THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR MUSIC PRODUC TS RETAILERS
June 2021 Volume 38, No. 6
TESTA COMMUNICATIONS’ TRIBUTE TO VINNY TESTA See page 18
the good stuff
MI INDUSTRY GIVES BACK AFTER UNPRECEDENTED YEAR
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jj Babbitt Under New Ownership The jj Babbitt Co. Inc. is under new ownership. The 102-yearold manufacturer of mouthpiece brands Meyer, Otto Link, Hite and many others for saxophones and clarinets will remain in Elkhart, Ind., indefinitely, according to an announcement by Steve Rorie, president and new owner, along with his wife, Debra. Rorie joined jj Babbitt as president in 2019. He has more than 40 years of experience in the music industry, having worked for The Selmer Co., Buffet Crampon, Verne Q. Powell Flutes and B&S USA. He purchased the business from the Reglein Trust, through Diana Reglein, widow of former owner and president, Bill Reglein. Rorie noted that he and Diana Reglein were both determined to keep jj Babbitt operating in Elkhart. “I can’t thank or recognize Diana enough for her determination and interest in keeping jj Babbitt’s legacy alive right here in Elkhart with the team intact,” he said. “We all will forever be grateful to her.” “I have enormous respect for jj Babbitt’s history and rich heritage,” Rorie said. “We are a small but highly regarded company nationally and internationally throughout the band and orchestra industries. Our Otto Link, Meyer and Hite models are three of the most well-known and respected mouthpiece brands in the world.” He also expressed high regard for jj Babbitt’s loyal employees, stating, “Several of our team members have been with the company for several decades and a couple for more than 40 years. That kind of loyalty and commitment isn’t very common anymore.” Rorie is looking forward to the future of jj Babbitt. “We have exciting plans to introduce new models as well as entirely new brands and product categories. We will be expanding on what we’ve done in the past, but not eliminating traditional processes or products,” he noted.
L to r: Jim Green, VP operations; Linda Nielsen, VP finance and CFO; Steve Rorie, president and CEO; Tracy Longfellow, manager, OE&I; and Chris French, director of engineering and product development.
Founded in Elkhart in 1919 by Jessie J. Babbitt, the company was later managed by his nephew, Eugene (Bud) Reglein, who joined the firm in 1939. Reglein died in 2005 after working there for 65 years. Bud’s son, William (Bill) Reglein, joined the company as a teenager and worked there for 40 years, most recently as owner and president. In 1999, the younger Reglein named Rocco (Rocky) Giglio — a professional musician and music industry legend — became vice president of operations. Giglio retired in 2019 as president and CEO, naming Rorie his successor as president. Bill Reglein passed away in October 2019. Celebrating its 100th year in 2019, jj Babbitt has produced millions of clarinet and saxophone mouthpieces in Elkhart, Indiana and is legendar y throughout the world for superior craftsmanship, quality and performance, as well as exceptional value. Mouthpiece variations are sold exclusively
through music distributors under the brand names Otto Link, Meyer, jj Babbitt, Wolfe Tayne, Guy Hawkins, Portnoy, and Hite, custom mouthpieces with private labeling are also available. The principal OEM
supplier to the world’s largest instrument manufacturers, jj Babbitt-made mouthpieces are played by musicians ranging in skill from school children to many of the world’s most famous professionals.
S ummer NAMM Re tu r n s in Pe rs o n . See the J u ly Issu e fo r M o re . MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
VOLUME 38, NO.6
18 A Tribute to Vinny Testa, Founder and Publisher of the Music & Sound Retailer
28 The Good Stuff: MI Industry Gives Back After Unprecedented Year
F E AT U R E S 32 Five Minutes With
NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond offers a full preview of Summer NAMM and other events happening during Summer NAMM week next month. He also discusses the state of the industry.
36 MI Spy
MI Spy travels to the First State, Delaware, visiting Wilmington and Dover in search of first-class service.
44 Shine a Light
“The best realization has been that, no matter what, music matters,” said Gayle Beacock, co-owner of two Beacock Music stores and one of MI’s greatest ambassadors. “That is comforting to us in the industry. Nobody wants to be without music!”
46 Under the Hood
The huge popularity of keyboards has been well documented. But not to go unnoticed is the popularity of synthesizers as well. IK Multimedia offers two new products in this space, the UNO Synth Pro and UNO Synth Pro Desktop.
54 The Final Note
When Jeremy Brieske, co-founder of Low Boy Custom Beaters, finds time away from work, he has the perfect place to be outdoors: Denver. In less than a 45-minute drive, he has access to world-class hiking, rafting and camping.
40 In the Trenches
Predicting the future is a risky business at best, but Allen McBroom says we’re going to experience more and more change as we move away from last year into some revised form of normalcy. As store owners, you need to be alert to the shifting winds, so you can adjust your sails as needed.
41 Not Your Average Column
In many cases, depending on which state and city your lessons business is located in, COVID-19 has drastically altered the way your program was allowed to operate during the last year. Here’s how to rebuild a lesson program in a post-COVID environment.
All MI retailers have been hearing about the fractured and scrambled supply chains that are affecting product availability right now. That said, Skyline Music does now have some product moving, albeit slowly.
BUZZ 13 4
3 Latest 10 People 12 Products
The Return of MI … Trade Events As our interview with NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond in this issue’s “Five Minutes With” proves, in-person trade shows are back. During what I unofficially call Summer NAMM Week next month — from July 12 to 16 — Nashville will be the home to many events, including the National Association of School Music Dealers show, the Alliance of Independent Music Merchants annual meeting, a Retail Print Music Dealers Association event, the Event Safety Alliance and, of course, Summer NAMM. What a refreshing change it is. This is not to mention the nighttime events, such as a special event at the Gibson Garage on July 14 and the NAMM Top 100 Awards on July 15. Oh, and if you attend these events, you also get to go out and enjoy Nashville in your downtime. Who would have thought as recently five months ago that an in-person event was even remotely possible? I am excited that the in-person trade show industry is returning. The value of in-person events is hard to explain, but I think the picture above, of MI retailers from the 2019 Summer NAMM show, does a good job of explaining the camaraderie only our industry has. Do not get me wrong: I am not saying you must go to Summer NAMM Week in July. It is understandable if anyone has COVID19-related concerns about attending an indoor event. Also, it is understood if you have what I will now call an “old-world” concern, such as the travel costs or the
inability to leave your store for a week. But if it is any way possible, I hope you will attend Summer NAMM. Although I have enjoyed speaking to many retailers and manufacturers on Zoom, it is easy to get fatigued with video chatting. I truly value seeing people in person so much more today. One lesson I have learned from the pandemic is not to take the many things I have for granted. Of course, if you cannot make Summer NAMM Week, virtual methods are a great way to, at a minimum, stay up to date on the MI industry, as well as receive valuable education tips from experts — which is one aspect of a virtual show I do not think suffers all that much when you are sitting at home or in your store as compared to when you are there in person. To me, Summer NAMM Week marks the official return of the MI industry. Sure, the industry never really went anywhere. But our industry takes pride in being a family — or “NAMMily.” This year’s Summer NAMM should bring excitement like never before, and will lead into a 2022 Winter NAMM Show that I believe could be the best ever. On a separate note, I hope you will be able to take a look at our special tribute to the founder and publisher of the Music & Sound Retailer, Vinny Testa, appearing in this issue. There were many heartfelt comments made about Vinny following his passing on April 19, many of which appear in our cover story this month. I want to thank everyone for the emails and phone calls regarding Vinny’s influence on the MI industry. We’ll do our best to carry on his legacy.
June 2021 Volume 38 No. 6
THE ALL NEW RADIANT PAR SERIES
BRIAN BERK Editor email@example.com ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor firstname.lastname@example.org AMANDA MULLEN Assistant Editor email@example.com DONOVAN BANKHEAD ROBERT CHRISTIE KIMBERLY DEVERELL JEFF KYLE JR. ELLEN LEVITT
JANICE PUPELIS Art Director STEVE THORAKOS Production Manager CIRCULATION firstname.lastname@example.org FRED GUMM Digital Art Director MICHELLE LOEB WILL MASON ALLEN MCBROOM GABRIEL O'BRIEN MIKE & MIRIAM RISKO
ROBERT L. IRAGGI Advertising Director email@example.com RICKY PIMENTEL Art/Production Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org ROBIN HAZAN Operations Manager email@example.com VINCENT P. TESTA Founder and Publisher TIM SPICER DAN VEDDA 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.
CONTACT JMAZ LIGHTING FOR MORE INFO (626) 380-0883 firstname.lastname@example.org www.JMAZLIGHTING www. JMAZLIGHTING.com .com
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AMRO Music Celebrates a Century Memphis-based AMRO Music has served as a cultural music staple in Memphis, Tenn., since 1921. This year, the company is commemorating 100 years of helping others make music. AMRO Music was founded by Mil Averwater a century ago and is now operated by the third and fourth generations of the Averwater family. “It’s truly gratifying to be part of the rich music history and heritage Memphis boasts,” said CJ Averwater, vice president and fourth-generation owner of AMRO Music. “The people of AMRO — our employees, customers and community partners — have played such a significant role in our company’s success. It’s fulfilling to reflect upon and salute the many individuals who helped us over these past 100 years become what we are today, the mid-south’s largest music company.” Upon inception, the business only taught piano lessons. However, AMRO eventually expanded to the sale of instruments, first as an accommodation to students but ultimately as the mainstay. As school bands’ popularity grew, the store introduced an instrument trial rental plan to schools in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri. The company’s ultimate goal is to help music educators give their students an outstanding classroom experience. “Our drive to provide young people in our community with a music education will not fade,” said Nick Averwater, band department man-
ager and fourth generation owner of AMRO Music. “Music education catapults a child’s learning to new heights, and by working together, we can supply the necessary resources music educators need to do their job, now and for the next 100 years.”
RPMDA Reception Added to Summer NAMM Week
The Retail Print Music Dealers Association (RPMDA) will be added to the docket during Summer NAMM week via a reception on July 14 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Nashville’s Music City Center. “This is our opportunity to host a reception and social gathering,” said RPMDA president David Jahnke. “The type of social gathering will be dictated by local laws.” He did add that the event would be free and thanked NAMM for providing all logistics to ensure the event could take place. Summer NAMM week will be like never before. It will now consist of the National Association of School Music Dealers convention on July 12 and 13 at the Nashville Hilton Downtown, The Alliance of Independent Music Merchants meeting on July 14, as well as the RPMDA reception, and the actual Summer NAMM show, to take place at the Music City Center on July 15 and July 16. During RPMDA’s 46th annual meeting on April 28, Jahnke announced the print music industry’s theme of “Recapitulation 2021,” which reflects what the industry and association has gone through the past year. “Print music was humming along in early 2020, but struggled the past 12 months,” stated Jahnke. “There are signs the industry is getting back on key. “Print is the GPS that helps musicians in their journey to make music,” he continued. “It is just a different tune than it was a year ago.” RPMDA’s virtual meeting also featured a keynote speaker, Scott Lang of Scott Lang Leadership, who stressed that although COVID-19 is awful, it has presented an opportunity for print music retailers and manufacturers. “COVID has given us an opportunity to show the value of music,” he said. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow the market.” But to take advantage of this opportunity, people must think differently Lang asserted, using the example of when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, it was six weeks from bankruptcy and he challenged employees to think differently. Apple is now the largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization. “You can’t have low risk and high reward,” said Lang. “You can’t have high risk and low reward.” Being optimistic about the future, as well as the future of music, which has survived since the beginning of time, is also important. “Do we pick up the bucket of burden or the bucket of blessing?” asked Lang. “We will not remember the darkness as much as the light. The light at the end of the tunnel will be the brightest you have ever seen. “You are changing lives. You are changing the world,” he added. “… Everything we do makes an impact.” Jahnke concluded the Zoom webinar by stating RPMDA is strongly considering its 2022 47th annual meeting to take place in person in Austin, Texas. JUNE 2021
A TRUE ORIGINAL NEVER FOLLOWS. A TRUE ORIGINAL SETS THE STAGE. A TRUE ORIGINAL DELIVERS THE GOODS.
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Hal Leonard named Ben Culli vice president, editorial and production. In this new role, Culli oversees workflow and procedures between the company’s editorial, engraving, production, and other departments and domestic and European offices. Culli, based out of the company’s Milwaukee, Wis., headquarters, has worked at Hal Leonard for 22 years. In his previous role as managing editor, he oversaw the keyboard editorial department, managing production workflow and assisting with product development, among other duties. After getting a degree in music education at Concordia University Chicago, Culli taught K-12 band, choir and general music. He began working for Hal Leonard as a freelance proofreader before accepting a position as a keyboard publications editor. Culli has also worked as a part-time church musician for more than 20 years, currently serving as organist and choir director at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Whitefish Bay, Wis. More than 400 of his church music compositions and arrangements for organ, piano, choir and various instrumental ensembles appear in print.
The Avedis Zildjian Co. announced that Cady Zildjian has been elevated to vice chair of the board of directors. Cady, daughter of Debbie Zildjian and granddaughter of Armand Zildjian, is the oldest of the 15th generation of Zildjian shareholders. Since joining the board of directors in 2018, Cady has been playing an integral role in guiding the company’s strategic plans for growth. After serving on the board for the past three years, Cady was elevated to vice chair in early 2021. After graduating from Colgate University in 2002, Cady worked as senior account manager at SmartPak, a fast-growing supplier of supplements and accessories for animals. Cady’s involvement with Zildjian began in 2007, when she joined the company as manager of Z gear, the Zildjian line of apparel and accessories. In 2012, Cady left Zildjian to earn an MBA from Babson College’s Olin Graduate School of Business, while beginning a family. In addition to her new responsibilities as vice chair, Cady was also appointed co-chair for Zildjian’s new Diversity and Inclusion Council as well as the company’s 400th Anniversary celebration in 2023. “As the oldest family business in the U.S., we appreciate the importance of carefully planned succession,” said Craigie Zildjian, executive chair of Zildjian. “We are pleased to see Cady assume a stronger leadership role in the family business at this time.” JUNE 2021
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Nate the Great
Seymour Duncan named Nate White director of artist relations and OEM marketing. A skilled guitarist, White also has a highly successful history of artist relations, brand collaborations, content creation and strategic partnerships. Nate grew up in Southern California, playing in bands and snowboarding/skateboarding. He started his career in Creative Services at Levi Strauss & Co. and continued on to Fender where he spent seven years in Artist Relations, growing into the role of Global Director. The last four years were spent behind the helm of his own WorldClassFad LLC, working with clients such as Blue Note Records, Vans and Casio/G-Shock. “We are thrilled to have Nate White join our Seymour Duncan family. He has the energy, creativity and passion for guitars and nurturing artists that we’ve been looking for,” said Jayla Siciliano, Seymolur Dunca’s vice president of marketing.
In Memoriam: Phil Jost
Phil Jost passed away on April 16. He was 71 years old. Jost had a career as a musician before joining the sales team at St. Louis Music in 1974, and thus entering the music products industry. In his early days, being classically trained on the piano, Jost played keyboards and early synthesizers for dances, concerts and recordings for many years. Even after joining St. Louis Music, he continued to play. Jost appeared on “American Bandstand” with Dick Clark, “Solid Gold” with Dionne Warwick and the “Tonight Show” with Johnnie Carson. He worked with famed producer/engineer Ken Scott on albums by Jeff Beck, Missing Persons and Kansas to name a few. With St. Louis Music, Jost held the various roles of clinician, product specialist, product manager and regional sales manager. After LOUD Technology purchased St. Louis Music, Jost worked for LOUD for several years before opening his own independent rep firm, Plus 3 Marketing, based in St. Louis.
In Memoriam: Arthur Gurwitz
Former president of Southern Music, Arthur Gurwitz, passed away on April 30. He was 94 years old. Gurwitz joined Southern Music Co. in the late 1940s, soon after his military service during World War II. He expanded the business into publishing, and soon the Southern Music catalog became one of the best known around the world. Gurwitz played a vital role in the growth and development of the company and the industry as he sought to publish composers who may have otherwise been forgotten. Active in the industry, he served as president of Music Industry Conference (1978-1980) and later on the Music Publishers Association (MPA) board. He also developed a reputation as one of the true gentlemen of the music publishing industry, a fact made clear by the number of dealers, representatives and suppliers who called him friend.
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Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) launched the latest amp in its Mustang series, the Mustang Micro Amp. It is a personal guitar amplifier with a wide selection of tones and effects from the Mustang Series amps, now available in a compact, portable product that fits in a player’s pocket and allows them to jam silently anywhere. The on-the-go guitar amplifier has more than four hours of continuous play time and can be plugged directly into a guitar and connected to favorite wired headphones. Players can easily choose from a selection of amps depending on your musical preference — from classic cleans to metal — and a bevy of effects. The Mustang Micro is ideal for beginners and seasoned players alike. Its simple and intuitive controls, as well as rechargeable batteries, are made for the player on the go, while its headphone output and Bluetooth play-along capabilities make it perfect for quiet, at-home practice sessions. fender.com
Rolling in the Deep
Washburn Guitars debuted the Deep Forest Series, created specifically to feature acoustic guitars with exotic woods from around the world. The first collection in the Deep Forest Series is the Ebony Collection. The models in the Deep Forest Ebony Collection are: Deep Forest Ebony D; featuring a standard dreadnought body, this has the most traditional sonic profile of all of the models in this family; Deep Forest Ebony FE is a slightly smaller folk-style body shape on the FE makes it very comfortable to play. This body style also further focuses the tone giving this the most attack amongst the three models in the collection; and Deep Forest Ebony ACE, offering a cutaway Auditorium body, the ACE is the most modern take on the Deep Forest Ebony collection. washburn.com/deepforest
Gator Frameworks launched its Elite Studio Furniture line. The new line includes a studio main desk, a corner piece, rack side-car table and two keyboard tables. All are available in three highquality wood finishes and available to buy as individual pieces or as a set to enhance any studio or home setting. The Elite Furniture Collection comprises the Studio Desk (GFW-ELITEDESK), an ergonomic workstation ideal for podcasts, broadcasts, content creation, streaming, and music production at home; the Rack Side-Car Table (GFW-ELITEDESKRK) that holds up to 10 units of rack gear along with surface space for a small mixer or desktop accessory and a slide-out tray; the Corner Piece (GFWELITEDESKCRNR), an extension piece to either side of the studio desk to add more room to one’s workspace; and Keyboard Tables (GFW-ELITEKEYTBL), high-quality, feature-packed solutions for any space. Available in both 61 and 88-note sizes, the keyboard tables’ compact sizes are the perfect space-saving solution to enhance any room, stated the company. gatorcases.com
Do Harp on It
Salvi Harps introduced the carbon fiber body Delta C, a lighter version of the popular Delta, with overall reduced dimensions, at a mere 8.3 pounds. The Delta C’s shape and lightness allows versatility to musicians to play it their own way, sitting, standing or even moving onstage. Both the original solid body Delta and carbon fiber Delta C are available as 29-string models (2nd Oct C to 6th Oct C). These electric instruments allow resonant, dynamic and immersive performances, also with the use of all kinds of effects processors. Ready to plug-in-and-play, they are compatible with recording equipment and PA systems, bringing a dynamic to live performances and studio sessions. Both models come with a strap, base, gig bag and tuning key; a flight case and tripod stand are available separately. delta-harp.com JUNE 2021
Windy City Design
Zeppelin Design Labs of Chicago released the Cortado MkIII, its high-performance contact microphone. The Cortado MkIII is a rugged, versatile, easy-to-use contact mic that reveals the hidden sounds in the solid world around you, stated the company. The mic is equally useful for sound design, music recording, and venue sound reinforcement. The sensor head attaches easily to most surfaces with clamp, tape or putty,
Video Killed the Radio Star
With the introduction of the TM-200SG Shotgun Microphone, TASCAM announces another addition to its expanding line of microphones. The new TM-200SG represents the videographer’s choice for recording audio in the field. As a compact shotgun microphone that is exceptionally well suited for Vlogging, video shooting, plus other applications where fixed audio isn’t an option, the new TM200SG delivers high-quality, mix ready audio in a rugged, compact form factor, stated the company. With its easy to handle, lightweight, and compact design, the TM-200SG delivers maximum audio quality with minimal visual intrusion. Featuring Super cardioid directivity for focused, clean audio capture, the TM-200SG intelligently captures the desired audio while admonishing unwanted sounds, resulting in minimal cleanup in postproduction. Expanding upon this capability, the microphone also incorporates a built-in low-cut filter for easy environmental noise reduction, effectively eliminating vocal pops while minimizing wind and environmental hum that can cause headaches during post-production. tascam.com
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and is tethered to the preamp chassis with a six-foot shielded cable. Features include a Sensitive piezo sensor; rugged steel enclosures; balanced and buffered signal for wide bandwidth and low noise floor; phantom-powered preamp circuit; built-in -10dB pad; and bass boost for extended low end response. cortadomic.com
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Adapting to Its Surroundings
Got the World on a String
Spector Musical Instruments announced a line of electric bass strings. Available in four-, five- and six-string sets, these nickelround-wound long-scale strings, made in the USA, are well suited to any bass guitar but are designed specifically to complement the unique tonal character of Spector Basses. Spector has partnered with New York-based La Bella Strings, the world’s oldest continuously family-owned string manufacturer, stated the company. Spector and La Bella have developed a custom formula that achieves a balance between longevity, feel, and the attack and sustain that Spector is known for. These nickel-plated round-wound strings are an excellent complement to Spector’s instruments and are used exclusively on all USA Series basses made in Woodstock, N.Y. The result is a durable, reliable string that reinforces the iconic tone of Spector basses and proprietary electronics, added the manufacturer. spectorbass.com
Hercules launched the DG Adaptive Series. Released were the Universal Podcast Mic & Camera Arm Stand, which can easily clamp to flat and round surfaces. It connects with microphones, action cameras, such as GoPro or compact cameras, and is also compatible with the DG Adaptive Series Smartphone Holder and 2-In-1 Tablet and Phone Holder; the Smartphone Holder, which attaches seamlessly on a flat surface, or on round or square tubes, and supports phone sizes of 4.7 inches to 6.9 inches; and the 2-In-1 Tablet and Phone Holder includes all of the elements of the Smartphone Holder with even more adaptability to extend to fit all tablets, stated the company. With support for tablet and phone sizes 6.1 inches to 13 inches, it also has an one-quarter-inch to 20-inch threaded hole that fits into a tripod stand. herculesstands.com
Heavy Metal Learning to Fly
Tech 21 introduced Version 2 of its Bass Fly Rig. With a Bass Fly Rig, end users have an easily transportable solution to getting rich, expressive combinations they can use for any gig, on stage or in the studio, whether it’s around the corner or across the pond, stated the company. The all-analog SansAmp heart is what makes a Tech 21 Fly Rig a true Fly Rig and enables users to go direct to a PA or studio mixers and computer interfaces. Housed in a rugged, all-metal enclosure, the Bass Fly Rig v2 will easily fit in a gig bag or backpack. There are illuminated mini controls to show active status, an included power supply, and metal footswitches and jacks. tech21nyc.com
Audix is now shipping the A127 Omnidirectional Metal Film Condenser Microphone for critical recording applications. Utilizing a reference-grade, half-inch Type 1 metal film capsule, the omnidirectional A127 delivers unmatched audio capture for professional studio recording, broadcast, film and sound design, stated the company. With a frequency response of 10Hz to 20kHz, a wide dynamic range of 133dB and an ultra-low self-noise of 7dBA, the A127 is intended to excel in the demanding applications. Capsule design features a precision-tuned, three-micron metal diaphragm for exceptionally detailed and reliable performance. The A127 circuit is designed and built to exacting specifications and is coupled to the capsule by a series of driven shields to protect the microphone from external interference and capacitive coupling. audixusa.com JUNE 2021
We Believe in Music Education... And the people who bring music to the world. We love to collaborate with other retailers, manufacturers and vendors to lead the way towards innovative practices in our changing world. Summer NAMM is our time to unite, strengthen relationships, and frame the future of the Music Products Industry. We are eager to come together with our friends and explore new opportunities to continue making a difference through music.
Robin Jean Sassi President San Diego Music Studio
Kimberly Deverell Director of Educational Development and Advocacy San Diego Music Studio
namm.org/attend We Are Better Together! • July 15-16, 2021 • Music City Center • Nashville, Tennessee
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X Marks the Spot
Austrian Audio’s new Hi-X65 professional headphones feature Hi-X (High Excursion) technology. In addition to the large, open and detailed sound, it also provides the highest level of comfort, stated the company. The ear pads are made of soft memory foam and have been completely redesigned to provide more space for the ears without increasing the external dimensions. The soft memory foam padding of the headband has a recess for the head seam and thus significantly reduces the contact pressure. All moving and load-bearing components are made of metal for maximum load capacity. It has a sturdy folding construction and comes with a carrying bag. Additionally, the headphones allow to work with a large number of feeders: Thanks to the impedance of 25 ohms, the greatest possible power and headroom are always available, no matter if the sound source originates from highend headphone amplifiers, reference AD converters, analog mixers, mobile players or notebooks, stated the company. The standard 3.5 mm stereo jack plug ensures the highest possible consumer compatibility, and an adapter to a one-quarter inch stereo jack is included for professional connections, stated the company. https://austrian.audio/
The “Hal Leonard Recording Method” is an introduction for anyone interested in learning the basics of recording audio for bands, singer/ songwriters, and more. Veteran studio engineer and author Jake Johnson takes readers through the fundamentals of audio recording, from gear and set-up through mixing and mastering, sharing tips and guideposts along the way. This book features valuable audio demonstration tracks and video tutorials that are accessed online for download or streaming. The book is also full of helpful photos and screenshots. Topics covered include digital audio basics, basic gear and setup, inputs and outputs (I/O), audio sources and microphones, capturing and editing audio, plug-ins, effects and signal processing, mixing, mastering and more. Jake Johnson is the senior producer, engineer and owner of Paradyme Productions, an award-winning recording studio and production facility in Madison, Wis. halleonard.com
I’m BAAACK! A Ture Heavyweight
Evans Drumheads debuted the UV Heavyweight Dry Snare Head. It features two plies of 10 mil film, providing maximum durability, compressed attack, and a wide dynamic range, stated the company. The three mil Reverse Dot lends extra durability, focus, and attack in the center. Precision-drilled dry vents further reduce overtones and sustain. Paired along with our patented UV coating, this head is designed for the heaviest of hitters. This line extension to the Heavyweight will be available in 14 inches. daddario.com
PRS Guitars announced the return of its popular Archon amplifier. The new lineup features both a 50-watt 1x12 combo and a 50-watt head with matching 1x12 and 2x12 cabinets. Fans of PRS amps may have noticed the model disappear from the lineup at the start of 2021, but the Archon is now back and better than ever, stated PRS. It is a commanding two-channel amplifier with versatile lead and remarkable clean channels. The lead channel’s gain controls have been voiced to provide more variety of tones, from earlier/more traditional rock to the Archon’s signature searing metal. The clean channel has remarkable clarity and offers a great pedal platform thanks to its ample headroom. The Archon is powered by two 6CA7 power tubes, which offer the best combination of EL34 and 6L6 tubes. prsguitars.com JUNE 2021
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VI N N Y VINNY TESTA
In Memoriam Vincent P. Testa: 1944-2021
“There is only one success, to be able to spend life in your way.” If these words are true, Vincent P. Testa was an incredibly huge success that few in MI — or outside of it — could ever match. Ironically, these words were penned by journalist and poet Christopher Morley, whom a park is named just one town away from Testa Communications’ Port Washington, N.Y., headquarters. Known to everyone in the industry as Vinny, Testa, the founder of multiple influential trade publications including the Music & Sound Retailer and president of Testa Communications, passed away Monday, April 19. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 76. Vinny began his long career in the music world as a musician, songwriter and producer. From peddling his original songs to Manhattan’s legendary Brill Building to producing and engineering for seminal 1960s rock acts like Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly, Vinny made his mark in New York’s studio-recording scene. Then, after starting a series of recording-studio schools, he turned his attention to the tradepublishing game. In 1984, Vinny started the Long Island-based media company Testa Communications and kicked off a new career buying, selling and founding a variety of industry publications. They include ProSound News,
Sound Arts Magazine, Music & Sound Output, Modern Recording, Home Entertainment, Post Magazine, Producer Magazine and Band & Orchestra Product News. Current titles include Sound & Communications, the Music & Sound Retailer and DJ Times. Testa
was also a pioneer in video news coverage for trade shows and conventions, having launched the ConventionTV brand decades ago. In 1990, along with DJ Times, Vinny Testa founded DJ Expo, a marketdefining exhibition and trade show. It remains the DJ industry’s longestrunning and most-successful event. Vinny is survived by his wife of 54 years, Maria, three daughters, seven grandchildren, a sister and a brother. In many conversations with Vinny, his love for the Retailer shone
brightest. He discussed the origins of the Retailer during a NAMM Oral History interview in 2007. “The Music & Sound Retailer was originally called Sound Arts.At the time, there was Music Trades and MMR, and I wanted to do an educational journal that would teach retailers some marketing and merchandising ideas,” he said. “It just did not do well as a journal. I can understand why. Many of the people then who opened music stores were musicians. They did not say ‘I just graduated with a master’s degree and will open a music store.’ It was the nature of our business at the time. So, giving them an educational journal wasn’t the wisest move [laughs]. “So, I thought, Why don’t we give them a newspaper? Make it a tabloid. Put some undercover spies going into retail stores, write about them and make it edgy,” Vinny continued. “We did that, and it has been really, really good. We have the largest circulation [among MI trade magazines] because of the way it is [presented]. It is hip looking and has a strong readership. It’s been a good, long run.” Personally, we can say Vinny was exciting and fun to be around and always brought 100-percent energy no matter what he did. We will also always remember his incredible loyalty to his employees. “That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.” That proverb, attributed to Robert Louis Stephenson, describes Vinny so beautifully, regarding his family, friends, employees and the MI industry. It certainly was a life well lived. The Retailer reached out to the music community to talk about Vinny’s life and influence. There is one thing for certain. He was an MI legend that will never be forgotten. There are so many fond memories and great stories to tell. Contributions would be greatly appreciated in Vinny’s memory to act.alz.org.
“Vinny was a dreamer, as I think all entrepreneurs have to be. If you just look at all that he created in his career — schools, magazines, trade shows, TV coverage — it’s remarkable. Very early in my career, I was lucky enough to be having lunch with Vinny at an AES show. We were discussing advertising — particularly ad design — and Vinny launched into a full tutorial on the importance of selling the ‘sizzle,’ not the steak. Sounds simple enough, but I can tell you that has become a guiding principle for me and the businesses I’ve been involved with. People don’t just buy products — they buy dreams and aspirations. Vinny imparted countless other bits of wisdom over the years, and, for me, they were all worth serious consideration. I am fortunate to have had Vinny as a mentor, and even more fortunate to have had him as a friend.” —Jack Kelly, CEO, Group One Ltd.
“I’m smiling in a way in my grief because that’s how it is in our industry. You celebrate, you mourn and then you remember. Vinny was almost like a surrogate father for us. Vinny was someone who was always there. I always knew Vinny, whether I was at Skip’s Music or NAMM. When I was at Skip’s, Vinny was always very kind to write about our events, and we did something with the ‘Weekend Warriors’ program together. I really remember coffee-shop meetings we had with Vinny at the NAMM Show. Vinny would come in with all this energy and we all said, ‘Quick, we need some more coffee [to keep up].’ He always had great ideas. “At NAMM, we always did business together. We had ConventionTV, and we did a lot of advertising. We didn’t always agree on everything, but that’s business, and you need to find common ground. I had such respect for him as my elder that we always found common ground. If I felt we messed up, I would say, ‘Vinny, we messed up. How can we make it right?’ And there were times he would drop the ball and he would say the same thing. That spirit made our relationship special. “We were all shocked by the passing. When I heard of the passing, the first thing I thought of was that he would always end our calls by saying, ‘I love you.’ Vinny always had that spirit of
absolute transparency. So, in some ways, I was comforted that the last words we said to each other were that we loved each other. It encapsulates the spirit of how I felt about Vinny. There are people in our industry who are larger than life. People who are iconic. There are not many of them. Vinny will be remembered. His legacy will be secure. He has great people [at Testa Communications] to make sure the legacy stays strong. “The industry will not be quite as colorful without him. It won’t be the same. Through the years, his energy never diminished. It never dropped to 90 or 95 percent. It was always 100 percent. We are going to miss him. We are going to miss him a lot.” —Joe Lamond, President and CEO, NAMM
“Vinny Testa was special. Anyone who knew or worked with him knows that. I worked with him for 17 years ... a relative ‘shortterm’ employee at Testa Communications. Most of his employees have been there more than 20 years — some for 30 or more! I have to say all of this because, as uneducated in the field of publishing as he was when he started the company, Vinny set up an environment for his employees that was quite different. Yet, it offered us the opportunity to innovate, grow and create quality products that we could all be proud of. That’s why he had a stable staff. “This is all to say thank you to a man who gave me, at the age of 54, an opportunity to further my career that few would have done. He hired an ‘old guy’ (second in age only to him the whole time I was there). I stuck with him until the time was right for me to leave. I regret that I only saw Vinny twice after the retirement party that he threw for me at InfoComm 2017: at the third retirement party that Testa Communications hosted for me and at one other company event. “An anecdote to show the kind of man he was: About three months after I retired, I told Vinny that I was going to have major surgery and his first words were, “Let me know if I can do anything.” That’s how I feel about any member of the Testa Family (work or home): If there is anything I can do to help, I’ll be there.” —David Silverman, former Editor,
“My favorite story with Vinny: ‘State Department,’ AES, 1987. “Back in the 80s when I was just starting out my career, my dear friend and mentor Wayne Freeman was close friends with Vinny. We would hang out in New York and Los Angeles whenever we were in the same city and at trade shows. Crazy times, I have this picture in my mind of Vinny and Paul Gallo jumping through Wayne’s car windows after we were leaving a bar late one night in Dallas, NAB in ’86. “At AES in LA — 1987, I think — I was leaving the show at the LA Convention Center and I had my full-size Ford Crown Victoria rental. (Vinny always rented sub-compacts, which I never understood. Me to Vinny: ‘What are you doin’ with that car?’ Vinny to me: ‘That’s all I need!’). “Back to the AES story. Vinny and I are popping over to the Biltmore Hotel for a quick drop-in at a cocktail party before dinner. We pull up to the Biltmore Hotel. He says to me, ‘Let me handle this.’ Then he says to the doorman, ‘Leave the car out front. We’ll be back in 30 minutes. Oh, and I’d love to take care of you, but we're with the State Department and we can’t tip. See ya!’ Classic Vinny! “So, I related this story to Group One’s CEO, Jack Kelly, shortly
Vinny was a driving force in the music instrument industry, and a legendary character whose passion was a bright light for us all.
Sound & Communications
“We are sad to hear that our industry has lost a pioneer in pro-audio trade-magazine publishing. Vinny Testa co-founded Pro Sound News only a year before John and I co-founded Meyer Sound, and then he went on to develop Sound & Communications. From the outset, we worked with many of the publications and platforms he helped create, shaping the growth of our industry and Meyer Sound. Our thoughts are with Vinny’s family and colleagues.” —Helen Meyer, Executive VP, Meyer Sound
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Rest in peace Vinny.
Janet and I had the pleasure of knowing Vinny and his wife, Maria, on many levels — personally and professionally. I can tell you I miss him already.” —Jim D’Addario, CEO, D’Addario & Co.
“All of TMP was saddened to hear about the passing of Vincent Testa. It has been amazing to witness what Vincent had built, and we are honored to have established a great relationship with his company. Though this loss has to weigh heavy on everyone in the Testa Communications family, Vincent established a great company with great people who will definitely carry on his legacy.” —John Hennessey, Sharon Hennessey and team, The Music People (TMP)
after I learned that Vinny sadly passed away. He said to me a couple of days later, ‘I just remembered: I was in the car with you and Vinny.’ It hit him after I’d told him that unforgettable story. You can’t make this stuff up! “Vinny had moxie for 10 men! He took in all secrets and spread none. We miss him dearly.” —Phil Wagner, Senior VP, Solid State Logic, Inc.
“You cannot use the word ‘iconic’ to describe anything or anyone casually, but Vinny Testa was a true icon of the music industry for more than a half century. I know of no one in the music business who had more passion, energy and enthusiasm for what he was doing, and I found that energy contagious. Our industry suffered a big loss with Vinny’s passing.
“Vinny Testa was a larger-than-life personality with a heart that matched. If he liked you, you were invited in to see just how warm and amazing this man could be. And I had that pleasure. He gave me my start in this industry, when I was still essentially a kid. He offered me responsibility and trust not typically afforded to people at the start of their 20s. He also offered many life lessons, including one I still use today: If you don’t know how to do something, admit it and ask for help. If you did that instead of pretending you knew everything, you earned his respect. “He also instilled in me a confidence I didn't know I had. Five months into my first real job as assistant editor of Post Magazine, he sent me to NAB in Las Vegas. It was exhausting and amazing and an entirely new world that I was just getting to know. On the last day of the show, he saw me in the lobby of the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. He told me he was catching a plane, then ticked off about 10 things he expected me to accomplish at the booth breakdown. He started to walk away when he said over his shoulder, ‘I don't have to worry about this, do I?’ I said, ‘Not at all’ as confidently as I could. He turned, opened the door and walked into the sunshine. When the door closed, it was dark and I was terrified, but he gave me an opportunity to prove myself and I didn't want to let him down. I found my colleagues and we made it work. I spent the rest of my time at Testa Communications trying not to let Vinny down. “When I started my own company, postPerspective, he made himself available, offering up his constant support and vast experience. He was a boss, a mentor and, at times, a father figure. I loved him.” —Randi Altman, Editor-in-Chief, postPerspective
“I first met Vinny and Paul Gallo [Editor’s Note: Vinny’s first cousin] years ago in New York. The genuine passion for the industry, understanding of it and commitment to make it better for all of us really impressed me. I also got to hang with him socially. A wonderful guy and a tremendous loss for the audio community.” —Larry Italia, President/CEO Americas, d&b audiotechnik Corp.
“Vinny Testa was an innovator. From his concept of placing product-information kiosks in retail stores, to embracing the DJ market, to ConventionTV and more, Vinny was always looking ahead in an imaginative and insightful way. Of course, he was also quite a character, as anyone who knew him would attest to!” —Larry DeMarco, Electro-Harmonix
“A great man left this world, and we will not see the likes of him again in our lifetime. Nor should we. Vinny Testa was a force of nature who animated everything and everyone he ever met. He was a musician, songwriter, educator, publisher, event producer, serial entrepreneur — and the world’s greatest salesman. He gave as much as he got and, as a result, everyone left a negotiation with Vinny happy. “Family was everything to Vinny: his family, his publishing family and his industry family. His immediate smile, warm embrace and slap on the cheek always let you know that you were more than business to him. You were part of his family. “When he called, he never had to use his last name. You picked up the phone and heard that unmistakable voice, “Hey, pal, it’s Vinny.” And you knew exactly who it was. I got my first phone call from Vinny in 1979, when I just started out in this crazy wonderful industry, and I looked forward to every call ever since. I will miss them. “Rest in peace, Vinny, and thank you for all the laughter, life and opportunity you created for all of us. —Bob Griffin, President, Griffin360
“I have to admit that, when I heard of Vinny's passing, I was stunned. There wasn't anyone in our industry who didn't know and like Vinny. He really was an icon.” —Fred Poole, General Manager, North American Sales, Product Development, Peavey Electronics
“No matter when, where or whom you were with, Vinny always made you feel part of his ‘inner circle.’ We obviously spoke at length about our industry; however, my favorite memories were conversations about family and friends. He was such a proud family man. One of my favorite chats on rotation included the main reason he always looked so good. ‘Abstinence from bread,’ he would say. “Above all, Vinny epitomized relationship management. By the end of many of our exchanges, I felt a strong appreciation for the lesson I was just taught, whether I wanted it or not. Vinny was one of a kind. He spoke with purpose, listened intently and was a wonderful conversationalist. “While I join the many who mourn Vinny’s passing, I’m humbled to have had the pleasure of benefiting from his wisdom for nearly three decades. I make no mistake in knowing where I stood with Vinny initially — he was either schooling or selling. It was after one fateful visit to our office, and an incred-
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ible meal, that our relationship was forever changed. I’m privileged to have known Vinny, and I send my deepest condolences to his family and employees. Vinny Testa is a professional-audio legend who will be sorely missed. RIP, my friend.” —Greg Beebe, Director, Professional Audio, Sennheiser
“Vinny was a driving force in the music-instrument industry and a legendary character whose passion was a bright light for us all.” —Stephen Schmidt, VP, Casio’s Electronic Musical Instruments Division
“Vinny was one of the industry’s great personalities. I absolutely loved bumping into him at various shows, and he will be greatly missed.” —Chris Meikle, Senior VP, St. Louis Music
Vinny Testa AV industry icon and publishing pioneer
“If working for Vinny Testa did not change you in some way, you weren’t trying very hard. “I was lucky. I worked for Testa Communications and Vinny’s beloved Post Magazine for 10 years. My odyssey started on a Friday in April 1988. I got a call at my desk as I was cleaning it out. Our magazine had been defunded. The call was from Vinny, who’d interviewed me, along with VP of Editorial Judy Morrison. Did I want the associate editor job? Did I?! I’d just emptied my bank account of any vestigial cash. All I had to do was figure out what exactly ‘post production’ was. “Well, from there, we — the Post team and, I guess, everyone at Testa — launched into careers where we met unbelievable characters we’d never otherwise have encountered. Over the years, we — Randi Altman, Marc Loftus and our sitcom-ready sales team — took Post, healthy but slim, to a 250-page, eye-grabbing glossy behemoth that we brought to the NAB show in Las Vegas. There, in Sin City itself, we put on an annual black-tie technology awards show, typically at the Venetian, that was actually fun and would attract up to 700 NAB attendees. “Needless to say, the most incredible character we worked with was Vinny Testa himself. Vinny would challenge you. If you rose to the challenge, you could hold your head high anywhere you went. And I wound up traveling the world for Post. “Post moved to New York City in 1998, purchased by a large, faceless corporation. I recently saw a photo of us all — Vinny and I with cigars — from our last days at the Testa office. “How did I change? I was married (still am) with two sons, two cars and a new house. That was possible, I realized, because I’d learned to hold my head up.” —Ken McGorry, former Editor, Post Magazine
Friend, Mentor, Visionary, Confidant, Jokester, Family, Legend. Vinny was and will always remain all of those to me and to the folks at Group One. A Company he helped too many times to mention, and a Company he helped to start.
“My singular impression is that any encounter — that I had with him, anyway! — left me feeling better, more positive and uplifted. Vinny had a great energy. Also, a supernatural tan!” —Rob Robinson, CEO, Stardraw.com
“When I think of Vinny, I remember how good he was to me always. He was a true gentleman who went out of his way to help me. I can still see that smile and that cigar.” —Cory Schaeffer, Director, Alliances & Market Development, QSC
“I first met Vinny when I was only 17 years old and was washing boats to make extra money over the summer at Capri Marina in Port Washington, on Long Island, N.Y. One boat I washed was owned by Sandy Cowan, who at the time published CQ and S9 magazines for the CB and ham radio markets. The other book Sandy published was Modern Recording. And when I was at his office one day, he introduced me to a guy name Vinny Testa. “Little did I know that, 10 years later, when I was 27 years old, I would be working in Port Washington for a marketing communications firm that handled brands like MXR, SoundWorkshop recording consoles, Whirlwind, the CAMEO organization, pro-audio retailer Martin Audio, etc. I would see Vinny many times a week, as his office was across the street from where I worked and we all ate at the Clubhouse Bar/Restaurant on Port Washington Blvd. Vinny was just around the corner at 14 Vanderventer Ave., Port Washington, N.Y. “Later, when Vinny moved his offices to 220 Westbury Ave. in Carle Place, N.Y. — the old Nakamichi office/studio, where he produced magazines like Music & Sound Output, Sound Arts, Pro Sound News and Home Entertainment, as well as Testa’s ConventionTV — he gave me keys to the building and let me and my bandmates move all our musical instruments and recording gear into the studio he had there. And every Thursday night, we held jam sessions. No rent, no hidden agenda, no strings attached. Just ‘Hey Robbie, I have this extra space. You have a bunch of musical instruments. You need a place to play, you use it.’ That was the kind of guy Vinny was. “Throughout my career, Vinny was a close friend and mentor who guided me through this industry. No matter what the situation, he always had my back. Yes, of course we had our run-ins over the course of our careers (who didn’t? HA!), but, at the end of the day, Vinny was as solid as the day is long. He was one of a kind, always ahead of the curve and someone who lit up the room when he walked in. I miss him so. “Peace, my friend.” —Robbie Clyne, President/CEO, Clyne Media, Inc.
Gotta go. Say hello to our friends.. See ya! “I first met Vinny Testa in 2005, when I joined the InfoComm staff. Though I was new to the audiovisual industry, he put me immediately at ease. As a native New Yorker, he reminded me of home. Vinny always generously offered space in his magazines to promote our efforts, and he had a real love for the industry and the innovative people who make it vibrant. His publications reflected his passions, and he treated his team like an extended family. He had an eye for talent and inspired
loyalty among his employees, many of whom stayed with him for decades. “Vinny had a contagious laugh, wore his heart on his sleeve and shared many great stories about the music industry over the years. He was always quick with a note of congratulations or a call of concern, and he was a stalwart champion of the AV industry. He loomed larger than life and was a true original. Vinny loved life with his whole heart, and you always knew where you stood with him. “The world seems emptier without Vinny Testa, but I know his legacy will never be forgotten by his family and large circle of friends. Someday soon, I hope to toast his memory at Patsy’s Italian in Manhattan. “Until we meet again, Vinny!” —Betsy Jaffe, formerly of AVIXA
“Vinny was a force of nature. Grateful to have had the honor of writing for one of his publications for over 20 years. Vinny gave my column a thumbs up when no one else ‘in the trenches’ was writing about the industry.” —Dan Vedda, Owner of Skyline Music and columnist for the
Music & Sound Retailer
“The amazing thing about our industry is that it is filled with a cast of characters who would make a three-ring circus seem dull. Vinny was one of those big characters who made you smile. His energy and enthusiasm were contagious and will be greatly missed.” —Ron Manus, Chief Business Development Officer, Alfred Music
“I first met Vinny back in the early ’90s, and I had the pleasure of working with him and the Testa Communications team on the ConventionTV@InfoComm programming over many years. Vinny was so charismatic; he reminded me of a movie star straight off a Hollywood set. His suits, leather loafers, George Hamilton-style tan, sunglasses ... He would enter a room with a flourish, and he had a positive energy about him. Vinny had a great smile, was full of laughs, and had an earnestness to do business and make things happen. He had a zest for life. “I saw Vinny as a great salesman who worked hard and hustled. He cared about his customers. That’s why, in my opinion, he was so successful in publishing. He knew everyone in the AV industry. I often spoke with Vinny to get the pulse of what was happening with various brands and industry trends. He was a trendsetter, doing ConventionTV programs and capturing video content at trade shows long before the rise of the Internet. “I remember doing on-camera interviews at InfoComm with Vinny behind the cameraman like a director. He wanted to capture the story, and his team worked all night at the show to deliver a broadcast-quality program each morning to the hotels and shuttle buses so attendees could get the show news. In later years, the programming lived on the web and helped to promote the show to a broader audience. Vinny was always thinking of new ways to engage his viewers/readers. He was so passionate about his business and the industry. I will miss his
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advice, knowledge and inspiration. He was truly one of a kind!” —Jason McGraw, CAE, CTS, Group VP, Emerald Expositions
“I always enjoyed Vinny and loved when he came around at NAMM. He was funny, intelligent and kind — a truly unique talent and personality. Vinny had a way of making you feel special, and he was generous with his knowledge and time. A pioneer in digital marketing in the MI industry, he provided an innovative approach to media and marketing, and he always seemed to have fun doing it.” —Chris DeMaria, VP of Marketing and Artist Relations, Fishman
“It's always sad when someone you have known and worked with for such a long time passes. The next DJ Expo won’t be the same without Vinny.” —Helen Viva, Professional Entertainment Group
“Vinny was both my friend and mentor for well over 40 years. Having first met Vinny during my association with Audiotechniques and Allen & Heath in the ’70s, our friendship grew throughout the ’80s, when he became a valued mentor. He influenced me in the various decisions and directions I would take throughout my career in the pro-audio industry. I remember spending many hours in his office on Long Island, where he passed on so many words of wisdom and opinions (including those that I didn’t necessarily want to hear) that I so much valued. “It was Vinny who encouraged me to go out on my own to start APB-DynaSonics, rather than just accepting job offers I received after I had left Crest Audio (which he also influenced). And he reviewed with me the various investor options that were received that led to our final choice in a business partner for the formation of APB-DynaSonics. Vinny played the part of cheerleader for me and for so many others during the good times, and he helped us get through the rougher spots, helping us all find direction. I know that Vinny played a similar role for so many in our industry, and we owe him as an industry so much for who we are. “I will miss him, and I look forward to meeting him again in a future life.” —Chuck Augustowski, Consultant, Product Development, APB-DynaSonics International
“It was fairly early in my time in the industry when I received my first call from Vinny, selling me on ConventionTV@InfoComm. His energy, drive and utter self-assurance came through so clearly on the phone — no video call required to make his point! And he didn’t ever stop calling until he had a commitment. I was meeting with Vinny at an NSCA show when a pipe burst in the ceiling and water started pouring down from above. Vinny kept talking to me about ConventionTV as we were walking off the show floor, not letting anything stop him from delivering his sales pitch! Vinny is a true character of the industry, and he will be missed.” —Rachel Archibald, Director of Marketing, Clear-Com
“Man, Vinny was a great guy. I want to share one Vinny story. Once, he came to NAMM headquarters for some meetings — we were talking about NAMM’s ads or something — and we decided to go out to lunch. I drove and, at that time, I had my old Infiniti G20. Vinny got in and we had lunch, shared stories, etc. Good times. As we got back to NAMM, Vinny was saying goodbye to me and shook my hand. He said with a sly smile and a wink, ‘Hey, Scott ... nice Datsun you got there.’ And that was him: Smart enough to know that and clever enough to use it as a parting shot to remember him by. LOL. “Vinny really made things easier on me my first NAMM show, and he was always there with some wisdom, a bad joke or a clever comment. RIP to an industry icon.” —Scott Robertson, APR, CEO/Certified StoryBrand Guide, RobertsonComm
“We used to talk about kids when our kids were little, and then, when he had his first grandchildren, he was over the moon! “When I first started in this business over 30 years ago, he was aggressively persuading me to advertise for Neve in Post when I worked for Neve. Because of his persistence and personality, I agreed. And that was my first relationship with him. Needless to say, all the companies I have worked for have been major supporters of Testa publications — many because of Vinny. “After many phone calls, trade shows, dinners, etc., he will always have a special place in my heart.” —Lisa Young, PR/Communications Professional
“When I first met Vinny Testa some 22-plus years ago, I was a young, impressionable kid starting out in the business of professional-audio manufacturing. Vinny’s legend seemed larger than life, but, when I finally met him and got to know him, I soon discovered that Vinny was much more than my initial perceptions. Vinny was a very down-to-earth, straightforward man looking to help people make connections. Always on the move at a show and always brainstorming ways in which his team and he could be of service, Vinny was a man full of boundless energy and ideas, and he was an icon of our business. Rest in peace. Until we meet again.” “I’m just heartbroken. Vinny was such a fabulous guy. I have nothing but great respect for him. Especially during my time with Rane Corp., I felt more of a partnership with Vinny and his company than with any other publisher. With me, he was always a gentleman. And what I also found unique with Vinny was that the people he hired stayed with him. To have that kind of longevity with a staff must mean that he was a special boss. He was truly a one-of-a-kind guy, and he’ll truly be missed.” —Dean Standing, International Sales Manager, AtlasIED
“I was saddened to hear about Vinny Testa’s passing. I haven’t seen him in years, but, back in the day, when I was editing magazines, I had some great conversations with him. He contributed a vast amount to the industry in so many ways, and he will be sorely missed.” —Steve Oppenheimer, Public Relations Manager, PreSonus Audio Electronics
“Vinny was a dynamo. He talked the talk — often very colorfully! — and he certainly walked the walk, having paid his dues coming up through the New York City recording industry in the ’60s. Vinny successfully leveraged all that insight into his vision for Testa Communications, journaling the business culture of pro audio and MI. He had many stories of his own, and he was excellent company at a trade show dinner. He was a look-youin-the-eye, my-word-is-my-bond kind of guy, and I always respected that. The industry won’t be the same without him — such a big personality. Rest in peace, Vinny. You’ll be missed!” —Guy Low, Senior Creative Manager, Robert Bosch LLC
“Vinny was one of a kind — someone who embraced life fully. He always had time and a big smile for me whenever I saw him. I’ll never forget his riotous bowling parties at NSCA. ‘Cold pizza! Warm beer!’ RIP, Vinny. We’ll miss you.” —Elaine Jones, Elaine Jones Associates Marketing and Public Relations
“Vinny was larger than life and an icon in the MI and DJ industry. He will be missed.” —Brian Dowdle, Marketing Director, ADJ Group of Companies
“I had just spoken to my assistant a week or two ago about the fact that I had not yet received my annual — if not biannual — call from Vinny. Vinny would always call to say hello, check in on my father and chat for a bit to see if there was anything he could do for us. Of course, he was pushing advertising, but he never did it in a way that ever in the slightest felt pushy. I rather enjoyed speaking to Vinny and looked forward to his calls. Even when we decided to step away from the print for a while, he wanted to be sure Galaxy Audio still sent any news his way because he wanted to cover it. One of Vinny’s best business practices was you didn’t need to spend money with him to get coverage for your brand. Not something you get in many publications these days. Vinny will truly be missed.” —Bacheus Jabara, Marketing Director, Galaxy Audio
“Throughout our 25 years of business, Vinny and Testa Communications have played an integral role in our company. Odyssey is extremely appreciative of all that Vinny did for us here at Odyssey and for our industry. We look forward to brighter days ahead, and to our continued longstanding relationship with all at Testa Communications.” —John Hsiao, Dave Lopez and Mario Montano, Odyssey Innovative Designs
“I am devastated. Sending you and the whole Testa bunch all of my love.” —Josh Vittek, Vittek PR
“It is true: Vinny was a very unique individual who lit up the room when he walked in. His charisma and smile were always infectious. I remember for the years of the DJ show he was always walking up to me and telling me to ‘turn it down.’ Then, he would lean over to me, kiss me and tell me, ‘I love’a bubbie.’ His leadership and his forward thinking will be missed in so many parts of our industry. Vinny was the symbol of passion, and it was all around him in everything he did. RIP, my friend.” —Sam Helms, Sigmet Corp.
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the good stuff
MI INDUSTRY GIVES BACK AFTER UNPRECEDENTED YEAR
By Brian Berk During the past year, MI manufacturers and retailers alike have stepped up in ways like never before to help charities, their local communities and more. Here are some examples of these efforts. MANUFACTURERS
D’ADDA RI O & C O. D’Addario donated 40,000 Dynatomy Face Shields to help safeguard organiza-
used their resources to help with the tremendous lift that is fighting this pandemic.
tions across Long Island, N.Y. It gave back to its community and provided
D’Addario’s pivot from producing drumheads to engineering face shields is an
much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to everyone, especially
extraordinary example of ingenuity and goodwill in the face of dire challenges. This
those who need specific accommodations. On Feb. 26, Suffolk County Legisla-
collaborative spirit is a hallmark of Long Island’s exceptional business community.”
tor Tom Cilmi and presiding officer Robert Calarco met with D’Addario CEO
A year ago, D’Addario was directed to close its Farmingdale factories by the State
John D’Addario III to accept a portion of the donated face shields on behalf of
of New York. A small group of D’Addario product development and manufacturing
Suffolk County’s (N.Y.) 18 legislative districts.
engineers, led by chief innovation officer, Jim D’Addario, met to find a way to make
“The Suffolk County Legislature has been heavily involved with securing and
medical face shields from materials normally used to make Evans Drumheads. By
distributing PPE to constituents in need. We are grateful to D’Addario for this
working with Mylar film, D’Addario’s own drumhead manufacturing equipment and
generous donation and to legislator Tom Cilmi for helping to arrange it,” said
in coordination with nearby suppliers for a few essential materials, the D’Addario
Calarco. “It has been truly incredible to see how companies like D’Addario have
team had working prototypes within several days, gaining permission from the state of New York to reopen the Evans Drumhead factory. Production began within weeks, and today, two million face shields have been shipped to medical professionals, small business owners and consumers across North America. “I am incredibly proud of the way our family of employees stepped up to manufacture PPE when it was needed,” said D’Addario CEO John D’Addario III. “On a more personal note, being able to donate our face shields across Long Island is a particular source of pride given this is our home, and we’re helping to protect our neighbors and their families.” D’Addario has also focused donation efforts on organizations servicing the autistic, deaf and hard-of-hearing communities that cannot wear masks. These organizations include: The Mill Neck Family of Organizations, made up of a group of nonprofits dedicated to helping create a world in which deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are included, empowered, celebrated and embraced as equals; Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism, dedicated to the education and treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders; Cleary School for the Deaf, a private, statesupported program that has served the deaf community of Long Island since 1925; The EJ Autism Foundation, dedicated to creating awareness around Autism and supporting programs and schools on Long Island that currently work with children on the spectrum; and AHRC Suffolk, which provides support and advocates for individuals of all ages with unique abilities and challenges, providing individualized, high-quality services utilizing person-centered approaches assisting them to discover and define their own quality of life. Other organizations who’ve received donations include the Long Island State Veterans Home, Northwell Health/Huntington Hospital and Catholic Health Good Samaritan Hospital.
YAMAH A To many, musical instruments are works of art in and of themselves. But what if they could be used as a medium to create an entirely new art form and raise money for Orange County not-for-profit organizations at the same time? The Yamaha Cares Upcycle Program does just that, and the first results of this initiative are on display at the Able ARTS Work Gallery in Long Beach, Calif. Upcycling is a creative reuse of products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value. Buena Park, Calif.-based Yamaha Corporation of America donated more than 200 “upcycled” musical instruments — slightly blemished guitars, cellos and violins — to four Orange County not-for-profit organizations, which then collaborated with local artists and students to transform them into new works of art. The organizations — Able ARTS Work, Anaheim Elementary School District, Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park, and KatrinaKures/CHOC — are now putting their creations on full display at the Able ARTS Work Gallery, encouraging their supporters to purchase them, which raises funds for the organizations in new, innovative ways. Upcycled guitars sent by Yamaha to the Anaheim Elementary School District were turned into new pieces of art by families, the Muzeo Art group, as well as teachers and employees. Some chose to paint scenes on the guitars, while others chose to transform and repurpose their guitars into other useful or decorative items. One such Muzeo artist, Robert Holton, not only stepped up to create a Disneythemed guitar for the Anaheim Elementary School District, but he also crafted a commemorative Los Angeles Dodgers-themed guitar for KatrinaKures/CHOC, which will be on display at the Able Arts Work Gallery. “Instead of crushing these instruments, the Yamaha Cares Upcycle Program provides an innovative way for organizations to raise funds for their art and music programs,” said David Jewell, partnerships and alliances manager, Yamaha Corporation of America. “In addition to promoting and funding the arts and music education, part of our corporate social responsibility mission is to reduce the amount of waste that Yamaha sends to a landfill.” Able ARTS Work artists will receive a 50-percent commission on any work they sell, with the other half supporting the organization’s “A Home of Our Own” capital campaign, which plans to purchase a permanent building and gallery for its adult day program for adults with disabilities. The other three organizations will receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the sales. “Through this generous partnership with the Yamaha Cares UpCycle Program, we have been able to provide our Boys & Girls Club members with an opportunity to be creative individually, while involving their families in a collective art project,” said Todd
Trout, CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park. “Whether new to fine arts or steeped with artistic talent, these members have been brought into the endless world of art through UpCycle.” “This program came at a time during the pandemic when parents and students really needed a creative outlet and allowed them to put their feelings and ideas into a meaningful project,” added Mark Anderson, curriculum specialist for music, Anaheim Elementary School District. “We are always excited when there are opportunities for parents to engage in the student learning and this project brought so much joy from start to finish.” “The medium of making art on a guitar allows people to identify a new and accessible experience in their journey of creative and personal expression,” said Able ARTS Work Founder and CEO Helen G. Dolas. “It’s a dynamic force. The pieces on display are created by students of our day programs. The Upcycle project gives them a productive purpose to create artwork for our gallery, while promoting and empowering marginalized artists.”
R O LA N D Josh Barber, Los Angeles Dodgers
Earlier this year, Roland helped provide 3.3 million meals to those impacted by COVID-19 in Los Angeles by working with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and RWQuarantunes, which raised more than $1.1 million for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. The star-studded virtual event, which streamed live from Dodger Stadium, featured special performances by DJ Cassidy, El DeBarge, Robin Thicke, Dan + Shay, En Vogue, Lisa Lisa, Charlie Puth and more. During the celebration, Thicke and DeBarge performed on Roland’s GP609 Digital Grand piano, which was among the one-of-a-kind auction items available for virtual attendees to bid on throughout the evening.
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
G I G G E AR L LC Gig Gear LLC launched its Stage a Comeback promotion. Throughout the entire month of June, live audio and live entertainment professionals can log onto stageacomeback.com and register to receive a free pair of the company’s Gig Gloves. After answering a few questions to verify their status in the industry and sharing a photo of themselves working a gig, AV professionals can select their free pair of Original Gig Gloves or the all-black Gig Gloves ONYX. After receiving their Gloves, participants are urged to use the #StageAComeback hashtag to post a photo showcasing their new Gig Gloves on social media. “After more than a year of the live entertainment, live events and live production industries being shut down and decimated due to the pandemic, it seems like we’re finally on the cusp of getting back to work,” said Danny Shatzkes, founder and CEO of Gig Gear. “At Gig Gear, we supply all of the great people that work in these industries and know how hard they’ve been hit. We decided that we wanted to do our small part and show our support of these incredibly talented and hardworking individuals. The ‘Stage a Comeback’ campaign is all about giving a little something to these people who have truly lost so much. We want to lend a hand and be a part of their journey to getting back to work. Safety on the job is always paramount, and with a pair of Gig Gloves on their hands, it’s one less thing they have to worry about as they get back out there. We hope with ‘Stage a Comeback’ we can play a small role in helping so many industry pros, as well as the industry as a whole, to stage a comeback!” “At Gig Gear, our core customer base was out of a job when the pandemic hit and our industry as a whole was completely shut down,” said Evan Grazi, Gig Gear’s Director of Sales. “On both a personal and business level, having the live industry shut down was a complete blow. At Gig Gear, we strive to provide our customers with top-rated safety gear, and although we had to pivot our company in order to keep us afloat, we’ve never lost our vision. We can now finally see the light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel, and we’re excited to see what the future brings. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve been looking for a way to give back to our industry, and now is the time. Through the ‘Stage a Comeback’ campaign, we hope to provide a free pair of Gig Gloves to countless professionals who are finally getting back to work. From the back to the front, the house will be rebuilt even stronger, and we are excited to be a part of that process.”
SHURE I NC . Shure has made a concerted effort to give back to the industry. Shure’s
tainability as part of an AppleTV pilot called “The eARTh Project.”
efforts in this area include:
eARTh is a 12-week healthy lifestyle education series designed to
• Providing a monetary donation to The Chicago Independent Venue
inspire young people to take an active interest in the local com-
League, a collection of more than 20 local music venues.
munity, video storytelling and creative business practices, while
• Recruiting music personalities like Joe Trohman from Fall Out Boy, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Jamila Woods, Lili Trifilio from Beach Bunny and BJ the Chicago Kid to post messages on social media encouraging others to support local music venues. • Lighting global facilities in red as part of
Uplift the World program, students explore ways to apply a more sustainable approach to filmmaking, creative entrepreneurship, finances, food and the environment. Shure also supported the Chicago Teen Music Conference, which brought students interested in music careers together with profes-
the “Save Our Stages” efforts to help those
sionals in the industry to provide mentorship and guidance in
in the live events industry.
various aspects of careers in the industry.
• Donating several Shure products for
Globally, Shure works with Genesis at the Crossroads, a non-profit
charities to conduct online auctions for
organization that uses music to promote healing and to build
their various fundraisers, which included
peaceful communities. Shure is a lead sponsor and is proud to
causes such as education, hunger, health
help this organization unite professional musicians from Iran, Af-
and wellness, arts, diversity and inclusion,
ghanistan, Cuba, Morocco, Israel, India, Brazil, Venezuela and the
environmental responsibility and more. On the education front, Shure has been involved with students interested in careers in music and production. South Central Los Angeles high-school students,
using the latest mobile filmmaking technology. Through this We
United States. This virtual program features a global collaboration of Saffron Caravan Genesis’ professional world music ensemble with Genesis youth musicians from Chicago and other conflict areas worldwide. They show how music can be used to unite people
aspiring for careers in multi-media, have been outfitted with Shure MV88+
regardless of age, cultural background, race, gender, religion and
Video Kit microphones to help them create a series of videos about sus-
language, and help celebrate our common humanity.
R OYALTON MUSI C C E N TE R A representative from North Royalton, Ohio-based Royalton Music Center stated: “At the beginning of last summer, the calls started coming in: ‘Our band director told us to find a special mask for playing our instruments. Do you carry those?’ Anticipating the imminent demand for a product that didn’t currently exist, I immediately reached out to all of the top manufacturers. We couldn’t believe it; no one was making masks for musicians. I then turned to alternative marketplaces, like Etsy, but quickly found that, while there were a handful of innovative private sellers out there, most of the designs were not actually solving the problem. Simply cutting a horizontal slit into a preexisting facemask does little to shield others from a player’s breath. Then, one morning while I was folding laundry, I had a proverbial ‘Newtonian moment,’ only, instead of an apple, my inspiration came by way of my son’s underpants! An overlapping flap, similar to the one on boxer briefs, was precisely what our musicians needed. Tracking down innovative products is one thing, but creating your own product from start to finish is something else entirely. And ‘start to finish,’ meant designing, prototyping, sourcing, patenting and then marketing said product. But, after countless hours of hard work and dedication — not to mention tens of thousands of sales later — Royalton Music Center was proud to offer the Players Mask to band directors and musicians everywhere.”
CA P ITA L M U SI C GEA R Madison, Wis.-based Capital Music Gear has a program on its website where it donates 1 percent of every sale to a non-profit organization of the customer’s choice. According to the retailer, one of Capital Music Gear’s core values is supporting non-profit organizations that support the music industry. “We not only want to support these organizations financially, but we want to increase every customer’s awareness of the support that is available,” the retailer stated. The checkout process will prompt customers to choose one of these options: select an organization already in the store’s database, suggest a new organization or let Capital Music choose. Customers can learn more about any organization by reading its bio on the store’s list of organizations. Customers can also save their favorite non-profit organization on their account preferences to expedite their choice on future orders.
(continued on page 50) MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
FI V E M INUTE S W ITH
JOE LAMOND President and CEO, NAMM By Brian Berk Instead of covering Summer NAMM in a cover story this month, as is generally the tradition in our June issue, we invited Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM, to discuss the show in this interview. He talks about what to look forward to during the July 12 to 16 Summer NAMM Week, how to keep all the new players that joined MI during the pandemic engaged in music, plus much more.
The Music & Sound Retailer: There is a lot going on during Summer NAMM Week from July 12 to 16, including the National Association of School Music Dealers (NASMD) Show, an Alliance of Independent Music Merchants (AIMM) meeting, a Retail Print Music Dealers Association (RPMDA) event and the actual Summer NAMM Show. Tell us ever ything that will be going on next month. Joe Lamond: I think you laid it all out. My work is done [laughs]. It has been a long time since we have seen each other. Many groups in the industry have not been able to meet during the pandemic and are using the Summer NAMM platform as an opportunity to get back in the water. Our industry is so diverse. Within this diversity are groups that meet to really advance their segments, whether school band, piano and organs, or the touring industry. It is great to have them convene around Summer NAMM. It will make the week very effective for everybody. RPMDA will have a mini conference, as it had a virtual event the past two years. Also meeting are AIMM and the Event Safety Alliance, and Worship Musician magazine is hosting an event for those in that area of the business. And of course, there’s Summer NAMM, an independent, community music store event. It is different than Winter NAMM. There is one group of NAMM members who will not miss Summer NAMM no matter what. They are eager. They are market makers. They are the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit. They get knocked down seven times, they get up eight times. They are the samurai entrepreneurs. There is another group that will never come to Summer NAMM. They never went before. Winter NAMM might have been everything they needed. And this year in particular, some people are not feeling safe yet. I totally respect that. Some will not feel safe traveling for some time. What we are really focused on is the middle group. They have interest in going, a desire to go and to have a good return on investment if they go. But they are just not sure. We are trying to get them to go and join the samurai entrepreneurs. “You should go. Here is why.” They are great retailers, and NAMM University sessions can help them in their professional lives. And what I felt when I went to Nashville [last month] was this pent-up desire to reengage with the world and step out into the world. Nashville is one of the better places to do that. Summer NAMM is going to be a smaller gathering for sure. It will look different. But it is possibly one of the more important gatherings of our industry. I feel it is an obligation to produce this show. I feel it is a responsibility to create this platform. But I also feel the weight of making sure we get it right. We can provide a safe and secure environment for the industry to meet. The Retailer: Can you tell us what your first impressions 32
were when you visited Nashville last month and how it will be a safe environment? Lamond: When I was a road manager, I had a saying: “It is impossible to over-advance a gig.” You have to make sure every detail is covered. Every detail at every stop on a tour has to be organized. I wanted to see Nashville with my own eyes. I flew there on a Tuesday night and came back on a Thursday night. What I saw was a community that is thriving in spite of a pandemic. I saw it has found a common ground between taking care of everybody, but also recognizing that life is absolutely thriving. From the arrival at the airport to the ride to the hotel to getting to the hotel and the convention center itself, everyone was wearing masks. I really felt good about the respect everyone was exhibiting. Walking around outside in Nashville, people did not have masks. I met with all of the people we needed to meet in Nashville. On May 14, they dropped all [COVID-19] requirements. Nashville is leaving it up to companies, businesses, restaurants and hotels to decide. That was the date there were no longer any restrictions from the government. That was a big step. They had big events planned prior to our arrival. [In fact,] there were events at the Music City Center planned all the way up to our arrival. They are planning July 4 fireworks, which is a big deal in Nashville with 150,000 attendees. The week before we arrive, they will have had experience with large events. For the average NAMM member, if your store has been open already, this will be something you have seen before. For other NAMM members who have worked at home, I can tell you getting out into the world felt really good for me. I felt JUNE 2021
human again. I felt like I belong. There is a robust community of humans that are out there. I felt a part of Nashville and the music scene again. The feeling of isolation in the past year drifted away quickly. The good habits came right back. And I think they will for many of our members. I went to an event at Gibson [in early May]. We shook hands. I was fine with it. It just felt normal. We went back to tradition. Will we be careful? Yes. But it was amazing how quickly everything went back to being about the industry. NAMM members would never ask their teams to do something they would not do. That is always something that I have greatly admired about NAMM members. The city of Nashville is back. I want to move to Nashville. I don’t think I could afford to own a house there now, but I want to move to Nashville. As a city, it has done a lot of things right. For us, they are ready for our gathering. It is different than Anaheim. This is our gathering and the people we know. My prediction is that everyone who goes is going to be so surprised about how much they miss everyone. I think those who don’t go are going to regret it. They will be at home that week saying “I should have gone.” Part of it is predicting where we will be in July. Nobody knows. The trajectory is positive. Economics are certainly very positive. We are taking chances. There are risks involved with everything.
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
The Retailer: Let’s move beyond the safety concerns for this next question. For those people who have decided to attend or who are on the fence, let’s get into the “old-school” question of how will going to Summer NAMM next month improve their businesses? Lamond: We are in a once-in-lifetime moment in our industry. You and I will never experience this again. We were not [active in MI] for Beatlemania in 1964 and 1965. This is our version of that, for most, not all, but many of our members. There is business to be had. We have to solve some of our key issues. School music dealers will be laser focused on getting kids back to school this fall and into music programs. Without this, everyone downstream should be worried. For NAMM members in general, we have supply issues. It is a terrible problem to have. We are in business to move things through the marketplace. If you are unable to do that, you are not optimizing the current conditions. Other NAMM members are shipping. The next major company is in a tiny booth right now looking to take advantages of today’s opportunities. You will see that a lot at Summer NAMM. They will say they can fill the supply chain with instruments retailers need in their stores. This is a reverse of the past couple of years, where there was a lot of supply chasing, less demand. Right now, there is more demand than there
"We are focused on the middle group. They have interest in going, a desire to go and to have a good return on investment. But they are not sure. We are trying to get them to go and join the samurai entrepreneurs."
is supply. We have probably not seen that in our lifetimes. We may never see it again. The samurai entrepreneur that will be at Summer NAMM is going to be laser focused on solving some of those challenges, but also seizing those opportunities. There are people who want to make music. People want to buy musical instruments. There are school districts getting unbelievable support from the government that will be shoveled into these schools that can be used for music programs. We really have to connect supply with demand. We have to be able to meet the demand that is in the marketplace right now.
The Retailer: Will the supply-demand challenge be a major theme of NAMM University sessions during Summer NAMM? Also, will there be an online component for those who cannot attend? Lamond: Yes, it will be a focus of NAMM U. The Event Safety Alliance will be speaking with NASMD members about not only safely returning to schools, but concerts and festivals that so many of our members are involved in. The beauty of NAMM U is, every year, [NAMM director of professional development] Zach Phillips takes a blank piece of paper and says, “What are people talking about right now? What are the challenges right now?” Some of it will be online. We want to make sure this information gets out as broadly as possible to do the most amount of good. NAMM U’s online content is robust now. [For example,] Mary Luehrsen [NAMM director of public affairs and government relations] created great webinars on going back to school safely. Right now, NAMM members can go online and find a tremendous amount of resources that will help them in their stores today. Also at the forefront is something I sum up with four letters: MSFQ. [More to start. Fewer to quit.] As an entire industry, we have one job: get more to start playing. Get fewer to quit playing. You get that right and everything else starts to take care of itself. People are doing a great job at that. The NAMM
Foundation has dozens of programs that help with this. If someone does not know how to create their own programs to get more to start and fewer to quit, just look at the NAMM grantee list. There are 2.5 million kids who have gone through a GAMA [Guitars and Accessories Manufacturer Association] program or a Guitars in the Classroom program. A lot of them, now in their 20s and 30s, likely looked into getting a guitar during the pandemic. Has that shaped the future of guitars? Absolutely. Getting more to start is something we are going to stay on like a dog with a bone. But what we are [focusing on] right now is the second half: fewer to quit. The pandemic caused a lot of people to get breadmakers, RVs [recreational vehicles] and guitars. With so many instruments pushed into the market right now, we have to be very focused on getting the fewer to quit part. That involves programs, activities, online learning and training. We need these new players to become permanent players and move up the ladder of playing to a nicer instrument, a second instrument or performing in groups. We need to make sure these new music-makers do not put their instruments in the closet or on sale in the secondary market in a year or two. Although, I do want to buy an RV in about a year and a half from now [laughs]. People will realize they don’t like RVs but bought them anyway. They will want to sell them.
The Retailer: The more to start part of the equation is absolutely there in droves right now. But in terms of fewer to quit, are you concerned some of the new players are in our industr y due to sheer boredom? Lamond: Am I worried about more to start, fewer to quit? It is all I worry about … It is our job. Our No. 1 focus as an industry. This is a unique time to worry about the fewer to quit part, because we always put more of an effort into more to start. As an industry, we have to work together to make sure we have paths for these players to continue playing. We have a greater
opportunity than ever, but have to work together to do it. It will be a very important topic among retailers, vendors and associations like GAMA and Guitars in the Classroom. We cannot let this opportunity slip away from us. If we do, there will be a generation that looks back on us and says, “Man, you guys blew it. You had all these new players and you did not find a path for them to continue playing. What a missed opportunity.”
The Retailer: Let’s conclude with other activities and events attendees will see at Summer NAMM when they are not on the show floor. Will we see any of these activities executed differently? Lamond: There will be specific industry-focused events each night. Gibson will have an event Wednesday night [July 14] at the new Gibson Garage. NASMD is working on tours of some of its vendors in Nashville. There will also be dinners — small group meetings that involve people coming together. If you think of Summer NAMM, there is so much camaraderie when you get 10 member companies together and going to dinner. NAMM has a board [of directors] alumni group that has gotten together for dinner for a number of years. So, there will be industry events, and then those impromptu meetings. We will also have our Top 100 event on Thursday [July 15]. But I don’t want to forget about Nashville itself. I walked down the street on a Wednesday night and every single building had a live band. Nashville has been really stepping it up with its influx of new residents. I cannot tell you how much I missed seeing live music. So on top of the events I mentioned, you have Nashville. You can get out and enjoy the city. Between industry events, impromptu dinners and Nashville itself, even if you come for only a couple of days, you will find it was worthwhile on the business side, it was worthwhile on the camaraderie side and it was really worthwhile on the psychological side of stepping out into the world and saying, “OK, we are back.” … We will be ready to [host Summer NAMM], and it will be a wonderful gathering. JUNE 2021
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M I SPY
LOOKING FOR FIRST-CLASS I’m back! Your MI Spy is proud to announce I’m fully vaccinated and ready to go. Since we’ve now entered the brave new world of hybrid work, I may still take a break from the road here and there to conduct virtual visits, but this month, I was excited to get out and visit some stores in person. The Chief was in a good mood and let me pick my assignment for this month, as long as it was somewhere on the east coast. I wanted to choose someplace I haven’t been in a while, so I decided on Delaware, land of beautiful beaches and no sales tax. The First State is also the home of rock ‘n roll guitarist George Thorogood, trumpeter Clifford Brown, jazz pianist Matthew Shipp and, of course, current president Joe Biden. (Even with my MI Spy skills, I couldn’t find any intel about whether President Biden plays an instrument. But rest assured, MI Spy fans: I emailed the White House to ask them before I left for my trip). Delaware is small in size and population, and it doesn’t have a lot of music shops. There are a few high-quality stores that are doing a yeoman’s job of supplying the goods and nurturing the state’s homegrown music scene. However, your MI Spy did encounter a few disappointments during this excursion: I had the addresses for two stores I wanted to visit, and for the love of Pete, they were not there when I drove over! Another store had published an address for itself that turned out to be a UPS drop-off site. And then there was the store whose phone number was out of service. These are not problems your MI Spy was expecting do deal with, especially after guzzling multiple coffees. 36
Guitar Center 5141 Brandywine Parkway Wilmington, DE 19803 302.478.3831
Guitar Center (GC) stores are not all the same. And while GC stores share many similarities (logos, red guitar picks, a variety of instruments at a variety of prices), I have definitely noticed that each individual store has its quirks and its shtick. One humorous gimmick of the Wilmington GC store is its display of broken instruments. The perhaps not-quite-museum-worthy exhibition was hanging up on a wall and consisted of four drum cymbals in various states of wretchedness surrounded by a broken snare drum. (One wonders if Keith Moon committed these offenses years ago.) Non-drummer that I am, I didn’t realize that such horrid things could be done to Zildjian cymbals! But far from being just an eyecatching bit of store decor, this display is actually meant to advertise a Pro Coverage policy that protects one’s investment in drums and gear. Another item that caught my eye was a tantalizing blue Charvel electric guitar, encased behind glass, for sale at the intriguing price of $4,761. Overall, this Guitar Center, like most others, sells a wide variety of electric guitars, new and used, ranging from around $100 to a few thousand. This GC location also had one of the more impressive acoustic guitar and stringed instruments rooms that I’ve come across. It smelled sooooo good and woodsy, even through my mask. Besides guitars, they stocked ukes, mandolins, banjos and dobros. Martin Guitar and Taylor Guitar fans will be especially pleased by the selection here. As for customer service, this GC was solid. As soon as I walked into the store, a young sales rep asked me cheerfully “Can I help JUNE 2021
you?” (And he did, by telling me where the bathroom could be found. Again: Too much coffee.) Later, I had a chat with two staff members near the front of the store, who spoke with me about the newly arrived shipments of guitars that they had to break down. One of them, a guy clad in shorts, told me that “We got a big delivery, and we’ll be putting several electric guitars on the walls this afternoon.” They had a good amount of staff out on the floor to help the dozen or so customers in the store at the time. GC Wilmington was following health protocols nicely; there were bottles of hand sanitizer around, arrows taped to the carpet showed customers how to flow about the store, and there were plenty of single-use red guitar picks available in jars for expectant string players. Neatly printed signs described how many customers should be in certain rooms at any one time, and we were asked to make requests before handling the instruments. This is the way things will be for a while, and this store was clear about it. Overall, the store was neat, although a few sections needed some inventory replenishing. I noticed a healthy selection of used gear, in particular drum sets, that were neatly stacked near the restrooms. There were also two community bulletin boards that included a healthy assortment of notices. There was an impressive assortment of instrument accessories and gift items, including several discount bins. The “$30 and Under Deals” offerings included many items that could be bought for much less than $30. The percussion and novelty
included a black model and a white model that were kind of futuristic in design. The guy said that “Those two models are quiet, or at least can be played pretty quietly. They’re good for travel and for practice.” (Heaven knows that when someone is wailing away on a sax, playing at odd hours where the walls are thin, then an instrument like this would be quite welcome. And these newish digital instruments can be played with your headphones on, so that no one but you and the mice can hear the product of your fingerwork.) However, the young woman was more passionate about this tech issue: “I know it’s the future to play an instrument like this one, but I still prefer the feel and sound of the traditional instruments,” she told me as she pointed to a wall that displayed several saxophones and other brass instruments. So there you have it, folks: young people don’t always prefer the newer, digital way of doing things. The youth has spoken! Speaking of the youth, this shop seemed geared more toward the younger musician, with a lot of beginner items and sheet music for that crowd. But just about any musician, kid or adult, would find something worthwhile here. There was a good supply of electric and acoustic guitars and amps, as well as accessories. In fact, they had for sale a few of the prettiest guitar straps I’ve seen in ages. They had an assortment of ukuleles, including a Billie Eilish Fender uke for, gulp, $299.99. They had some of the colored trombones (blue, black, etc.) and hued trumpets too. (So you could literally play the blues. Ha.) There was also a fun display of classroom instruments (for when you
SERVICE IN THE FIRST STATE instrument section was well stocked, and the store also had wellstocked sections for pro audio equipment and keyboards. (Sports fans should note that they also had on display some interesting Philadelphia team souvenirs; someone here sure likes the Phillies, Flyers and Eagles.) One of the minor complaints I had about this GC location, which isn’t really its fault anyway, is that the strip mall of which it is a part is sprawling, and the flow of parking lots was kind of annoying. But there’s not much GC can do about that.
Music & Arts 4707 Kirkwood Highway Wilmington, DE 302.633.0600
The Music & Arts chain has four locations in Delaware, impressive for this small state. The Wilmington branch is part of a strip mall, and from the outside it didn’t look that big. But once inside, I saw how deep it was. There were a handful of rooms in the back dedicated to lessons, and while I stopped by, a drumming instructor was working with a student; the teacher conducted the lesson from the hallway while the student was set up in the rehearsal room. That’s one way to adhere to social distancing guidelines. There were two young sales staff near the front, a gal and a guy, and we had a frank, lively discussion in which we compared standard brass instruments to a newfangled digitized version — namely, Roland’s line of Digital Wind Instruments. The guy — who strummed an unplugged electric guitar almost the whole time I was in the store — and the gal were both squarely in the camp that traditional brass instruments are far superior to the electronic versions, although they were cautiously nice enough about these electric thingies, which MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
really need that new plastic ocarina). This location also stocked an impressive selection of sheet music and books beyond its offerings for beginners. I really wanted to see someone buy that “Beatles for Marimba” book. Or maybe I’ll win the lottery someday and buy both a marimba and that book for myself. I was also taken by “Songs from Frozen, Tangled and Enchanted,” which offered arrangements for Alto sax. (“Frozen, Tangled and Enchanted” would make a good name for a cocktail ... but don’t tell the kids.) On the whole, the Wilmington Music & Arts location was neat but not intimidatingly pristine, with clear price tags and stickers and a welcoming vibe. Staff members wore their masks (and correctly), and there were hand sanitizer bottles spread about the store. Overall, this store seemed like a good option for purchases and lessons.
Accent Music 5810-A Kirkwood Hwy. Wilmington, DE 19808 302.999.9939
Accent Music was started by a father and son team in 1988 and prides itself as “A local Family Business with Strong Roots in the Community.” Its logo features an accent mark above a music note (“Accent Music” — get it?), so great job on branding there. Your MI Spy was glad to see an independent shop for musicians in the Wilmington market, and particularly one that offers sales, lessons, repairs and related services. Accent Music won my heart, at least briefly, for offering one of the tiniest violins I’ve seen that wasn’t a toy. One section of a wall had a display of seven violins, including the tiny instrument in question. I asked about it, and one of the workers told me “It’s real, and it’s for 37
the really little kids and their tiny hands.” Alas, my hands were a tad too big to try it out. There were many other aspects about Accent that I appreciated. For one, it has an intriguing selection of “world instruments” for sale, including tablas, rebabs, bells, percussion pieces from around the globe, and even bagpipes. I also got a smile from its “Used Music Exchange.” Can you guess what this would be? It’s a box of free sheet music for anyone to take from and contribute toward. Yup, “give what you no longer need” or “take what you can use.” It’s a good neighbor policy in action, a concept so low-tech that the kids these days might call it “vintage.” Your MI Spy calls it “recyclerepurpose-reuse.” Accent seemed to have just about every major musical instrument, from acoustic and electric guitars (including some droolworthy, high-end models), pianos and keyboards, brass (even a cool French horn), violins, and drum sets and percussion (complete with two types of prayer tambourines). It also had a few marching xylophones (or should I call them glockenspiels, or even a bell kit?). And there were many different accessories available. This store, neat and tidy as it was for the most part, did have a bit of the “roam around” feel to it. This is something that musical instrument stores should have, but many don’t: the sense that if you snoop around enough and you’re adventurous, you might find something cool and unusual to try and buy. Accent Music has that feeling for sure. The store also has a treasure trove’s worth of sheet music and books, and some general music books. The title “88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life” caught my eye. Look it up online, guys; several lesser-known but still accomplished musicians contributed to
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this book. One wall had a few shelves of CDs with artists of which I was unfamiliar. I asked one of the workers about this: “Are these local bands?” He smiled slightly and said “Yeah, about 10 years ago.” But their music is still there for you to buy. (I felt somewhat reassured that compact discs are still a thing. I guess not everyone is making TikTok videos to promote their bands these days.) This worker and I also chatted about a gorgeous Danelectro guitar model on the floor, which he said had a great sound. And at about $430, it wasn’t priced outrageously. Accent Music welcomes you at the front of the store with big posters of the Beatles and Beethoven — talk about your all-time great songwriters. Once inside, the store is kind of sprawling, but not difficult to navigate. The repair area and the practice rooms are set further back. The floor staff was masked, and there were some bottles of hand sanitizer placed around the store.
Earle Teat Music 3098 N. Dupont Highway Dover, DE 19901 302.736.1937
I had to drive on over to Dover to find another music store to explore. Fortunately it was a sunny day, and I didn’t get mired in much traffic (except near a small highway that was getting repaved — a great smell if you’re a henchman of Beelzebub). The trip south was worth it for a visit to Earle Teat Music. Guitars and drums and percussion are the big draws here. When I first entered the store, a customer and a worker were finishing up playing scales on two electric guitars. (Never forget to practice the basics, kids.) The store had an impressive amount of acoustic Martin Guitars. (By the way, if you ever get a chance to visit their factory, do so. It’s an amazing experience.) I asked one of the store workers to recommend electric guitars in the $300 price range, of course while I was eyeing a much more expensive guitar. The worker told me “We have many great brands within that range. I feel the best values right now are from Ibanez, Fender and Epiphone.” He pointed out a few of those guitars to me, and I was impressed with the number they had. This place had a pretty deep selection of electric guitars. At one point while I was there, a customer came in without a mask on his face, and everyone else just gawked at him. Then a worker said, casually but firmly, “Hey, man, you gotta mask like everyone else.” The would-be customer smirked and said a not-sopolite word, and walked out the store. Then everyone remaining laughed. “Comic relief,” I heard another worker say. After that, a dad and his two school-age girls came into the store and were looking at the instruments on display. The workers were very nice but not patronizing to the kids. It’s always good to see a music store’s staff be welcoming to the next generation of musicmakers. Overall, the staff were conscientious and the store was neat, and the selection at Earle Teat Music included items at a variety of prices.
My jaunt through Delaware was enjoyable (even if I couldn’t find a special pizza place I was looking for). I was pleased with all the stores I visited, but my top vote this time around goes to Accent Music. Proudly indie and offering a wide selection of items in several price ranges, this is a store that caters to people of all different musicality levels and wallet weights. And it has a bit of a casual museum quality to it, the kind of which I’ve seen in only one or two other music stores. But I have to say, the other three stores were all strong contenders, and I was pleased by the professionalism on display in all locations. But I still haven’t found out if President Biden, Delaware’s most high-profile person, even plays an instrument! All I got in response from the White House was a polite form letter but no answer to my question. C’mon, does anyone know the answer to this? JUNE 2021
M SR SPEC I AL
GIBSON LAUNCHES GIBSON GARAGE
Gibson on June 9 officially launched Gibson Garage, where guitar players can embrace the “ultimate guitar experience” and try electric and acoustic guitars from a variety of brands. The 8,000-square-foot shop opened to the public at the historic Cummins Station located on 209 10th Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. Seasoned professional musicians, casual guitar players, beginners and music fans alike can add this to their itinerary when visiting Nashville. Gibson Garage enables visitors to explore and shop the collections; experience exclusive, live music performances; catch a taping of the Gibson TV series; and explore generations of music history, including the stories behind the music with captivating, interactive installations and programming. “The Gibson Garage is the ultimate guitar experience where our past, present and future comes to life for fans and artists right here in Music City,” said James “JC” Curleigh, CEO of Gibson Brands. “This is also our opportunity to contribute to the amazing music and guitar culture that we’ve been a part of for over a century. We can’t wait to share the Gibson Garage with our fans and future fans.” “The Gibson Garage is the epitome of when the legendary creativity of the original brand perfectly coincides with the vision of the future of the modern electric and acoustic guitar,” added guitarist Joe Bonamassa. “Congratulations on a job well done.” Fans across the globe that were unable to visit Nashville on June 9 experienced the Gibson Garage global grand opening via the global virtual concert “Gibson Live: A Celebration of Artists to Benefit Gibson Gives,” on Gibson TV. The concert featured performances from Warren Haynes, Margo Price, Kip Moore, James Bay, Sergio Vallin of Maná, Lzzy Hale and Joe Hottinger of Halestorm, Marcus King, Orianthi, Samantha Fish, Morgan Wade, Sadler Vaden, Tak Matsumoto, Celisse, Emily Wolfe, Jared James Nichols with Joe Bonamassa and more. The opening event also benefited Gibson Gives — the charitable arm of Gibson — which supports musicians worldwide and is committed to making the world a better place by creating and supporting other non-profit organizations in their efforts to advance musicians, as well as youth-focused education and wellness initiatives. All donations went to two powerful organizations making positive changes: MusiCares and Save the Music. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
Gibson hopes its Garage will be a new can't-miss location for people visiting Nashville. Open to the public, it is being dubbed the "ultimate guitar experience," where guitarists can try out electric and acoustic guitars from a variety of brands, plus much more.
I N T H E T RENCHE S
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE
By Allen McBroom
Editor's Note: These are the opinions of the author only, not the Music & Sound Retailer. Back in 2019, this column addressed a quote from the old Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. The quote was “The only constant in life is change.” Little did I know back in 2019 how often I’d be repeating that saying. That brings me to the topic of this month’s column: change. The social and economic upheavals of the last year are now resulting in higher prices across the board. Timber is plentiful, and lumber inventories are high, but the price of lumber at the lumber yard is two to three times what it was a year ago. The cause? People started spending more time at home and began doing major refurbishing of their living spaces. New housing starts are sky-high. In short, while the supply hasn’t diminished, the demand has gone way up, so lumber costs more. As I’m writing this, our local groceries have a decrease in the chicken supply. The cause? Chicken breeders have plenty of chickens to sell, but because chicken plant employees are making more on state and federal unemployment than they did working, the plants cannot get enough workers to meet the demand. Closer to home, we all perk up and pay attention when we hear news blurbs about shipping container availabilities. The cause? We know that a dearth of empty containers in the East has cut into our inventory availability. Another sign of change: Last Friday, our store experienced a cavalcade of weirdos. I know, I know, music stores get odd folks on a regular basis, but not like this. In the course of three hours, we had a guy who wanted to upgrade the guitar he bought the day before, but he could only talk while holding up a Bible and reciting the definition of “talent” (that is, the ancient Mesopotamian definition of “talent,” as in 300 shekels). The next guy was about 45 years old, looked normal, but he babbled semi-incoherently and wanted us to all go out to his car to see his drumsticks. He invited us several times. Third was an extremely high stoner whose musk bore the strong essence of weed, and who bought a mic and some headphones based solely on their appearance. Fourth was the day’s winner: He was mounted up on a bicycle, dressed for a cold February (it was 80 degrees that day) and had a sheathed trench knife on his belt. When I mentioned that we were low on some inventory due to COVID-19, he jumped up and said, “No, it’s communism.” The next 45 minutes were dominated by customer No. 4, who told us all about the U.N., Bill Clinton, other politicians, and the movies he and his mom watched. He concluded with an explanation of how the U.N. was using homeowner associations to introduce socialism to America. He finally left a few minutes after complimenting our “Easter egg guitars with the wah-wah sticks.” I told my beautiful bride about the tour of oddballs that day, and she told me that referrals to mental health facilities were way, way up, since a lot of patients didn’t get the healthcare they needed during the previous year. Predicting the future is a risky business at best, but I think I’m safe in saying we’re going to experience more and more change as we move away from last year into some revised form of normalcy. As store owners, we need to be alert to the shifting winds, so we can adjust our sails as needed. Employees may ask for time off for reasons that would not have made sense two years ago, and we need to realize that needs have changed. Inventory that isn’t available needs to be addressed by removing empty guitar hangers, moving product around so we look more full, and buying more than usual when product is available. Change usually happens in two ways. First, we notice the change in the people or situations around us. Second, we initiate change ourselves, usually to adapt to those other aforementioned changes. To modify our store setups, our buying habits, our employee relationships and even the nature of what we stock, we need to be aware of the changes happening around us. We can’t respond to changes that we don’t recognize as changes. So how do we recognize change? We do that by paying attention. Talk to the customers
you don’t usually have a chance to talk to. Talk to your banker. Talk to the cashier in the grocery store. Watch the business news. Read the local papers. Ask other folks how their businesses are doing and what they are up against at the moment. Go to church, or synagogue, or the local coffee shop, and visit with people you didn’t know until today. Through those conversations, you may see some common threads that tell you how life is changing outside your store. These are the tides of change, and without noticing them, you cannot make good decisions about adjusting your store or keeping it as it is. The more people you can talk to, and the more varied they are, the more likely it is you’ll see the changes coming while you still have time to make adjustments. The changes you make based on your observations may be significant, such as dropping product lines or adding new products from existing lines. Or the changes may be subtle, but subtle changes can often have the biggest impact. Let’s say the common thread you sense in your conversations is an underlying layer of anxiety about the economy or life in general. Good gosh, how can you change to address something like that? I’d suggest you get your employees together and tell them a warm smile and a sincere, friendly greeting is now how everyone will say hello in the store. Make customers feel a sense of relief that they are in your store, away from the worries of the outside world. We have the authority and the ability to make the changes we need to make, so don’t drag your feet on responding to the trends you see around you. Don’t be afraid to respond to your gut feelings. According to our old friend Heraclitus, change is inevitable. The good news is, if we pay attention and get plugged in every way possible, we’ll be in a great position to spot the changes and make our adjustments before we end up being behind the curve. JUNE 2021
N OT YOUR AVE R AGE COL L UMN
Rebuilding a Lesson Program in a Post-COVID Environment By Tim Spicer NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond said it perfectly: “Ever y NAMM member is experiencing the crisis, but no two members are experiencing it in the same way.” Lamond’s statement really captures the unique struggles our industry has faced since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Every MI company has had to navigate unique challenges due to the pandemic. Many of the NAMM member companies that run and manage lesson programs have been hit especially hard. In many cases, depending on which state and city your lessons business is located in, COVID has drastically altered the way your program was allowed to operate during the last year. Intensifying these differences are the unique ways in which lesson programs are structured in different states around the country. Each state’s employment laws, combined with each state’s varied COVID restrictions, resulted in a dynamic range of program stability throughout the past year. Some lesson programs were forced to send their instructors home to teach virtually from home. Some lesson programs were able to continue to operate out of the business location with a virtual/in-person hybrid model. Some programs completely shut down during the lockdown and furloughed their team. Lesson programs in New York or California faced completely different circumstances than lesson programs in Texas or Alabama. The unique characteristics of MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
the in-person music instruction business, combined with the differences of state restrictions, have made music lessons an exceptionally difficult sector of the MI industry to manage throughout the pandemic. Given these unique circumstances and business disruptions, how can lesson programs stabilize and begin rebuilding in the wake of a global pandemic? First, I suggest we evaluate our teaching staff. If there are staff members that always seem to go against the grain and aren’t aligned with the company’s vision and core values, this may be a good opportunity for change. Many programs are still battling low enrollment numbers and may be concerned that teacher adjustments could further hurt their student enrollment. While this may be true in the short term, in order to rebuild a strong team for long-term growth, it is imperative that the team is fully unified. We can take this time to evaluate each team member to ensure we have the right people in place to begin rebuilding with confidence. If you are still struggling with low enrollment numbers, I strongly believe that will not last. People are excited to get back to “normal” and are looking for extracurricular activities. I believe lesson programs everywhere could experience exponential growth after last year’s quaran-
tines. In order to prepare for this growth, we can use this time to find opportunities for improvements in program structure. Now may be a great time to discuss restructuring the program to better fit long-term needs. Let’s think top to bottom here. We may involve leadership teams, full teams, or get some outside help for this step. This could be a unique opportunity to start fresh with a completely new program structure. Reach out to industry peers and get insight into how they structure their program. Keep in mind, every store has a unique community and specific employment laws, so it’s important we don’t “copy and paste” from another program. However, don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. Now may be the perfect time to make some major program changes that have been put on the back burner. The key here is to think long term. Define the end zone, and then work backward with clarity and decisiveness to reach the goal. I wouldn’t be surprised if this step leads to a new trajectory for long-term program stability and growth. Next, take a step back and observe the in-store instruction areas. Could the rooms use updated equipment, furniture or some fresh paint? Does the waiting area need to be adjusted to accommodate for social distancing and parent comfort? Are there any other improvements that could be made to make returning to in-person lessons exciting and
memorable? Work to create an exciting experience as students and families begin returning to in-person instruction. If one thing has been true during the last year, it’s that people desire community, and music is an incredible way to achieve it. Many businesses have had a lot of success over the last year with community involvement. A great example of this comes from Mike and Miriam Risko at Mike Risko Music. Mike and Miriam focused a lot of their attention on socially distanced performances throughout the pandemic. Their traveling band played a number of performances around their community. These performances kept Mike Risko Music as the focal point of music during the lockdowns and the stresses of the COVID disruptions. Although you may not have a traveling band at your disposal to help promote music and your lesson program, look for ways to build your community during these times. What could be done to draw attention to the arts? What could be done to make your lesson program stand out? Now is the time to be seen as a community leader for music and the arts. Lesson programs have faced many unique challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. As we begin to climb out of the pandemic disruptions and return to running a stable and profitable program, it’s important we stay focused on long-term growth. I can’t wait to hear of your program’s success. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any unique ideas you’ve had over the past year to improve your business. We’re all in this together! You can email me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you. 41
V E D D AT O R I A L
By Dan Vedda We’ve all been hearing about the fractured and scrambled supply chains that are affecting product availability right now. The far-reaching effects of the pandemic are showing up in myriad ways, from housing shortages in picturesque small towns (because remote work means you don’t have to live in expensive urban areas) to excess supplies of toilet paper because people are still using the stock they built up during the panic-buying early days of the pandemic. But now that vaccinations and reduced caseloads are pointing us toward new-normalized consumer demands, supply chains are still months behind the curve. Component parts, raw materials and finished goods are still caught in a nightmare logistical matrix that has left empty containers in ports where there are no goods to fill them. Certainly, the music products industry isn’t immune to these complications, and as a comparatively tiny blip on the economy, the manufacturing side of things doesn’t have much clout getting the pipeline moving again. We’ll have to stand in line while the heavyweights yank things back into place. That said, we do now have some product moving, albeit slowly. Guitars have been one of the biggest holdups, due in part to the surge in demand. But the guitar supply has also been affected by natural caution, because no one in our industry can make a million-dollar mistake ... anymore. With rare exceptions, most of the companies in the industry aren’t shored up by stockholders, grants or generous credit lines. So, ordering big was a gamble last year, as was holding off on orders. In general, the supply side played it cautious. Now that product is flowing in on a limited basis, though, it’s also a challenge for retailers. Yes, the supply side lost revenue — in some cases a lot of revenue. But now, retailer demand
So my advice, and my plan, is to proceed cautiously until customers tell us more about their 2021 desires, but upon hearing the answer, to go boldly and swiftly down the path they point us to. for products isn’t leaving them with any leftover stock, let alone overstocks. The light is returning to the manufacturing side. Demand is also returning — in some cases, it never left — to retail. But success on that front seems to have a lot to do with how well positioned stores were on inventory, and how easily they could replenish their stock as they sold through their existing products. I’ve heard from some companies in MI that were well stocked as the pandemic hit, and thanks to phone orders, web presence or the luck of being in a state that did not close retailers for two months or more, they had a banner 2020. My store does its biggest trade in accessories, repairs and lessons. Being closed by the governor for two months was a challenge, but repairs and the loyalty of our teaching faculty, all of whom volunteered to continue paying rent to the store even when teaching remotely, kept the lights on. For us, the rest of the year was lackluster, in part because school band and orchestra didn’t happen at all. We continue to struggle with backorders and slower replenishment. With that in mind, an aside to the supply side: We know you’re struggling too, but seriously, folks, if you take your time shipping to Amazon or one of the other big accounts, you lose. But if you slow down for us, we can’t compete without product. Increasingly, the customers I see in the store want to buy local, support small business, and avoid both the big companies and the uncertainties of their fulfillment practices. They want a JUNE 2021
product, now, in their hand, and for a reasonable price. We can’t do any of that if you don’t do your part. I had several products on backorder for much of the first quarter, only to have customers get impatient and tell me they found it online. It makes us look silly when we tell people truthfully that we have a backorder. I know there can be reasons for this, but it doesn’t help the small stores. I honestly don’t know what the answer to that is, I just know the problem. Another challenge: As consumers return to our store (this week alone I’ve greeted a number of families I haven’t seen in literally a year), our challenge is to address the shift in demand we’re seeing. Not increase or decrease. Suddenly we’re selling items, accessory brands and product lines we barely addressed pre-COVID. Did customers become aware of new brands through the “people also bought” algorithm? Has crawling down the YouTube rabbit hole made them aware of new genres? I think the answer to these questions is “yes,” as well as other factors. In response, I find myself researching other products and suppliers, some of whom I’ve never dealt with. In many ways, I feel as though I’m putting my store together for a different market. What about you? Are you seeing “out-of-left-field” requests, or is it “back to normal?” This is a great opportunity for us to do in-the-trenches market research. Actually, it’s imperative that we
Certainly, the music products industry isn’t immune to these complications, and as a comparatively tiny blip on the economy, the manufacturing side of things doesn’t have much clout getting the pipeline moving again. do market research. So much has changed, there’s no way you can be sure what your customers want unless you listen to their requests and ask questions. The temptation to say, “Well, glad that’s over!” and reboot to 2019 is a trap, because it isn’t really over. People have been changed by this experience. Witness the people moving, changing careers, leaning into self-enrichment or perhaps still hunkered down as if the virus were hiding in the bushes. If we don’t do this research, we will certainly miss opportunities, but we’ll also risk stocking up for a reality that may never return. So my advice, and my plan, is to proceed cautiously until customers tell us more about their 2021 desires, but upon hearing the answer, to go boldly and swiftly down the path they point us to. I still believe that music-making can be huge post-COVID-19. But it will be driven by the music makers, not the music merchants.
S HINE A LI GHT
WHERE MUSIC RUNS IN THE FAMILY By Michelle Loeb
As the saying goes, the family that plays together stays together, and that’s certainly been the case for the Beacock family. Dad Dale was a clarinet and saxophone player, while mom Susan sang and played upright bass and children Russ and Gayle played drums and flute, respectively. Not content to simply make beautiful music together, the family also works together, sharing the gift of music with the Vancouver, Wash., music community since 1976, and in Eugene, Ore., since 2018. Working with your family can be a double-edged sword for some, but, “Honestly, we have had a great experience working together to build this business,” said co-owner Gayle Beacock. “We have all been invested in it for so long that each success or milestone has truly been a family affair.” Each member of the family has been able to bring their own unique strengths to the table, creating a perfect harmony that has propelled the business to become one of the largest independent music stores in the country. “It is fun to see how each of us has contributed differently,” said Beacock. “Our dad was very much an extrovert and knew everyone in town. He was able to connect with teachers and students on such a personal level, while our mom was the doer and thinker, a detail person with an eye for merchandising before merchandising was a thing.” “Russ is like my mom,” added Beacock, “a great big-picture thinker who is always strategizing and setting goals, while I enjoy facilitating and making projects and departments happen. I like getting my hands dirty, so to speak.” Beacock’s parents opened the store after her father’s private lessons business outgrew the spare bedroom in the family home. “My brother and I grew up in a home that always had kids waiting in the living room for their lesson. We thought this was normal!” Beacock mused. They secured a 3,000-square-foot store at the corner of a small strip mall. The building offered four lessons studios and, eventually, some retail space in the front area — this was first used for accessories, and later, instruments for rent or sale. Despite many setbacks, including incredibly tight finances and a devastating fire, Beacock Music perservered, refusing to throw in the towel and instead continuing to grow its footprint and scope. “We didn’t have insurance at that time, so we would take all of the inventory home every night and bring it all back the next day. Those were some tough days,” recalled Beacock, who, along with her brother, would help out after school and eventually came to teach lessons at the store. Beacock Music has come a long way since then, now employing 75 staff and educators between two locations, including the 20,000-square-foot building in Vancouver, Wash. that has housed the main store, including a repair shop and award-winning education center, since 2004. “We believe that retail is detail, and our store is created for a retail experience,” explained Beacock. “We enjoy keeping our store fresh and new. Our displays are ever-changing and interactive. The best compliment is when someone walks into our store, stands back and says ‘wow.’” Eye-catching design elements abound, including vintage objects such as traffic lights, old gas pumps and antique furniture, and shoppers can often find items one wouldn’t normally associate with a music store. “Our mom had the vision to sell candles, Symphony candy bars and other out-of-the-ordinary items for music (continued on page 48) 44
Beacock Music Co. 1420 SE 163rd Ave. Vancouver, WA 98683 (360) 694-7134 www.beacockmusic.com Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sat. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. 791 W 8th Ave Eugene, OR 97402 (541) 653-9929 Tues. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Gayle Beacock, co-owner
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
U N DER T H E HOOD
UNO Synth Pro and UNO Synth Pro Desktop By Brian Berk
In last month’s “Under the Hood,” we mentioned the huge popularity of keyboards today. But not to go unnoticed is the popularity of synthesizers as well. IK Multimedia offers two new products in this space, the UNO Synth Pro and UNO Synth Pro Desktop. Developed in collaboration with Italian boutique synthmaker Soundmachines, both of these new analog synthesizers take the UNO Synth monophonic synth and expand it in nearly every section: more oscillators, more filters, more sequencer memory, more effects, more presets, more connections and more programmability. UNO Synth Pro puts this new sound engine in a rugged metal chassis with a 37-key semiweighted keybed, made by Italian manufacturer Fatar, while UNO Synth Pro Desktop provides a more portable form factor to travel anywhere. The UNO Synth Pro’s dual-filter, three-oscillator paraphonic design lets it create nearly any synth sound imaginable, and it comes with 256 presets, a new 64-step sequencer and expanded CV/Gate and audio connections. “The sound and performance, the creative inspiration and the flexibility of the UNO Synth Pros makes them unique and com46
parable to no other. UNO Synth Pro gives you the freedom to shape basically any synth sound you can imagine,” said Enrico Dell’Aversana, UNO line product manager. What is the importance of three oscillators? They offer continuously variable waveshape, including pulse-width modulation. Oscillators can be hardsynced for more harmonically complex tones, and oscillator FM (frequency modulation) lets users shape everything from bell-like sounds to screaming industrial tones. UNO Synth Pro even includes ring modulation for wobbly, sci-fi sound, and a white noise generator for a wide range of percussive sounds and epic rises. In addition to the original UNO Synth’s two-pole OTA multimode filter, UNO Synth Pro adds a new SSI 2/4-pole LP filter with selfoscillation. The dual filters can be used in series or parallel, with invertible phase, for a total of 24 possible filter modes. This unique design offers nearly limitless tonal possibilities, from recreating classic vintage sounds or forging completely new, experimental sounds, stated the company. UNO Synth Pro offers two full ADSR envelopes, one dedicated to the filter and the other to
amplitude, with both available as sources to modulate everything from oscillator pitch and waveshape to LFO (low-frequency oscillator) speed. Two LFOs can create classic synth vibrato, wah and tremolo, as well as handle more complex modulations including audio range FM. “A 16-slot modulation matrix makes routing all these a breeze,” IK Multimedia stated. “Users can quickly and easily design even the most sophisticated modulation scheme, with both internal and external sources.” UNO Synth Pro also offers four effects blocks: an analog overdrive circuit from the original UNO Synth, plus three new, custom-designed digital effects: modulation, delay and reverb. External signals can also be routed through these effects. UNO Synth Pro offers a premium 37-key semi-weighted Fatar keybed, while UNO Synth Pro Desktop provides an enhanced version of the original’s long-lasting capacitance-sensing keys along with pitch and mod strips for enhanced expression. Both units add firm-touch rubber pads for the control sections, plus LED-backlit indicators and an LED display for key information, making it easier than ever to use live on stage or in deep program-
ming sessions in the studio, the manufacturer noted. Next up on the list of features for the UNO Synth Pro is 256 user-editable presets, each capturing the full state of the sound engine from oscillators to effects. An onboard 64-step sequencer offers both step and real-time recording, with automation of over 80 parameters, letting users create incredibly intricate and evolving soundscapes, and even write CV and gate automation. And a 10-mode arpeggiator makes it easy to create intricate patterns and runs, which can be recorded into the sequencer. Last, but certainly not least, UNO Synth Pro offers two noiseless, balanced stereo outputs as well as headphone out, for studio audio quality in any situation. USB and five-pin DIN MIDI In and Out are designed to make it easy to integrate with other synths, Macs/PCs and mobile devices, and its assignable CV/Gate connections lets UNO Synth Pro interact effortlessly with a Eurorack or other modular system. “And now, an audio input allows access to the filter and FX section for external signals, in addition to the original pass-through for daisy-chaining multiple units together without using a mixer,” concluded IK Multimedia. JUNE 2021
HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO ATLANTIC CITY
As always, it is our promise to keep our community engaged and updated on the reimagined DJ Expo. Team DJX has just returned from Atlantic City and along with the change of season, we are excited about our move back to The Boardwalk.
Some highlights of our time there: Attendee Focused: We are working closely with the city itself to promote and market DJX • We are working with restaurants and local retailers to offer discounts during DJX • We are expanding our educational offering to be more inclusive • We are working with local social influencers to develop features around DJX, exhibitors and attendees • We are creating plans to engage the future DJ and increase attendance • We are developing an “Attendee Ambassador” program to promote the show
Some highlights of our time there: DJX Onsite: An exciting, massive upgrade in the look and feel of the DJX • Established a “Safe & Sound” health and safety protocol • Developing our DJX “After Dark” experiences and evening events • Looking at opportunities to feature both brands at the property • In discussions with the city to develop a future “festivalization” or DJ WEEK in Atlantic City • We look forward to seeing you at DJX, and as always we encourage you to share your thoughts and open to work with you to customize and evolve the DJX experience.
We look forward to seeing you at DJX, Register at thedjexpo.com. /thedjexpo
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SHINE A LIGHT
Custom conﬁgure a securable, easy to use control center, four Audio, Video, & Lighting Mixers that wonʼt be an eyesorein yout House of Worship or Auditorium.
(continued from page 44) stores,” said Beacock. “Even in the beginning, with absolutely zero budget, mom could create a beautiful, interesting, cozy environment. While all of the other stores in town were more ‘commodity-oriented,’ she had great instincts and knew that an exceptional shopping environment would stand us out from the crowd.” Helping customers navigate the shopping experience is a staff made up of both musicians and non-musicians, though Beacock said most are at least hobbyists. The most important thing Beacock looks for when hiring is finding fun, energetic people. She described her ideal employees: “Self-starters who want to be engaged in what we do, because when we open, it’s showtime!” The larger facility that the store has occupied since 2004 has allowed Beacock Music to engage with the community on a new level, offering a variety of community events such as reading sessions, musical theatre, New Horizons Band, Group lessons, workshops, trunk shows and more. The store also started a small theatre company that produces musical theatre productions, with all proceeds contributed to school music programs. In addition to feeding musicians’ souls with quality instruments, lessons, services and events, Beacock Music also feeds their stomachs with one of its more unique elements, the Standing Ovation cafe located in
the center of the store. Not only is the family able to tap into this amenity to create exciting events like coffee tastings, but it also helps to create the one-of-a-kind shopping environment Beacock Music’s customers have come to know and love. “We believe that retail is alive and well if you do it right! People are starved for great, local companies that they can do business with, and our job is to make it fun to come into our store,” said Beacock. “You will have a great time when you come into the store. You will be greeted, helped and left alone to browse. It smells good, looks good and feels good. That is our job.” She added, “Everything else, we think, falls into place when you start there.” While many of these more communal elements were temporarily paused during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beacock Music hasn’t missed a beat in learning to meet its customers’ needs, and many of the lessons learned during this time will carry the store into the future. “We will continue to offer the services added during the pandemic, including curbside pickup and delivery, because why not? We are grateful to be able to do these things for our customers,” said Beacock. “The best realization has been that, no matter what, music matters,” she concluded. “That is comforting to us in the industr y. Nobody wants to be without music!” JUNE 2021
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
For advertising rates and deadlines...
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THE GOOD STUFF
(continued from page 31)
S O U ND PR OD UC TI ONS Sound Productions provided the following statement: “Caring for the communities in which we work, live and serve is a key thread in the tapestry of SoundPro’s belief system. While our giving spirit goes back decades, the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for our neighbors, friends and customers. Many community members lost their jobs or experienced reduced work hours as the holidays approached in 2020. SoundPro banded together to make sure six community families experienced the magic of Christmas with the help of the Salvation Army of North Texas’ Angel Tree program. Food scarcity is a known issue, but with COVID-19 restricting sources of free meals for those in need, organizations like Children’s Hunger Fund work to close the gap. SoundPro, with stores in Irving, Texas and Madison, Wis., contributed to the cause by donating more than 15,000 meals since the start of the pandem-
vice president, Jeff Humphrey, was an avid music lover, A1 technician and an
ic. As live events, studio projects and more came to a grinding halt, SoundPro
advocate for education.
recognized an opportunity to ease the burden on more than 100 AVL (audio,
In addition to these programs, SoundPro has contributed to additional orga-
video and lighting) industry families by providing $100 cash for groceries in the
nizations whose missions center on veterans and first responders, including:
weeks following the initial shutdown in March 2020.
• Contributing to Wounded Warriors since 2010 in honor of those in the
Aside from stepping up in light of the pandemic, SoundPro has a history of
SoundPro family who serve.
giving back, including ongoing support to the AVL industry. The company has
• Participating in Veterans Day letter writing since 2010 as part of Heartillery
offered annual donations to NAMM and InfoComm charities since 2014. Sound-
Group’s goal to show love and gratitude to those who serve.
Pro also created the Jeff Humphrey Technical Scholarship in 2010, awarding
• Contributing to the Gary Sinise Foundation since 2018 as its honors veter-
educational funds to graduating seniors pursuing a technical degree in the
ans and first responders through programs designed to entertain, educate,
audiovisual space. The scholarship’s namesake and former SoundPro executive
inspire, strengthen and build communities.”
FOX M US IC H O US E To lift spirits of Charlestonians (South Carolina) during the pandemic, singers Leah Edwards and Dimitri Pittas are performing Social Distance-SING! concerts in the bed of a pickup truck. Edwards and Pittas had intended to launch their new venture in the spring of 2021 with a large-scale production and a black-tie gala, but their plans were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grand plans quickly pivoted to expanding opera audiences and bringing hope to all. It has now grown to well over 150 performances, and the series has celebratd its one-year anniversary. “HALO plans to continue these efforts long after our return to the opera house, as it has seen a huge surge in audience diversity, engagement, and, well, it is just kind of fun to play piano on the back of a truck,” stated the retailer.
FANNY’S HOUSE OF MUS IC If you know Nashville-based Fanny’s House of Music, you know it’s more than a music store: It’s a “mission.” “We are excited to announce the next phase of that mission is Fanny’s School of Music. Our current building limits the number of students we can serve and programs we can offer,” the retailer stated. “So, we formed a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and we are launching a capital campaign to build an addition for Fanny’s School of Music. In addition to tripling the number of students we can serve, the new addition will enable us to provide music therapy offices and a community space for group lessons, workshops and live performances. Like Fanny’s House of Music, Fanny’s School of Music will be a place where everyone can feel comfortable exploring and growing, especially women and girls.”
T E D BR OWN MUSI C Ted Brown Music Outreach seeks to put instruments in the hands of young musicians who otherwise couldn’t afford them. To date, it has donated more than 4,000 instruments to the families who need them most. “During the COVID-19 crisis, school music has been put on hold in Washington state. Even now that schools are opening to some extent, school music has remained on the back burner. To help keep music alive in our community’s schools, Ted Brown Music Outreach donated 2,739 recorders to fourth graders in the Tacoma School district,” the retailer said. “Kids that age need something musical to get excited about,” Ted Brown music outreach president Stephanie Howe added. “These kids will get to take the recorders home, play with them, take care of them, and get excited about music.”
IN S TR UM E N TA L M US IC CEN T ER Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world in an unbelievable way. This caused all music stores in Tucson, Ariz., to temporarily close for the sake of safety. Leslie Stirm, owner of Instrumental Music Center (IMC) in Tucson, saw that there was a real need in the community for a supplier of cloth masks, as surgical masks became less readily available to the public and corporate retailers had yet to start manufacturing and selling masks. Stirm also saw the struggles affecting countless people who were already in a financial deficit as well as those who were newly unemployed and struggling to provide for their families. Stirm and her family took to their sewing machines and designed and made hundreds of three-ply, cotton fabric masks in musical and whimsical patterns available in various sizes. The masks were launched for sale online through IMC’s website and were made available for purchase in its store, with the proceeds for each mask being donated to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Using its Facebook and Instagram presence, IMC was able to reach thousands of parents, students, teachers and musicians all over southern Arizona who were happy to find not only a helpful protective tool to meet their current needs, but who were glad to know their dollars were being given to those in need. “The community response was overwhelming,” IMC said. “During the second half of 2020, IMC sold over 500 masks, netting the community food bank over $5,000. It was an amazing position to be in to be able to help the community in this way, both for our customers and for folks in need of access to food.”
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
Ad Index Company
ACE PRODUCTS GROUP......... 25 AMAHI UKULELES................. 43 ARMADILLO ENTERPRISES.......................... C-II CASIO......................................... C-IV CASIO......................................... 21 CHAUVET LIGHTING.............. 8 CHAUVET LIGHTING.............. 9 DRUM WORKSHOP................. 10 DRUM WORKSHOP................. 11 EXTRON.................................... 23 GROUP ONE.............................. 24 JJ BABBITT............................... 38 JMAZ LIGHTING...................... 6
C HUCK LE V IN ’S WA S H IN G TO N M U SI C C EN T ER “Based on the guidance of our parents Chuck and Marge Levin, our family foundation prefers to serve quietly and
KHS AMERICA......................... 5
under the radar,” said Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center’s Abbe Levin of the Wheaton, Md.-based retailer. “The Levin Family Foundation supports a vast array of causes in the arts, medical research, education and the en-
KORG USA................................ 35
vironment, but it was hands-on human service organizations that most captured our attention in this very difficult 2020-2021. I’d like to use this opportunity to shed light shed on two incredible organizations I’ve been working
HAL LEONARD........................ 7
with in the hopes it will bring them to the attention of others looking for ways to help.” “This past year, we saw devastating storms and fires ravage sections of our country, and COVID-19 threatened
the health and wellbeing of everyone,” said Levin. “Images of food and home insecurity played out across our TVs every evening. Initially, like many, we donated to various groups to aid front-line workers and provide meals to
many in need. Then it came closer to home, in our neighborhood. A colleague told me about Mid County United Ministries (MUM), an organization providing bags of groceries to those experiencing food insecurity throughout
MCMILLAN MUSIC................. 53 NAMM........................................ 15 NAMM........................................ 20 REVERB..................................... 17 TONEWOODAMP..................... C-III VOCOPRO.................................. 13
the county we live and work in. After a phone call, we not only donated funds, but also provided MUM the use of a property to stage their monthly mobile pantry just blocks from our store. I unlocked the doors for them over a year ago and stayed to help bag groceries, process clients, whatever was needed. I have been volunteering at the pantry on Sundays ever since. The food lines have increased, and the need is great. MUM is there to give immediate aid, also providing emergency rent, utility and prescription assistance. “Reaching across the nation and the world, the organization Water Mission addresses the dangers of unsafe water,” added Levin. “This group designs, builds and implements safe water and hygiene solutions for people in need around the world and in disaster areas like Haiti, Puerto Rico and now Texas. We came to know Water Mission a few years back, when a local music teacher came to us to help donate and ship instruments to their sister school, The Hope Bright School, in Soweto. When the equipment arrived, we thought, ‘Mission accomplished.’ Then we discovered that these children had no access to clean water. We couldn’t ignore this and started searching for a
VOID ACOUSTICS.................... 27
solution. Enter Water Mission. It provided boots on the ground help, not only building a well with a solar system to
deal with the largest plumbing disaster on record. They are a great group of people who see problems as chal-
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.
run it, but also trained staff to maintain it. We have continued to support Water Mission as it currently helps Texas lenges waiting to be fixed! “If you’re among the lucky ones now, donate what you can to organizations that can help others in time of need. Volunteering makes you realize how lucky you are and how quickly that can change,” concluded Levin.
THE FINAL NOTE
(continued from page 54) and camping in Colorado. It’s an amazing state.
The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Brieske: I saw Radiohead in the early 2000s. It is such an amazing band, and they were really at the top of their game at the time. I’ll never forget that show. The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Brieske: It has to be John Bonham. He’s always been my No. 1 drumming influence, and I think it would be amazing to witness his power in person. Of course, that also means I’d get to see Led Zeppelin in their prime. The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future (postpandemic)? Brieske: Honestly, any of our Low Boy artists. We launched our first official artist program during the pandemic, because we really want to support the amazing musicians who play our products once they’re back on the road. I do have tickets to see the Black Crowes at Red Rocks, so that might be my first postpandemic show. The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most? Brieske: Probably “Yellow Submarine.” Before I knew who the Beatles were, it just felt like any other children’s song. I had no idea it was recorded by the greatest band of all time! The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod? Brieske: Tim Very is a Low Boy artist, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Manchester Orchestra. Its new album, “The Million Masks of God” is an absolute masterpiece. If you haven’t listened to it, check it out. The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
Brieske: I went to my first NAMM show in 1996, when I was 19. That was also my first trip to California. I attended the Fender 50th Anniversary Concert, and I thought it was the most amazing thing. I think Steven Seagal was the master of ceremonies, The Ventures played, and I’m pretty sure Bonnie Raitt headlined. The bar served me rum and cokes even though I was underage, and I really felt like I had arrived!
time, it feels good to know that Low Boy is a small link in that chain.
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? Brieske: I’m going to pick three musicians: Neil Young, Miles Davis and Max Roach. I’d ask them all how they continued to remain creative for their entire lives. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut or feel like you’ve created enough art to be seen as successful, but some people have to keep creating. It’s deep inside of them. I’m not sure I’m one of those people, but I’d like to get closer to that place in my life.
The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Brieske: I think the continued use of computers to make music will have a huge effect on MI. Don’t get me wrong, technology is an amazing tool, and there is fantastic music being made with just a computer. That said, there’s a huge group of young musicians out there who don’t experience playing music with others. They don’t understand that magic, and over time it could really have an effect on the number of instruments being sold.
The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them). Brieske: My first job at Fender was on the road. Central Pennsylvania was part of my territory, where I called on a very rural shop for the first time. It was my last appointment of the day, and the store owner invited me to dinner with his crew, which was really nice of him. The closest hotel was probably 30 to 45 minutes away, so after dinner he told me he’d put me up for the night. I woke up to a huge breakfast, then went on my way. It was a very kind gesture! The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industr y? Brieske: I love the camaraderie and the mission. Of course, many of us are in competition with each other, but when it comes down to it, we’re inspiring people to make music. Whether that means musicians at the top of their craft, or kids picking up a pair of drumsticks for the first
The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industr y and why? Brieske: I’ll go with Barack Obama. I’ve been listening to his “Renegades” podcast with Bruce Springsteen, and it’s amazing to listen to his views on so many of the issues that we’re dealing with today.
The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Brieske: In addition to owning Low Boy, I also own a podcast production company, so I’d probably be doing that full time. The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you
enjoy living there. Brieske: I’ve lived in Denver for 15 years, and I love it. It was really sleepy when I first moved here, but now it really feels like a big city, with a music scene to match. That said, this month, Low Boy will be moving to Santa Barbara, Calif. I’ll miss Denver, but we’re excited to set up shop close to the beach!
The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Brieske: I have a 20-inch ‘60s or ‘70s Zildjian ride cymbal that would be the first thing I’d grab if my house caught on fire. I think it’s the only instrument that really defines my sound as a drummer. I bought it at a pawn shop for $40 when I was 18 or 19. It was drilled for rivets, but they had been removed. I wrote a letter to Zildjian (a real letter, sent through the mail), asking about getting new rivets installed. They wrote back and told me to send the cymbal in, and they would do it for free. I was amazed at their generosity. I had no idea that a rivet only costs about a quarter. The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Brieske: This is probably cliché, but I thought “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk was a great book. It doesn’t really offer great business advice, but it’s really inspirational. If you have an idea for a business but feel too scared to start, read “Crush It!”
MCMILLAN MUSIC 15 Britain Dr., New Britain, PA 18901
E: firstname.lastname@example.org | P. 800-441-0603 | F. 215-441-8531 | W.www.mcmillanmusicco.com
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T H E FINAL NOTE
JEREMY BRIESKE CO-FOUNDER, LOW BOY CUSTOM BEATERS By Brian Berk
The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Jeremy Brieske: There are too many to pick just one. I feel lucky to have worked with many people who were leaders in the industry for decades. My first job at 17 was at Herter Music Center in Saginaw, Mich., where Rich Morse taught me a lot about musical instrument retail. Charlie Wicks and Bill Eaton at Pro Co Sound taught me the importance of designing high-quality products. Working for Richard McDonald at Fender was like a masterclass in marketing. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Brieske: Someone once told me that if you build something, a customer might develop their entire impression of your brand from a single item. When you’re manufacturing something, especially a handmade product like our bass drum beaters, it’s easy to make mistakes. It’s easy to get frustrated and send out an imperfect product. But that one imperfect beater could be the only Low Boy product a drummer ever uses, and I don’t want their impression of our brand to be from a flawed beater. Whenever I’m tempted to say “That looks good enough,” I try to remember this advice. The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Brieske: I went to an elementary school that had an amazing music program, and in second grade I played the xylophone in our class play. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that must be when the percussion bug bit me! The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Brieske: Without question, the drum set. I’m a mediocre guitarist (at best), but the drums always came really naturally to me. The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Brieske: It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been in a band. It’s crazy to say that, but life gets in the way. I really miss making music with other people. The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Brieske: Enjoying the outdoors, especially in the summer. In less than a 45-minute drive, we have access to world-class hiking, rafting (continued on page 53)
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