (MT) GarageBand Music (MI) Sweetwater (IN) San Diego Music Studio (CA)

SINGLE-STORE DEALER OF THE YEAR LAWK STAR Guitars (OR) San Diego Music Studio (CA) Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center (MD) Bill’s Music (MD) LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (Awarded to an individual at either a multi-store or single-store retailer) George Hines, George’s Music Robin Walenta, West Music Skip Maggiora, Skip’s Music Menzie Pittman, Contemporary Music Center











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D. C.





Once again, the 2019 NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In, taking place May 20-23 in Washington, D.C., was a memorable experience. Here is a photographic look at the event. For full coverage, see the July issue of the Music & Sound Retailer.


1 NAMM chairwoman Robin Walenta explains the benefits of music education to Erin Schnell, senior legislative assistant for Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa). 2 NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond (second from right) understood why Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) couldn’t attend the meeting — because she was on TV! Lamond was joined by from left to right: Jeremie Murfin, Five Star Guitars; Geoff Metts, Five Star Guitars; and Alan Hager, Groth Music. 3 A signed guitar hangs in Bonamici’s office. 4 Jenna Day, Day Violins; Lee Raymond, High Strung Violins & Guitars; and Myrna Sislen, Middle C Music 5 Tiffany Stalker, Korg USA, Joe Castronovo, Korg USA and Ron Manus, Alfred Music 6 Bernie Williams chats with Full Compass Systems’ Susan Lipp. 7 Tiffany Stalker, Korg USA; Lana Spicer and Tim Spicer, Spicer Music; Kimberly Deverell, San Diego Music Studio; Tristann Rieck, Brass Bell Music Store; and Shawna Wingerberg, Antonio Violins and Ukes 8 Congressman Robert Scott (D-Va.), winner of NAMM’s 2019 Support Music Coalition award.



9 Jennifer Paisley-Schuch, Alfred Music; Lana Negrete, Santa Monica Music Center; Rebecca Apodaca, A&D Music; and DeDe Heid, Heid Music Co. 10 The New York contingent: Evan Grazi, Gig Gear; Paul Chu, Hunter Musical Instruments; Seema Ibrahim, legislative aide for Sen. Chuck Schumer; Jennifer Paisley-Schuch, Alfred Music; Danny Shatzkes, Gig Gear; Joe Castronovo, Korg USA; Brian Berk, editor of the Music & Sound Retailer; Jenny Mann, Strung; and Tim Barbour, Strung 11 The New York contingent (sans Ibrahim) is joined by Bernie Williams. 12 The same group is joined by Congressman Max Rose (D-N.Y., dark blue suit, black tie, center). 13 Jimmy Edwards, Marshall Music (left), chats with Kevin Dollhoff, legislative assistant for Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (R-Mich.). 14 Contemporary Music Center’s Menzie Pittman; San Diego Music Studio’s Kimberly Deverell; Yamaha’s Dave Jewell and Taylor Guitar’s Barbara Wight pose while the sun begins to set in the background. 15 Former Yankees superstar and music advocate Bernie Williams chats with Hector Colón, legislative assistant for Max Rose. 16 Susan Wild (D-Pa.) chats with C.F. Martin’s Chris Martin. 17 Chris Martin sits beneath a signed poster he sent to Congresswoman Susan Wild in her office. 18 Chu, Shatzkes, Grazi, Paisley-Schuch and Mann all share a laugh. 19 L to r: Rachel Glodo, Yale School of Music; Michael Yaffe, Yale School of Music; Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.); Lamond; and Alan Friedman, Friedman, Kannenberg and Co. 20 Yamaha’s Marcia Neel (center) speaks to Brandon Leggiero, legislative aide for Congressman Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) (left), while Lamond looks on.







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(continued from cover) To excel at social media, you first have to define your target audience, said Herman. This involves determining age range, gender, geographical area, family status, career experience, income status, interests and hobbies, time spent (and when spent), what content they ingest (blogs, videos, short-form, longform), which social media sites they use, why they use social media and how they engage on social media. The main reasons consumers follow a brand on social media are: they like the brand, to be notified of promotions/specials, to learn about new products/services, to stay up to date on brand news and to provide brand feedback, said Herman. On the other side of the coin, consumers unfollow a brand due to too much self-promotional content, boring content, overuse of automated responses or activity, too much content, lack of engagement from the brand and bad press/ poor customer service, noted Herman. Also, Herman said twice a week is a good number regarding frequency of posts per week for the average small business. “If you feel the pressure to post more content, you can say, ‘Jenn told me I don’t have to,’” she said. The social media expert continued by providing details regarding how to write social media posts that appeal to three different age groups: baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964; Generation X, born from 1965 to 1979; and millennials, born from 1980 to 2000. Posts intended to attract baby boomers should offer more mature content, feature darker colors with more contrasts, appeal to their lifestyle and keep calls to action simple, relayed Herman. She then cited an example of what she stated is an excellent post in this category, one posted on April 8 by the Music & Sound Retailer assistant editor Amanda Mullen, promoting a “Final Note” feature we ran with D’Addario’s Suzanne D’Addario Brouder. Baby boomers tend to use Facebook and LinkedIn the most, she added. As for Generation X, which Herman called “typically the neglected generation for market32

Appearing clockwise are Don Langlie, Popplers Music; Kevin Cranley, Willis Music, and Bill Busch, Brass Bell Music Store; NAMM's Joe Lamond and Zach Phillips; Musical Innovations' Tr a c y




Leonard's David Jahnke wore his baseball cap backward in anticipation of a coming San Diego Padres baseball outing.

JUNE 2019

ers,” the best social media posts involve controversial content, darker colors, more contrast, proof to counter cynicism and silly humor. Herman cited a Taylor Guitars social media post regarding buying guitars for the holiday season as an example of strong social media post targeted to Generation X. Generation Xers mostly use Facebook and Twitter, she said, with female GenXers showing affinity for Pinterest as well. And for millennials — whom Herman described as the “largest financially responsible demographic,” although more willing to spend money and live paycheck to paycheck than previous generations — use trendy and fun content; light, bright colors or soft muted; back up your claims; and provide quality educational content. Those are the keys to success. Herman cited San Diego’s Greene Music, who posted how listening to music can help a person exercise by drowning out the brain’s cries of fatigue, with the post replete with emojis, as an example of a good millennialtargeted post. “Why does this [post] work? Well, have you seen the yoga pants obsession with my generation?” asked the 39 year old. “We at least like to look like we are working out.” Millennials often prefer Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, but only when conversing with family members, she added. “Each generation really is different from one another,” summed up Herman. “Your message doesn’t have to change. The context of it does.” She added that having the most social media followers is not always the right path to success. “I’d rather have 1,000 followers than 50,000 followers, as long as those 1,000 are generally interested in what you have to offer and will buy from you. More [followers are only] better if they are the right people.” She continued, “I don’t care about what you want to say. I care about what your audience wants and needs. If you give them what they need to hear, they are going to like you. They are going to interact. And they are going to buy from you.” Herman concluded, however, MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

that providing compelling content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites can be daunting. “[But] you don’t need to be great at all social media venues,” she stated. “I wish that myth would go away. If you are on one platform and do it well, I am OK with that. Then you can add another [social media venue]. Go where you are comfortable and where your audience is hanging out.”

The “Conversation with Joe Lamond” morning session delved into a topic never covered before in the pages of this magazine. Lamond, who has served as NAMM president and CEO since 2001, revealed he believes in a philosophy called “The Fourth Turning,” based on a 1997 book by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which states that every four generations, or 80 years, history repeats itself, with each of those genera-

tions possessing something that sets itself apart. “There is a lot of psychology regarding why this is,” said Lamond. “But based on that theory, we are in 1939. Some major changes occurred after that time. The ‘Fourth Turning’ says we are probably in for some interesting times over the next number of years. So, what I’m trying to do at NAMM is prepare the industry for what comes next. … No


Photos by Richard Rejino, Madeleine Crouch & Co. Inc.

"It was a painful decision to make. I just know I did what is best for my business. [We've seen] much improvement in the balance sheet. Our profitability improved. Cash-flow-wise, we are much better." — Lori


matter what, music has always been used to set right a bunch of bad stuff.” The MI industry, like a good drummer, must always be prepared, NAMM’s CEO added. “It can come down to a tiny screw, and the gig is over,” said Lamond. “The goal is to prepare everyone for what may be coming.” This is crucial because, although hindsight is 20/20, it doesn’t do much good after something negative happens. “The ‘Fourth Turning’ stuff is a bit heavy of a topic, but I also look at something even heavier: ‘South Park,’” Lamond joked. “It has a superhero character, Captain Hindsight, who describes how the entire situation could have been avoided in the first place.” In fact, Captain Hindsight, also known on the show by his news-reporter alter-ego Jack Brolin and voiced by Trey Parker, has three companions, Shoulda, Coulda and Woulda. “Think ahead,” Lamond said. “In the case of the BP oil spill, someone should have thought of having a backup valve for the backup valve. Little things like that go a long way. Captain Hindsight goes a long way as a thought process. If you have a feeling that something won’t work out, it probably won’t. Fixing it afterward is generally a lot of work and no fun.” The lifelong drummer also recalled how he almost never was involved in the music industry. Lamond strongly considered becoming a forest ranger instead. “They say when there is a fork in the road, take it,” he said. “Drumming led to what was important to me at the time: meeting women. The forestry path involved a lonely fire tower in the west on a mountain, where occasionally, supplies would be brought up. I would be all alone.” Once he decided to pick music for a living, Lamond reminisced that he first started attending The NAMM Show in 1983 as a retailer. “The size of the show was probably a fifth of the size it is now. But I was still overwhelmed. I felt I didn’t belong. So, a big goal for us at NAMM is for everyone to feel like it’s their own clubhouse. Many remember the TV show ‘Cheers.’ The theme song was ‘Where Everybody Knows Your Name.’ That’s what we try to do.”

Proof in Print

Educational sessions intended directly for print music retailers were equally fascinating. One such session was led by Senseney Music’s Lori Supinie, who hosted “Print is Dead … Long Live Print.” Supinie had to make the difficult decision to dramatically cut back on the print inventory at Senseney’s Wichita, Kan., location. Inventory management and the fact that selling print music can be labor intensive were two challenges Senseney faced. In fact, wage costs were 40 percent in the print department, as opposed to 20 percent in other departments. And, as Supinie demonstrated in her presentation, print music provided a contribution margin of $109,010 with a net income of minus $12,458 in 2008, and dropped to a contribution margin of just $10,219 and a net income of minus $96,679 in 2017.


JUNE 2019

Photos by Richard Rejino, Madeleine Crouch & Co. Inc.

The Don Eubanks Publisher Representative award went to Tim Cose, Hal Leonard (left), who is joined by Don Langlie of Popplers Music.

Sandy Feldstein Service award winner Christie Smith, Alfred (right), joined by Hal Leonard's David Jahnke.

“Declines didn’t happen quickly, but at a slow pace. There wasn’t anything dramatic,” she recalled. “And while we did have an ecommerce site, we lacked a really good search engine and a really good staff to manage it.” Supinie had three choices regarding Senseney’s print music department after she noticed the financial declines it was facing. She could have done nothing, even though she not only had an unprofitable business segment, but also one that was approaching zero contribution to the company’s bottom line. Her experience told her that would not be a good route to take. A second option was designing a searchable website along with having employees maintain the site and spend more marketing dollars to drive traffic to the site, but she predicted that investment wouldn’t pay off. Her third option, which she chose to accept, was reducing inventory and staff and focusing on what Senseney could be competitive at. When all was said and done, Senseney chose to eliminate six jobs, including four full-time print salespeople. She eliminated several print products, including those related to choral, concert, marching band and jazz band. Supinie did keep several print products however, including method books and teaching materials. She made the difficult announcement during a staff meeting, stressing the moves would improve the company’s financial position and let Senseney place more emphasis on the areas of the business that would provide the greatest return on investment. Supinie then contacted several key customers and vendors to let them know of her decision. “They were all extremely supportive,” she said. “I got disappointment from customers, but nobody was angry. I am really pleased how we keep finding ways to partner with the vendors, only slightly differently.” In place of the print products Supinie removed, she added an expanded guitar section, spread out displayed pianos, and enhanced the band and orchestra section. “It was a painful decision for me to make,” said Supinie. “I just know I did what is best for my business.” Since the decision was made, Supinie revealed she has seen “much improvement in the balance sheet. Our profitability improved. Cashflow-wise, we are much better.” The store’s culture did take a hit, acknowledged Supinie, but morale has begun to rebound. “I think people value certainty over uncertainty,” she said. “They value change over stagnation.”

Breitkopf & Har tel's Nick Pfefferkorn accepted the NAMM Milestone Award for 300 years of industry service.

mous works created on or after January 1, 1978, offer protection 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is earlier. And copyright notice is not required after March 1989, with protection becoming automatic on that date. The copyright owner has several exclusive rights to the work, which are known as the “Bundle of Rights.” These rights include reproducing the material in print or phonorecord, which refers to the recorded form of music on a CD, vinyl, 8-track, ringtones and more; the right (continued on page 45)

Rights and Wrongs of Copyrights

“Copyright and Fair Use,” an education session hosted by Musical Innovation’s owner Tracy Leenman, provided plenty of detail on what is clearly an important topic for any retailer selling print music, or any end user — teacher, student or otherwise — of printed music. To put it succinctly, understanding copyright law can be a challenge. Leenman summarized copyright law this way: A work created on or after January 1, 1978 provides protection during the life of the author, plus an additional 70 years. Works published between 1923 and 1978 are protected for 95 years from publication. Works for hire, anonyMUSIC & SOUND RETAILER




By Danny Shatzkes


During my formative teenage years, I spent a lot of time playing piano, drums and guitar. In fact, I probably focused on music more than anything else. I often neglected homework and studying, choosing instead to be with my instruments. I preferred to be inside playing music than outside playing sports, and I sacrificed many hours of sleep for the sake of playing and recording late into the night. Needless to say, I spent a substantial amount of time sitting on my rear end, hovering over my instruments. Not surprisingly, in my early- to mid-20s, I started experiencing substantial lower back pain. My guess at the time was that it was related to the heavy lifting I had done for all my gigs and performances. I also assumed that spending sustained time in a less-than-optimal posture while practicing and at these gigs had something to do with it. After seeing a specialist and getting an MRI for my back, I received an interesting diagnosis. The doctor confirmed my suspicion that bad posture and lots of heavy lifting had contributed to the pain I was feeling, but he concluded that those were not the main causes. To my surprise, the doctor explained that I was spending way too much time sitting down and not moving my legs. All this sitting had caused the ligaments in the back of my legs to become so tight that they were pulling on my pelvic bone and causing my spine to become pulled taut and almost straight (as opposed to the natural “s-curve” of the spine). The hours and hours of time spent sitting and playing music were actually deforming my body! Who would have thought that spending so much time doing what I love could potentially prevent me from continuing to do it long into the future? It got me thinking about how important it is for music teachers to continuously remind their students that good posture, correct hand and finger positioning, and getting up every now and then to stretch is just as important as practicing — not to mention striking a good general balance between movement/outdoor activities and playing music. Our bodies need to be in top form if we want them to perform optimally in any activity. Simple reminders from music teachers are integral to keep musicians playing for longer. I share this personal experience because it perfectly highlights the critical message that I espouse in this column: The success of our industry is dependent on the amount of people actively interested and engaged in music-making. And while much focus is placed on attracting new music makers, we must also work on keeping existing music makers in the fray. And a key element is to encourage healthy and safe practices as part of a “musical lifestyle.” This will, in turn, keep customers patronizing your businesses for longer. I delved into a couple of topics in detail last month, but there are many more things you can do to show

your customers that you take an interest in their personal well-being and musical lifestyles. Sometimes it’s a quick and simple tip, and other times it takes a little creativity. Sponsor a local charity race. Throughout the year, in all weather conditions and all states, there are charity races for many different wonderful causes. Find one in your local area and sign on as a sponsor. Go a step further and sign up for the race with your colleagues. Use this opportunity to let your customers know that your business is supporting a good cause and that you believe in staying healthy and active as part of your musical lifestyle. Of course, invite your customers to race with your business’ “team.” It will create a deeper connection and sense of family within your customer network. Mount antibacterial dispensers in your store. If you don’t already have a couple of these around your store, you should. If you think about it, music stores are almost like the petting zoos of retail. Almost everything on the showroom floor is meant to be touched, picked up and played. Think of the amount of people coming in each day and handling the instruments in your store. Think of the students, of all ages, in your lessons program and what they are picking up and putting back in the lesson rooms each day. We can’t presume to know where JUNE 2019

people are coming from and what they’ve been doing all day. It’s a safe bet to assume that every so often there may be some kind of microscopic bug sitting on the keys of one of your keyboards, or on the sticks laid out for the electronic drum set. It’s a little gross to think about, but it’s reality. You may not be able to prevent what people bring into your store, but by placing antibacterial dispensers in a couple of locations, you are reminding your customers that you’re thinking of these issues and that you care about them beyond the purchases they make in your store. Partner up with local health and wellness instructors and studios. This one is a little out of the box, but it can work to add value to your existing customers, as well as potentially bring new people in the door who might have never otherwise shown up. Partner with a local fitness or wellness instructor and offer a meditation or yoga class in your store. Here’s the hook: Make sure the music being played during the class is live music performed on instruments you sell in your store. It’s such an uncommon practice to have live music in these types of classes that it will surely be an exciting prospect. Both you and the instructor can cross promote to your customers and clients to bring in a varied group of people. Each of you will be providing access to new potential clientele, and of course, you will be showing your customers that a healthy mind and body is crucial to the musician’s lifestyle. If you don’t have the kind of space necessary to do this in your store, you can always do the class in the instructor’s studio or a rented space where you can bring your live musicians and a small display to put in the back of the room. It might seem a little out there, but it’s creative and different. And we all know that creativity is absolutely necessary in order to stand out and succeed in today’s retail environment. If the first class goes well, you can consider doing it on a regular or semi-regular basis to MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

continue to bring in new customers, all while promoting a healthy musical lifestyle. We all want to make sure our industry is strong and growing. This is why we need to make sure that the industry constituents (i.e.

our customers) are being taught to play, perform, gig, and, of course, live in the healthiest and safest ways possible. Shine a light on these important topics and your customers will appreciate and love you for it. And incorporating health

and safety into your daily business practices will ultimately prove beneficial for your bottom line. Thanks for joining me on these pages these last few months. As always, I welcome any questions or comments you wish to share.



CEO, Gator Cases By Brian Berk Crystal Morris and her father, Jerry Freed, founded Tampa, Fla.based Gator Cases 19 years ago, when it launched a small offering of five molded-plastic guitar cases at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville. From there, Gator expanded the Cases line to include more case and bag solutions and launched Frameworks and Rackworks to offer gear and accessories for the pro audio, IT, audiovisual, general utility, band instrument and percussion segments. The line now consists of more than 1,000 different solutions made from vacuum-formed plastics, rotational-molded plastics, wood, sewn and EVA materials. We talk to Crystal Morris about her beginnings in MI, the state of the industry, Gator Cases’ Levy’s Leathers acquisition and much more. But Morris’ story doesn’t end there. Look for info about her involvement in NAMM’s Music Education Advocacy D.C. FlyIn and Smart Women in Music (SWIM) as well.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Can you start with how and why you started the company with your father in 2000? What was the goal? Cr ystal Morris: My dad had a long run in MI and was on the product side. I grew up around the music industry, so I had a lot of exposure to the business. My dad was a great mentor and encouraged me to learn more about all facets of business, in and out of the industry. I ended up in Tampa; I was finishing business school. We were in the kitchen brainstorming ideas on starting a case company. My dad previously worked for a case company, so he had a lot of knowledge and experience in the area, and I had been involved in the marketing. In school, I was learning more about vari38

able cost models, and we landed on the idea to start Gator using this model. So, we both invested $12,500 into the business. Our vision was to make great, unique products that people would love and to be a brand that was trusted and was known for quality at a price that met our customers’ needs. We were willing to take risks and spent a lot of time really focusing forward on new opportunities. For example, at the time, competitors were all making products in the United States and Mexico. We were the first to take vacuum forming offshore and make a quality product. In May 2000, we made plastic vacuumformed guitar cases. We took the product to Summer NAMM, and from there, we quickly started to develop more products. We realized people liked the idea of us being a one-stop shop. What we found in the marketplace was there were competitors that were either experts by category or experts by manufacturing type. Some companies might have had great guitar or DJ products but not much else. We decided we wanted to become a solutions provider for all customers’ needs and problems, and service different product categories, from DJs to keyboards to band instruments, both by focusing on these markets and by having a broad diversity of materials. Today, we do products in plastics, sewn, wood, leather and metals. Another opportunity for us to be different was that our key competitors were all selling through distribution. We analyzed other options and saw a big opportunity to go dealer direct. It was a new type of sales model in our category, and we were willing to challenge ourselves to try something new. That’s something that we are always willing to do, and I think

it’s a big driver of our growth.

The Retailer: Speaking of the dealer network, you’ve won many awards, including four consecutive Music & Sound Awards in the Bags/Cases categor y, which is voted upon by the dealers. Clearly, MI retailers have loved the products and working with you as a vendor. What’s your philosophy when making products and toward the MI retailer? Morris: We’re very fortunate to have great retail partners and really value those relationships. We listen to all our customers — end users, dealers, reps — and the relationship we have with our retailers is a trusted partnership. These awards come by listening to them, getting feedback and continually innovating. From day one, we have been dedicated to supporting the independent retailers around the world, and we put a lot of effort into being true partners with them. We put a lot of focus into marketing the product any way we can. We are all in it together to grow an industry we love. In terms of making products, we have a very talented and passionate industrial-design team. We do a really great job of listening

to the market and our customers. Our dealers and customers will come to us and say, ‘Hey, if there were only a solution that would do this.’ From there, we go to work to design value-oriented, customer-centric products at a price point that works.

The Retailer: You made news last year when you acquired Levy’s Leathers. Can you tell us how that acquisition has gone? Morris: We were so excited about acquiring the Levy’s brand and having the amazing people behind it now on our team. Levy’s has such good equity and makes such beautiful products in Nova Scotia, Canada, by true artisans. During the acquisition process, I visited the factory and instantly said, “I love this.” What we’ve been really focused on is preserving the legacy of Levy’s, while evolving for the future generations of musicians. We hired a great brand director, Jen Tabor, and she has been actively giving the product line a refresh. We have 168 new SKUs and many new looks that are on trend. We launched a new website. We created all new content for the brand; everything from new hangtags to new photography and video. It’s JUNE 2019

Morris (center) with Bryan Bradley of Group One Ltd. and rapper J. Dash at last month’s NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In.

been really fun so far, and I can’t wait to see where it goes over the coming years.

The Retailer: When you are doing well as a manufacturer, how do you keep bettering yourself and make sure you don’t rest on your laurels? Morris: I am always looking forward. The entire team at Gator is too. Whatever we do, we are always trying to figure out how to do it better. We are always listening to feedback — we take a very customer-centric approach. They trust and rely on us to provide solutions, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We always have a roadmap of more than 100 products in the works. We constantly think about where we are going to go in the future and come out with products that answer their needs. The whole focus of continuing to develop products is in our DNA. We always have something to talk about, which keeps our energy level going. The Retailer: Can you tell us about some of the products you have recently released and will release at Summer NAMM next month? Morris: This year is really exciting on the product side, especially for Levy’s, which we acquired in 2018. We launched a rebrand, a new look and feel, a new website, new packaging and 168 new straps. Our new Levy’s brand directorworked really hard to create oneof-a-kind, cutting-edge straps for every personality. She reimagined the classic styles and played with new design techniques and materials, like the leather punchouts and amp grill cloth. In addition to the classics, we have eight more series of straps with new prints, textures and materials. On the Gator side, our product team did an outstanding job of adding more high-quality products, especially in our Frameworks line, MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

which enhances the stage and studio experience. We released new stands for moving-head lights, a tray that holds six mics, an accessory tray that clamps to mic stands, a cup holder for stands — great accessories that our fans have responded well to. Looking ahead to Summer NAMM, fans can expect more exciting Levy’s straps and new innovations. One we are really excited about is a new adjustment design for straps. We often hear musicians say they wish it was easier and faster to adjust their straps without having to take off their guitar, if they’re on stage, for example. With this new design, we have solved this. On top of that, we’re building on the success of our best-selling classics with a “butter” series made from leather that ages really well, like a fine wine. Guitarists will love them because they get softer and conform to each individual person. We’ll also introduce a luxury padded, tooled leather line reminiscent of a beautiful pair of cowboy boots, and a Lucky line with iconic emblems like a fourleaf clover, spade, a lucky number 7 and a horseshoe. Everyone can use a little luck from Levy’s. We’re adding more options for other instruments — eco-friendly (continued on page 60) 39


Purchasing Pedals in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley New England in the spring is a nice place for a drive; it’s also a nice place to check out MI shops. Northampton, Mass., is one of those “gawgeous” New England towns. It has plenty of classy and classic architecture, as well as artsy eateries and shops, lots of pretty trees, a college nearby (in this case, Smith College) and a branch of Newbury Comics. Nearby South Hadley has Mount Holyoke College, the Hadley Falls Canal Park (watch and listen to the roaring waters), an impressive public library and other sights. In other words, New England in the springtime is a great place to practice some spycraft. I received word from HQ that my itinerary for this mission would include trips to three musical instrument shops in Northampton, as well as another shop located in South Hadley. The three musical instrument stores in Northampton form a sort of triangle in the center of town, walkable from Smith College and historic Northampton, all on or near Main Street. They are all geared strongly toward guitars and other stringed instruments, but they definitely have their differences. Each has its own positive vibe and interesting stock. It is notable that a smallish city/ biggish small town (what exactly does it qualify as?) such as Northampton has three musical instruments shops near each other. Must be a music-loving town to support these three, I thought. The Pioneer Valley region of Massachusetts has a number of other such stores in Pittsfield and other local cities. For this mission in Massachusetts, your MI Spy decided to look for guitar effects pedals. Why? It was time to change things up.


The corner store on Main Street; how much more American can you get? That is the location of Birdhouse Music, a shop that specializes in stringed instruments and accessories, and particularly guitars. Laid out like a railroad flat of rooms, this store reminded me of walking into a particular type of music lover’s apartment, with the furniture mostly replaced by prized guitars and other musical treasures. And there was a humidifier gusting puffs of steam, to keep certain items in extra special condition. Main Street has plenty of parking, and I opted for a space there as opposed to the hilly street on the corner. Birdhouse had all different types of guitars, and they ranged in price from one or two under $100, a handful in the $100 to $200 range and upward into the low $1,000 bracket. Whew. It also stocked many ukuleles, banjos and mandolins, as well as some brass instruments, drums and percussion. A selection of the guitar pedals was displayed on a lazy Susan near the cash register, which has to be an obvious but genius way to offer up such wares. I mentioned this to the guy on duty and he agreed: “It’s like going to a buffet, but for guitarists.” And he gave the swivel table a slight spin. We talked shop about pedals, and he discussed brands. “Lots of small brands are making effects pedals these days,” he said, and he showed me a handful at various price levels. “This tube screamer is a particularly prized model.” The pedals on display ranged in price from around $40 to more than $200, with many in the $60 to $80 range. Some brands he stocked included Dunlop, Ernie Ball, Catalinbread, ElectroHarmonix, Boss and others. And there was the Devo Guitar, an oddly shaped Eastwood Devo La Baye two-byfour in red, hanging on one brick wall. The Birdhouse guy watched me eyeing this and chuckled. “People love to look at it,” he said. “But it is a serious guitar. It’s from

Birdhouse Music 164 Main St. Northampton, MA 01060 413.584.0404

JUNE 2019

the late 1960s.” And it is priced just under $700. There was another cigar-box guitar that looked even more gritty but also cool, hanging above one of the room entrances. One awkward moment occurred when I asked him for the store’s business card, and he had none. He offered to write it down on a piece of paper, but I said I’d just snap a photo of the store door, which had the necessary info. Birdhouse is full of musical eye candy, and while there did seem to be many pricier items for sale, there were others in the more modest reaches. Downtown Sounds is the biggest in size of the Northampton trifecta of musical instrument stores, and this store is a riot of color: a rainbow assortment of new and used guitar effects pedals and various stringed instruments, as well as a rainbow selection of guitar picks (six colors which encompass light, medium and heavy) with the store name stamped on them. And the slight rhyming scheme to its name makes Downtown Sounds memorable. Downtown also has several music instructors associated with it; a handmade poster by the main door features photographs of these teachers. And it had a stack of postcards that advertised a free lesson if you buy an instrument priced at least $50. When I walked in, there were two guys working the floor, dealing with a few other customers, and two salesmen promoting drums and accessories. I was greeted within two minutes of walking in, and the man who spoke with me showed me two showcases packed with guitar pedals. “We have delays in the $100 range, and the more boutique, expensive ones are in the other room.” Some effects brands it stocked included Earthquaker, Coppersound, ElectroHarmonix and others. Downtown has plenty of electric and acoustic guitars, basses and other stringed instruments. It also stocks some kitschy, toy-like instruments and a yellow plastic trombone. One of the most aesthetically intriguing acoustics it had on display was a folksy Seagull traveling guitar for $149. Most of their instruments had easy-to-read price tags. And I was pleasantly surprised to see the sheet music to the musical “Kinky Boots” (which closed on Broadway on April 7). If there was any slight disappointment with this store, it was afterward, when I tried to navigate its website, which has some problems and delays.

Downtown Sounds 21 Pleasant St. Northampton, MA 01060 413.586.0998


You have to give extra credit to an MI store for being a few doors away from a radio station. Mill River Music is not only on the same strip as a group of radio stations, but it shares space with a shop specializing in British and Irish foods and knicknacks. When I walked into the store, I spied a “Doctor Who”themed guitar hanging on a brick wall. If that isn’t a conversation piece, I don’t know what is. The two men working at Mill River were some of the most pleasant music store workers your MI Spy has encountered; I was impressed by their knowledge and their demeanor, which was not pushy but encouraging. This comfy store is cluttered — actually ver y cluttered — but items are laid out with care, and it certainly is not musty. Just tread with care, as MI Spy did, lest you bump into a rare folk instrument that will intimidate you. Mill River has a number of unusual stringed instruments. During my visit, I admired a glittery red acoustic guitar (it would match Dorothy’s ruby slippers), a 100-plus-year-old mandolinetto ($329), sitars and dobros, and other folk instruments. As for electric guitars, it has an extensive selection and the price range is quite wide: from $129 junior and starter guitars to collector’s items in the $4,000 range, although the high-end guitars are not the bulk of the collection here. When I arrived, the two drums salesmen who had also stopped by Downtown Sounds were also there, and while they chatted with the two Mill River salesmen, they all ragged on a certain national chain of musical instruments stores (gossip, gossip…). One of the workers was very helpful in explaining the choices of guitar effects. He was enthusiastic about some of the lower-priced effects, those around $50. He held one in his hand and said, “This has a vintage sound, warmer in tone, like hearing a tape recording and not a CD.” Some of the brands it had were Digitech, Moog, Boss, Mooer, Randall, Modtone, Ibanez, Danelectro, EHX and others. It stocked mostly new but also used models. The Mooer effects, square boxes that looked like joysticks, were cool and lower priced, and a salesperson was casually enthusiastic about them. Both he and his partner were also fans of a particular brand, but weren’t sure if it was Danish or Swedish. (They debated that one briefly.) In fact, both Mill River guys had a very laid-back but professional demeanor. When I first entered the shop, one said to me, “If you just give us a few minutes, we’ll be with you shortly.” And he stuck to his word. The store is a treasure trove. If there was anything to its detriment, it was how crowded it was, and I was concerned about banging into something and dislodging it. (continued on page 61)

Mill River Music and Guitars 16 Armory St. Northampton, MA 01060 413.505.0129



Keeping Your Pipeline Moving: Part 4 By Donovan Bankhead In Part 1 of “Keeping Your Pipeline Moving” (January 2018 issue, p. 80), we discussed the most important pipeline: your people. In Part 2 (August 2018, p. 42), we discussed the sales pipeline. In Part 3 (January issue, p. 70), we discussed lessons. In Part 4, we will talk about keeping your repair pipeline full. Those of us who’ve been in music retail for more than two decades will remember that in the old days, your repair department was a loss leader, something you did to build traffic in your retail stores so that customers would come in and make purchases. And while a quality repair department will still certainly do that, I feel that, in today’s ecommerce age, it’s important for your physical services, such as repair, to be profit centers in their own right. Those of you who do a large part of your business in school service rentals will still have a high labor cost when contrasted to the “paid-for” repair that your techs are doing, but if you factor any monthly maintenance income you are receiving into your repair shop profits, you can likely flip that number around to make that department profitable. But let’s focus on how to get more walk-in repair business. Before we begin, let me come clean and admit that, like many of my good ideas, these are borrowed from other people who have demonstrated a proven ability in this area. Folks like Robert Christie from A&G Central Music, author of “Retailing Better” in this magazine, and Scott Mandeville from Tim’s Music have been big resources for me. This, in fact, is my first tip: Find people who are doing this successfully and reach out to them for advice. Some of the key concepts that I’ve learned and that we’ve used at Springfield Music are: 42

When customers bring in their instruments for repair, train your salespeople and your repair staff to open the case and see what items are in there currently. Is there an adequate fresh supply of lubricants, cloths, tuners, metronomes, extra strings, rosin, etc.? Those small, high-margin items really add up, especially when looked at on an annualized basis. You also want to make sure that, during the check-in process, your staff is asking the customer what the trouble spot is so that your technician can be sure to address it. Maybe it’s just us, but we’ve had times where a customer is complaining about something that wasn’t really a problem, and thus, the tech didn’t address it, which creates disappointment with the customer when they get the instrument back, only to find that the “problem” wasn’t addressed. Estimates. Think of how a high-quality auto mechanic runs their shop. In fact, it might be worth a field trip to one of the better mechanics in your area to see how they operate. I bet if you ask around, you’ll find a shop that will be happy to show you how they operate their business if it would help a non-competitive business thrive in their town (bring coffee and doughnuts/bagels to show your appreciation). We have found that estimating the repair is better left to the technicians and not the salesperson. We ask customers to drop off their instruments and let them know they will receive a phone call to discuss the estimate. In order to make the best use of our repair technician’s time, we try not to pull them off the bench to do estimates. We have found this to be more efficient, and it allows us to more accurately assess what the instrument needs. I recommend that you train your technicians to give the customer a few options for repair: • The Works: This is everything that is needed to make the instrument play like new again. • Optimal: This includes the basics, plus a few additional services that will make a demonstrable difference to the look, feel and playability of the instrument. • The Basics: This is the bare minimum that is needed to solve the issue that brought the instrument into the shop that day. I recommend presenting them in the order I have shown here: best, better and good. Due to the concept of price anchoring, by starting at the top, you’ll find many more customers will choose the “best” and “better” options combined than the “good” option. Marketing. For most of us, our repair departments are not visible to the customer. If they don’t see that you offer repairs, then many will assume that you don’t. Certainly, if you could make your repair shop more visible in your store without impeding the workflow of your repair technicians, this would be a great idea! Like a restaurant with an open kitchen, you can see what’s going on, but you aren’t going back there to talk to the cooks. But for the rest of us, using social media to show before-and-after pictures of repairs you have completed is a great way to show off the skill of your technicians and the services that your store provides. Using Facebook and Instagram are great, low-cost ways to show what you offer. Doing so will help earn top-of-mind awareness with your customers when the time comes to service their instrument(s). These tips have helped us to create a strong, profitable repair department in all of our stores, but I’d love to read what you are doing to grow the profits in your repair shop. Share your ideas with me by emailing me at JUNE 2019


Alfred Music’s Krista Hart, Ron Manus, Alex Ordoñez and Iris Manus at the Retail Print Music Dealers Association’s (RPMDA) opening-night ceremony.

There were cool items inside the MoMM, including a music cash register, a Bigsby double-neck guitar and a wall’s worth of instruments.

A band entertained guests at NAMM headquarters, while they enjoyed some Mexican food.

Breitkopf & Hãrtel is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year.

Clayton Kershaw drew the starting pitching assignment for the Dodgers on May 3.


Once inside NAMM, guests were welcomed by NAMM and its Museum of Making Music (MoMM).

Musical Innovations’ Tracy Leenman and Stephanie Copple, Debbie Knight of The Music Gifts Co., Nan DeStafney of Blues Angel Music and Willis Music’s Kevin Cranley at RPMDA’s San Diego Padres game outing.




By Tim Spicer

I’m a strong believer in promotional events — so much so that I’ve led two NAMM University sessions and wrote a previous column for the Music & Sound Retailer on different types of store events. Promotional events not only bring in immediate cash flow and create inventory turns, but they help to build excitement and momentum for your brand. Customers love attending engaging events, so give them what they want! There are three main things to focus on when planning and hosting a successful promotional event: Be creative. Open mic nights are great events to host regularly, but you shouldn’t stop there. Think outside the box when it comes to promotional events. We just completed our annual Acoustic Week. During this event, we spent an entire week focusing on acoustic guitars and accessories. We held nightly workshops that covered topics ranging from the characteristics of tone woods and body shapes, to home recording an acoustic instrument, to free group guitar lessons. We included vendors to raffle giveaways, run sales and help push inventory. To help build excitement, you can plan a fun and engaging activity with your customers during the event. This year we had a customer restring competition. The person with the fastest time received a free guitar and a year’s worth of guitar strings, both donated by vendors. We also paired with some local families affected by the tornados that hit our county in early March. We ran a marketing campaign where we used social media to highlight the fundraising competition. We filmed a series of “Rocky”-themed videos and photo shoots pairing our staff against each other to promote the competition and build excitement among customers. (Note 44

the picture at the top of this page.) Not only were we able to have a weeklong event that significantly boosted our gross profit, but additionally, we were able to positively impact the lives of some local families. With a little creativity, you can host a promotional event that boosts your bottom line and keeps your customers talking about your business for months to come. Spend some time with your team focusing on creativity prior to planning your next big event. Involve your team. This should be a no-brainer, but I’m surprised at how many business owners/managers are the sole event planners and coordinators. Many of our successful promotional events have been an employee’s idea and vision. It’s important to share the overall direction you want your business to move in and empower your employees to help get you there. Use planning meetings as an opportunity to strengthen your core team, while giving opportunities for your fringe employees to become core team members. Remember: good leaders include, train and inspire their employees. Once you decide on an event, involve your team from the beginning to the end of the planning and execution. Give your key players the authority they need to plan, promote and host a successful event. This includes defining a budget, marketing strategy and coordination details. You will need to walk beside your team with clear objectives, to make sure they stay on track during the planning process. An important step during the event is to make your team members the focal point of attention. Give them the praise that is due for successfully executing a sensational event. This will continue to build their confidence and leadership skills, which

can directly affect store growth, and their future with the company. Take detailed records. Promotional events can be tricky to get just right. You could run an identical event two years in a row and have substantially different outcomes, which we have seen directly. There are a lot of factors that come into play when you attempt to bring customers into your store to purchase items. It’s important to remember, just because an event may not be as heavily attended as you’d like the first time you attempt it, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt the event again. It could be a result of the time of year or the time of day. It could be a result of your marketing strategy. It could also simply need to build steam, and the following year could be much stronger. However your event turns out, make sure to document it thoroughly. Record every detail necessary to review and strategize for the next event. It’s important to take a step back after a promotional event concludes and review all details from top to bottom. Using this information wisely can give you the knowledge you need to make necessary adjustments so that your next event breaks your records! Hosting powerful events is an oftenoverlooked strategy that can boost customer loyalty. Check out other businesses that host successful events like Sweetwater’s GearFest and study their methods. Lastly, focus on creating emotion through your events. Give customers a reason to shop with you instead of your competition. The important thing is that you are building excitement in your community! I’d love to hear your thoughts on any events you’re thinking of trying: tim@spicersmusic. com. I look forward to hearing from you! JUNE 2019


(continued from page 35)

NAMM's Dan Del Fiorentino with Breitkopf & Hartel's Nick Pfefferkorn. Pictured clockwise: Kevin Cranley, Willis Music; Bob Kohl, Long & McQuade; Eric Strouse, Stanton's Sheet Music; Ron Manus and Iris Manus, Alfred; and Lori Supinie, Senseney Music.

to prepare derivative works/arrangements; distribute copies to the public; perform the work publicly; display the work publicly; and perform the work publicly by means of digital audio transmission. In order to obtain use of protected material, a license can be obtained. The types of licenses include a print music license; a mechanical license that covers all recorded copies, including digital recording; and a compulsory mechanical license for making a recording of a previously recorded piece of 9.1 cents if under five minutes, paid to the publisher. Compulsory means you cannot be refused permission. Other licenses are a synchronization license, which covers putting audio to video, and a performance rights license, which covers any public performance. Permission to perform songs can be obtained by contacting performing rights organizations, such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Leenman stressed that even performance of material for non-profit means can be a violation of the law for someone who does not obtain a license. Performance of material does not need to be on a stage. Any performance of a work, even just practicing it, as opposed to studying the music, may be considered a violation of the law. “Even if nobody is listening to you or nobody is paying to listen to you, it is considered performance,” she said. Reproducing material via a printed copy or download bears no difference under the law, she added. Fair use can be even more complicated. “The only person who can determine fair use is a judge,” relayed Leenman. “The question is what’s proper, and what’s fair.” To determine fair use, courts use four criteria, said Leenman. First is the purpose and character of the use, such as if a parody is being performed, the work is copied verbatim or if it is being altered into a new form. Second is MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Award winners Christie Smith, Alfred; Lori Supinie, Senseney Music; and Tim Cose, Hal Leonard.

the nature of the protected work; performance vs. education. The amount and sustainability of the portion used is the third factor courts look at. Often, courts have ruled that more than 10 percent of a work cannot be copied, but there have been exceptions, with courts ruling in the past that using just a few of the same notes could be a violation of the law. Economic harm to the copyright owner is the fourth factor courts look at when determining fair use. “If it stops someone from making money, it can be a violation of the law,” said Leenman.

Best in Show

Always a popular favorite at RPMDA was the Best Practices session, where attendees had two minutes to present an idea that could help retailers. During this session, hosted by Willis Music’s Kevin Cranley, more than 20 people had two minutes each to present their best idea. Bill Busch of Brass Bell Music Store had the winning idea, as voted upon by those in attendance. Busch’s idea was to add colored stickers to books, with a different color based upon the age of the book. This is an excellent way to keep track of how old print inventory

is on a retailer’s shelves. Brass Bell also runs promotions based upon the sticker color. “For example, if there is an orange sticker, we know it has been sitting out for three or four years,” said Busch. “This year, we have burgundy stickers, which we know are new items. So, we have close-out sales based upon the color of the sticker. For ones with orange stickers, we offer 50-percent off, and other books could be discounted 30 percent or 20 percent based upon how old they are. This way, customers are doing our work for us by pulling out older inventory, while getting special deals on some great books.” On the final date of the show, RPMDA handed out several awards. Taking home hardware were: RPMDA Lifetime Achievement Award, aka “The Dorothy,” Lori Supinie, Senseney Music; Sandy Feldstein Service Award, Christie Smith, Alfred Music; Don Eubanks Publisher Rep of the Year Award, Tim Cose, Hal Leonard; and NAMM Milestone Award 300 years in business, Breitkopf and Hartel. The RPMDA convention will return in 2020, taking place from April 30 to May 2 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. 45




By Allen McBroom

The difference between a ho-hum, low-impact store event and a vibrant, customer-engaging store event is often something as simple as how well the event was planned. Store events don’t have to be expensive or complicated, and they are one thing a small store (even a one-man store) can often pull off better than large stores or chain stores, thanks to the flexibility of small stores. There are a ton of ideas you can use for a quality event, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to describe our Spring Cleaning Day that we have each April, and give you the nuts and bolts of putting it together. While the details will change depending on the event, the process is pretty much the same no matter the size or scope of your event. Spring Cleaning Day is like a big, music-related garage sale, where the public is invited to use our sidewalk, front overhang and parking lot to buy/sell/trade music-related stuff. We provide doughnuts and coffee, play music outside and open an hour early. Everything is free, and there are no fees to sell. We limit it to individuals only. The value of this event is that it brings all sorts of music folks to your store, and they all either have gear you might want to buy or cash they might want to spend. It also generates tons of goodwill for the store in the music community. To give credit where credit is due, I got this event idea many years ago from the IMSO forums. Gordy Wilcher of Owensboro Music in Kentucky had a similar event; we just took his idea and massaged it to work for us, so … thank you, Gordy! To do good event planning, you first need to make an annual event calendar. Even if you have only one event each year, you still need a calendar to make sure you don’t miss important deadlines. In real life, you may have to get permits, contact suppliers, line up talent, etc., and all those bits of the puzzle have deadlines you need to meet. The Spring Cleaning Day is a simple event, but it still has a few deadlines that need to be met. Listed below are the details that work for us. Be prepared to modify this idea to fit your store. Here’s how we plan the event. Three or four months out: Use online event calendars (city, school, etc.) to make sure your event date has no major conflicts. Write out on a legal pad every single detail of what you plan to do at the event and leave room for editing. Describe all the stuff you’ll need to do this, including the games you’ll play and the grand prize you’ll give away. Plan your budget and remember to include paid Facebook post promotions. Our event costs us about $100 each time we do it. Six weeks out: Use Photoshop to design an 11x17 poster image that you will print and put up in the store and around town. Save the .psd version of the file, so you can edit it and use it for next year. One month out: Send a poster image to the copy shop for printing. Get 10 color copies and put five up in the store. Carry some posters to friendly stores (i.e., our local record store) and ask them to display them. Create a Facebook event and post it on your Facebook page. Post the image on your Instagram page. Three weeks out: Start talking to customers, encouraging them to clean out their closets and turn their unused stuff into cash. One week out: Start scheduling Facebook posts to run twice a day, promoting the event. Use paid post promotions to promote the event. Post the poster image to every local buy/sell/trade Facebook page you can find. Four days out: Start gathering the used stuff you don’t want to sell in the store. Throughout the year, we collect used straps, used gig bags, broken instruments, etc. in a back room and mark them cheap, cheap on Spring Cleaning Day. That pile of unsellable stuff, when it sells, pays for the day’s budget. Three days out: Review your list of last-minute things that need to be done. That list is on the legal pad you started three months ago. You’ve been editing it or adding to it through that period, which reduces the chance you’ll forget anything important. Here’s the list we used this year, with side notes. 46

JUNE 2019

F Registration sheet. (Everyone who attends needs to register with name and email. Harvest that email for next year’s email announcement of the event.) F Door prize tickets. (These are tickets with stubs. Wal-Mart has these for just a few dollars.) F Box for collecting the door prize tickets (a plain cardboard box neatly labeled “Put ticket here”). F Table for the cheap stuff you’ll sell, with price tags for each item. F Speakers on tripod stands for outdoor music. F Floor mat to cover the power cables going to the speakers outside. F Wireless music source (usually Pandora without ads). F Doughnuts, coffee cups, creamer, sugar, stir sticks, napkins, artificial sweetener. F Garbage can near the coffee and doughnuts. F Task someone to take photos and videos during the event and post in real time to Facebook and Instagram. F Clean and restock restrooms. F Make sure restroom is clearly marked. F Parking area signs. F Tape to mark off parts of the parking lot where we’ll hold the event. F Gather some door prizes and draw for them throughout the event. F Put all tickets back in the box for the grand prize drawing.

The day before: Get your sale tables together. Tag all the cheap stuff you’ll sell and arrange it on the tables. Decide who is getting the doughnuts and making the coffee. The day before, after closing: Put the loaded cheap tables near the front door. Set up the coffee maker. Put the registration sheet and door prize tickets on the counter. Put the speakers/stands/WL rigs near the door. Set up everything else you can to make the event-day setup as easy as possible. Give someone the doughnut money so they can pick them up on the way in tomorrow. Event day: Show up two hours early, post “only two hours until kickoff” on Facebook and Instagram, put out the cheap tables, put out doughnuts and coffee supplies, set up the music and set Pandora to shuffle a mix of tunes. Put up parking signs, tape off the “no-parking areas” and do whatever else is left on the list. Have a cup of coffee and relax. The money and the joy are about to flow. That’s our Spring Cleaning Day plan in a nutshell. No matter what sort of event you plan, be it artist performance, yard sale, flash mob or whatever, a successful event is going to follow a plan sort of like this one. If you aren’t doing events, remember that one like this is basically free, since you sell all your unsellable stuff really cheap, and that will probably cover your costs. A bunch of used $5 gig bags and $3 straps adds up quickly. Plan an event, and just do it. Keep your legal pad so you can make adjustments for next year. Happy trails.

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Four Ways to Get Out of the Summer Slump By Gabriel O’Brien

Ah, summertime. Summertime is the thing everyone looks forward to. School kids are looking forward to summer break. Teachers are really looking forward to summer break. Families go on vacations; young people flock to music festivals. But retail stores dread the summer slump. All of these outside activities and travel times mean slow

sales and a drop in lesson enrollment, leaving many retailers looking around wondering if the open sign is on. Summer slumps are for real, and the grind of waiting to hear the door open often drives retail stores toward the negative. Here are four ways to avoid the summer slump.


Consider the layout and traffic pattern of your store. This is something I think many stores never even consider, but it can really be of great benefit. If you have an area or product category that’s underperforming, it may be because of where it’s located. Around the counter is obviously prime real estate, but there are other areas in your store where people are spending large amounts of time. If you have a dedicated lessons area, it’s a great place to hang additional guitars and allow students to try them in a lesson. If you have a strong acoustic guitar room, creating a display of acoustic-specific accessories, such as capos, tuners and straps, within that space makes add-ons to sales easy. Thinking about your store in terms of product categories, including product extensions, can drive up ticket totals. If you have a great pedal display, having pedalboards and patch cables with it creates more opportunities to add on to an otherwise simple sale. Have a display of microphone stands? Place microphone clips nearby, as many people don’t know that stands don’t come with one. Take products that you feel like you just can’t sell and put them front and center. If you have a whole area of your store that’s underperforming, try redirecting traffic to that area by using items that get a lot of attention.


Create a calendar mapping out the rest of your year so you have sales planned in advance, allowing you to start scheduling social media posts to support those efforts. It may sound like busywork, but this is a highly effective way of getting ahead of the curve. I recently sat down to help plan out online sales through the end of the year, and we’re creating and scheduling social media posts 30 to 60 days ahead of the sales to support them. This gives us the time to properly advertise everything and the flexibility to add other things as we go along. Imagine how much easier Black Friday and Christmas sales would be if you had them planned right now and had all your posts scheduled; not last-minute, thrown-together campaigns, but promotions planned months in advance that automatically post like magic, and you don’t even have to think about them. By creating a schedule for these things ahead of time, you can fill in supporting content as you go. Create video promos, graphics, blog posts and email campaigns all scheduled ahead of time. Staying ahead is a lot less stressful than just-in-time marketing.


Clear out aging inventor y. This seems like a no-brainer, right? It’s not. Too often, stores hang on to items that haven’t sold, trying to get maximum margin out of them, when they’d be better off selling them for a little less and using the cashflow to restock the shelves with hot new items that’ll actually turn. When you hit the lean months, this is an easy way to keep yourself in the black and clear space from your shelves for new items. If you’re starting to eyeball things that are about to have a birthday in your store, it’s time for them to find a new home. Use Reverb and eBay to clear out anything that isn’t moving, including accessories and straps. You’d be surprised at how many people scour eBay looking for footswitches, amp covers and all kinds of repair parts. Instrumental Music Center in Tucson has become famous for its “rummage sales.” Events like this are a great way to draw people in, and you can pair them with sales on other items in your store.


Hold a giveaway or event. You’d be surprised at how often manufacturers or distributors will just send you free things if you ask. Seriously, it’s good PR for them. Guitar string companies are great about this. Even if you can’t make the freebies happen, holding a free band instrument inspection day where people can bring in school band instruments and get them looked over before the school year begins or holding a free restring event of your own are easy ways to get folks into your store. You don’t have to wait until the holidays to do something. Have Food Truck Fridays, where a local food truck parks in your parking lot and a small band plays, paired with a sale. Hold a giveaway for baseball game tickets to a local minor league game.

Treat the summer slump as a way to reset and try something new instead of letting it drag down your staff morale. Trying new things online or in your store keeps you focused and gives you goals to meet. Think outside the box. Getting people in the door is key. Events and giveaways give your 48

staff an opportunity to interact with the public, and that often includes folks who otherwise might not be in your store. How do you beat the summer slump? What creative tactics do you employ to drive traffic in the slow season? Email me at JUNE 2019



The Nominations Are Now In. Vote now for the Music & Sound Awards/Dealer Division


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Best Recording-Related Products

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Multi-Store Dealer of the Year

SINGLE-STORE DEALER DIVISION Best Guitars & Basses Best Instrument Amplifiers Best Keyboards Best Sound Reinforcement Best Recording-Related Products Best Percussion Best DJ Equipment Best Clinics Best Customer Service Best Sales Staff Single-Store Dealer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award

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By Michelle Loeb Rick Thacker recognizes a great irony in the fact that he currently owns and operates Plum Grove Music, founded to be one of the industry’s premier destinations for stringed and band and orchestral instrument rentals, lessons and repairs. A violin player since the age of three, Thacker originally had quite a different relationship with the instrument that now fuels his livelihood. “I actually hated playing the violin as a kid. I always secretly hoped the strings would break so I wouldn’t have to play,” Thacker said with a smile. “You know what they say, man plans and God laughs.” Of course, Thacker eventually came to love the violin, paying his way through college by teaching violin to neighborhood kids and eventually graduating from the Chicago School of Violin Making. Wanting to share his love of musical Plum Grove Music instruments and music-making with his 1650 E. 181st Ave. community, Thacker went into business Hebron, IN 46341 219.696.5401 with his wife, Elizabeth, who is also a violin teacher. The two opened an educaMon.-Fri. 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. tion center that, at its peak, reached Rick Thacker, Owner 400 students everywhere from public 50

schools to several parks districts. “I always saw myself as only teaching violin and then making instruments just to supplement my income. However, we soon realized that we had to focus more on the retail aspect of the business,” said Thacker. “It’s been an evolution over time.” Part of that evolution was due to the Thackers’ growing family, which includes four children and another on the way. “Once I had kids, I had to decide if I was going to spend time with my children each evening or someone else’s teaching lessons,” said Thacker, who began scaling down his teaching commitments by not taking on new students as existing ones graduated. “Being a parent is one of life’s greatest gifts, and it’s very important to me to have a good relationship with my children.” Thacker works to maintain relationships with not only his own children but all of the children who rent instruments or take lessons from Plum Grove Music. Offering a personal touch to every customer who walks through the door is important to Thacker as he applies the tenets of his faith to his work. “I want Plum Grove to be an example of what a Christian business should look and act like,” he said. “We may never be the world’s very best teachers, repair techs or luthiers, but we can be the nicest people anyone has ever met.” This is achieved by training staff to greet each customer who enters the store, “by name if we know them.” Thacker also instructs his six teachers to personally walk each of the store’s 100 students out to their parents after their lessons to keep them updated on their child’s progress. “We keep our eyes and ears open to keep track of what is going on in our customers’ lives, and we make sure they know that we care,” said Thacker. “For example, we pay attention and when there is a death or illness in the family, that customer will receive a get-well or sympathy card. We also send cards for our customers’ birthdays and anniversaries, all of which are hand written.” The same care that goes into cultivating relationships with customers also goes into maintaining a high standard of quality among Plum Grove Music’s instrument offerings. Rather than focus on beginner instruments, Thacker sources intermediate and step-up instruments from boutique brands that are often lesser known, but make products that he feels are made well and thus play well. “The No. 1 reason a child quits playing violin is that the instrument is ‘screechy.’ This is mainly due to the fact that it was not built to the specifications it should be, but rather built to be sold cheaply,” said Thacker. For this reason, Plum Grove invests heavily into good-quality rental instruments, which can be quite costly. “Friends of mine thought I was crazy to put a $1,000 instrument in the hands of a five year old, but I want that kid to keep playing, and in my opinion, that’s the level of quality it takes to get a good-sounding instrument. We want our customers to grow into their instruments as they improve their playing ability, rather than grow out of them.” Thacker and his team keep an eye out for cool and new items, discovering many at NAMM shows. Among the brands he gravitates toward are Di Zhao Flutes and John Packer Musical Instruments. “One of our core values is standing behind our products,” said Thacker. “We will source products we can stand behind from vendors who do the same for us. They have our back, and we have our customers’ backs.” JUNE 2019

Every instrument that comes through the shop is subjected to a rigorous quality-control process wherein instruments are adjusted by hand and playtested before they are put in customers’ hands. In some cases, parts of the instruments are completely replaced to increase their performance and playability. “We will throw away the pegs, tailpieces and other elements that come from the manufacturers and either source them or make them ourselves to get the quality we are looking for. In my opinion, that is what makes the instrument look good and sound better,” explained Thacker. “We have at least two sets of eyes look at everything before it leaves the shop, and there are checklists everywhere, hanging on the walls, to make sure that every detail is perfect,” he continued. “Attention to detail is very important to us. We want our customers to have confidence in the instruments we provide.” For Thacker and his team, the goal of Plum Grove Music is not to sell or rent instruments, nor is it to sell lessons or repairs. The goal of Plum Grove Music is to share joy, “and music is the vehicle by which we do it,” Thacker explained. “We are in the business of creating music makers, and that starts by investing in quality instruments that kids can rent. These kids may then take lessons, buy an instrument and become lifelong musicians. However, if they decide music isn’t for them, at least we know it wasn’t the fault of an inferior instrument. They may then turn in the rental instrument, and the process begins again with another kid,” Thacker continued. “If I can give them something that they can play with confidence, the odds MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

are that they’ll stay with it.” Another of Plum Grove’s core values — or “Immutable Laws,” as they are known in the store — is “No one leaves unhappy.” “Even if it means we take a loss in order to go above and beyond for a customer,” said Thacker, “it’s worth it because I feel it’s important that we create a remarkable experience for them.”

The Capo Company



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

Summer 19

NAMM COME SEE US AT BOOTH #1103 KMC Music. A Division of JAM Industries USA, LLC Tel: 855-417-8677 E:

V E D D AT O R I A L By Dan Vedda

“We've all seen what happens when a freely distributed product line hits platforms like the Amazon marketplace. Knockoffs, lowballers, and fly-by-night merchants are not the way to build brand loyalty. ” 52

We’ve talked about the difficulties brands face on platforms like Amazon, particularly the damage done to brand reputation by counterfeits and low-ball pricing. Dilution is an issue, too. The more products that bear the brand name while straying from the core business, the less focused the identity can be. The “Baldwin by Gibson” band instruments from a few seasons ago are certainly one example from our industry, particularly because they showed up in outlets like Target rather than mainstream MI channels. There’s a hazy boundary between brand ubiquity and brand pandering, and landing too far south of the line squanders the goodwill attached to the name. Add the ease with which new brands can enter the market — whether fly-by-night knockoffs or retailerbacked alternatives — and iconic brands throughout the economy are under increasing pressure to remain viable, or even visible. As reported in March, Dick’s Sporting Goods, arguably under its own pressure to remain relevant as a brick-and-mortar purveyor while beset by ever-growing online competition, is embracing a strategy that strengthens its brand while de-emphasizing prominent brands from its own industry. It can attempt this because the brands it has stocked in the past are now much less of a draw than they’ve been historically. After all, when you can get

“name-brand” goods online, cheaply (sometimes so cheaply that you overlook the possibility of counterfeits) and quickly, a store with an “exclusive” that really isn’t one won’t be a draw. So, Dick’s is discontinuing its association with Adidas-owned Reebok and instead launching its own brand that will replace Reebok in time for back-to-school sales. It has already seen success with its own sports apparel lines (like the Carrie Underwood-aligned CALIA brand), which has led to shrinking emphasis on the Under Armour label. The reasoning seems to be that shoppers come to Dick’s not for specific brand apparel products, but because they are Dick’s customers. This tactic sidesteps both price-grinding web retailers and pond-scum counterfeiters, all while building goodwill and brand recognition. While not a new concept by any means (recall the glory days of Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances at Sears), it signals a timely return to a solid retail concept that has proven itself with American consumers. I believe this trend has a parallel in our industry. With the explosion of house brands and boutique or distributor lines of combo products, it’s not unusual to walk into a store that carries somewhat unfamiliar brands, often devoting significant space and marketing to them. These are often

significantly more profitable, less plagued by counterfeits, and generally offer equal or better value than similarly priced namebrand goods. While band instruments have not made the same inroads (largely due to the influence of band directors and bad experiences with so many internet brands), orchestral strings have adhered to the private-label model for more than a century, leading to a field with so many names it’s impossible for consumers to develop brand loyalty. The very nature of the string market swings away from the “multiple acquisition” model so beloved among guitarists. Violinists and their instruments tend to be bonded as musical partners, where guitarists tend to think of their instruments as an arsenal. Piano dealers have long had stencil brands, although with mixed success due to financial and sourcing burdens. This trend should trouble the brands in our industry, particularly those not thought of as iconic. (Realistically, that means all but about five.) Everyone else should be making plans to shore up brand identity. In today’s market, I think that means cleaning up the image, offerings and distribution rather than trying to get the brand splashed everywhere. We’ve all seen what happens when a freely distributed product line (that is provided to anyone who writes a big enough check) JUNE 2019

hits platforms like the Amazon Marketplace. Knockoffs, lowballers and fly-by-night merchants are not the way to build brand loyalty and cachet. It is impossible to tell how much damage has already been done to the reputations of MI brands now playing whack-amole with counterfeiters and MAP violators. This brand diminution could be reversed, but like climate change, many are in denial about the harm done to their good name and will only realize it when it’s too late. I do believe the forward-thinking brands are already taking action. That’s prudent, because, in addition to the marketplace dilution of brands, the major retail chains will likely increase their emphasis on self-sourced items just as Dick’s has. Our biggest retailers are on this path, and it will only be a matter of time before they decide that a majority of their needs are best met by internal methods. If they believe that a brand isn’t a draw, it will be replaced by a house brand. There are few enough innovations and new patents rising in our industry that it will be easy for them to provide a parallel product. After all, this isn’t the ‘80s with its microprocessor boom. When this happens, it will send some brands scrambling for what they feel are “quality” dealers that will champion their brand and help it rebuild. This is where my comments to dealers about vetting suppliers and curating inventory come full circle. Brands will need to be selective, but so will retail-

ers. Certainly, some companies will use the old 1990s approach of opening up dealers everywhere and letting the retailers fight it out in Darwinian fashion. To me, those are the companies to avoid,

because they haven’t learned the lessons of the marketplace and still think greed is the best grease to make the wheels turn. I would hope instead that suppliers and dealers

alike approach this quasi-reconciliation with open minds and an intention to make our industry stronger and better. I think it’s possible. I plan to be part of it, and I hope you do, too.

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.)






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It may be June, but winter has arrived. On the pop culture front this spring, two things have dominated much of the talk: Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Although we normally don’t feature custom shop collections in this “Under the Hood” feature, “Game of Thrones” is so much in the zeitgeist, we felt compelled to make an exception. Fender Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC) has blended “Game of Thrones” into MI with its Game of Thrones Sigil Collection. The collection comprises the Game of Thrones House Stark Telecaster, Game of Thrones House Lannister Jaguar and Game of Thrones House Targaryen Stratocaster. The trio of deluxe guitars is designed to embody the true essence of Westeros’ most iconic ruling families and is built to order via the Fender Custom Shop. “This has been a two-year journey, much of it spent in the concept phase, nailing down a cool and authentic way to bring the two properties together,” said Justin Norvell, EVP Fender Products. “We worked directly and extensively with ‘Game of Thrones’ creator and avid guitar player D.B. (Dan) Weiss to ensure that our vision, design and materials reflected the identity of each house. And there’s no better place than the Fender Custom Shop to tackle this task with experts in not only guitar-building, but specialized skills, such as carving and engraving, that really set these instruments apart. As existing fans of the series, we couldn’t be happier with the final results and this partnership overall.” The “Game of Thrones” guitars are a true labor of love. They took an estimated 300-plus hours to create, with more than 100 hours dedicated to each individual instrument. Handcrafted by principal master builder Ron Thorn, each guitar’s 54

design drew inspiration from the house’s family sigil, costume designs, armor and weaponry, as well as each of their locations in Westeros, sparing no details. “Ron Thorn at Fender has built three beautiful, ‘Game of Thrones’-inspired works of art, and you can out-shred your enemies with all of them,” said Weiss, who along with David Benioff, served as creator and showrunner of “Game of Thrones.” “The craftsmanship and attention to detail reminds me a lot of what we saw in our costume and armory shops, and on our sets. I hope these make a few other people 1/1000 as happy as they make me.” “My involvement was taking concepts and digital renderings to make functional guitars,” Thorn told the Music & Sound Retailer. “It was extremely fun and challenging. There were so many new elements in the creation of the guitars that we had never done, like lasering gold leafing and adding dragon scales. That’s something Fender hasn’t touched upon in the past.” Considering “Games of Thrones” has such avid fans, Thorn knew every minute detail on the guitars had to be correct, or fans would notice. Hence, he said the results could have “gone a number of different ways. It could have been childish, cartoonish or completely overdone,” he said. “My main focus was to make the instruments look like they could fit on set. I wanted it to look like the armory, the weapons or the costumes. That was my main goal.” This goal was accomplished via weathering and relicing, as well as through the use of certain colors. The Game of Thrones House Stark Telecaster, which retails for $25,000, features a lightweight swamp ash body weathered with inlaid sterling silver purfling that reflects the broodiness JUNE 2019

of Winterfell’s landscape. The guitar features a maple neck with ebony fingerboard, hand-cut and engraved sterling silver direwolf sigil inlay on the first fret, in addition to an embossed nickel silver version on the pickguard. The Tele also features hand-engraved knobs, an etched neck plate and is finished with thin lacquer over custom paints, including “Raven Black” and “Gray Wolf.” The Game of Thrones House Lannister Jaguar, which carries a $30,000 retail price, offers a lightweight alder body that features 24k gold leaf with heraldry design on both the front and back, paying homage to the opulent Red Keep in King’s Landing. The guitar has a maple neck with ebony fingerboard, hand-cut and engraved brass lion sigil inlay on the first fret, a 24k leaf heraldry design carved headstock face, gold hardware and a gold-plated pickguard that is engraved with the Lannisters’ sigil. The Jaguar also includes an etched neck plate, hand-engraved knobs and is finished with a thin lacquer over custom paints, including “Burnt Crimson” and “Lannister Gold.” And the Game of Thrones House Targaryen Stratocaster, which sells for $35,000, draws inspiration from the family’s sigil, a three-headed dragon, as this Strat features carved dragon scales across the front and back of the guitar. The lightweight alder body is adorned with black hardware, a maple neck with ebony fretboard, hand-cut and engraved sterling silver threeheaded dragon sigil inlay on the first fret, as well as a hand-tooled and stained leather pickguard that also features the Targaryen sigil. The Strat also boasts an etched neck plate and is finished with thin lacquer over custom “Dragonglass Black” paint. Each Game of Thrones guitar will be accompanied with a bespoke guitar case that also reflects the “ethos” of the instrument with ornate attention to detail, as well as an El Dorado strap. The Game of Thrones House Stark Telecaster case features a faux wolf fur lining and a black suede exterior as an homage to the direwolf sigil of

House Stark, while the Game of Thrones House Lannister Jaguar case features gold accents, including a crushed gold velvet interior and all gold hardware. The Game of Thrones House Targaryen Stratocaster case boasts an all-black reptile design on its exterior, with red stitching accents both inside and out.

Weiss received the first set of Game of Thrones Sigil Collection guitars, Thorn confirmed to the Retailer. Ramin Djawadi, musical score composer for the show, received the next set. And also receiving a set was Steve Vai, said Thorn. “It just happened by circumstance,” he remarked regarding why Vai received the

Sigil Collection set. “I was seated next to Steve Vai at the screening of the third episode [this final season]. Talk about the luck of the draw that Steve Vai sits next to me. So, we have some good clientele for the guitars. The feedback has been tremendous, and the fan base seems to approve from what I’ve read and seen.”


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(continued from cover) And if you haven’t attended Summer NAMM before, 2019 could be a good year to go, as many MI retailers are coming off a successful 2018 at their stores, with 2019 looking promising thus far as well. “It really comes down to education,” said Lamond. “A dollar invested in education is the best return on investment you can ever make. Invest it in yourself or your employees, because the variable you have is the people. The better they are, the better the business will be. Education and working with your vendors, who are the show, are the biggest reasons to attend.” Lamond acknowledged that Summer NAMM is stable in terms of attendance, whereby many retailers who have decided to attend in the past keep attending. But there’s another camp of dealers who decide not to go and continue not to attend the show. “The ones who have decided to go are consistent; loyal NAMM attendees. They love going,” he stated. “But for those who have decided not to go, I am trying to speak to them and say, ‘There are things changing in the world, and there is new information, so it might be time to reconsider.’ I think changes are coming down the pike due to cycles in the economy and cycles we are in in our industry. There might be a reason now to attend that wasn’t there a year or two ago. I think now is as important as ever to be prepared for changes in your business.” As for the non-Summer NAMM showgoers, a popular refrain regarding why retailers don’t attend is they state they get everything they need out of January’s The NAMM Show, relayed Lamond. “That’s a fair argument,” he acknowledged. “It means we did a good job for them at Winter NAMM. That’s what we are up against. But the case for a mid-year gathering is investing in yourself. Investing in your skill set. Investing in your management team. Going once a year is great, but many things, like educational opportunities, don’t stick as long as some may think. It’s a refresher course. Once a year is good [to attend NAMM], but twice a year is better in terms of its impact.” Beyond education and fortifying business, there is another reason to attend: Nashville itself. Retailers who have not visited Nashville recently are likely to notice major changes in the Music City. Most noticeable is the building of new apartment complexes, hotels and shopping centers. Several new, quality restaurants also dot the landscape. Nashville and the state of Tennessee have done a “tremendous job of attracting business and residents. It is growing like crazy. It’s a great success story,” said Lamond. As it relates to NAMM members, “It’s a great city to go see,” he added. “You have the museums and the County Music Hall of Fame. There are so many things to do in that city. When I look back on when Summer NAMM moved to Nashville in 1993, it was about what it JUNE 2019


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Ad Index



ADAM HALL...............................37 ALBERT AUGUSTINE................12 ALFRED PUBLISHING..............19 AMAHI UKULELES...................33 AUDIX CORPORATION.............17 BOURNS PRO AUDIO................35 CHAUVET LIGHTING................10 CHAUVET LIGHTING................11 CHEM-PAK..................................60 FENDER.......................................7 FENDER.......................................21 G7TH, THE CAPO COMPANY..51 GALAXY AUDIO........................3 HAL LEONARD..........................C-II JOHN PACKER............................16 KYSER MUSICAL PRODUCTS...............................26 LAWK STAR GUITARS..............59 LEVY’S LEATHERS...................35 LYON & HEALY..........................53 MALONEY STAGEGEAR COVERS....................................61 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY................................6 NAMM....................................14-15 NEUMANN..................................5 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS..................................25 PETERSON ELECTRO-MUSICAL PRODUCTS...............................20 PRO X...........................................27 QRS MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES.....................47

"The opening session will be about the things that are disrupting us.


People are disrupting


with new business

U.S. BAND & ORCHESTRA SUPPLIES.................................18

models. There are also


a lot of trends in

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disrupting, like the 'Uberization' of everything.”

While every care is taken to ensure that these listings are accurate and complete, The Music & Sound Retailer does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors.


— Joe


meant to me and what it meant to my boss, Skip [Maggiora, owner of Skip’s Music]. We went on that trip together, and the bonding we were able to do with ourselves and a couple of other peer stores was something that was very hard to do in Anaheim. We would divide and conquer in Anaheim to see as many vendors as possible. In Nashville, we got to spend a lot of time together, and the commitment to bettering the store and investing in the business was one of the benefits of Summer NAMM. There is a lot of personal time that can be devoted when you go to a smaller show like Summer NAMM. I hope [MI retail] owners can bring their up-and-coming leadership team and have that time in Nashville.” In fact, Lamond noted NAMM is very cognizant of the fact that retailers like Nashville so much that it doesn’t want to have too many events beyond the Top 100 Dealer Awards on July 19, and the American Eagle Awards on July 18, during which George Clinton will be among this year’s honorees. Other highlights include a performance by Lee Ann Womack on July 20 at 1 p.m. at the NAMM Avid Stage on the Terrace, and the 6th Annual Georgia On My Mind concert, hosted by The Peach Pickers and presented by Gretsch. “There’s actually a push from attendees that says, ‘We are already in Nashville, and we just want to be there,’” noted Lamond. “Nashville has done such a great job of creating this destination. The NFL Draft was held there this year. And it is even the world’s capital for bachelorette parties. Nashville has done such a great job of marketing itself.” JUNE 2019

from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and all Summer NAMM attendees are welcome to attend. NAMM provided this description for the session: “How do successful lesson studios keep their programs new and relevant? What are some of the latest innovations in the lessons business, and what do they mean to you? Find out at this fast-moving roundup of great ideas, moderated by Brian Berk of the Music & Sound Retailer and featuring a high-powered panel of the magazine’s columnists: Will Mason of Mason Music, Kimberly Deverell of San Diego Music Studio and Tim Spicer of Spicer’s Music. They’ll look at new innovations in everything from programming and promotions to technology and operations — all to help you grow your lessons business.” For those who arrive in Nashville a day early, NAMM will offer its Retail Training Summit at the Music City Center on July 17, with doors opening at 8:30 a.m. It will feature new tracks on retail management, online content creation and new laws likely to impact MI retail business. Returning education tracks will include marketing, sales and succession. Online marketing leader Larry Ballin, sales and management authority Thomas Post, social media and content expert Jenn Herman, and music retail financial experts Daniel Jobe and Alan Friedman will be among the speakers at the event. Registration is required for the Retail Training Summit.

New at Summer NAMM

Education Highlights

The educational sessions will be highlighted by NAMM’s opening session on the morning of July 18, the “Breakfast of Champions,” which Lamond will host. “The theme will be disruption,” he said. “The opening session will be about the things that are disrupting us. Of course, people are disrupting with new business models. There are also a lot of trends in business that are disrupting, like the ‘Uberization’ of everything. Every company that comes out is the Uber of something. The third thing we will discuss is what policies are disrupting. Government is creating policies that disrupt, whether it is a labor tax or regulation on the instruments themselves. We will discuss how to be aware of disruption and how to build a strategy around it. [In fact], out of this session, we hope to have some strategies that retailers will be able to capitalize on.” On the morning of July 19, Shep Hyken, New York Times bestselling author and customer service expert, will share six strategies for creating convenience in the buying journey, sourced from his new book, “The Convenience Revolution.” Shifting to NAMM University sessions during regular show hours, this year, retailers can check out a new wrinkle. That’s because the Music & Sound Retailer’s editor, Brian Berk, will moderate his firstever session at a NAMM Show, titled “New Innovations in Music Lesson Programs.” This hour-long session will take place on July 19

One change at Summer NAMM this year will involve the Top 100 Dealer Awards. This year, three new awards will be handed out: Best Community Retail Store, the Innovation Award and the Top 100 Customers’ Choice Award. Customers’ Choice is voted on by NAMM members’ consumer base and highlights NAMM retail members’ audiences, highlighting its dealers’ social media and community reach. The Innovation Award highlights a retail member’s commitment to excellence in innovation and ability to evolve with the times, and Best

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Community Retail Store celebrates our industry’s mom-andpop stores; single-location stores that have made their mark on their local community. “When looking at the [Top 100] application process, we have been seeing that different things are being valued,” Lamond noted regarding why NAMM added the new awards. “One thing we changed was Best Turnaround because it has a negative connotation. It kind of [connotes], ‘Well, you were horrible before, but now you are great….’ We are still recognizing great retail, and the categor y changes we made this year are reflected in several years we have had these awards and the applications we have been receiving during the application process. “The Customers’ Choice Award is really different,” he added. “[Retailers] need to talk to their customers and tell them they are in the running for the award. It’s like an ‘American Idol’ voting process whereby your customers vote for you too.” As far as visible changes on the show floor itself, Summer NAMM attendees will certainly notice one: Software.NAMM, which is intended to show the importance of software in musicmaking today. Ray Williams, managing director at the International


Music Software Trade Association, told NAMM how MI retailers can benefit from this show addition. “The best music retailers know that, to keep a customer, you must take care of their needs,” he said. “Since we know that every musician needs music software, it is wise to make sure your store can cater to their software needs and retain your customers. Some MI retailers are more in tune with digital software sales than most, and for them, they capture a larger than average share of this business. What a music retailer would find at Software.NAMM are the brands that are leading the charge, along with some of the most forward-thinking up-andcomers. It’s a chance to build a relationship early with the next big thing. The next big thing is usually hiding in plain sight among the tables at Software.NAMM.” Not different is the future location of Summer NAMM, as well as the commitment the trade organization has made to the show, which last year drew 15,010 attendees to the Music City Center. NAMM has already announced the next three dates for Summer NAMM: July 18–20, 2019; July 9–11, 2020; and July 15–17, 2021. “Nashville is the home of Summer NAMM,” Lamond affirmed. “The only reason we left [for Austin and Indianapolis last decade] is because Nashville needed a new convention center. The old convention center wasn’t suitable anymore. That problem has been solved [with the Music City Center].” NAMM’s president and CEO concluded by taking a moment to reflect on the good times the MI industry has enjoyed recently, with hopes for more success to come in the future. “We will look back on the last couple of years and say how good a run it has been. I won’t say it won’t continue, but now is a really good time to be prepared,” relayed Lamond. “To prepare is to be aware of what’s changing, to prevent it from hurting you, and in fact capitalize on it. You can’t do that by being in your store. You do that by stepping out of the store and being around others. You do that by working on your business, not in your business, which gets you around the bend in the road that’s coming. That’s what happens at Summer NAMM.”

(continued from page 39) mandolin and ukulele straps made from cork with a soft leather backing. And lastly, to keep it fresh, we want fans to enjoy summer all year with a cool “fruit salad” line that’s really playful and fun. For Gator, we’re adding more Frameworks gear and accessories to address our fans’ needs. We’ve had a great response to our mic booms for content creators, and we’re adding another option. We’ll release a new quad-speakerstand package to complement our already-popular stands. And of course, more cases and bags; wheeled options to transport the well-known Line 6 Helix, in addition to a series of lighting and accessory bags.

The Retailer: Let’s talk about the overall MI industr y. You have a good view considering you provide products for so many segments of the industr y. For many, 2018 was a good year, and 2019 looks solid. What are your thoughts? Morris: We had a great ’18, and based on the energy level of NAMM in January, that momentum continues. I, of course, can’t overlook what’s happening with tariffs and the trade talks. It’s impacting all businesses and industries, and MI is no different. But what makes me really proud to be a part of the music industry is that we are taking a very collaborative approach. We’re all in this together, and it’s nice to see that we are working together to find solutions and share ideas. It’s part of the evolutionary process. Generally speaking, I see a renewed interest from the consumers and audiences in music and the arts, which is positive for our industry. That’s exciting to see because it’s so important to our culture, society and for the future generations. The Retailer: Recently, you were nominated for an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. How did you get noticed and recognized for this honor, and what are some of the reasons you were nominated for this accolade? Morris: I’m very honored and excited for this recognition, although it is truly recognizing

the entire Gator team, because it is only possible because of what we all do together. I believe I got noticed by my involvement in the local community and various business groups. From there, they did a pretty in-depth interview process looking at entrepreneurship. This included financial performance, growth, talent management, community involvement and ability to overcome challenges. I guess we passed the muster!

The Retailer: You attended this year’s NAMM D.C. Fly-In last month. What were some of the goals you were looking to accomplish? Morris: I’ve been involved with the Fly-In for six or seven years. Our main mission is to keep music and arts in schools and continue to grow music and arts education programs. It is amazing to see the difference it has made. The first time I came, we went up on Capitol Hill, and nobody had ever heard of us. Now, we show up and hear these amazing stories from [Congressional and Senatorial] legislative administrative assistants and from members of Congress about how music has affected their lives and how they are dedicated to ensuring music stays in the school systems that they represent. When we first went, they may have wondered why we were there. Now, they get excited to see us and love the fact we honor Best Communities for Music Education and always have stories about events that are going on in their various regions. The Retailer: Let’s talk about SWIM. Let’s begin with the fact that you have been in the MI industr y for 19 years. How have you seen women’s roles change in that time? Morris: One way it has definitely changed is, I remember going to The NAMM Show [in the past] and many of the women’s roles were not in leadership or business. They were really only in promotional roles. You don’t see that as much today, but I do think there is a tremendous gap in women in leadership roles. I don’t think we’ve seen that grow tremendously. That is what we are trying to accomplish with JUNE 2019


SWIM. We are trying to fill leadership positions with women and with diversity in general. I think we can elicit change, and I’ve seen places where I know we already are. I’ve received phone calls from friends who are CEOs or in C-Suite roles who tell me they hired a woman or person of diversity on their team. They say, “Thanks for bringing attention to this, and we are focusing on this at the company.” I am really excited about some of the things we are working on with SWIM to help women from both a networking standpoint and in building their toolbox in the leadership category.

The Retailer: To give a little more background on SWIM, you founded it with NAMM chair woman Robin Walenta and Heid Music’s DeDe Heid. If people reading this article want to get involved, how would they do so? Morris: Please visit our website, They can also reach out to any of us. We would love to hear from you.

(continued from page 41)

Gerry’s Music Shop 80 Lamb St. (Route 116) South Hadley, MA 01075 413.534.7402

Easily accessible from a highway, Gerry’s Music Shop has a fairly big parking lot, which is an advantage over the three stores in Northampton, where you have to rely on metered street or municipal lot parking. The store is located on a very quiet road, nearly rural in feel. It has been around for nearly 70 years, which is encouraging. This store has so much for the youthful musician, especially those in school orchestras and marching bands. It stocks the plastic trombone, a yellow and green contraption that is actually a well-constructed instrument. (I know a college student who, while not a serious musician, does play this with gusto.) As far as guitar effects pedals, however, Gerry’s has limited stock. The young man who worked there showed me

the few pedals on display. He seemed to have limited knowledge of the items available, to match the limited stock. And while he was friendly and professional in demeanor, I was underwhelmed by other members of the staff, including a man who was kind of gruff to me as I walked around the floor. There is a lot of sheet music for sale at Gerry’s. Items are well organized, and there is a lot of room to walk around. Space is not at a premium here. But there was also a certain sterile feel I perceived as I walked around the store. I would have liked the staff to interact with me more.

The Winner

All three of the shops in Northampton are very good. I truly enjoyed visiting them all. Each has competent and dedicated staff who are clearly music lovers and know the ins and outs of their stock. Downtown Music has a slight edge over the two because it has a wider variety

of musical instruments and accessories and is therefore this month’s winner. It is roomier and thus easier to walk all around this store and examine the price tags. I really did appreciate the workers at Mill River as well, and the chummy Birdhouse worker also earned my appreciation. Heck, if you live or work nearby, MI Spy recommends checking out all three stores. There are wonderful finds in each. Mill River is a very close second. The men who work there really know their stock, and they are passionate about what they sell. Birdhouse is quite worth the trip, particularly if you are in the market for upscale guitars and guitar-related things. Gerry’s is very good if you are shopping for children and beginners. But if you are looking for advanced guitar this-andthat, it probably should not be your first choice.


(continued from page 62) which of our guitar speakers he liked best. I was pinned in my seat for well over an hour’s lecture/rant on our history, what we’d done wrong in the past and what we should be doing now. I learned a valuable lesson about the immense passion that people had for our speakers.

The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry? Weller: That feeling that, however different the people are that you meet and work with, the love of music always remains as a bond between us. Scratch the surface, and we are all one tribe. The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industr y and why? Weller: I’m going to stick with a couple of obvious choices: Einstein and Nelson Mandela. The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Weller: Augmented reality seems to be the current buzz phrase in the visual world, and MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

I can’t help thinking that it may well find a way into the world of music and sound, although it’s difficult to see what form that might take. I went to a small concert recently organized by a cryptocurrency startup. They were experimenting with business models where new artists could pay audience members small amounts of money to come and listen to them, and like and share their music on social media. The audience, in turn, could pay or tip the artist depending on how much they enjoyed the performance, also having the opportunity to purchase a recording of the live performance even before they’d left the venue.

The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Weller: I would have loved to continue studying and working in the field of research physics. The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there. Weller: Woking is just west of

London with lots of easy access to the capital, motorways and airports. It’s just where I kind of ended up for one reason or another and where my kids are now at school and where my friends are. I live opposite a large area of woodland called Horsell Common, which I love. It’s where H.G. Wells (he was a local) set the landing of the first cylinder from Mars.

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The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Weller: I’m not really sure I feel that way about possessions anymore. But if my house was on fire, assuming my family and dogs were safe, you’d probably find me driving away from it in my 2003 Boxster with my photo albums and an old Linn record deck.

The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Weller: A collection of short stories by John Wyndham that I stumbled across in a second-hand bookshop many, many years ago. Great stories, only more of them!




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Weller: Listening to “Do You Feel Like We Do” from “Frampton Comes Alive” in my sister’s boyfriend’s car as loud as the stereo system could manage, over and over and over again. I’m getting goose bumps even now thinking about it!

The Retailer: What songs are on your smartphone/ iPod, etc. right now? Weller: There aren’t the usual thousands. As an audio nerd, I have rather large, uncompressed WAV files on my phone. It’s a rather eclectic collection, everything from Rage Against the Machine, through The Carpenters and Ella Fitzgerald, to more modern things like Daft Punk and Bruno Mars.

KEN WELLER Head of Marketing, Celestion

By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Ken Weller: There have been many. I remember the feeling of pride and awe as my dad set off for a night shift as a policeman armed with nothing more than a torch and a wooden truncheon. My secondary-school physics teacher, who fueled the fire of my already inquisitive mind, and my sponsor in recovery who patiently nursed me back to humanity. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Weller: “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also.” The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Weller: A treble recorder at primary school, which led me briefly on to the flute. 62

The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Weller: My love of music has always been best expressed through singing, although my colleagues who share our office might disagree. The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Weller: Through reality TV shows, I have become fixated with gold mining and am currently contemplating a trip to Dawson City in the Yukon to spend a week gold panning.

of Secrets tour. Proper old-school Pink Floyd.

The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Weller: It’s probably a cliché, but I guess it would have to be Elvis, although seeing Led Zeppelin at the height of its musical powers, or maybe Cream, would be hard to miss also. Both the latter have a sense of restrained and then unleashed power to their music that I love.

The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Weller: I love watching motorsports, whether it’s Formula 1 or Banger Racing at the local oval track.

The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future? Weller: I’ve been kicking myself for a while that I never got to see Supertramp, so I’m really excited about seeing Roger Hodgson at The Royal Albert Hall in London.

The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Weller: It was actually only last year. Nick Mason’s Saucerful

The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood and what do you remember about it the most?

The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? Weller: Of all the various musicians you see at the show, the one that really struck me was chatting with this guy in our booth and finding out he was Steve Strange from the band Visage, which had a great resonance with me from my teenage years. 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? Weller: That’s very difficult to answer. I’m going to say Bill Wilson (founder of Alcoholics Anonymous), Gandhi, and either Elvis or my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family who died before I was born. The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them). Weller: About a week after joining Celestion, I visited a very small guitar shop in Surrey, England and made the mistake of casually asking the proprietor (continued on page 61) JUNE 2019

We Take Full

Responsibility — For Music Education Advocacy — We believe every child deserves music education and the opportunity to play an instrument. That’s why Yamaha advocates for music and arts education at local school boards, state capitols and in Washington D.C. And, since learning music improves test scores, builds self-confidence and fosters future success, music education leads to a brighter future for our children.

Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer June 2019, Vol 36 No 6  

In June’s Summer NAMM Preview issue, we recap the RPMDA Annual Convention, give insight into what’s in store for Summer NAMM attendees next...

Music & Sound Retailer June 2019, Vol 36 No 6  

In June’s Summer NAMM Preview issue, we recap the RPMDA Annual Convention, give insight into what’s in store for Summer NAMM attendees next...