Music & Sound Retailer August 2019, Vol 36 No 8

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Appetite for Disruption By Brian Berk Summer NAMM attendance reaches 16,000, an increase of 7 percent vs. 2018 (continued on page 28)

Reinventing Themselves By Brian Berk DJ/lighting companies see great success by changing with the times (continued on page 51)

August 2019 Volume 36, No. 8


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Gibson to Turn New Leaf

Gibson Brands Inc. plans to take a new approach regarding brand protection. “Recently, there has been a wide spectrum of both support and criticism with the approach that has been taken by Gibson in the market regarding brand protection. While there are clear lessons to be learned around tone and legal explanations, the past few weeks have provided a ‘real-time’ opportunity for Gibson to start making the pivot from less legal leverage to more industry collaboration, with appropriate levels of awareness,” the company stated in a news release. “Since emerging from bankruptcy less than a year ago, Gibson has made significant progress in the key areas that matter most to guitarists around the world. With a clear focus on quality, a new collection of original and modern guitars, and a more confident dealer and artist base, the new team at Gibson have proven they can listen to the market to create new solutions. But there is still more work to be done, and the new team at Gibson remains on a mission.” Added Gibson, “While new management is building on the legacy, quality and craftsmanship that guitarists have come to love and expect from Gibson, they will also continue to manage and attempt

Nady Systems Acquired by Chicago Company

Nady Systems has been acquired by PromarkBRANDS, a Chicago-based company that manufactures, distributes and markets several lines of photographic/audiovisual equipment. Going forward, Nady will be a division of Promark. The addition of Nady’s long-established, innovative line of wireless/ pro audio gear will complement Promark’s current lineup and expand its reach into this new market. According to Nady, the impetus for the sale of its company at this time is John Nady’s decision to retire after 43 years as president and CEO of the company. His development of modern-day analog wireless microphone technology earned him an Emmy Award in 1996 and changed the face of live performance worldwide. Throughout his career, Nady has been devoted to manufacturing and marketing a broad range of innovative audio products that includes virtually every piece of gear used onstage and in the studio. His patented wireless technology, still in use today, is acknowledged as an industry standard. “I began working on wireless in 1968 as a young electronics engineer/rock guitarist just out of school,” said Nady. “Nady Systems has been my life’s work, and extremely gratifying on many levels. We’ve always done our best to provide the MI/pro-audio industry with top-notch gear at affordable pricing, and it’s been a privilege to have served our millions of customers throughout the world. As I retire from Nady, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of those who have enabled us to achieve such great success. The countless players, touring artists, peripheral industries, and of course, our loyal and devoted staff. We know Nady will be in good hands with PromarkBRANDS, and we look for ward to their continuing the legacy in the years to come.” Nady Systems will maintain an office in Richmond, Calif., working in conjunction with its new Chicago-area offices. Until further notice, Nady can still be contacted in California. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

to resolve the conflicts of the past. With regards to other guitar brands and companies in the marketplace, Gibson has filed specific lawsuits over the past several years with the intention of protecting its original trademark(s) rights and to avoid consumer confusion in the market,” noted the guitar manufacturer. “All of the recent attention on the few lawsuits in process stem from several years of legal action initiated well before the new leadership arrived in November 2018. With specific regards to the inherited and ongoing legal dynamic with Dean Guitars, the new Gibson team has made several attempts to communicate with them directly to avoid a prolonged legal battle. Gibson has genuine intentions of constructive resolution that could be beneficial to both sides. This recent situation has led the team to re-evaluate their approach going forward with the intention of finding more constructive solutions to managing brand protection in the industry. Over the past few weeks, Gibson has made significant progress in reducing counterfeit ‘attacks,’ and they have entered into creative collaboration agreements with key boutique guitar makers and other related industry parties — a clear indication of their intentions going forward.” “I am proud of the progress we have made with our attention to quality, with the launch of the new collections and with our renewed engagement to our Gibson-authorized dealer base,” said James ‘JC’ Curleigh, president and CEO of Gibson. “At the same time, we acknowledge there are still legacy challenges to solve going forward, especially around brand protection and market solutions. It is time to make the modern-day shift from confrontation toward collaboration, while still protecting our brands, and we are committed to making this happen starting now.”




26 Music & Sound Award Winners, Dealer Division 30 Five Minutes With

John Powell, president of Pioneer DJ Americas Inc., took on this role on April 1. Covering three pages, he offers tons of info about his new job, career and much more.


34 MI Spy

On the Cover

MI Spy has his/her sights set on New York City to check out a drum set. Did the four stores visited hit the right beat?

Appetite for Disruption

36 Retailing Better

Reinventing Themselves

38 In the Trenches

The sky is falling. Retail is doomed. Robert Christie has heard this before. He explains why retail is not dead, but it is changing.

Summer NAMM attendance reaches 16,000, an increase of 7 percent vs. 2018.

DJ/lighting companies see great success by changing with the times.

Allen McBroom also discusses plenty of changes, but takes a different approach, discussing Greek philosophers, tariffs and more.

40 Retailer Rebel

For anyone not in your store, a great way to increase sales is via great product photos. Gabriel O’Brien provides five tips on how to get the right outcome with your product photos.

42 Shine a Light

Tamarac, Fla.-based All County Music was already a tremendous MI retailer. But what it did following the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will never be forgotten.


44 Veddatorial

Could a “low-trust” internet society bode well for brick-and-mortar MI retailers?

46 Under the Hood

Numark is certainly not just scratching the surface with its new Scratch mixer, which will be prominently displayed at this month’s DJ Expo in Atlantic City.


54 The Final Note

David Marsh, director of sales at Audix, has always been focused on this quote from Benjamin Disraeli: “One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”



Buzz 3 Latest 16 People 20 Products


On the cover from L to R: Ron Bienstock, attorney; Menchey Music’s Joel Menchey; NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond; Hal Leonard’s David Jahnke; NAMM director of professional development Zach Phillips; and certified public accountant Alan Friedman played during the NAMM JAMM at Nashville’s Hard Rock Café on July 19.




Monitoring. Editing. Mixing. In the Studio. At Home. On the Road.

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Tectonic Shift I can’t really put my finger on it. Something changed at Summer NAMM this year. For the most part, gone was the minority, vocal contingent of manufacturers that expressed concerns about the Nashville show. “Booth traffic is weak,” “let’s move Summer NAMM to a different location” and “we don’t need the show anymore” were common refrains I heard from exhibitors in the past. Instead, in my many booth appointments this year, I heard a lot about how booth traffic was good and the bluebadged buyers that manufacturers seek were visiting their respective booths. Anecdotally, I can say MI retailers were definitely in Nashville last month. I saw a lot of them in fact, with many on hand at the Top 100 dealer awards, but also at the NAMM JAMM after-show party and a preshow party hosted by D’Addario and Taylor Guitars at Soundcheck Studios. Optimism was palpable. Perhaps it was due to a strong first half of 2019 that many manufacturers enjoyed. But I think it was more. It boils down to one company: Gibson. I thought Summer NAMM was Gibson’s true coming-out party. Gibson has been channeling its inner Arnold Schwarzenegger for a while now, as if to say, “I’ll be back” — and Summer NAMM officially represented the company’s return to form. Of course, Gibson also exhibited at The NAMM Show in January, but its attendance there was one among many other headlines at the show — too many headlines to count. However, last month, Gibson had a large presence on the main show floor at the Music City Center, and a lot of people took notice. Whenever I walked by, its booth was packed. Importantly, I felt welcome at the booth and enjoyed seeing the changes the company

made. A strong Gibson is strong for MI. Bankruptcies are not good. As I told one guitar manufacturer during the show: “If you were the only guitar manufacturer out there, I would be really worried about your business.” He agreed. The positive changes at Gibson can be traced back to one man: CEO James “JC” Curleigh. He gave a speech last month at the NAMM Young Professionals event. I attended that event and it wasn’t to be missed. We will have plenty of coverage in next month’s issue, instead of this issue, because I felt it deser ved more ink than just placing a small snippet in this month’s cover stor y. Also in next month’s issue is a photo spread from Summer NAMM, as well as a look at a NAMM University session about lessons that I presented, my first time moderating any educational session. Another highlight for me last month was handing out Music & Sound Awards to several new retailers, including Tarpley Music and San Diego Music Studio. The venerable Skip Maggiora of Skip’s Music was honored for his outstanding career with our Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame award. And on the last day of the show, I had the opportunity to be interviewed for the Music Instrument Retail Show podcast and checked out Lee Ann Womack playing right outside the Music City Center. Definitely one of the most memorable Summer NAMMs I’ve ever attended.

August 2019 Volume 36, No. 8

BRIAN BERK Editor ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor AMANDA MULLEN Assistant Editor

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



ROBERT L. IRAGGI Advertising Director RICKY PIMENTEL Art/Production Assistant ROBIN HAZAN Operations Manager VINCENT P. TESTA President/Publisher TIM SPICER DAN VEDDA LAURA B. WHITMORE Contributors

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


50s Stratocaster The


in Seafoam Green.

Player: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram


©2019 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. FENDER, FENDER in script, STRATOCASTER and the distinctive headstock commonly found on Fender guitars and basses are trademarks of FMIC. Registered in the U.S. and foreign countries. VINTERA is a trademark of FMIC. All rights reserved.


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Guitar Center Opens First Alaskan Location

Guitar Center opened a 16,000-square-foot location in Anchorage, Alaska, marking the retailer’s first location in Alaska and second outside the continental United States. The store, located at 2880 Seward Highway in Anchorage, hosted a grandopening celebration on June 27. “We’ve had our sights on Alaska for many years, and we’re proud to finally make our dream a reality with a massive state-of-the-art music retail destination to serve musicians in Anchorage,” said Wayne Colwell, executive vice president of store operations at Guitar Center. “We know that local musicians want access to not only Guitar Center’s extensive inventory, but all of the other services that we offer, including repairs, workshops, rentals, lessons and more. We’re excited and looking forward to serving this rich community of musicians that reside in Anchorage and the surrounding areas.” The new Anchorage store features modern showrooms equipped with the latest products for musicians, from guitars, amplifiers, percussion instruments and keyboards to live sound, DJ, lighting and recording equipment. In-store services include Guitar Center Lessons, Guitar Center Repairs and Guitar Center Rentals. Anchorage shoppers are also able to enjoy Guitar Center’s multi-channel “endless aisle,” which gives customers the ability to combine in-store, online and phone options to purchase music equipment from anywhere.


Sweetwater GearFest Draws Record Crowd

Sweetwater’s GearFest 2019 on June 21 and June 22 attracted the largest crowds ever in the event’s 18-year history. Attendance was up 13 percent compared to last year, with more than 17,000 people gathering at the Sweetwater campus on U.S. 30 in Fort Wayne, Ind. Nearly all 50 states were represented, along with several countries, including Denmark, Japan and India. GearFest is a music and pro-audio festival and trade show open to the public. The two-day event featured nearly 500 vendors and manufacturers of musical instruments, music technology equipment and pro-audio gear. Hourly prizes were given away to more than 300 winners, totaling $30,000 worth of musical instruments and audio equipment. “It is humbling and rewarding to see how GearFest has grown over the past 18 years,” said Sweetwater founder and CEO Chuck Surack. “We are always excited to bring our friends together to share our passion for music. One of my favorite parts of the weekend is personally greeting thousands of our customers at the front door as they arrive. I’m always blown away by their enthusiasm.” There were 81 live workshops and seminars hosted by 72 big names from the music industr y, including sessions on guitars, recording, live sound, songwriting and more. Special guests included legendar y guitarists Steve Vai and Eric Johnson, founder of PRS Guitars Paul Reed Smith, YouTube sensation and drummer Casey Cooper, bassist Billy Sheehan, producer/ engineer Sylvia Massey and countr y star Ricky Skaggs. AUGUST 2019



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YAMAHA IS HELPING AFRICAN FORESTS LAST LONGER African blackwood is a treasured wood delivering superior acoustics for musical instruments. To ensure its survival, Yamaha is partnering with the local NGO to practice and teach sustainable forest management in local communities. By planting thousands of trees every year and making efficient use of timber resources, we’re helping communities stay profitable, while preserving the tones of our instruments for future generations. Learn more at


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Paul Reed Smith’s Day at the Museum

Paul Reed Smith on June 29 joined the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) to celebrate the opening of the “Wire & Wood: Designing Iconic Guitars” exhibition, the museum’s latest installment. Paul Reed Smith helped to kick off the celebration with a special lecture on guitar design and a performance with noted designer and artist Ken Carbone. The new exhibition, which profiles Smith and PRS Guitars’ unique guitar designs, explores the basics of design and construction, while also examining ways that musicians have used the instrument to shape their public images. The exhibition features a dozen iconic guitars and shares the stories of why they have become so well recognized. Curated and designed by W. Todd Vaught, “Wire & Wood” couples foundational design with engaging musician commentary to pose the question: Does form follow function, or is image king? The exhibition presents the guitar in its most minimal form, asking viewers to consider how simple and traditional design elements such as instrument shape and species of wood affect sound. The exhibition surveys advancements in luthiery, including mass manufacturing and alternative materials, and shares the stories behind how some of the 20th century’s most famous guitars reached their iconic status. On display through Sept. 29, “Wire & Wood” also studies the relationship between instrument and player, showcasing an impressive lineup of legendary guitars played by famed musicians and perform-

Etsy Acquires Reverb for $275M

Etsy Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Reverb Holdings Inc. for $275 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments with respect to cash, debt, working capital, transaction expenses and the value of equity awards granted in connection with the transaction. Reverb, which will operate as a standalone business when the deal closes, was founded in Chicago in 2013 on the principle that buying musical instruments should be easy and affordable. “In a short amount of time, we’ve built a community that musicians from all walks of life turn to for income to support their families, inspiration to fuel their passions, instruments to create new music, and so much more. We’re excited to continue growing our marketplace, team, and community as part of Etsy. We’ve always found inspiration in Etsy. In fact, the company gave me the confidence to launch Reverb when I saw the need for a musician's marketplace in 2013. We’re excited to

ers, including PRS artist Orianthi. On display is her Blood Splatter Custom 24, which she has used on world tour with Alice Cooper. “Wire & Wood” is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs and Wire & Wood Alpharetta Songwriters Festival.

align ourselves with a marketplace that has been supporting artists, makers, and creative entrepreneurs for nearly 15 years. Together, we’ll continue to create a destination online where the music industry connects over the perfect piece of gear,” said David Kalt, Reverb's founder and CEO. Kalt will continue to serve as CEO until Etsy identifies a new leader of the business. He will remain closely involved to provide leadership and support following the closing. “Vibrant two-sided marketplaces are lightning in a bottle — there are only a handful of them operating at scale — and Reverb is one. This transaction is a great strategic fit that firmly aligns with our mission of keeping commerce human. Reverb is the ‘Etsy’ of musical instruments, with significant competitive advantages, and we see tremendous value and untapped potential in the business,” said Josh Silverman, Etsy’s CEO.

Yamaha Teams With Guitars for Vets Yamaha joined veteran’s group Guitars for Vets (G4V) to host a live music performance in observance of National PTSD Awareness Day, as well as to celebrate the recent milestone opening of G4V’s 100th chapter nationwide, the latest major step forward for its program of rehabilitation from post-traumatic stress disorder through music. Students and graduates of the G4V program made up a significant portion of the performing musicians at the 21 Guitar Salute, a free event in the Grand Hall of Best Place at the city’s historic Pabst Brewery. The show brought together 21 local bands from the Milwaukee-Madison-Green Bay area, ranging in genre from rock to jazz to reggae. G4V co-founder Patrick Nettesheim and Yamaha Corp. of America president Tom Sumner, both guitarists, also joined the group onstage. One of the highlights of the event was a guest appearance by David McMahon, 93, a World War II veteran suffering from advanced dementia. According to his caretakers, McMahon — a former semi-professional guitarist — had nearly forgotten he knew how to play before Nettesheim visited his assisted-living facility last year to present him with a Yamaha acoustic guitar as a gift from Guitars for Vets. With the 12



A Great Experience

The Adam Hall Group Experience Center has won the ADC (Art Directors Club) Competition 2019 award in the category “Spatial Experience > Corporate Interior.” The ADC Competition annually presents awards for pioneering projects in the areas of digital, advertising, editorial, film, design, event and spatial design. “Our goal for the Experience Center is centered around offering people the opportunity to not only be inspired, but also to implement their creative ideas in a modern environment with state-of-the-art technology,” said Alexander Pietschmann, CEO of the Adam Hall Group. “Since the grand opening now a year ago, the Experience Center is valued as a place for sharing great emotions and moments together — connecting business customers, partners, associations and our employees in an integrated manner. We are delighted to be presented with this honorable award by the ADC Jury.” Opening its doors in June 2018, the Experience Center serves as a modern working and meeting place. Among other features, it is home to a fully equipped showroom, a large auditorium for live shows and product demonstrations, the company restaurant Come Together, the Adam Hall Academy, and various measuring rooms, test rigs, development laboratories and 3D prototyping facilities. The ADC jur y consists of 27 specialist juries assembled from a total of 405 jur y members who assess the submitted works from studios, editorial offices, companies and agencies against fundamental criteria such as originality, clarity, strength and joy.

guitar in his hands, McMahon’s skills returned quickly, and he has been playing regularly ever since. His caretakers and family accompanied him to the 21 Guitar Salute, where he took the stage and played a song with his G4V instructor, Steve Vogt. “Guitars for Vets is right in tune with the charitable and humanitarian mission of Yamaha; we’re grateful to Patrick for the continued opportunity to channel our craft and talent toward healing for those who have given so much of themselves,” said Sumner of the partnership. “We are happy to put our efforts toward some measure of appreciation for our veterans when they need us.”

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Note From Mark Hebert


A Sense of Community Discover how Mark Hebert, President and CEO of 2019 Dealer of the Year Cosmo Music, utilizes his NAMM membership to increase his company’s success. Cosmo Music was started humbly in 1968 by my dad, Tom. Known at the time as Cosmo Guitars, the shop began in Ontario, Canada, importing instruments from Italy and Japan, selling music retail merchandise and providing lessons. While a lot has changed since then, our team has shared a powerful and enduring dream: to build the world’s most exciting and interactive music-making environment. For these past fifty years, we’ve helped our community to make music—a lot of music—and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Today, our 56,000 square foot, custom purpose-built building is the single largest musical instrument store in North America. Cosmo Music and NAMM At Summer NAMM, our team was thrilled to be honored as a NAMM Top 100 Dealer. The team at NAMM asked me to write a bit about our company’s journey in order to give some insight for other dealers as they grow and evolve in this industry. I don’t claim to have any big secret, but there is one thing I know: there’s power in connection and community. This is a people business, and building relationships is the best investment a retailer or manufacturer could possibly make. Because of this simple fact, Cosmo never misses a chance to attend The NAMM Show and Summer NAMM, allowing us the opportunity to connect with our manufacturers, distributors and fellow retailers in an environment focused on fun and organic business growth. By training our staff through free, professional development at NAMM U, our service-oriented operation maintains a strong and versatile team. We also take the time to bond and enjoy some live music every night. We’ve got to enjoy the fact that we work in the best industry—the music products business!

Cosmo Music and the Community We value community so much that we’ve made it a part of our DNA. As a full-service retailer, our organization has become its own ecosystem, as opposed to just a store. Each year, we put on Cosmo Fest, a music and gear festival, with over 14,000 registrants and 160 brands. Our goal is to bring the musical community together and to have our store serve as a linchpin, uniting us through our shared love of music. And, the results have been incredible. Sales are consistently up 40% after each fest. Likewise, we host several events and concerts at our Cosmopolitan Music Hall, supporting local charities like Friends of Music Therapy of the SickKids Foundation, which provides music therapy for children in need. Next Steps While I realize every store might not have the same resources or square footage, I believe the core of what we do can provide inspiration for other retailers. I would recommend sponsoring community events like concerts, music education seminars or recitals. Similarly, I think a lot can be gained by visiting other stores and events. I highly recommend bringing your staff to The NAMM Show and Summer NAMM. You’ll be amazed at the skills your staff learns after attending NAMM U education sessions and networking throughout the campus. Truly, the more you give, the more you get. An investment in people, training and connection is the best you can possibly make in our industry. For that, and many reasons, I am a proud member of our trade association, NAMM. Mark Hebert • President, CEO • Cosmo Music


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Larry Morton Named Hal Leonard CEO

Hal Leonard announced that Keith Mardak stepped down as its CEO, and Larry Morton became president and CEO, effective Aug. 1. Mardak will remain with Hal Leonard as chairman of the board and act in a consultant role for the foreseeable future. Mardak first started working with Hal Leonard in 1970 with the Learning Unlimited joint venture, which then revitalized Hal Leonard’s hold on the lucrative organ bench pack business. Hal Leonard annual sales at that time were $960,000. In just two years, the sales of Learning Unlimited products outsold the rest of the offerings from Hal Leonard. Negotiations with the Hal Leonard ownership ensued, and Mardak and the rest of the Learning Unlimited owners became minority shareholders in the Hal Leonard Publishing/Pointer System companies. In 1985, Mardak purchased the company — at a time when its annual sales were at $16 million — and he has been its CEO ever since. Under Mardak’s leadership, the company has become a leader in educational methods and repertoire. In addition to its own publishing of iconic methods such as the Hal Leonard Guitar Method and

Keith Mardak (left) with Larry Morton

Essential Elements Band and Strings Methods; publishing agreements with the biggest names in music, including the Beatles, Disney, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and hundreds more; acquisitions of many print and digital companies including G. Schirmer, Rubank, Willis Piano, Shawnee Press, Music Sales, Noteflight, and Groove3; and distribution deals with many other publishers and musical gear producers, Hal Leonard sales have grown to more than $250 million. In addition, the company has expanded around the world with offices in Australia, England, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and more. The company now has nearly 800 employees. Morton joined Hal Leonard in 1990 and quickly worked his way up to national sales manager, then vice president of Sales. Mardak appointed Morton as president of Hal Leonard in 1999. In 2016, after years of research and discussions, Hal Leonard announced that private investment firm Seidler Equity Partners had acquired a majority interest in the company. As part of that agreement, Mardak stayed on for three years to help with the transition. “I am proud of the work I’ve done with Hal Leonard and happy that I’ve been able to spend the majority of my days working in the music industry,” said Mardak. “Over the years, I’ve had the honor of working with amazing people with the common goal of sharing the joy of making music. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Ketch a Great Catch

Rob Ketch was named senior vice president of sales at Fishman. He previously served as vice president of OEM Sales since 2007, and he was initially hired by Fishman in 1994 as an inside salesperson. In addition to OEM Sales, Ketch has remained deeply involved in the design of product solutions with Fishman’s engineering and product-development team. He also remains active as a musician, playing guitar in various New England-area bands over the last 35 years. “It’s my great pleasure to promote Rob to the well-deserved position of senior vice president of sales,” said Larry Fishman, founder and president of Fishman. “Rob has consistently demonstrated his leadership skills and an unwavering track record of success with building relationships and sales for Fishman. Our company’s continued growth is in no small part due to Rob’s steadfast determination and hard work. Because of that dedication, the Fishman brand adds value and performance to hundreds of thousands of new instruments every year.”




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Korg’s New Triumvirate

Korg USA Inc. hired Kristin Goold as director of talent management, Emily Shortell as digital content specialist and Ian Pritchard as product manager for Guitar Brands. Goold is taking on the traditional HR functions, such as handling benefits, onboarding new hires and overseeing employee relations, but her main focus will be staff engagement, developing a collaborative career plan based on employees’ needs and interests, as well as the goals of Korg. Shortell has an extensive design and marketing background, ser ving D’Addario & Co., Eastport Backpacks, and news and entertainment platform Kristin Goold Betches. She will manage the social-media strategies and content development for Korg, VOX Amplification and Cole Clark Guitars, creating compelling content, engaging with followers and increasing brand awareness across all platforms. Pritchard studied Music Technology at New York University and has worked in select studios assisting with recording, mixing and engineering. He has created a variety of YouTube videos for guitar, pedal and synthesizer

Emily Shortell

Ian Pritchard

companies within the industry as a freelance content creator, engineer and composer. As product manager, he will be responsible for brand management, working with marketing to create engaging video, and social and ad content, as well as product copywriting, assisting with global launches, and providing direction and support to sales.

Houck Retires From Audix

Gene Houck, Audix’s director of sales, retired at the end of June. Houck joined Audix in December of 2000, initially boosting retail and pro-audio sales and later playing a crucial role in developing the House of Worship (HoW) market. Formerly a worship leader himself, as well as a respected professional vocalist and bass player, he was able to quickly establish inroads in the worship market. Leveraging his experience and connections, he built relationships with contractors who specialized in HoW installations and created endorsements with influential contemporary Christian artists such as Casting Crowns, Phil Keaggy and Lincoln Brewster. In addition to his business-development achievements, Houck’s natural ability to understand the needs of consumers and articulate them to the Audix engineering team led to the development of many innovative microphone products for the broader installed-sound market. Over the last decade, Houck has overseen the development of this rapidly evolving and important market. “Gene has an infectious passion for the audio industry and Audix products,” said Cindy Bigeh, chief financial officer at Audix. “He has played an instrumental role in the success of Audix, and his achievements have been noteworthy. Audix will miss Gene’s warm smile, friendly nature, devout professionalism and positive attitude. We wish him the very best in his next chapter.” Houck will be succeeded by David Marsh, who was formerly with Audio-Technica (A-T). During his 16-year tenure at A-T, Marsh rose from regional sales manager to director of sales for the professional markets in the U.S. and Canada. Along the way, he helped expand A-T’s reach into professional audio, including the contractor/integration and broadcast markets.

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Iris Manus Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Alfred Music’s Iris Manus on June 14 was honored with the 2019 MPA Lifetime Achievement Award during the Music Publishers Association Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon in New York City. “I am deeply honored, pleased and very proud to receive the MPA Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Manus. “Helping the world experience the joy of making music has been incredibly rewarding. I met Morty, the love of my life, at Alfred Music. I made lifelong friends including authors, retailers and industry partners. Music makes everything better. My life has been filled with music and love — I wish that for everyone.” Brittain Ashford, administrative director of the MPA (left), along with Alfred Music’s Iris Manus and Ron Manus Founded in 1895, the MPA is the oldest music trade organization in the United States, fostering communication among publishers, dealers, music educators and all ultimate users of music. The MPA, a non-profit association, addresses itself to issues pertaining to every area of music publishing, with an emphasis on the issues relevant to the publishers of print music for concert and educational purposes.

Sabian’s Trifecta

Tom O’Dea

Rick Murray

Bob Rupp

Sabian named Tom O’Dea U.S. sales manager, Rick Murray product manager and Bob Rupp customer relations specialist. O’Dea now holds overall responsibility for sales revenue performance for Sabian, Gon Bops and Sabian Performance accessories. Murray has owned and operated a full-line drum shop, served as national sales manager for Pork Pie Percussion and district sales manager for KMC, and continues to play drums live and in studio sessions. As product manager, he will take the lead in all training and events for Sabian and its brands. Rupp founded Rupp’s Drums in Denver in 1984 and was one of the first U.S. dealers to stock Sabian cymbals in his shop. In 2004, he founded RuppBeat Marketing and entered into a partnership with Sabian to develop and execute in-store seminars, training, sales events and promotions. Since that time, Rupp has also been a key part of the Sabian Sound Team, and a product and trainings. In his new role, he works closely with a select list of retailers, oversees the Artists Affiliate Program and heads the Sabian Street Team. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



z z u B Hit the Stage

Enter Bookman

“Play Like Metallica,” a book/audio combo pack, takes an in-depth look at Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield’s styles, combining essential licks, signature riffs and integral techniques Metallica has used throughout its career, along with complete transcriptions of five of the band’s most iconic songs. Additionally, “Play Like Metallica” breaks down their gear, overall sound, greatest recorded moments, and must-see concert and YouTube footage. It features full transcriptions of “Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets,” “Moth Into Flame,” “One,” and “Seek & Destroy.” Excerpts are included throughout from other popular songs, including: “…And Justice for All,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Fuel,” “Ride the Lightning,” “The Unforgiven” and more. MSRP: $24.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Hal Leonard,


Yamaha launched the STAGEPAS 1K portable PA system and STAGEPAS Editor iOS/Android app. The STAGEPAS 1K is driven by a high-frequency array speaker packed with 10 small-diameter 1.5-inch drivers that provide professional-level accuracy and clarity. The system features a 1,000-watt Class-D amplifier, a significant upgrade in power from its predecessors, the STAGEPAS 600BT and STAGEPAS 400BT, stated the company. A 12-inch subwoofer was developed to simultaneously house the sizable speaker and improve portability with its streamlined construction and reduced weight. To provide a clearer, stronger, distortion-free low end, Yamaha added the company’s own Twisted Flare Port technology to the subwoofer to effectively reduce wind noise in the bass reflex port. The array speaker is simply affixed to the subwoofer cabinet, requiring no cables or speaker stands, for a fast and easy setup. The free STAGEPAS Editor iOS/Android app allows users to operate their remote parameter adjustments of volume and EQ transportation. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Early fall Contact: Yamaha,

Eye of the Tiger

Lace Music Products introduced the D3 Series of pickups. The D3 Series models are dedicated to Donnie Lace III, the son of Don Lace Jr. and nephew of Jeff Lace. Donnie Lace III was the heir apparent, who passed away in November 2018. Available models are The Sabretooth, D’ Agitator and The Designators. The humbuckers are available in chrome, gold and black “microphone” finish. The Sabretooth model features a Sabretooth tiger, D’ Agitator features a Molotov cocktail and The Designators bear a Ray gun. A portion of all proceeds from the sales will go to the newly formed “Solace for Hope” organization, co-founded by Don and Jeff Lace. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Lace Music,

Cable Guy

PRS Guitars introduced a more affordable line of instrument, patch and speaker cables via its PRS Guitars Classic Series Cable lineup. PRS Signature Series instrument and patch cables feature carefully tuned capacitance designed specifically to carry a clear musical signal from a guitar. The cables’ tight construction and dual screens of conductive thermoplastic and close-lapped copper ensure flexible, noise-free handling and excellent noise rejection, and all connectors utilize a no wear, no-corrode hermetically sealed reed switch, making this cable ideal onstage and in the studio. Available configurations include 6-inch (patch), 5-feet, 10-feet, 18-feet and 25-feet lengths. Straight to Straight and Straight to Right-Angle connectors, as well as “regular” and “silent” ends, are available. PRS Signature Series speaker cable conductors employ fine stranding for ultimate flexibility, and their oxygen-free copper provides outstanding sonic integrity. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: PRS Guitars, AUGUST 2019


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We Want Mooer

Triple Play

Galaxy Audio debuted the JIB/BT4R, dual-system JIB/BT4RS and stereo JIB/BT8R, which can be connected to an audio system and paired to a phone, tablet or any other Bluetooth audio player to stream high-quality Bluetooth audio to a mixer or powered speaker. The portable JIB/BT4R is a monophonic Bluetooth receiver with an XLR connector that plugs directly into an audio mixer or powered speaker. Simple controls allow Bluetooth pairing, power on/off and 0dB or -10dB pad for line- or mic-level inputs. A lithium-ion battery provides up to 10 hours of use and can be recharged from most USB charging ports using a micro-USB cable. The JIB/BT4RS includes two JIB/BT4R receivers for stereo applications. MSRP: JIB/BT4R: $49.99; JIB/BT4RS, $89.99; JIB/BT8R, $99.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Galaxy Audio,

St. Louis Music released the flagship product from Mooer Audio, the GE300 Amp Modelling, and Synth and Multi Effects board. Expanding on the GE200 feature set, this unit comes with 108 digital amp models based on Mooer’s non-linear amp modelling technology, 43 factory cab sims and a full-featured IR loader. Tone Capture is also included in the GE300 but with three different modes. Amp Mode allows end users to sample and capture a real-life amplifier, Guitar Mode enables end users to capture the EQ characteristics of an instrument, and Cab Mode provides an all-in-one tool to sample speaker cabinets and create your own IR files. MAP: $799 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: St. Louis Music,

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From long distance learning and performing To capturing your creativity without tech in the way

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z z u B

The Little Martin That Could

The Little Martin LX1R is big on tone, quality and versatility, and it includes sustainable wood parts, stated the company. It features a solid Sitka spruce top for warmth and projection, paired with stylish rosewood pattern HPL. As the first model in its series with a pickguard, it also includes a laser-etched herringbone rosette and comes with a soft gig bag for easy transport for end users to take their music anywhere. The Little Martin is ideal for travel but also makes a great student guitar, the manufacturer added. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: C.F. Martin,

Plenty of New Amo

Kaplan, D’Addario’s line of premium orchestral strings, is expanding the Amo & Vivo sets for Violin & Viola to include both full and fractional sizes. Violin strings will be available in medium tension in both full and fractional sizes, as well as light and heavy for full size only. Sizes include sets and single packaging for 4/4, 3/4, 1/2 and 1/4 instruments. Viola strings will be available in short-scale (14 to 15 inches), medium-scale (15 to 16 inches), and long-scale (16+ inches) in both sets and single packaging. Long scale sets will continue to be available in medium and heavy tension, while medium and short scales will be available in medium tension only. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: D’Addario,


Make a Change

Kyser Musical Products Inc. is expanding its QuickChange Capo collection with a three-color Sunburst design. The Sunburst finishing process is unique to musical instrument manufacturing and has become synonymous with the most famous guitars of all time, stated the company. The product stems from the recent popularity of Kyser’s rosewood and maple finish capos, as well as industry demand for vintage-inspired gear, added the manufacturer. Forged by hand in Texas, this capo boasts the ergonomic design of the original Quick-Change line that’s intended for a variety of six-string acoustic guitar neck profiles. MSRP: $24.95; MAP: $19.95 Ship Date: Now Contact: Kyser Musical Products,

The Empire Strikes Back

Alesis announced its Strike Amp 12 powered drum amplifier for use with electronic drum kits. Alesis developed this high-performance drum amplifier because it recognized the need for drummers playing electronic kits to be able to amplify their sound with power and clarity in order to satisfy the sound requirements of any performance or practice scenario, stated the company. Its two-way design — a specially-voiced, long-excursion 12-inch woofer and a one-inch highfrequency compression driver in a computer-optimized waveguide — accurately reproduce the kit’s sound with all the clarity and lifelike detail that any drummer would need, added the manufacturer. MSRP: $299 Ship Date: This summer Contact: Alesis,


Protect your gear from harmful UV rays.


guitar March of the Penguins

Cincinnati-based Amahi Ukuleles introduced five new colors to its Penguin flamed maple rainbow finish ukulele. The PGUK555 model is now available in red, green, blue, black and purple. Currently in concert size with a beautiful gloss finish, they come standard with Aquila strings and a padded gig bag. Street Price: $179 Ship Date: Now Contact: Amahi Ukuleles,

Choose a Theme

Maple Leaf Strings debuted its Deluxe Embroidery Themed Case. The company has designed a line of destinationthemed cases that illustrate the custom potential of its design team and branding tools. The initial designs focus on a handful of popular destinations, but the design team can create custom solutions to tap into the specific needs of individual markets. Paired with its popular 2001 case line, these durable yet affordable cases are perfect for the impulse buyers that walk through MI retailers’ doors, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Maple Leaf Strings,

Virtual Reality

IK Multimedia introduced MODO Drum, its first physical modeling drum virtual instrument. A sequel to IK’s MODO BASS software, MODO DRUM brings musicians of all styles and genres a new level of customization, detail and realism. Using a powerful combination of modal synthesis and advanced sampling, MODO DRUM offers 10 customizable, virtual drum kits with real-time access to every parameter of each drum (kick, snares and toms) from size and tension, to shell profile and playing style, and more. Cymbals can also be tuned and damping adjusted to ensure incredibly realistic music tracks. To further shape their sound, users can place their kit in different acoustic environments and take advantage of a full mixer with sends and buses, as well as 19 studio processors and effects from IK’s acclaimed T-RackS and AmpliTube software titles to add the final polish to any kit. An integrated Groove manager featuring more than 1,400 patterns allows users to create beats right out of the box. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: This month Contact: IK Multimedia,



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z z u B

Ready for Prime Time Master of Headphones

V-MODA released the Crossfade M-100 Master. For the first time, Roland engineers managed the tuning process of a V-MODA headphone throughout the different iterations to make Crossfade M-100 Master sound. This co-engineering process emphasizes a “creatorsfirst” approach and makes the new headphone intended for professional DJs, producers and video streamers who want to improve their skills with an exceptional audio tool, stated the company. Its 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers have been upgraded with Japanese CCAW coil, pushing the sound quality into the ranks of Hi-Res Audio. It also offers a SteelFlex headband, developed following fan feedback, which prevents the development of pressure points so it feels like the headphones are not even there, stated the company. MSRP: $250 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: V-Moda,

Odyssey’s Denon Prime 4 Media Controller hybrid case/bag features a reinforced stitched molded EVA shell design for DJ gear protection. It has extra-large embossed corners and two-inch thick soft convoluted top foam, intended to keep faders, knobs and jog wheels safe in transport. It also has large top-grade custom logo zippers, rivet-enforced double handles and non-slip shoulder straps to ensure secure mobility. MAP: $149.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Odyssey,

Be a Star Let’s Get Digital

Korg launched the B2 series; a next-generation line of digital pianos designed to sound and feel as authentic as an acoustic piano. With three new models, the B2 series comprises the B2, B2N, and B2SP, all embedded with new piano samples in both mono and stereo, plus EP, organ, strings and more. Like its predecessor, the digital pianos feature Korg’s Natural Hammer weighted piano action, while the B2N’s key bed is lighter in action, designed for players who prefer a lighter touch and better portability. Each model has fantastic connectivity, including USB MIDI and Audio to connect to any smartphone, tablet or computer, stated the company. To take further advantage of the USB connectivity, the B2 series includes three months of Skoove Piano teaching software free. It can also work with the microphone on the user’s device, providing no limitations to digital products. MSRP: B2N, $399.99, B2, $499.99; and B2SP, $599.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Korg USA,


Wireworld Cable Technology debuted its Series 8 Starlight, Ultraviolet and Chroma USB cables. These flat cables utilize Wireworld’s exclusive Uni-Path conductor geometry, Composilex 3 insulation and noise absorbing power conductors to improve the fidelity of studio interface connections. Uni-Path conductor geometry uses dense multi-layer shields on each signal pair to provide extreme immunity to external noise and interference. This design also minimizes signal loss and crosstalk within the cable, for improved preservation of digital waveforms. The Chroma cables are yellow, and their 28AWG signal conductors are made of oxygen-free copper. The signal conductors in the purple ultraviolet cables are silver-plated OFC. The conductors in the red Starlight 8 cables are called silver-clad, because they contain three times as much silver as the ultraviolet to further increase performance. These cables exceed official USB specifications and they are available in lengths of 0.6 meters, one meter, two meters and three meters. MSRP: Pricing for one-meter cables: Chroma 8, USB2.0/$30, USB3.0/$45, USB3.1/$60; Ultraviolet 8 (USB2.0/$50, USB3.0/$80); Starlight 8 (USB2.0/$100, USB3.0/$130, USB3.1/$180) Ship Date: Now Contact: Wireworld Cable Technology, AUGUST 2019


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Take It to the Bank

The Music People division of On-Stage introduced its PS901 Pedal Power Bank at Summer NAMM last month. The PS901 drives an almost limitless array of guitar effects pedals and boasts nine fully isolated, individually LED-indicated outputs. Internally surge protected, the PS901 Pedal Power Bank also includes a five-plug daisy chain for expandability to power up to 13 pedals. The Pedal Power Bank is housed in a heavy-duty, black anodized aluminum housing and a unit-comprehensive package of eight power cables, one reverse polarity plug and an 18-volt power supply with European conversion adapter plugs. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: On-Stage,

You’d look a little beat up too if you spent the last 30 years on the road.

Hammer to Fall

D&A Guitar Gear launched the Hammerhead + Folding Music Stand at Summer NAMM last month. It features a patented five-leg footprint, as well as a reversable snap lock retention system that converts from an adjustable sheet music holder to a stable and well-balanced laptop or tablet stand, stated the company. Incorporated into the design is a unique fold-out instrument support leg system to accommodate any instrument, so sheet music charts and an instrument have just one destination. The design also includes a unique pen holder for making notes on the fly to music charts. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: D&A Guitar Gear,

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If you purchased a Littlite in 1986, chances are it still works. And if it doesn’t, chances are it is still under warranty.






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Parallel Universe

Electro-Harmonix’s Tri Parallel Mixer is an effects creation and mixing hub. Three separate FX loops with flexible controls allow for multiple configurations, as follows: Run up to three FX Loops in parallel and create sounds that are not possible by connecting effects in series, which seamlessly transition between FX Loops in XOR mode. Send one instrument out to three separate amplifiers. Mix three instruments into a single output. The Tri Parallel Mixer is compact, considering the level of functionality it provides, while its intuitive controls and I/O make it easy to operate. The Tri Parallel Mixer comes with an EHX 9.6DC power supply. Street Price: $138.70 Ship Date: Now Contact: Electro-Harmonix,




MULTI-STORE DEALER DIVISION Best Guitars & Basses Blues Angel Music (FL, AL)

Best DJ Equipment I DJ Now (NY)

Best Keyboards West Music (IA, IL)

Best Clinics Skip’s Music (CA)

Best Instrument Amplifiers Beacock Music (WA, OR)

Best Customer Service The Candyman Strings & Things (NM)

Best Sound Reinforcement Blues Angel Music (FL, AL)

Best Sales Staff The Candyman Strings & Things (NM)

Best Recording-Related Products Tarpley Music (TX, NM)

Multi-Store Dealer of the Year The Candyman Strings & Things (NM)

Best Percussion Tarpley Music (TX, NM)

Best Multi-Store Customer Service, Sales Staff and Multi-Store Dealer of the Year: Rand Cook, The Candyman Strings & Things

Single-Store Dealer of the Year: Robin Sassi and Kimberly Deverell, San Diego Music Studio

Best Multi-Store Keyboards award: Robin Walenta, West Music (pictured with Brian Berk, Editor of the Music & Sound Retailer)


Best Multi-Store Clinics and Lifetime Achievement award: Mike Snyder and Skip Maggiora, Skip’s Music

Best Multi-Store Recording-Related Products and Percussion awards: Brad Tarpley, Tarpley Music

Best Single-Store Keyboards award: Lori Supinie, Senseney Music

Best Single-Store Sound Reinforcement award: Adam Levin and Abbe Levin, Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center



SINGLE-STORE DEALER DIVISION Best Guitars & Basses Five Star Guitars (OR)

Best DJ Equipment Rock and Soul (NY)

Best Instrument Amplifiers Righteous Guitars (GA)

Best Clinics Spicer’s Music (AL)

Best Keyboards Senseney Music (KS)

Best Customer Service Spicer’s Music (AL)

Best Sound Reinforcement Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center (MD)

Best Sales Staff Sweetwater (IN)

Best Recording-Related Products Sweetwater (IN) Best Single-Store Clinics and Customer Service award: Tim and Lana Spicer, Spicer’s Music

Best Percussion Buddy Roger’s Music (OH)

Single-Store Dealer of the Year San Diego Music Studio (CA) Lifetime Achievement Award (individual person at either a multi-store or single-store retailer) Skip Maggiora, Skip’s Music

Best Multi-Store Guitars & Basses and Sound Reinforcement awards: Sierra Olsen, Jim DeStafney, Nan DeStafney, Dan Fugate and Dan Signor, Blues Angel Music



Appetite for Disruption By Brian Berk Summer NAMM attendance reaches 16,000, an increase of 7 percent vs. 2018

The SWIM Meet featured a drum circle

Summer NAMM, which took place at Nashville’s Music City Center from July 18-20, reported 16,001 attendees, an increase of 7 percent compared to 2018. International attendance increased by 32 percent. The show counted more than 1,500 brands presented by 500 total exhibitors. “Summer NAMM seemed to highlight the important role of both the manufacturer and the dealer in maintaining a strong musical ecosystem,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM president and CEO. “While the marketplace is evolving rapidly, our manufacturer and retail members are adapting and finding strength in better understanding each other and finding new and innovative ways to work together to better serve the music-making community.” The key buzzword at the trade show was disruption, which was defined as “change without time to resist it.” In fact, the opening breakfast session, titled “Retail Disruptors,” hosted by Lamond on July 18, was all about this topic. “I believe a new world is coming, but it is not here yet. It is on the way,” said Lamond. “… I 28

believe one thing sums up everything going on in the world: disruption. When I say disruption, I am talking about the trends, policies, people and regulations that can change the way we do business. … It is our job to lead, adapt and continue to drive this industry.” To further explain disruption, Lamond welcomed marketing expert Larry Bailin to the stage. Bailin said MI retailers should look hard at their customers in an effort to lead and adapt. “What are the things that are grasping their attention?” Bailin asked. “It’s not enough to see what your competitors are doing. You also need to see what they are not doing.” As expected, Bailin said Amazon is tremendous at the disruption game. But perhaps lesser known is how they disrupt so well. It all starts with a core principle: objection handling, he relayed. “Amazon has given us every reason to say ‘yes’ and no reasons to say ‘no.’ They have a patent on a blimp that distributes drones. It is not out there yet, but they have the patent on it. They always are thinking about getting us to say ‘yes.’ And if we have a reason to say ‘no,’ they work on disruptive technologies to get rid of that obstacle.” He cited Amazon eliminating checkout counters at grocery stores as an example. “They looked at the entire grocery shopping experience and determined checkout is what customers like the least. So, they eliminated that obstacle.” Bailin added that perspective

is also important. He recalled visiting Google’s headquarters on several occasions. During one of those trips, the internet giant’s chief financial officer got up on stage to deliver the opening keynote speech about the future. “She asked a room full of digital marketers from all over the globe, ‘If we were to offer you a pill you would swallow and it would on a continuous basis send biosignals back to Google, telling us what was going on inside your body, and compare it to people with similar lifestyles, would you swallow it?’ Out of 1,000 people in the room, only five raised their hands,” Bailin described. “But then, she put context behind her comments. She said if your smartwatch goes off and says you have a 94-percent chance of having a heart attack and please sit down, an ambulance is coming, and your calendar has been cleared, ‘Would you then take the pill?’ Everyone’s

hands went up. When it comes to extending your life, you are willing to give up some privacy.” Continuing on the disruption theme, Lamond noted there is one segment of MI where there has been very little disruption: lessons. But that is changing. A great example is Edmonton, Alberta, Canada’s Resonate Music School & Studio, owned by Michael Cathrea. “When we started Resonate, I was 23,” said Cathrea. “I looked back at the music lessons I had had and thought there were ways to improve the experience.” Cathrea started his business in May 2012 with about 50 students and a goal to get customers inspired to learn. As was shown via photos during the educational session, the Edmonton location looks top notch. Cathrea initially had nine lesson rooms, a recording studio and very few retail products for sale. In just two years, Cathrea doubled the number of lesson rooms to 18. He added a second location in June to help handle increasing demand. Resonate now teaches 1,200 students. As a way to get more customers in and handle objections, Cathrea threw out the idea that students need to take lessons from Septem-

Shep Hyken


ber to June, similar to a school year. “I saw that students had to have lessons for nine months, and if you miss a lesson, it’s too bad, you lost it. And at the end of the year, you will play [a concert] for your grandmother or uncle,” said Cathrea. “We just didn’t think that was very inspiring. We almost wanted to do the opposite [of what was happening]. With us, we have a month-to-month, membership-based system. You start when you want, and you finish when you want. We try to be as flexible as possible.” Cathrea also tried to eliminate the notion that music lessons are an obligatory thing that students have to do and don’t enjoy. And he made sure that parents of students taking lessons had a place to stay and be comfortable during the lesson. “We want to have a place that, when you walk in, you are inspired to learn,” said Cathrea. As an added bonus, students earn an hour in Resonate’s recording studio following every three months they are signed up for lessons. “[Students] get insight into that industry, and it gives them an incredible experience they will remember,” said Cathrea. A major summer concert and rewards points are other benefits students can enjoy. Students receive 50 Resonate rewards points for every lesson they take. Once enough points are accrued, iTunes gift cards, movie theater gift cards and waterpark passes are among the items that can be obtained. “I don’t think people learn simply for the love of learning,” Cathrea asserted. “We try to give them as many incentives as we can to give them something to look forward to.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

SWIM's Robin Walenta, DeDe Heid and Crystal Morris

On the other side of the coin, teachers are willing to adjust to changes in their scheduling, stated Resonate’s owner. One big positive for them is they can have year-round work, instead of just nine months a year, like traditional locations may provide. Cathrea concluded by stating he didn’t think of himself as a disruptor back in 2012, but now he knows he is. He continued, stating that he is aware competitors will adjust to the shockwaves he sent through traditional lesson programs. “We are aware of our competitors,” he said. “But we obsess about our customers.”

Master Shep

July 19’s breakfast session, entitled “The Customer Experience Revolution,” presented by Shep Hyken, offered plenty of anecdotes, fun and tips for retailers. “We are trying to outservice our competition, whether they are down the street, online or anywhere else. The goal is to create loyalty for your customers,” Hyken said. Customer service definitely needs to be improved he added, citing a 2018 study that stated $75 billion was lost in the past year due to poor service. “That means somebody else out there made $75 billion because they had good

customer service,” said Hyken. “The number two years prior was $62 billion. Two years before that, the number was $32 billion. More money is being lost to poor customer service. This is not good. But it’s not bad either. Service is getting better every year, but the bar is higher. Our customers are smarter than ever before.” Hyken added, however, that according to a Vanderbilt University study, up to 40 percent of your satisfied customers may not come back to shop with you. “Why wouldn’t they want to come back? They are just satisfied. It’s a rating, not an emotion,” relayed Hyken. “We don’t want a satisfied customer. We want a loyal customer. Why would somebody want to come back to a place that is just OK to do business with when they can find somebody that might make them feel better and provide a better experience?” You can’t be just fine in terms of service as a retailer, he added. “If you ask your wife how she is doing and she says ‘fine,’ what does that mean?” Hyken asked. “It means you are in trouble. It is not fine. Fine is not fine. Fine is the F-bomb of customer service. You have to be a little better than fine all the time.” Hyken divided the customer experience into three categories

he calls the “moments of truth”: moments of misery, moments of mediocrity and moments of magic. He then provided a fascinating example of how one Dallas taxi driver went above and beyond to provide him with excellent customer service. Hyken, wearing a suit and tie, was leaving a convention center located in Dallas’ downtown, seeking to go to the airport. A cab driver flagged him down. “He had shorts on, a sleeveless shirt and messedup hair,” he recalled. “It looked like he hadn’t shaven in a week. He probably hadn’t showered in a week. I looked at the man and said this is a moment of misery. I pictured that his taxicab was dirty and grimy and the air conditioner isn’t working. It was the hottest day of the year, and I was not going to get into a taxicab, but a moving sauna. By the time I got to the airport, I would be drenched in sweat. And a spring from the seat will rise and rip my pants.” The cab driver convinced Hyken to get into the cab, assuring him it was cool inside and the driver would take care of his bags. Hyken got inside the cab, which was spotless. It had two newspapers, a local paper and USA Today, neatly folded and ready for passengers to read. And the floor of the car housed a bucket with ice and two sodas in it. “I asked the guy, ‘Is this your cab, or are you borrowing it from someone else for the day?’” said Hyken. “He said, ‘Sir, it is my cab, make yourself at home.’ The newspaper is free. Take it with you. The soda is yours. And it’s a flat rate of $22, the same rate any honest cab driver will charge you. I want this to be the best ride you’ve (continued on page 48) 29



President, Pioneer DJ Americas Inc.

By Brian Berk This is our DJ/lighting issue, so what better time to check in with John Powell, president of Pioneer DJ Americas Inc.? Powell took on this role on April 1, and he has had a storied career in the industry, dating back to the late 1980s. He has plenty of information to share, including how his new role has been going and if there have been any surprises thus far. Enjoy.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Please take us through your career. John Powell: I started out at JBL International in the late ‘80s. I sold pro audio, home audio and car audio. Internationally, we covered everywhere but the U.S. and Mexico. I mainly helped out in Latin America and Middle-Eastern Africa because I speak Spanish. Speaking another language was very useful. At the time, JBL mostly sold pro-audio components. Everyone was making their own boxes, so there were a ton of compression drivers, woofers and more. It was a great introduction to international business. I got to travel most of the world, and it really gave me a good appreciation for our own country. It was a great experience. I was there about six years. I wanted to move on from there, so I went to Boston Acoustics in 1995. I got there when home theater was really blowing up. So that was really cool. It was very technical there, with a lot of training, so I learned a lot about audio and surround systems. That was a good six years also. When consumer audio had a downturn, though, I said, “Enough of this. I am going back to pro audio.” I reached out to a good friend whom I had worked with before, Mark Terry. A month later, I got a call from Harman Music Group in Salt Lake City. I went to work for Harman handling signal-processing sales, looking after Canada, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. I was at Harman for 16 years, handling a variety of roles. That was both before and after we acquired Martin Audio

and AMX. So, it was JBL, Soundcraft, AKG, Crown amplifiers — pretty much the whole pro-audio gamut. I worked with distributors overseas, and working with Canada was great. I got to know a lot of the consultants, integrators, retailers and more. In 2012, I was asked to run JBL’s worldwide sales. I had previously worked on a project with DigiTech in Europe for a couple of months. That was truly a global role, and [it was] when I started to work with the U.S. market. I knew some people in the U.S., of course, but it was eye opening meeting the key players and learning the ins and outs. I got to meet some really nice people and establish strong relationships. It was a dark time at JBL when I started, but I was on a team that really turned it around. Shortly after, not just because of me, but because of the way our team worked, JBL became a much stronger brand both internally and externally. That was a great time. A lot of it was about basics of business — increasing communications with the global sales team as well as key customers. We worked in a collaborative manner, the way I have always worked. Everybody has a role to play, but it’s a team effort. The team wins or loses together.

The Retailer: You joined Pioneer in 2017. Tell us why you wanted to make that switch and about some of the sales strategies you have implemented since. Powell: There were a lot of shuffles at Harman, where they changed the roles and nobody worked for a brand anymore. I got put into a role that didn’t excite me because it didn’t challenge me. I need to be challenged, so I said, “I love the company. I love the brands. But it’s time to move on.” Pioneer offered me an opportunity to grow professionally. I came in as the senior vice president of sales. The division I work for, Pioneer DJ Americas, as the name implies, covers all of the Americas. It was an attractive offer to go from one market leader to another market leader. I went from a very strong player in professional audio to the No. 1 player in the DJ market. It was a great opportunity, and I haven’t regretted it for a second. The Retailer: Can you tell us about the moment you learned you would become president?



Powell: There was a succession plan. [My predecessor] Yoshinori Kataoka knew it was likely he would go back to Japan, and I knew it was possible I would earn this role. When I found out he was promoted to [chief operating officer] of our company, I was thrilled. He is the right guy to go back to Pioneer headquarters and implement some changes. The company definitely wasn’t stale, but I think it’s good to do things from a different perspective. He was in the United States for many years. So, I was not surprised, but extremely pleased that management decided to grant me this opportunity. It certainly wasn’t a given, especially at a foreign-owned company. Many times, someone from the head office is brought in to run the satellite division. I was very grateful to be given the opportunity.

The Retailer: Speaking of your predecessor, what have you learned from him? What advice did he impart upon you? Powell: We have spoken every day. He taught me a lot about how Pioneer DJ does business. I’ve worked for several companies, but they were always American owned with an American way of doing business. Working for a Japanese company is a little bit different. Business is business, but the way you go about it is somewhat different. There is a lot more forecasting and planning with a Japanese company. Things can be taken more slowly because things are thought out more, with everyone having a chance to voice their opinion, and then you move forward. He also explained how the mindset of a DJ can be different from how a guitar player, drummer, front-of-house engineer or installer might think. I hadn’t dealt with DJs much, so he gave me a lot of perspective on how DJs think and how they use our products. A lot of DJs make a living out of it, but many do it as a hobby or do it as a gig once in a while. You need to listen to the voice of the customer and always put them first. You can’t have too many layers between management and users of the products. Here, our Americas group is small, so we are close to the end user. End users come in the office and offer ideas you may have never even considered. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

The Retailer: You started your new role on April 1. Can you tell us how it has gone so far? Any surprises thus far along the way? Powell: It has gone great. It has been fun. Nothing overly surprising. We are not a big group, so everyone knows what is going on all the time. My role is different. A lot more meetings. A lot more things that require my signature. I had to get used to the fact that the buck stops here. My biggest challenge is spending more of my day thinking strategically than before. My previous job was a lot more tactical. It was about making your sales number month to month. It is still some of that, but it’s more about what we can put in place to be where we want to be in six months. It’s not surprising, but how my day has changed. The Retailer: Pioneer certainly has had a strong reputation over the years. What new philosophies might you impart? What is your overall management approach? Powell: A collaborative approach is the best way to describe it. I did a lot of coaching of my kids’ sports teams when they were younger. Sometimes with a team, you need to be a coach, like I do here. But if I have to micromanage somebody, forget it. It’s not what I’m about. If I have to teach you something new or coach you, I will of course do that short term. I can’t have someone come in every 10 minutes asking what to do next though. That’s not the way I work. My role is clearing the hurdles. What resources do you need? What’s blocking you or holding you up? Let me remove that so you can do what you need to do.

That’s the way I worked with the team at JBL and definitely the way I manage. As for philosophies, it’s not new, but we like to play the cards close to the vest when it comes to products. We may come out with a press release and the next day, we start selling it. I’ve been places where we announced a product and hopefully start shipping it six months later. We are also showing concepts to trusted partners in advance to get their feedback. I think that is important. You can’t do it with everyone, but you pick a handful of people who have a vested interest, like we have, and we get honest feedback and opinions. We will do that more in all aspects of our business. That’s true not only with DJ products but music production and pro-audio products as well. Also, we want to contribute to the overall success of our community and support it as best as we can. As leaders in the industry, it is important for us to give back. How do we help our industry thrive and be successful? We want to partner with organizations that have the same goal. We also have an app (Kuvo) that allows someone in a club listening to a track to find out what music it is. A group called Pro is helping us with that, which helps distribute royalties. Royalties aren’t paid out the way they were 15 years ago.

The Retailer: What are some of your goals for Pioneer during the next few years? Powell: We certainly want to continue to dominate with industry-leading products that 31

consumers can enjoy. When you are out in front, you have a target on your back. How do you keep innovating? As the industry and products mature, it gets harder and harder to come out with innovative products. So, there are some challenges. We have to keep doing it and live up to our name. We have to continue to “pioneer.” I often bring up to our product development team about how we can pioneer something new. We have many things in the product pipeline that will do that, but sometimes, you need that evolutionary product. We also want to make sure we provide professional DJs with something that allows them to inspire and entertain. Sometimes, you need to think outside the box. One of the things we have done is, we opened up our pro DJ link, an internal thing, which is how we communicate one device with another. We opened that protocol so third-party software suppliers can use it. It allows DJs to sync their lighting and video content. The music is something we’ve got down pat, but lighting and visual is a way to improve what we do and what we offer our customers. Another goal is to continue to grow our pro-audio business. It’s doing well. But we entered a crowded market with companies that have been doing it for decades. Our name is known, but not necessarily in that space. It started before I got here, and we have expanded on pro audio since I’ve been here. Something else we are doing is working more closely with schools and other educational institutions. One of the challenges for all of us, but certainly Pioneer DJ, is how do we get more people into DJing? We have a dominant position overall, but how do you grow the market? We 32

have been working with schools to suggest curriculum to teach [students] how to DJ. There are tons of guitar classes, drum classes and keyboard classes, but very few DJ classes. Finally, we are going to continue to develop our music-production products. They are different products. A DJ can certainly use them, but they’re not just for DJs.

The Retailer: What is the state of the DJ industr y today? Powell: I think the industry is strong. I see with my kids and their friends that electronic music is mainstream now. When I grew up, DJs played music and not much else. But now, DJs are creating new music. They may be taking existing tracks, but they are mashing them up and adding elements that fundamentally change the music. There is a lot more creativity involved. The younger generation really likes music, and each generation that comes of age is getting more used to having immediate gratification. There are a lot more things to occupy your mind than I had as a kid growing up. The fact you could go to a two-hour class and afterwards be able to do some basic DJing bodes well for us. Whereas with guitars, you can take a two-hour class and maybe play one chord. I know; I have tried to play the guitar. Of course, to be a really good DJ, you have to put in as much time as any other musical instrument. But to be able to make some basic entertainment at a family gathering can be done pretty quickly. The Retailer: Can you tell us about some recent product launches? Powell: We recently launched three products, one of which is the DDJ-200. It’s a smart DJ controller. It’s an entry-level product with a street price of $149. I saw that product from the early concept phase to final development. When you introduce an entry-level product, you always run the risk of cannibalizing more expensive products. But with all the feedback we received, we feel the DDJ-200 is great for anyone who wants to start DJing with a really low barrier to entry. You can really have fun with it. Of course, if you wanted to move up, you would have to step up to that next level of product. You connect your portable device by Bluetooth MIDI to the controller and can project audio out of your phone. It’s great for people who want to make a modest investment, use a controller with their phone. We have a video of young people who get together, use it and are really rocking. It’s a really exciting product at a beginner level. Initial orders are strong. We also launched our DDJ-800. It replaced the DDJ-RR. It’s a mid-priced controller with a street price of $899. It has microphone feedback suppression, our first product to have that. It’s a good hobbyist product or for people who perform at smaller venues, perhaps over the weekend. If someone wishes to become a good festival or club DJ, this is a really good starting point. That has been selling well. And then in our TORAIZ line, we launched a new sequencer called SQUID. That has done really well for us. In fact, it has sold out. The Retailer: What is your approach regarding Pioneer’s relationship with MI retailers? Powell: They are our lifeblood. Whether brick and mortar or online, it’s where the customer wants to shop. All of our retail customers are extremely important to us. They always have been. Our products are primarily sold at retail stores. In fact, I think it’s about 95 percent of our business. We work closely with all of our key partners. We have been revamping some of our programs to make them more effective for retailers. We are working to provide the best possible consumer experience, whether point-of-purchase displays for brick-and-mortar stores or for online retailers, making sure people really get what they want. We are trying to add value in any way we can. AUGUST 2019


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Searching for Drums in Gotham New York, New York. A town so nice, they named it twice. If you recall, I was embedded in the wilds of Long Island for a mission just four months ago. But this time around, HQ wanted me to conduct some espionage in the big city. Fortunately, my Long Island safe house had remained undetected, and it’s only a Long Island Railroad trip away from the musical mecca of Manhattan. The borough of Manhattan, home to Broadway and Carnegie Hall, the birthplace of CBGB (RIP) and countless other storied concert venues, is a place so rich in music that I don’t even know where to begin broaching the subject. And as far as the local character goes … let’s just say New Yorkers tend to march to the beat of their own drums. Which, as luck would have it, makes the city the perfect setting for this assignment: looking for a beginner drum set for an adult. Now that summer is in full swing in the Northeast, I picked a beautiful day with the temperature in the mid-70s and got a lot of walking in. (An MI Spy needs exercise to keep up with the ladies and burn off all those martinis.) The first store on my list happened to be right near Penn Station, the main thoroughfare for the Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit and AMTRAK. As I exited the station, I was immediately engulfed in a churning sea of pedestrians. Your MI Spy can blend in anywhere, but just about anyone could get lost in a crowd like that one. So I followed the locals’ lead, stepped confidently right in front of a taxi whose driver showered me with some colorful insults, and began my mission.


Few areas of Manhattan get more bustling than 34th Street. And Sam Ash is in a really nice location. It is directly across from the AMC movie theater (it was hard not to be tempted to go there), a Dunkin’ Donuts that also houses a Baskin Robbins, a Five Guys burger joint, Café Bistro and a Starbucks. It’s also located right near B&H Photo and Video. As I walked inside, I was impressed by a lot of things. The store truly enjoys both its 34th Street and New York City heritage. That is made clear by the clever signage inside. Although I decided to search for drums on this trip, I could have searched for anything to be perfectly honest. I really enjoyed my walk around the store. And it was a long walk. I spent nearly 15 minutes browsing in the store and was not approached. I even made eye contact with a sales associate, but he didn’t come over. Another salesperson was talking about a sports game from the prior night. Maybe they figured I didn’t want to be bothered because I looked too much like a local thanks to my excellent disguise (a stunning white vintage disco suit inspired by the Brooklyn cultural touchstone “Saturday Night Fever”). I guess I could attribute the cold shoulder I received to that legendary New York aversion to human interaction, but I was here as a customer, after all. Or maybe the chilly reception wasn’t due to the local customs; I have had this experience in other Sam Ash stores before. Anyway, I figured it was their intention to give me space, so I understood. But unfortunately, I did not get to ask a sales associate what drum set would work for me. One thing I spotted just before I exited the store, however, was something I really liked. It was a sign that read, “HELLO from Sammy Ash.” On the sign, he encouraged people to email him with any concerns. And if that is not enough, he also provided his phone number so that anyone can call. Especially for such a large retailer, I thought this was a sign of excellent customer service. I’ve never met Sammy Ash, but based on this sign, I thought he must be a true class act.

Sam Ash 333 W. 34th St. New York, NY 10001 212.719.2299


I ventured just a few blocks away to check out 30th Street. On the same block as the well-known Rogue Guitars is Steve Maxwell Vintage and Custom Drums, which, as the name states, sells drums, drums and more drums. It’s hard to describe exactly why, but despite it being a small store, I really felt comfortable in there. It started with feeling welcome to come into the store in the first place. The doors to the store were wide open on this beautiful day, which was different than other New York stores I have visited, even in ideal weather conditions. The salesperson was laid back and easy to talk to. He was available to chat with me. The crash of cymbals could be easily heard in the background as I asked about a beginner electronic set. I figured asking about an acoustic set might be too easy for these guys, so I went the electronic route. The salesperson was up to the task. He immediately pointed out the Roland V-Drums TD-1DMK as his top choice for a beginner. It carried a $699 price tag. I then tried to dig deeper by asking if he thought an electronic set could rival the sound of its acoustic brethren. He said electronic sets couldn’t quite yet match the sound of an acoustic set, but the Roland drum set sampled many acoustic sounds, which he really liked. He also added that it makes a lot of sense to buy an electronic set if I don’t want the sound of an acoustic to disturb others. The salesperson never put on the hard sales pitch, and I definitely wanted to come back and visit again.

Steve Maxwell Vintage and Custom Drums 242 W. 30th St. New York, NY 10001 212.730.8138

I actually decided to visit two Guitar Center locations on this trip. The first was in the heart of Times Square. If you are a tourist, there is no better location than this. I couldn’t help thinking that, when I was in the store, I was at the heart of it all — where everything happens. Guitar Center is across from the Shubert Theater, currently featuring Jeff Daniels in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and the PlayStation Theater, which is down the street from the famous Italian restaurant Carmine’s. It’s also right next to Gulliver’s Gate, which, according to its website, is a “technologically advanced, interactive and immersive world of miniatures covering 50,000 square feet that will ignite your imagination and challenge your perspective.” I walked down the stairs into the store and immediately went to the drum section. After three minutes and 30 seconds (yes, I timed it), I was greeted by a salesperson. I asked about both a beginner acoustic and an electronic set. He first asked if I was going to buy the drum set that day, and I said “no,” but I added that I might in the near future. For the acoustic set, he recommended the Sound Percussion Unity five-piece drum kit, which comes with a 22-inch by 16-inch bass drum, 12-inch by 9-inch toms, 16-inch by 14-inch floor, 14-inch by 5-inch snare, poplar shells with 45-degree bearing edges, 18inch crash/ride cymbal, hi-hat

Guitar Center 218 W. 44th St. New York, NY 10036 212.354.7040


cymbals and more. It carried a $399 price tag. He also recommended the Sound Percussion Street Bop four-piece shell pack in silver metallic glitter for $324.99. As for an electronic drum set, he immediately pointed to the Roland TD-17KV-S. It sported a $1,199 price tag. On the price tag itself, it also noted a $120 gift card was available with the purchase of this Roland set, to be used for a future Guitar Center purchase. “I wouldn’t get anything else,” the salesperson stressed. “Honestly, it’s a great deal.” I followed by asking why he loved it so much. “The pads are really comfortable, and the snares are a little bigger than [Roland’s] TD-25 and TD-11,” he answered. “I love how easy it is to use on the grain. And it’s Bluetooth compatible as well. So, you can run music through your phone, which is really cool.”

Guitar Center 25 W. 14th. St. New York, NY 10011 212.463.7500 Upon exiting the Times Square Guitar Center location, I took a walk uptown to check out Carnegie Hall from the outside. I thought about all the great performances that must have taken place there over the years, and then made my way to the subway. I took the subway downtown several stops to Union Square and found my last location, another Guitar Center. I figured I would ask about acoustic and electronic sets in this Guitar Center as well; I wanted to see if the answers would be the same. The salesperson was busy with another customer, but he was happy to help me after I had been there for seven minutes and 40 seconds. (Yes, I timed this one as well.) He recommended an acoustic kit by Sound Percussion Unity (the same company recommended at the other Guitar Center), but he told me for my purposes that he liked the Birch series five-piece set in black mist, carrying a $499 price tag. It included hardware, cymbals and a throne. He said he liked it because it had everything I would need as a beginner drummer. He also recommended the Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove four-piece acoustic kit, sporting a $399 price tag. Designed by the famous drummer of The Roots — who you can see each night on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” — it is designed to provide “punch, portability and versatility,” as the price tag described. As for the electronic set, the salesman pointed to the Alesis Command X Mesh Head set, featuring the Command Drum Module with 70 (continued on page 52) 35


C h- Ch -Changes By Robert Christie The sky is falling; brick and mortar is doomed; retail is dead ... blah blah blah. We’ve heard all 600 choruses of this song before. And yet, we are still here doing what we do, in an industry we love, for people whose passions we share. Even with the recent high-profile closures and epic collapses in the retail sector, plenty of stores are thriving. Those of you who are regular readers of this column know that I don’t claim to be some kind of retail whisperer, or even an expert. I do, however, know some things. First, retail is not dead. Second, the essentials of customer service haven’t changed, but the advancements of technology have raised expectations. Lastly, the online giants may be the reason we succeed. Wait, what? The Wonderweb has forever changed our customers’ behaviors. The clever retailer recognizes these changes and their permanence, then learns from them. Let’s agree to be clever retailers. Let’s ask ourselves, “What can we learn from our digital competition? What concepts can we integrate into to our operations that will bring folks into our stores?” Our online competition has, in some ways, been the creator of the new consumer. Studying the ways online sellers operate and, more specifically, the way they work to engage the new consumer, can point the way to our


own continued success. One thing the web makes clear is that our customers don’t want shopping to be work. There are plenty of concepts we can hijack from the online space to make our customers’ buying experiences easier in our retail space. For example, the concept of the recurring order makes purchasing effortless for our customers and guarantees the retailer regular income and loyalty. There are plenty of items in our stores that are regular ongoing purchases for our customers, like strings and reeds. Why couldn’t you have a customer’s monthly string or reed order filled and charged to their card on the first of every month? You may even want to consider curbside pick-up. Text notifications of promotions and discounts can also make it easier for our customers to keep up with what’s happening in our shops and encourage them to visit. After all, we have a huge advantage over our online competition in the “let’s-makethe-shopping-experience-fun” department. What’s more fun than playing with all the new toys? Another thing we can learn from a visit to the web is the power of a brand. Sure, the new consumer is

looking for a great product, but studies show a great brand is what motivates them to buy. Here’s the good news: We all have iconic brands to offer, and our manufacturer partners spend huge amounts of money building their brands and driving demand for them. What can be problematic for retail is that the new consumer is also much less loyal about where they purchase that desirable brand. Fail to recognize this at your own peril. Being mindful of the power of a brand helps us build better marketing campaigns. Never miss an opportunity to leverage the money your suppliers spend on creating demand for their products to drive your store’s sales. Consider this as you build your store’s own brand. Don’t let ego convince you that your store is more important than the brands you offer. We all saw Sears do this, and we also saw how that worked out for them. Interestingly, both the Kenmore and Craftsman brands are


still going strong. Wow, we’re seven paragraphs into this column and we haven’t even mentioned millennials yet. But, since I just did, let’s address the fact that their purchasing power is growing, and we need to think about how to engage them. It’s true that millennials are earning more, but they are not necessarily spending more. Much of the competition for their business may not come from where you traditionally look, like the shop down the street, or even the internet. Of course, we are competing with those entities, but we are also competing with the millennials’ debt burden. On average, they have large student debt and new mortgages. It’s also important to recognize that many have a minimalist world view. All these things add up to making millennials picky purchasers who are driven more by quality than price. Our ability to add value to a purchase can make us a more attractive option than the Internet. Additionally, millennials tend to be socially conscious, just as so many music retailers are. Being authentic and sharing these views in your branding and marketing efforts will help lift you over your competition. Millennials need to connect in a personal way to products and stores that may be different from generation Xers or boomers. Again, advantage Main Street. So, the internet is telling us that customers need to be at the center of our strategies. That’s nothing new, you say. We’ve always worked to be customer-centric in retail. True, but the need to do this in a way that motivates action has, perhaps, never been greater. The times of telling our customers what they should like are past. The new consumer is speaking, and the clever retailer is following that voice to know what the right product offerings are. The reality is that selling on price is the road to irrelMUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

evance. Price-based selling is just too easy to beat. Moreover, it ignores the new consumers’ desires for recognized brands, quality, an easy and entertaining shopping experience, and personal connections. Value is a powerful concept. Going forward, I urge you to substi-

tute the word “value” for “price” in your thinking. Don’t ignore the power of “the way it’s always been” and the gravity that sentiment has to pull you away from positive change. I don’t believe in the concept of “The New Normal.” The fact is, retail is flourishing, and it’s

here to stay. Instead of accepting the idea of a world where retail can’t compete and succeed, let’s embrace the idea of constant change. Things have always changed, and the pace of that change is gaining speed. It’s an evolution, not a revolution, and we’re just getting started.



Dealing With MI Uncertainties By Allen McBroom Life is full of change. Some changes are welcome, and others, well, not so much. As we mature, we learn that some change is inevitable. Our kids grow up and leave the house, new neighbors can be less friendly than the previous neighbors, gasoline costs more today than it did last week, etc. Those changes cause small ripples in the fabric of our lives, and a bit of time usually irons them out without lasting impact. In business — and seemingly especially in the MI business — we often have changes looming that may or may not have a measurable impact on our business lives. There was an old Greek guy named Heraclitus. He once famously said, right after finding out that the price of a flask of wine had gone up again, “The only constant in life is change.” Had Heraclitus run a lute and lute accessories store back in ancient Greece, he might instead have said, “The only constant in life is uncertainty.” As I’m writing this month’s column, the specter of trade tariffs is dominating every news channel. For several months, the trade and tariff disputes between the U.S. and China have probably inspired some insomnia episodes among MI importers, as well as tension headaches among manufacturers who have to figure out pricing plans in the midst of widespread tariff uncertainties. Retailers are 38

having to deal with weekly emails from their suppliers announcing the news that, due to tariffs, their costs are about to go up. The angst finally trickles down to the retail consumer, who raises an eyebrow when he/she notices his/her favorite bottle of cymbal cleaner is now 20-percent higher in price than it was this time last year. Retailers not only have to deal with new pricing plans, they have to re-mark their instore product, update their websites, fix their pricing on eBay and Reverb (or Amazon), and contend with the MAP-violation emails that result from missing one link in the chain of pricing updates. And all of this joy is the result of just one prong of uncertainty: the level and tenure of tariffs on Chinese goods. If tariffs compose just one prong of uncertainty, thinking about the whole fork can be downright scary. And there is a lot to be uncertain about. If your lease has to be renegotiated in the near future, your landlord might decide to use that new lease to pad his/ her retirement account. How much more the internet will encroach on your walk-in traffic is another prong of uncertainty. And if you sell online, the uncertainties of how and when sales tax will have to be collected and remitted might remind you that your ulcer isn’t quite

healed yet. The list of uncertainties we deal with day in and day out can be a long one, but it doesn’t have to make our days dark and full of gloom. Bono once said, “Perspective is the cure for depression.” I’m going to suggest perspective is also the way to deal with the uncertainties of today’s MI retail environment. First, let’s put tariffs into perspective. Yes, tariffs will cause some of your costs to go up, but the exact same thing is happening to every retailer who carries those same products. So, you are not at any more of a disadvantage in the marketplace than you were before tariffs kicked in. All retailers who stock that tariffed product will see their costs go up by the same percentage, so it’s not like tariffs will make your product line more expensive than some other retailer. Tariffs are a rising tide, and they float all boats equally. Need to renew your lease pretty soon, and you’re concerned that your landlord is going to raise the rent? Consider this your notice to look for a place to buy. Yes, buying is a big commitment, but unless you’re planning to fold up your tent in five years, you’re already making big commitments all the time. Interest rates are still fairly low for commercial property, so go take a look and see what’s out there. If you can’t come up with a place to AUGUST 2019

buy right now, then you’ll know you looked for options before renewing the lease, and you’ll feel better about signing it. If you need more time to set up a building purchase, ask for a shorter lease. That alone may prompt the landlord to leave your lease rate the same as before. Either way, you aren’t trapped and forced to do what you’ve been doing so far; you’re in control, and you can make changes that could put you in a much better place financially. The whole sales tax thing is really nothing to worry about, either. If you’re a small online seller, chances are you’ll be exempt from collecting/remitting sales tax in most cases. If you’re a big online seller, you’ve got people you pay to stay on top of the sales tax thing; just have them keep you updated on what you need to know. If you sell on Reverb, just relax. So far it looks like Reverb will do most of the collecting/remitting for you, and at no extra charge to you, the seller. That’s kind of like having a free employee to handle your out-of-state sales tax. We’ve all got some uncertainties that nag at our minds, and they can become overwhelming if left unchecked. So let’s boil life down to a few questions: Is there any real chance you won’t have a dry place to sleep tomorrow night? No? OK. Is there any real chance you’ll go involuntarily hungry this week? No? OK. How about this: Is there any real chance you’ll be kidnapped or shot on your way home this week? No? OK. Since all three answers (I hope) are ‘no,’ then you’re already way ahead of most of the world’s population. Just knowing those three answers, a huge part of the world would swap places with you right now. You’ve actually got it pretty good. If your health is in reasonably good condition, then you’ve really got it made. Step back from the details of your daily world and take a look at your situation from the position of some distant third party. You’ve got food, housing and you’re relatively safe. Your health looks like it will hold up (maybe you could lay off the doughnuts and the mashed potatoes a bit, but still…).

So, what real concerns do you have? Your business is not unique in the uncertainties it faces. Every MI retailer in America is dealing with the same uncertainties at one level or another. And, if you’re feeling better about retail and life right now, here’s another tip to improve your life: If watching the news or scroll-1 ad_Odyssey-MSR_Aug2019_ARTIST_v4.pdf

ing through Facebook makes you angry, then stop watching the news, and change the pages you follow on Facebook. It’s OK to stop watching the news. If something you really need to know about happens, I guarantee someone will let you know about it. So, set your uncertainties aside. As Heraclitus almost said, “The 7/12/19 11:30 AM

only constant in life is uncertainty.” There’s nothing you can do to avoid uncertainty, and every other retailer has the same concerns you have. You’re not alone, and your life is really pretty good. Go get a good night’s sleep, get up early tomorrow and get a fresh start on winning at MI retail. Happy trails.














Five Tips for Taking Better Product Photos

By Gabriel O’Brien

Pick a consistent background. One of the fastest ways to stand out is by using a consistent background in all your images. Not doing this is

I spend a lot of time talking about content, specifically video content, because I think it’s a crucial part of modern MI retail. Another important type of content many aren’t thinking about are photos, specifically product photos. Product photos are arguably the least sexy type of content and the easiest type of content to pay too little attention to. I see so many independent retailers struggle with online sales, and the reasons why become clear when you look at their listings on third-party websites like and eBay. Good photos are one of the things that separate the pros from the amateurs, and they offer one of the easiest ways to stand out online. And consistently good photos build trust with your audience. Pick a category on Reverb and scroll through the listings. You can immediately see who the individual sellers are and who the stores who sell a lot are. If you’re a consumer, which of these sellers would you rather buy from? There’s an appeal to the high-quality photos, and you learn to recognize your favorite stores pretty quickly by the quality of their photos. So, if you want to stand out and help grow your online presence through ecommerce, here are a few quick tips on taking better photos.

1 one of the biggest errors I see on third-party and ecommerce websites. Photos taken all around your store are visually confusing and take the focus off the product itself. Pick a spot in your store that’s out of the way and make it into a small photo area. It needn’t be fancy. Treat the wall with a background that’s not distracting but can be visually identified as your own. You can go on Amazon and search “wood photo background” and find 3x5 vinyl backdrops that photographers use for portraits for $9. Keep it simple. You can attach the backdrop permanently to a wall and screw a String Swing into it to hang guitars on, or drape it from a curtain rod and set your products on a small table in front of it. Again, this setup does not have to be fancy or take up a lot of room.

If you have questions about taking product photos or would like me to send you links to tutorials on lighting or other topics, write to me at gabriel@

Coming in the September Issue of the Music & Sound Retailer: 40

; ; ; ;

2 Lighting. This is another key area where most people go terribly wrong. Images that have a bunch of glare on an instrument or that are too dark to see clearly make it difficult for buyers to make decisions and increase the likelihood of unhappy customers returning the products. So you need to take lighting seriously when you’re taking your product shots. You don’t need a professional lighting rig to do this. You can pick up reasonably decent LED softboxes on Amazon that will get the job done fine. I recommend two to three to cancel out shadows, and there are great online resources on how to position lights to reduce unwanted glare. Turn off or block all other light sources.

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Don’t use gimmicks. Avoid the mistake of relying on your iPhone photo filters or using an app that takes photos with a vintage vibe, because these color filters can produce images that aren’t true to the actual instrument. Don’t use the portrait mode on your phone that makes the background blurry like a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR). And there’s no need to show off your entire store in a photo of a guitar. You don’t need to try and fit your store logo into every photo, either.



The best camera is the one you have on you. I’ll preface this by saying I primarily shoot with DSLRs and always recommend that people use the best-quality camera they can afford. That said, sometimes in the day-to-day race to get things done, taking the time to edit images in Lightroom and Photoshop and export them correctly to be posted to Reverb or eBay can be a time suck. This is especially true if you don’t have a dedicated photographer on staff or the know-how to get these things done in a reasonable amount of time. So, for many, using a good-quality phone camera can be enough, especially if you’re using dedicated lights and a basic tripod of some kind.

Frame your photos consistently and correctly. Being unaware of web-platform standards for images is one of the key mistakes I often see made. uses a square image format, which means all your photos will be inserted into a square, no matter how large or small they are. If you take the photo in a native format, be sure to create a square cropped version to best fit Reverb’s platform, or your image will be shrunken to fit within a square instead of filling the whole available space. Reverb is just one example; your ecommerce website may use a different format. I see so many images where part of a guitar is cropped out of a thumbnail or the guitar is at an odd angle or it has a big glare on it. Use perspectives that are flattering to the item you’re selling and show all the key features. More is more when it comes to photos. And being consistent in your standards will help your branding; using the same type of thumbnail for all your photos will help identify your store to potential buyers as they scroll down the page. With a little work, you can learn to take consistently good photos, and you’ll see your sales grow because of it. If you want to go a little deeper, buying a nice point-and-shoot or DSLR camera and learning to edit your photos can really improve your game. Using better lenses and better image processing is always of benefit, but there is a point of diminishing returns. The real key is to create a consistent vibe among the photos you take and to continue doing it well.


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Fred Schiff comes from a long line of musicians and instrument merchants. His parents opened Florida’s All County Music in 1976, and his grandfather before them was a piano and accordion teacher. Schiff has always been active in music, including directing the NASMD (National Association of School Music Dealers) Big Band and having the honor of baseball great Bernie Williams sitting in with them. Combine that with a background in finance, and Schiff was a perfect fit to take over All County Music from his parents in 1991. “My father based his business on helping people,” said Schiff, “but he didn’t have a college education, and there were just some things he didn’t know about the finance side of things.” “When I worked in the corporate loan division at the bank, I was able to understand what a good business looked like from the inside out,” he continued. “I was able to look at their numbers and see them as an outside party, which helped me inspect our All County Music 8136 N. University Drive Tamarac, FL 33321 954.722.3424 Mon.-Thu. 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fred Schiff, Owner



Dynamic Synchronization System, creating immediate energy conversion for unmatched responsiveness, expression and control. Once you’ve played Dyna-Sync, you’ll realize this is a new experience, it is an extension of you. Dyna-Sync = Power, Speed and Feel own books when I came to work at the store.” Since taking the helm at All County Music, Schiff has put into practice many of the lessons he learned during his banking career, including management and customer retention. One of the ways All County Music impresses its customers is with a store that is always clean, well lit and well organized. While the store’s look “makes you think we were part of a national chain,” Schiff said the store maintains what he refers to as a “mom-and-pop attitude.” Customers who come in are able to speak to anyone on the sales floor and have their needs taken care of, rather than contend with the bureaucracy they may find at other businesses. “Unlike at a national chain, our staff members can make decisions without inconveniencing the customer,” Schiff explained. “It’s frustrating when a salesperson can’t make a decision. You don’t have to talk to a myriad of people here to get something done, and that keeps our customers coming back.”

All County Music doesn’t sell instruments online because, according to Schiff, “It’s about giving people an experience. While others read about instruments online, our customers experience firsthand the joy of playing and choosing the right instrument.” Schiff’s love for music and his customers is apparent in the way he conducts business at All County Music, and his love for his community is apparent in just about everything the store does, MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

even if he doesn’t go out of his way to tell people about it. “As a company, we have always done good things,” said Schiff, whose good works have ranged from holding clinics in schools, to donating instruments to children in need, to giving out scholarships, including one that Schiff founded in his parents’ names.

“But we don’t publicize all the good work we do. We mostly fly under the radar; however, the band directors know and the individuals we touch know. It’s not about putting out press releases every time we help. It’s about the people we assist.” One particularly special charitable act couldn’t help but

garner attention for Schiff and All County Music because it happened in response to one of the greatest tragedies in recent memory — the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Most of our staff lives in Broward County,” said Schiff, whose (continued on page 53)

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A comment in the July/August issue of Wired caught my eye. In an opinion column, contributor and professor at University of North Carolina, Zeynep Tufekci, said, “The internet is increasingly a lowtrust society — one where an assumption of pervasive fraud is built into the way many things function.” Sure, we all sort of know this, and those of us who deal with counterfeits, identity theft and the plague of malware have the scars to prove it. However, it was her follow-up comment about how a society

‘Word-of-mouth recommendations from familiar sources become more important.’

reacts to “low trust” that gave me new hope for our industry: “Word-of-mouth recommendations from familiar sources become more important. Doing business with family and local networks starts taking precedence, and reciprocal, lifelong bonds bring a measure of predictability.” I’ve been seeing evidence of this shift in my store and have written about my belief that it would appear. But here it is coming from Wired, a publication that has served as a de facto cheerleader for the internet and its possibilities. The admission that the internet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be may not be that startling given the steady reports of data breaches, phishing exploits and Alexa’s forever scrapbook of your voice recordings, but the way we as a society deal with it — a coping mechanism paralleled in totalitarian 44

regimes and war-torn societies — plays to what I believe are our strengths, at least for those of us operating community music stores. We’re lucky, honestly. As I’ve said so often over the years, the MI industry is one of the few categories that defies complete commoditization. Certainly, we have our share of “buy-it-now” products, and we’ve endured plenty of grief fighting lowballers and counterfeiters. But you can’t download a repair, and the majority of new music consumers

come to us without the skills to use the products we sell. Yet they come, regardless. So, if we see a trend where people trust the internet less, as Tufekci believes, the workaround is to earn consumer trust and capture that relationship. It’s something we’re positioned to do. Remember, we do more than sell products. We teach people how to use them, we repair them and we create opportunities — through connections, referrals and our own programs — for our customers to enjoy playing for a lifetime. That whole “reciprocal lifelong bonds” thing is right up our alley. Hopefully, most of us with storefronts have been building trust since day one, but regardless of your market position, it’s still not a bad idea to do everything you can to solidify and increase that trust. Unfortunately, I have observed a number of stores in my market and nationwide that seem to feel that size or longevity are the main touchstones of trust and enough to win the toss without further effort. While both can build credibility, neither is a guarantee of trust. People can feel a long-established store is stodgy, or assume that their needs will fly under the radar of a large enterprise. Often, they could be right. So, the task is to earn trust through action. Running ads with self-congratulatory affirmations may even backfire. Test your reaction: Do alarm bells go off when someone you


don’t know says, “Trust me!?” Of course, customer service certainly affords plenty of opportunities to take action that earns trust. (Again, just to drive the point home: You shouldn’t be running ads saying, “We have great customer service!”) But trust is earned — or diminished — with almost every action. The way you sign up a student for your lesson program — and the quality of the teacher that student gets — can be the start of a lifelong connection. I always point out that the student/teacher relationship in the lesson studio is usually the first one-on-one a child has with a non-familial adult. It’s huge, and it’s why a lot of our early students now bring their kids to us. Trust may also be built when you can’t do something — a complex repair, a franchise you don’t have or an instrument you don’t teach — and you point your customer to a resource that will take care of their needs nonetheless. Oldschool wisdom was that you never let a customer go to a competitor. I really believe that it’s sometimes the best thing you can do, because you prove that you will put your customer’s needs first. Plus, if you send them to someone who treats them well, you’re a hero. Yet if the other store stumbles, the customer may appreciate you even more. That’s certainly better than overreaching and losing trust when something goes wrong. Let me stress, though, that trust isn’t some emotional switch that gets flipped. It’s a building built one brick at a time. The customers that trust your store are part of the intangible asset we call “goodwill” when we value a business. That’s because that asset takes prolonged effort to develop, so a business with high trust can out-value one with a lot of inventory and other tangible assets. Without the trust, the tangibles gather dust. Finally, our challenge isn’t

to earn consumer trust. That is our job, something that should be cooked into our DNA, and we should be building trust with every customer that walks in the door. No, the challenge is to make consumers aware that we are a source for those things they

searched for on the internet. If they are disenchanted with their online experience, they will be looking. We have to show up on their radar. If we do, they will come. And if we earn their trust, we won’t have to worry about the internet so much.

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


Numark’s Scratch Mixer By Brian Berk

Numark, an inMusic brand, hopes to do much more than scratch the surface with its latest product release. The company, which was one of the original creators of DJ mixers in the late 1970s and 1980s, continues to be a dependable source of products for both experienced DJs, as well as those newly interested in the art of DJing. The Cumberland, R.I.-based company has introduced its Scratch mixer, exhibiting pro features and comprehensive software at an affordable price point. According to the company, the Numark Scratch offers a versatile array of features with powerful simplicity unheard of in this category of affordable mixers, including six direct-access software FX buttons, delivering quick entry to a comprehensive array of effects with both timing and intensity controls. These effects are triggered by a pair of performance base toggle paddles, usually only found in mixers at premium price points. In addition, Scratch offers four performance pads that provide hot-cue triggering, rolls for creative buildups and quick beat stabs, and sampler control, so DJs can spice up their mixes. Separate "Most new direct-access software looping controls users don't have are found on each channel, allowing DJs to unleash their creativity. Plus, there is a $1,700 to $1,900 in Low/Highpass filter that is not software their pocket to learn dependent, so it works as conveniently and effectively with analog turntables the art of the scratch as it does with software-based FX and DJ, though we know controls, Numark stated. The professional quality of the Nuthese mixers do sell mark Scratch is evidenced with a 108dB well at this price S/N ratio; true balanced, high-level XLR outputs; separate Zone/Booth control; point.... The Numark and an included professional standard innoFADER crossfader. This crossfader Scratch is simple, is designed for scratch DJs. The Scratch reliable, affordable includes the full version of Serato DJ Pro and the complete DVS Expansion and an incredible Pack included. Its DVS Expansion Pack value." enables DJs to connect turntables or CD/ media players, giving them the ability —Chris Roman 46

to control Serato DJ Pro using Noisemap Control tone vinyl or CDs. With the included Serato DJ Pro license, DJs can also connect any dedicated controller, like the Numark NDX500, and have a full setup at their fingertips. “For dozens of years, Numark has provided affordable DJ mixers to both the professional and hobbyist community,” Chris Roman, Numark’s senior DJ product manager, told the Music & Sound Retailer. “Witnessing the rebirth of the scratch DJ market through various gear like the PT01 Scratch turntable, and continued strong sales of the NS7 controller lineup, as well as understanding the successes of other high-end DJ brands in the scratch-mixer category, we could see there was an opportunity to create an affordable alternative. We wanted to create a solution that brought modern-day features onto a mixer, with high quality, while maintaining easy and non-intimidating workflows. The Numark Scratch completely satisfies this requirement.” Scratch is available now at a $499 retail price, a big selling point for the mixer, added Roman. “Most new users don’t have $1,700 to $1,900 in their pocket to learn the art of the scratch DJ, though we know these mixers do sell well at this price point,” he said. “We also know from the incredible success of the PT01 Scratch turntable that the market is strong and growing for this category. We are also watching growth in the scratch community of more and more DJ battles, like DMC, Goldie Awards and Redbull, that inspires new users. The Numark Scratch is simple, reliable, affordable and an incredible value, offering a full Serato DVS license, as well as pad, effect, loop and even track-select controls. To top it off, we include one of the industry-standard crossfaders, the InnoFADER. To get an even remotely similar feature set you’d need to spend more than three times more than the asking price of our Scratch.”

Separating Itself

There’s no question that Numark has plenty of competition regarding its DJ products. We asked Roman to describe how the company separates itself from the rest. “Everyone who works on the Numark development teams is either a working DJ or musician,” he responded. “This is vital. As performers ourselves, we really do understand the needs of our fellow DJs. This puts us in a unique and strong position AUGUST 2019

product is built, there is always a chance we might update firmware or add a new hardware feature. Our users are our top priority. As we find new and better ways to do things, we’ll incorporate those improvements into our products

as quickly as possible,” he said. Despite only being available for a short time thus far, Roman affirmed sales of the Scratch have already been brisk, which also bodes well for the future of the product. “Our sell-through

numbers of the Numark Scratch have been exceptionally strong in the first few weeks, already prompting very strong reorders,” he concluded. “We expect the Numark Scratch to be in the Numark lineup for many years to come.”

Your Partner in Profit

Photo ©Michael Weintrob

to establish powerful and fun feature sets while maintaining affordability. In addition to this, the entire team is listening to market feedback and studying changing and emerging trends. The Numark family of engineering and development has grown significantly over the years, putting Numark at a distinct advantage of creating proven quality solutions with advanced technology and affordable price points. In general, we lead the charge into growing and establishing trends in gear design, completely setting us apart from other brands. After we write a detailed product specification, we engineer almost every detail from firmware to board design from top to bottom with an international team of Numark engineers. There are no off-theshelf solutions in the Numark lineup: We do everything from scratch, and in this case, for the Scratch.” Maintaining strong relationships with MI dealers is certainly another point of distinction. “Numark has a great relationship with all of its dealers,” relayed Roman. “The Numark scratch was 100 percent a global show and ship, which means we were able to let dealers know when this was coming before the public. Everyone got their orders in, and dealers had it on shelf when we announced the product publicly. Our marketing team has already created a dozen videos of training and performance, and our socialmedia presence is incredibly strong. Numark always offers fair margins and pricing on all its gear, and our sales volume remains consistently strong. We will be prominently featuring the Numark Scratch at DJ Expo.” (DJ Expo, presented by Testa Communications, parent company to the Music & Sound Retailer, takes place the 12th through the 15th of this month at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City). Looking at the future of Scratch, Roman said Numark is always on a quest to innovate and improve. “When any new

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(continued from page 29) ever had.” But that wasn’t all. The cab driver asked Hyken if he ever saw the Mustangs at Las Colinas sculpture, which depicts the animals trotting through water. Hyken had only seen a picture, so the cab driver told him he needed to see it in person. “It’s right on the way to the airport, and I won’t charge you any extra money,” the cab driver told Hyken. “It may not only be the most beautiful fountain in the Dallas area, it might be the most beautiful fountain in the United States. Would you like to see the fountain?” “I said, ‘Show me the fountain,’” asserted Hyken. “He really got me excited. We went there, and it really is beautiful.” After visiting the Mustangs at Las Colinas, they got back into the cab, and the taxi driver asked for Hyken’s business card, stating he collects the cards of everyone he drives. Hyken obliged and the driver asked if he could give him his card. “He asked if he can drive me when I return to Dallas,” Hyken said. “And he told me to call two or three days in advance with the flight information. He said he would treat me like a limousine driver, meet me in the airport and still charge $22. But he said, ‘When you walk over to get your bags, I will be standing there with open arms.’” Hyken arrived at the airport, provided a huge tip and couldn’t wait for the driver to take him

somewhere again. “It was initially a moment of misery,” Hyken said. “But he quickly turned it around to a moment of magic. … Just seeing the fountain changed it from a fine experience to something better than fine. Take the extra time to help your customers. This time, I saw a fountain. Maybe next time, I will go to the baseball game!” At the time the cab driver, named Frank, started his job, the average salary for his profession was slightly less than $20,000 per year, Hyken noted. “He said that was enough to live on at the time, but he wanted to do better than that,” said Hyken. “He figured out a way to have customers call him in advance so he wouldn’t have to wait at the airport for two hours. Within a year and a half, Frank was making more than $100,000 per year as a taxi driver.” According to Hyken, there is a lesson to be learned from Frank. “It doesn’t have to be something big. The little things take it from an ordinary experience to an extraordinary experience.” The experience even went one step further. “I returned to my office in St. Louis and I received a thank-you note. By a show of hands, how many of you have received a thank-you note from a cab or Uber driver? It doesn’t happen,” Hyken concluded. “Every Christmas, this guy would send me a holiday card. The guy is amazing. He couldn’t dress for a darn, but he AUGUST 2019


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Ad Index



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knew how to manage the moments of truth and create moments of magic. That’s what it’s all about.”

Going for a SWIM

Definitely another highlight at Summer NAMM was the Smart Women in Music (SWIM) Meet on July 18. SWIM tri-founder DeDe Heid of Heid Music explained that SWIM is needed because “We have an underrepresentation of women in the music products industry. It’s OK to say it. But it’s more important to acknowledge it and do something about it. I couldn’t be more proud of this initiative, and the fact it was kicked off at the time when we were able to celebrate our first chairwoman at NAMM (SWIM tri-founder Robin Walenta of West Music). So, thank you to all of those who helped to leave a legacy to say this will not be the case [of no NAMM chairwomen] for another 119 years. Bravo.” The event also featured a drum circle, an introduction of the inaugural SWIM scholarship winners and the launch of a 2020 NAMM Show SWIM scholarship program. Applications can be made until Sept. 20, with up to six winners being announced on Halloween. More information can be found at “Let’s get more women to The NAMM Show in January,” said Heid. SWIM also honored Christie Carter of Carter Vintage Guitars, who pledged $15,000 to the organization, and Diane Martin and her husband Chris Martin of C.F. Martin Guitars, who also donated a considerable amount to the cause. “It sends a message that there is a place for more women,” said Carter. “I can also tell my daughter, who is a rocket scientist, that I am a ‘Smart Woman.’” Chris Martin said he was speaking on behalf of his wife Diane, who was at home in Pennsylvania to be a “stay-at-home mom,” taking care of a new puppy the Martins’ recently brought home. He explained that even though Martin Guitar has its own foundation and Chris Martin is also heavily involved in the Collings Foundation, Diane Martin wanted a charitable cause to call her own. “My wife wrote the check,” said Chris Martin. “This is for her.” Summer NAMM will return to the Music City in 2020 from July 9 to 11.

Resonate Music School & Studio

Christie Carter and Chris Martin

Resonate Music School & Studio’s Michael Cathrea with NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond

Larry Bailin with Lamond


Reinventing Themselves

And finally, we’re excited to see the new battery-powered moving heads by JMaz.”

Moving the Needle

By Brian Berk

DJ/lighting companies see great success by changing with the times

Like its guitar, percussion, keyboard and proaudio brethren, DJ/lighting products had a solid 2018. For the first time in three years, the Music & Sound Retailer spoke to retailers in this market segment to get a handle on the state of the industry. Fortunately for retailers we spoke to for this feature, the party continued into the first half of 2019, and expectations are for a solid year overall. What is driving the growth? Is it product-based, or does it have more to do with specific efforts retailers have made to make sure DJs visit both their stores and websites? We asked these questions, plus some more, of Tom Capo, owner of Hopatcong, N.J.based KPODJ; Ed Decker, owner of Hackensack, N.J.-based Musically Yours; and Sharon Bechor, owner of New York City-based Rock and Soul. Let’s first start with the bottom line: sales. We got our panelists’ take on how their respective stores did in terms of sales, both in 2018 and during the first half of 2019, and followed up by asking what they see for the rest of this year. “So far, DJ and lighting sales are up 15 percent, compared to 2018. We are happy with the rate of growth and sales figures,” responded Capo. “In past years, our sales volume remained relatively even through the year, with the exception of a noticeable increase at the end of the year for the holiday season. Even though China tariffs have recently increased the cost of many products, we don’t see that as a major issue. We believe the consumer market would see a greater effect than the professional market. So, we expect the second half of 2019 to be just as strong as the first half.” Added Decker, “The first half of the year was strong, so I have no reason to believe the second half won’t be. There are a lot of great products out there in lighting and sound. We have a strong relationship with Yorkville, which has its Synergy systems. Chauvet and American DJ are [also] among the other companies doing well for us. We stock a lot of products. Not a lot of people in New Jersey do what we do anymore.” Bechor noted that Rock and Soul had an excellent 2018, and the first half of 2019 was even stronger. “With so many changes in retail, it’s important not to get complacent and assume that because sales are good today, the same will be true tomorrow,” she said. “So, we’re always trying to think a step ahead. We’re continually looking to leverage new opportunities to sell, and we’re seeing success. I do wish people shopped in brick-and-mortar stores more. We have a lot to offer people who come to visit, touch and test the equipment. But overall, we have been consistently growing. So, no complaints here.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

“Typically, our business is relatively consistent each quarter,” added Bechor. “We don’t see a huge boom over the holidays like many of the big-box stores. But we have been trying to carry more products that work as gifts for the holidays and start promoting earlier. So yes, I expect fourth-quarter [sales] to go up.” So, why has 2019 been so good thus far? We asked our respondents to name names, in terms of what products are ringing the registers at their stores. “I think The Phase is pretty groundbreaking, allowing people to have the effect of vinyl and turntables, but without the use of a needle,” responded Bechor. “But it’s a double-edged sword when new technology comes out. When Serato, Traktor and Final Scratch came out, for every unit we sold, we

It’s clear that sales have been good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the state of the DJ/ lighting market is gangbusters. We checked in with our panelists to find out how well the overall industry is doing. Decker is definitely optimistic. “If you look at the Music & Sound award nominees [for the single-store division for DJ/Lighting products, presented in the June issue of the Music & Sound Retailer], all four retailers, including ourselves, are in the Northeast. I think it proves how well we are doing here. One trend I’m noticing is DJs are moving into production much more than before. A lot are expanding their DJ companies, handling audio and video production. Everyone I have seen do that has been very happy with the decision. I have

‘Even though China tariffs have recently increased the cost of many products, we don’t see that as a major issue. We believe the consumer market would see a greater effect than the professional market. So, we expect the second half of 2019 to be just as strong as the first half.’

Tom Capo and his fiancè Lauren

lost a music customer. The Phase has had a similar effect for needles. It definitely impacted our business. But this has been true for the past 45 years. Records went out of style for a while, but CDs took over. And now look at how records have roared back. It just means we have to be nimble. We have to reinvent ourselves from time to time. But what business doesn’t? I guess it’s all part of the fun.” “In 2019, we’ve seen a huge increase in sales from Ape Labs products,” noted Capo. “Its Maxi, Can and Stick have been huge hits. We’ve been carrying the brand since 2014 and have done well with the line, but they’ve really made a name for themselves in the last six to 12 months. We’re very excited for the new Coin by Ape Labs. We believe this could be a gamechanger in the DJ market. In the stage lighting and installation market, we’re excited for the Prost Lighting line that Ape Labs is now bringing to market. 51

‘We’re continually looking to leverage new opportunities to sell, and we’re seeing success. I do wish people shopped in brick-and-mortar stores more. We have a lot to offer people who come to visit, touch and test the equipment. But overall, we have been consistently growing. So, no complaints here.’

Sharon Bechor

‘One trend I’m noticing is DJs are moving into production much more than before. A lot are expanding their DJ companies, handling audio and video production. Everyone I have seen do that has been very happy with the decision.’

Ed Decker

seen a lot of growth there. And when a company is doing well, they are going to invest in better equipment. That’s where we come in.” Optimism also abounds from Capo. “DJ setups keep looking better and better,” he said. “Fortunately, DJs all around the country keep demanding more impressive gear. This keeps all parts of the industry exciting and fresh. As long as this continues, we’re very optimistic.” Bechor noted that business


for any brick-and-mortar retail store is tough, but she also sees a bright future for DJ/lighting retail. “Brick-and-mortar retail is tough,” she said. “People really don’t want to go out of their way to pick up something they need anymore. They prefer to check reviews online, order it and get it quickly. But I am optimistic. People do want to come in for an experience, or to browse. They still want to get out sometimes. And I think that is what Rock and Soul has always excelled in. Creating a place where DJs really want to hang out and network. We are doing this constantly.” Considering the aforementioned grind facing brick-andmortar retail, how is Bechor getting people into her Manhattan store? “This is an ongoing struggle,” she responded. “We need to be online, since that’s how so many people prefer to buy today. But yes, competition is stiff, margins are lower, and you have to cover the cost of shipping online as well. So, the more we can get people to come in, the happier we are. We do that by doing our best to build a community. We host workshops and networking events. We have competitions. We bring DJs in to perform. We try to make it an experience that people can enjoy and share. And when people walk in the door, we do our best to give great service and advice.” Perhaps the best advice for

retailers is if you can’t beat them, join them. Capo and Decker pointed to their respective online strategies. “We just launched a new website, something we’ve been building from scratch over the last 18 months,” said Capo. “The front-end doesn’t look very different right now, but the foundation has been set for many new improvements, which we’ll be implementing the second half of 2019. Also, we just launched a new social media campaign this year that has been putting our website in front of new customers.” Responded Decker, “We have a website called Digital DJ Gear. We also sell on third-party websites. It definitely helps in many ways, including selling discontinued items.” We finished up our annual DJ/ lighting update by asking our panelists if there is any DJ/lighting products or technologies they would like to see on the market. Here’s what they had to say. “Bluetooth moving heads,” relayed Decker. “It’s something everyone really likes. Who knows, we may see a bunch of them come out soon.” “JMaz impressed us with its battery-powered moving heads

and battery powered DMX controller,” concluded Capo. “We’d like to see even more battery tech come out. We’d also like to see more video and projection tech built to be integrated into lighting productions.” MI SPY

(continued from page 35) kits, 600 sounds and 60 play-along tracks, as well as two one-quarterinch outputs, a headphone jack and a USB MIDI output. “I would look up the Nitro [online] and go from there,” he advised. He then told me his name and shook my hand. I thanked him and left.

The Sale

It was a really good trip to New York City. All four stores are very cool in their own ways. After leaving the Guitar Center Union Square location, I was hungry, and I looked for a restaurant or shop I had never AUGUST 2019

been to before. All of a sudden, I noticed a Kellogg’s sign on a building and wondered what it was. People were inside. I wasn’t sure if just a novelty shop or a place to buy cereal. It was both, actually. I took the stairs up one flight and ordered Frosted Flakes with almonds and a honey drizzle, as well as a hibiscus iced tea to wash it all down. It even came with a glass of soy milk for me to pour into the bowl myself. Now that’s a different meal. It set me back $10.62, and they only accepted credit cards. Kellogg’s was where I was to make my decision. While crunching on my cereal, I thought that all four stores were enjoyable to visit. On the negative side, only one salesperson told me his name and none offered me a business card. But there were a lot of

positives. All four stores looked really nice and had excellent drum selections. Sam Ash is a beautiful store featuring a great drum selection. But I can’t give it a grade, since I didn’t actually speak to a salesperson. Both Guitar Centers have extremely knowledgeable salespeople who were a pleasure to talk to. And I felt like both stores were a haven for drums and located in really cool areas. Both were worthy of winning this month. But in the end, I decided to go with the place that felt welcoming and warm. I just felt too welcome in Steve Maxwell Vintage and Custom Drums, which wins the tiebreaker this month. But rest assured, the competition was very close.


(continued from page 43) two children are both graduates of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “The school has been a customer since it opened in 1993. We have countless personal relationships with its students, parents and faculty members, and we’ve been involved. So, the tragedy didn’t just hit close to home; this is our home.” After the outpouring of national attention and grief, Schiff wanted to do something to show his community that he and All County Music were there for them. Eventually, he came up with the idea to honor Alex Schachter, a student at Stoneman Douglas and a member of its Eagle Regiment Marching Band who was murdered that day. All County Music’s graphics designer created a special logo honoring Alex and, with the blessing of Schachter’s father Max, All County Music partnered with Conn-Selmer to create 50 Alex Tribute Trombones, which came complete with a case emblazoned with the special logo. “One month ahead of the official launch, I went to 50 local band directors and asked them each to select one student who deserved to receive one of these trombones,” Schiff explained. “The point was to have Alex’s presence in each band room, making music where he couldn’t. Obviously not all 50 recipients

will continue with music, but most of them will, and they’ll go through school with this trombone and their case with Alex’s logo.” On May 11, the 50 students and their families — many of whom reportedly cried upon hearing that they were receiving this honor — came to All County Music and greeted Alex’s family with an incredible show of support and respect. “For the first time in a long time, Max Schachter got to talk about Alex, not as a victim, but as a child of music. He was able to talk about what music did for him and the friends he made through it. He received hundreds of hugs, for the right reasons,” said Schiff. “After each of the 50 students received their trombones, we had them all wait and open the cases at the same time. It was like Christmas,” Schiff continued. “And all together, they played the first B flat. The joy on all of our faces was unbelievable. We hit a chord in our community, and we showed that we were here to support them.” Schiff’s selflessness will continue to affect the residents of his local community, as well as his customers, for years to come — even those who don’t realize that he’s the boss. “Our general manager is Dan Murphy, who is retiring this Oc-

tober after 30 years at All County Music. Sometimes when I’m on the showroom floor, customers will come up to me and say that they wanted to speak to the owner, meaning Dan,” Schiff said with a laugh. “It’s great that they

think he is the owner instead of me, as it shows his level of commitment to our customers. My business card doesn’t have a title on it. All I want to know is that our customers are taken care of, and it doesn’t matter by whom.”


(continued from page 54)

The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Marsh: A photojournalist. I love the creative aspect of photography and love to travel, so it makes sense to me.

The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Marsh: I wouldn’t call them possessions, but my son and daughter are the most important part of my life and always will be.

The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there. Marsh: My new hometown, Wilsonville, Ore., is just such a beautiful part of the country. I am only two hours or less from the mountains, the ocean or the dunes depending what I’m in the mood for. Who could ask for more?

The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Marsh: There are so many. I am a huge bookworm, but I would probably say “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Written in 1937, the insights in that book still hold true today, which is amazing.

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Marsh: “Rock, Rock” by Def Leppard. I wore out two cassettes of Pyromania cruising in my 1970 Roadrunner in my high school years … good times.

The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod? Marsh: All of them, right? Or they wouldn’t be on my iPhone. I have a diverse selection, from rock, to blues, to jazz, to country, to movie soundtracks, which sometimes causes people to raise an eyebrow because they don’t necessarily all go together.

DAVID MARSH Director of Sales, Audix

By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? David Marsh: Is it cliché to say my parents? Both of my parents were extremely hard workers and reached the top in their fields while starting at the bottom. This is something that has always reverberated in my life: If you want something badly enough, you must put in the effort. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Marsh: I have been focused on a quote from Benjamin Disraeli: “One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Marsh: Outside of the various instruments you play in school, the guitar was really what grabbed my interest. The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Marsh: Anything really. I enjoy fooling around on guitar, bass, drums, piano … and have yet to master any of them. The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Marsh: I’m a huge motorhead. My brothers and I all owned Mopars — a 1970 Dodge 54

Charger, a 1970 Dodge Super Bee and my 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner.

The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Marsh: I would say photography. I have always been drawn to it and have dabbled around, but I am looking to get a bit more serious about it. The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Marsh: It’s hard to pick just one, so I’m going to cheat a little. Any Foo Fighters or Metallica concerts always seem to get my energy up. The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Marsh: Two bands I always wanted to see but never got the chance to are Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. Both bands left a legacy for the music that followed. The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future? Marsh: Sting is starting his residency next year in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, so I believe a trip to Vegas is in my future. The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood and what do you remember about it the most?

The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? Marsh: I attended the Spinal Tap concert. I’ve always been a huge fan of that movie. 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? Marsh: Abraham Lincoln, Nikola Tesla, Andrew Carnegie. What one decision in their life changed everything for them? The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them). Marsh: Let’s just say there were about 40 of them on a trip to Cancun, Mexico, one year, when a little Hurricane named Wilma decided to spoil our fun. During times of disaster such as this, it really tends to pull people together, and it is something I will never forget. The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industr y? Marsh: There is a community aspect to MI, and it’s great to build relationships that benefit all of us in this industry. The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industr y and why? Marsh: People like Richard Branson and Elon Musk. I am always intrigued by creative thinkers and change advocates. There is always so much to learn. The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Marsh: That’s a tough question, and I feel that the wireless technology that all manufacturers are currently working on could be the biggest change for the MI industry. As the Federal Communications Commission continues to shrink our bandwidth, being able to compensate with more frequencies in less space will be a big part of the future technology for this industry. (continued on page 53) AUGUST 2019

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