THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR MUSIC PRODUC TS RETAILERS
September 2021 Volume 38, No. 9
PUT A BOW ON IT
THE MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER’S ANNUAL HOLIDAY SALES GUIDE
15TH ANNUAL INDEPENDENT RETAILER ROUNDTABLE
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The NAMM Show Moved to June 2022 The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) announced that The NAMM Show will not take place in January. Instead, it will reconvene in Anaheim, Calif., at the Anaheim Convention Center on June 3 to 5, 2022. The new dates will offer global industry leaders, buyers, sellers, music educators, artists, media, and music makers the opportunity to reconnect and renew their businesses while taking greater advantage of reimagined indoor and outdoor events, activations, professional development sessions, an expanded digital reach, and more at the crossroads of business opportunity, NAMM stated. With the move of The 2022 NAMM Show to June, the organization has decided not to hold Summer NAMM in Nashville, Tennessee, for the 2022 year, effectively combining the two shows. On Friday, January 21, the organization will host a one-day global livestreamed event: Believe in Music: The online global gathering to unify and support the people who bring music to the world. Building on the success of this year’s Believe in Music week, the livestreamed event will again welcome leaders across the industry, music educators and music makers to connect in a live, online setting and take part in sessions and experiences. In total, 2021’s Believe in Music week welcomed 93,226 industry professionals and attendees from 187 countries and territories to support those who bring music to the world through nearly $500,000 in charitable donations made by participants and generous donors. “The industry has not stopped evolving and innovating during the pandemic, and The NAMM Show is evolving, as well. As the health and safety of our members remains top of mind, and after carefully listening to companies here in the U.S. and around the world, the new dates will help members maximize their opportunity and accelerate what has arguably been a transformative time both in new products and in how they come to market. I imagine this gathering will have the kind of impact of a Beatles moment or the introduction of MIDI — definitely one you will not want to miss,” stated NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond. The news of the return of the Show and the change in dates addresses ongoing concerns about pandemic activity, new product development and launches, available in-store inventory, and current travel restrictions. “The NAMM Show is the best opportunity of the year for Yamaha to reach our dealers, end-user customers, and the music industry as a whole. It’s the one place where the new products from across our brands meet the global industry, and we can’t wait to get together in June,” said Tom Sumner, president of Yamaha Corp. of America. “No matter when NAMM happens, Shure is excited about the industry finally getting together to engage with each other at this important event,” stated Abby Kaplan, vice president of Global Retail Sales for Shure Inc. Mark Terry, CEO, Exertis/JAM US Music Group, shared the same sentiment: “[NAMM] has made a great decision on moving the show to June. This move ensures that it will be a very successful show for vendors and dealers. We certainly plan on being there!” “At Taylor Guitars, we applaud innovative ideas as we all attempt to navigate these unusual times,” affirmed Barbara Wight, CFO of Taylor Guitars. “Since its days in the ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel, The NAMM Show has always been an invaluable platform for us to launch new products and deepen our connections with our treasured retailers, suppliers and fans. We see this change to June as a smart oppor-
tunity to try something new, and we’re looking forward to being back together with our industry family.” “Global travel restrictions continue to be unpredictable and challenging for our industry. Rescheduling the NAMM Show to June is absolutely the right call,” commented David Via, Zoom North America vice president of Marketing. “We fully support NAMM’s decision to move the 2022 NAMM Show to June,” said Larry Morton, CEO of Hal Leonard. “Not only does this make sense from a public safety standpoint, but the June timing gives the entire music products industry an opportunity to put the pandemic behind us. Hal Leonard will work hard to transform and elevate The 2022 NAMM Show experience for our customers.” Sammy Ash, president of Sam Ash Music, shared that, “I, for one, am glad they moved the show to June. With a little luck, COVID-19 will be better contained worldwide, so we can have all the exhibitors present. Personally, I like L.A. in the winter — I’m from New York — but the pandemic has created opportunities for change in everything we do. I think this is a prudent move, and we’ll be there in force!” The largest NAMM Show in the history of the organization took place in January 2020, when the show welcomed 115,888 members and industry professionals and more than 7,000 brands. The show also hosted 350 professional development sessions, numerous live events, networking opportunities and concerts each evening on the Grand Plaza, as presented by Yamaha.
For much more on why The NAMM Show was moved to June, see next month's issue. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR MUSIC PRODUC TS RETAILERS
VOLUME 38, NO.9
32 Five Minutes With
Thomas Ripsam, who just took over as CEO of C.F. Martin, joins us to talk about his philosophy, taking over a company that is anything but broken and much more.
20 Put a Bow on It
36 MI Spy
Look for some stocking stuffers to sell at your store in The Music & Sound Retailer’s annual Holiday Sales Guide.
28 15th Annual Independent Retailer Roundtable
MI Spy heads to the Southern Tier and Central New York to check out four music stores in person, as well as two “honorable mentions.”
Two California retailers describe what is working right now in MI, what needs to be improved, how their businesses survived during the COVID-19 pandemic, plus much more.
44 Shine a Light
46 Under the Hood
40 In the Trenches
54 The Final Note
At Fanny’s House of Music in Nashville, Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples seek to create a music store that serves as a safe and inspiring space for all musicians, no matter their gender, aptitude or walk of life.
It is time to “Enter the Dragon” with Luna Ukes’ and Luna Percussion’s Henna Dragon Series
The Summer NAMM Show was certainly different for Allen McBroom, but “so what?” The show was excellent in many ways, he says.
Dan Vedda has heard predictions of the demise of the acoustic drumset, the death of the acoustic guitar, the utter dominance of the DJ market ending live music, and the permanent replacement of electric guitar with synthesizers. However, these supposedly doomed market segments not only survived, but are bigger than before.
Antonio Ferranti, president of Proel North America, has always been interested in aviation and took lessons for several years to become a private pilot.
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Say It Ain’t So, Joe Although it was announced a couple of months back, because I was so focused on Summer NAMM, I did not get a chance until now to provide some commentary about NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond’s impending 2023 retirement. (Of note, he will be heavily involved in the NAMM Foundation from that point.) First off, I was surprised to hear the news, because I thought it was a lifetime appointment like a Supreme Court justice. But I am happy to say we all get to spend a little more time with Lamond — two more NAMM Shows to be exact. I have only known one CEO at NAMM during my time covering this industry, but I can say this: Joe will be incredibly missed. He had three awful crises to deal with during his 20-year tenure: September 11, the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, which still continues. His handling of each event was swift. Changing the date of the 2022 NAMM Show was a difficult decision to make, but he did what was necessary. He is also an incredible ambassador for the music instrument industry, one that will be incredibly difficult to replace. His leadership skills are most demonstrated by the way his staff does business. NAMM is the nicest and kindest organization I have dealt with in my career. The entire staff always treats me like gold, with incredible respect. Those are certainly traits Lamond has passed down to everyone at NAMM California headquarters. On a personal basis, I have gone to numerous events where Lamond has appeared over the years. I have spoken with him at perhaps every NAMM show, and most certainly at every NAMM Advocacy Fly-In I attended. We also have had numerous phone and Zoom conversations. Lamond generally calls me once or twice a year to check in with me and see how me and my family are
doing. No CEO has to do that, but it shows incredible class. Another thing he certainly did not need to do was compliment me often about the quality of coverage we gave to NAMM events and news. His compliments are always touching. But the things I will remember most about Lamond are his anecdotes and sense of humor. He always has a great story to share, some of which date all back to his time at Skip’s Music, his time spent with Todd Rundgren, or his upbringing in Buffalo, N.Y. As a journalist and a person, I always respected that Lamond would be honest with me. You can see how straightforward he is yourself thanks to our recorded Zoom videos. The pandemic has brought on so many bad things, but one great thing for me has been bringing MI industry personalities closer to you via these recorded video chats. Lamond is always an incredible interview, has a wealth of information and always delivers his answers in his signature mellifluous tones. That is hard to beat. Admittedly, there are times when it is difficult to ask tough questions. In fact, at certain moments, I feel bad doing so. When I had to ask Lamond to “Take us back to the moment you had to cancel the 2021 in-person NAMM Show” was one of those times. But he never made me feel guilty for asking tough questions. In fact, he always encourages them. During one of our chats, Lamond suggested that we need to host a podcast together someday. Joe, I hope to take you up on that one soon.
September 2021 Volume 38 No. 9
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Sweetwater Has New Owner; Surack ‘Steps Up’ to Chairman Industry stalwart Chuck Surack, the founder of Sweetwater Sound and past Music & Sound Award Lifetime Achievement winner, announced he will “step up,” leaving his role as CEO, becoming chairman of the company’s board instead. Executive vice president and chief operating officer John Hopkins was named the new CEO on July 15. The news comes on the heels of a report that Providence Equity Partners is now the majority owner of the business, reported WANE-TV. In a comment to the Music Sound Retailer, a Sweetwater spokesperson said it would not issue a news release about the topic but confirmed everything in the WANE report is accurate. “They love our company and they realize how important it is to stay in Fort Wayne and the culture that we’ve worked for four decades, frankly, to develop. And the only really minor change is that I’m taking my role and I’m going to move my offices from the Sweetwater building to another building here in town,” Surack told WANE regarding Providence Equity Partners. Surack also told WANE he will start managing the Sweet Family of Companies. He added that he also hopes to start construction on a number of blocks that he owns in downtown Fort Wayne and more within the next year.
Reverb Continues Strong Growth Trajectory
Reverb announced that it continued to see growth in gross merchandise sales for Q2 2021 compared to the extremely strong growth in sales it reported a year ago. Reverb attributes its sellers’ success to the company’s continued focus on improving the seller experience and finding new ways to get sellers’ inventory in front of Reverb’s global community of approximately 2 million music makers. “Even as stores reopen and restrictions ease, consumers are shopping for musical instruments online. Players have experienced firsthand not only how easy it is to shop for music gear online, but also how a marketplace like Reverb gives them access to music gear from shops all over the world,” said David Mandelbrot, CEO at Reverb. “As these music makers return to Reverb, we’re committed to continuing to evolve the platform to make it easier for buyers to find exactly what they’re looking for from our sellers. My message to sellers is this: List all of your inventory on Reverb and we’ll do everything we can to get it in front of the right buyers.” Over the past year, Reverb sellers have sold nearly 3 million pieces of gear on Reverb. In the second quarter, music gear across categories remained in demand, with guitars, amps, and accessories among the most popular items. When comparing to pre-pandemic results of the second quarter of 2019, orders for brand new guitars and amps were up more than 135 percent, and orders for brand new drums, keyboards, synthesizers and pro audio were up 75-110 percent. Used gear was also popular, selling quickly—in the US, more than half of used gear sold within the first 30 days of being listed on Reverb, with a significant portion of that gear selling within seven days. Prices for vintage items remain high — as an example, the price for a Tascam Portastudio 414 MKII 4-Track Cassette Recorder has increased by nearly 50 percent since last year. In Q2, Reverb launched a new search filter that helps buyers find nearby sellers, with the goal of driving more local buyers to dealers. Reverb also continued to improve the shipping process, including helping sellers more easily estimate how much it will cost to ship an item. Throughout the quarter, Reverb promoted sellers’ gear through marketing campaigns like “Maker May,” which highlighted more than two dozen independent gear makers. Marketing campaigns like this are created to drive more high-quality buyers to Reverb sellers. “The quality of buyers on Reverb is what sets it apart from other e-commerce platforms. Reverb is more than an online marketplace, it truly is a community of music makers,” said Sharone Bechor from Rock & Soul in New York City. SEPTEMBER 2021
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YOUR CUSTOMERS DESERVE TO PLAY WHAT THE WORLD’S TOP PLAYERS PLAY. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE.
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Orbit Concepts Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Founded in 2011, Orbit Concepts launched its very first DJ bag called the JetPack. It was designed for working DJs with specific pockets and compartments that made it easy to carry around DJ gear in an organized manner. The bag was built to be the perfect all-in-one DJ bag with every function and features a DJ may want from a bag, stated the company. It had all-around padding to protect the gear, it was made out of water-resistance materials, it had adjustable straps for comfort and it even had a spot to hold business cards. It also pioneered many innovations that were not seen on a DJ bag before, including built-in record sleeves, offering battery bank chargers inside the bag and allowing DJs to promote their own brand with the customization of their own logos on their JetPack, added the company. Fast Forward 10 years, JetPack is now a popular line of DJ bags used by DJs around the world, with the original JetPack now renamed the JetPack Prime, still being one of the most popular DJ bags in the market.
Hal Leonard Awards 18 MI Retailers
Hal Leonard awarded 18 MI retailer winners with prizes worth more than $10,000 from its “Colossal Summer NAMM Giveaway.” “We wanted to welcome retailers back to a ‘live’ show with something special,” said Brad Smith, vice president MI Products. “When we asked for prizes from our distribution partners, we got overwhelming support. Everyone wanted to show retailers how much we appreciate them and missed seeing them in person!” Winning retailers include Absolute Music, All Country Music, Blues Angel Music, Brass Bell, Groth Music, Heid Music, Instrumental Music Company, Jeff Ryder’s Drum Shop, Mike Risko Music, Mountain Music, Mugan Music, Nick Rail Music, Sam Ash, Senseney Music, Skip’s Music, White House of Music and Willis Music. Prizes were donated by Hal Leonard and 25 manufacturers that are distributed by Hal Leonard, including Avid, Axe Heaven, Blue Mics, Gibraltar, Gretsch, Heil Sound, Hotone Audio, IK Multimedia, Innovative Percussion, Levy’s Leathers, Line 6, Loog, Morley, PreSonus, Red Panda, Samson, TASCAM, Tycoon, Vater, Vertex, and Warm Audio. Prizes were from categories including songbooks, audio, drums, guitar pedals, accessories, gift items, and more. Retailers had to enter in person at the Hal Leonard Summer NAMM booth. SEPTEMBER 2021
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Music China to Celebrate 20th Anniversary
Music China is returning for its 2021 edition, taking place from Oct. 13 to 16 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the fair will encompass a wider variety of Chinese musical instruments while a number of domestic pavilions will also be formed. Some of the companies exhibiting across 11 halls this year include AKG, Algam, C. Bechstein, Conn-Selmer, Fazioli, Fender, GEWA, Martin, Pearl River, Petrof, Petz, Pioneer DJ, Recording King, Roland, Samick, Schimmel, Seiler, Steinway, Taylor, VHT, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, and many more. Stated Judy Cheung, deputy general Manager of Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd.: “China is one of the promising markets for both local and international companies, especially during the post-pandemic recovery phase. To capture opportunities in the market, many industry players are turning their attention to Music China, where they can find partners to scale up their business in China and across Asia.” Business leaders are adopting a positive mindset to stay competitive and deal with the ever-changing business environment. For instance, despite the current travel restrictions, some international companies are making full use of their local Chinese resources and network to seize the business opportunities that Music China has to offer. Meanwhile, they continue to launch new products to meet demand as the market recovers. “It is a shame that it seems we will be unable to travel to Music China due to COVID-related immigration restrictions. But with our local sales and marketing team in China, we will be fully represented at the show with a fine selection of our products across all of our famous brands such as Bach, Ludwig, Conn, Musser, King and Leblanc. Of course, it would have been nice to also work with our international distributors and business partners from all over the world during Music China 2021, but we are determined to make the best of it by focusing this year on Chinese dealers, artists and consumers,” said Markus Theinert, vice president of Product & International Sales, Conn-Selmer. Conn-Selmer’s booth will display its new line of fully modular extensions for their Bach Stradivarius Artisan trombone line, as well as new saxophones, trumpets, trombones and clarinets for both students and intermediate players. For Ludwig fans, some novelties will also be showcased. As innovation grows in importance, a guaranteed way for exhibitors to garner attention for their creativity is at Music China’s New Product Global Launch awards, stated Music China. Organized in 2018, the awards aim to foster industry development and to encourage both local and overseas exhibitors to take full advantage of exposure on the Music China platform. This year, participating products will be carefully selected based on innovative concepts, product design, craftsmanship, practicality and unique features. The entries will first be screened and shortlisted before a judging committee comprising local and overseas industry associations, music educators, professional performers and well-known media selects the 20 best new products. An award ceremony will be held on the first show day,, and the winning products will be displayed throughout the four-day event. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
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Jeremy Payne, The Music People national account manager and On-Stage brand director, was named president of NAMM Young Professionals (NAMM YP). Payne previously served as vice president and has been active in the organization for the past five years. NAMM YP hosts networking and educational events for industry professionals under 40 and manages a mentorship program connecting members with industry veterans. “NAMM YP has been monumental in my professional development,” Payne said. “I look forward to leading the group and helping members reach their goals.” “Jeremy’s accomplishment with NAMM YP demonstrates his leadership within our own organization and his ability to connect with the industry,” said The Music People co-president John Hennessey. “His passion for this industry, music and the development of young talent is clear, so to honor him with this leadership role is special.” “Jeremy, along with the strong leadership team on the NAMM YP board, have done a terrific job in expanding their activities to recruit and retain young, top talent,” said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM. “Ensuring that these future leaders feel connected and supported through programs like the expanding NAMM mentoring program will lead to a vibrant future for our global industry. Jeremy has earned the respect of all, and I personally look forward to working closely with him to achieve NAMM YP’s vision.”
A Shure Thing
Shure hired industry veteran Prakash Moorut as senior director of Spectrum and Regulatory Affairs. Moorut is responsible for leading Shure’s efforts to advocate for audio professionals as it pertains to industry regulations. He serves as Shure’s point person with regulators, lawmakers and industry associations, and he will partner with engineering and product management to create a regulatory roadmap that adheres to current and future policies. Before coming to Shure, Moorut spent more than 10 years with Nokia, most recently serving as head of Spectrum Standardization, where he led the company’s efforts on global spectrum standardization and policy. He brings additional global regulatory experience from his previous role at Motorola for 14 years. “Bringing a seasoned, global expert like Prakash onboard provides
Phil it Up
PRS Guitars announced the appointment of Phil Gates as its customer service manager. In his new role, Gates reports directly to Jim Cullen, director of sales. Gates will oversee PRS Guitars’ team of customer service personnel, work toward enhancing PRS’s overall service and repair, and provide PRS players with more informative resources to enhance their experiences. As a professional with an extensive background, Gates will call on his global experiences in MI and use communication, information, and technology to enhance dealer and end-user experiences with PRS Guitars. “Phil is a welcome addition to PRS Guitars’ team. His understanding of the customer needs, global environment and service trends will be invaluable to us as we enhance our programs and customer communication efforts,” said Cullen. “Throughout his career, Phil has demonstrated the ability to lead high-impact programs and deliver consistent results. His skillset and musical background will be an asset as we further our communication capabilities.” Gates has worked in MI for many years. He started at Guitar Center, working as sales staff, department manager, customer service and then as a sales manager. Gates has also worked in channel and product marketing and product support at Line 6 and Roland as well as in video product marketing with Behringer. As a guitarist, musician and audio engineer, Gates has toured at clubs and large venues in over 16 countries. He has shared the stage and/or worked with artists such as Dizzie Gilespie, Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Tower of Power, Coco Montoya, Tommy Castro, Eric Gales and several others. Gates also founded the Los Angeles Blues Society and is a voting member for the Grammys. Born in Chicago and raised in Long Island, N.Y. and California, Gates served in the United States Air Force before joining MI, working in-shop repair for F-15 Fighter Aircraft Avionics. He has also worked in Flight Test Engineering groups as an “A” level Lead Technician for LTV Aerospace and Northrop/Grumman.
our team and our partners with an experienced voice who can help us navigate new spectrum policy proposals and legislation,” said Ahren Hartman, vice president of Quality at Shure. As wireless microphones continue to play an essential role in enabling productions across a wide swath of American life, culture and the economy, new regulations will impact these areas without audio industry involvement. Beyond the traditional role of wireless microphones in broadcasting and film production, wireless microphones enable productions in a wide range of sectors including news reporting, theater, music, sports, worship, civic events, transportation infrastructure and education. Moorut’s new role will help Shure continue to advocate for the people who rely on wireless microphones and related technologies. Moorut received his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Ecole Superieure D’Electricite (SUPELEC), one of France’s leading engineering schools. SEPTEMBER 2021
Drum Workshop Inc. (DW) hired Matt Wechsler as chief marketing officer. He oversees the company’s global marketing function across the full Drum Workshop portfolio of brands including DW Drums and Hardware, Latin Percussion (LP), Gretsch Drums, Pacific Drums and Percussion (PDP) and Slingerland. In this new role for the company focused on driving strategic growth, Wechsler is tasked with brand management, consumer marketing, communications, digital and social media, content, customer service, education and artist relations. “In addition to Matt being a lifelong drummer, he brings an impressive range of experience in strategic, multi-brand marketing from multiple industries to Drum Workshop. I am incredibly excited to have Matt join our executive team leading DW through our next phase of growth,” said Chris Lombardi, CEO of Drum Workshop. “Matt’s track record for driving consumer engagement, loyalty and growth is truly a valuable asset to help us reach our future goals.” Wechsler brings more than 20 years of senior-level, consumer, multi-brand marketing experience. He is joining DW from Marriott International where he was leading creative marketing globally. Earlier in his career, he held marketing leadership roles both in-house and on the agency side, helping shape some of the most respected consumer brands in the world including Microsoft, Verizon, Volkswagen, Ford Motor Company, Sony and Electronic Arts. He began his career as a music journalist writing concert reviews for 7up.com and building websites for iconic artists at Capitol Records. “I have been a fan of DW since I started playing drums at eight years old and have tremendous admiration for all the brands in the Drum Workshop portfolio,” said Wechsler. “I couldn’t be more excited to take on this dream job bringing together my passion with my expertise. Twenty-three years ago, I sent a resume to Drum Workshop begging them for a job in marketing, and today is the day that dream becomes reality. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
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“I look forward to working with Don, John, Chris and the entire Drum Workshop family to continue the incredible legacy they have built. It is an honor to represent such iconic brands that continue to inspire drummers and percussionists across the globe,” concluded Wechsler.
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David a Goliath
ACT Entertainment, the new entity formed by the ACT Lighting, RapcoHorizon and AC Power Distribution brands, announced the appointment of David Johnson to the new post of senior vice president of sales. Johnson is well known for managing the Live Design International (LDI) franchise. “When we rebranded as ACT Entertainment, it was clear that we needed strong leadership in the sales department to bring all our world-class sales forces together across the organization and ensure their continued success and the high level of customer service for which we’re known,” said Ben Saltzman, CEO of ACT Entertainment. “David has 30 years’ experience in the industry and is a proven team leader. He’s well liked and has a broad knowledge of all the disciplines in which ACT Entertainment operates in. He knows the business front-to-back and side-to-side and understands the playing field in all its dimensions.” Johnson added, “I’m beyond thrilled to join the team at ACT Entertainment. During my years at LDI, I straddled a lot of worlds: lighting, audio, projection and staging. I developed close and lasting relationships with top designers and critical thinkers, and I managed a very diverse group of talented individuals across multiple departments. That experience will serve me well in this new role.” As senior vice president of sales, Johnson focuses on several key areas. “I will support the entire sales team as we integrate the multiple disciplines of the company and identify cross-sales opportunities,” he said. “I will also liaise with top lighting designers to help them realize their creative visions and work with the entire ACT family to identify and execute long-term goals in order to better serve the market and grow the business.” Johnson spent almost six years as associate publisher/editorial director with Prism Business Media, where he launched the Live Design franchise in December 2005. He was subsequently a publisher and managing director at Penton, where he became responsible for all aspects of the Live Design franchise, including the LDI trade show. He later became managing director of Informa, managing multiple event/digital brands in the entertainment technology market, including the LDI, XLive and WFX trade shows. Earlier in his career, Johnson was editor of Entertainment Design magazine at Primedia. “When I was contemplating what the next step in my career path would be, I sought out a company with two key drivers: a tradition of excellence with close ties to the industry I love and a bold vision of growth and expansion during a critical period in the market,” Johnson said. “ACT ticked both boxes immediately. From the first moment Ben and I spoke about the opportunity, I knew it was a perfect fit for all.” 14
Blackstar Names Four New Directors
Blackstar promoted four senior managers to directorial roles. Joel Richardson was named director of marketing, Alex D’Arcy was named director of sales, Dan Wright was named director of business operations and Laurent Veignal was named director of research and development. The company also announced that Paul Daniel Wright will step back from his day-to-day role, staying with the business in a strategic and advisory role moving forward. “Part of the plan with Paul Daniel Wright was bringing through some of our exceptional management talent to an executive level,” said Ian Robinson, Blackstar founder. [Founder and brand director] Paul Hayhoe and myself strongly believe in developing our internal talent pool, and we are privileged to work with such dedicated, intelligent and driven people.” Added Robinson, “We would like to thank Paul Daniel Wright for his invaluable input. Blackstar is really excited about what lies ahead as we continue to grow by investing in our people, technology and brand. We’ve got some radical plans, and the four new directors are at the perfect point in their development to drive the business for ward whilst allowing Paul and myself to focus on delivering future opportunities.”
Transformation Awaits Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The NAMM Show returns, uniting buyers, sellers and influencers from all over the globe. Don’t miss this incredible reunion, filled with unexpected opportunity, new customers and groundbreaking ideas.
June 3–5, 2022 • Southern California Anaheim Convention Center
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I’ve Got the Power
The Music People, a division of Jam Industries USA LLC, introduced the On-Stage PS9500 Pedal Power Supply, which enables players to use their effects pedal without a battery. When the PS9500 is plugged into a standard electrical outlet, it provides plenty of current to power a wide range of pedals, including digital effects. The connector is compatible with the majority of pedal power-input jacks. The PS9500’s horizontally orientated adapter doesn’t block or obstruct neighboring wall outlets. Full specs include standard 9V power supply to power guitar pedal; input of 100–240 V ac, 50/60 Hz, 0.3 A; output of 9 V dc, 500 Ma; plug outer diameter of 5.5-mm; and plug inner diameter of 2.1mm. musicpeopleinc.com
D’Addario announced Eco-Comfort, a line of recycled guitar straps. According to D’Addario, it will be the first major strap company to release a line with roughly 90 percent of the strap made from recycled materials. All the Eco-Comfort guitar straps are made from sustainable materials. The strap fabric comes from Repreve, providing high-quality, recycled fibers that are certified, traceable and made with 100-percent recycled materials, including post-consumer plastic bottles and pre-consumer waste. The leather ends of the strap are made using eco-leather, or repurposed leather that is grinded down and bound into newly formed leather sheets. The straps are colored using e.dye, offering an environmentally sustainable process for dyeing fabrics. Using the solution-dyed polyester process, e.dye requires no water to dye synthetics. The Eco-Comfort Recycled Guitar Strap line is available in 10 SKUs featuring three basic color straps (black, red and grey) and seven unique jacquard designs. daddario.com
Shall We Dance?
Latin Percussion (LP) released two-time Latin Grammy Award winner Tony Succar’s Signature Timbales. The LP drums are based on the popular Tito Puente model and feature a combination of Rainbow Chrome over brass shells complemented with Black Nickel hardware and Black LP drum heads. The all-new plating offers distinct color variations every time, stated the conpany. The 14-inch and 15-inch by 6.5 inch timbales are mounted on a heavy-duty, height-adjustable stand with an anti-rattle sleeve and die-cast geared tilter. A sturdy cowbell bracket, timbale sticks and tuning wrench are also included. Succar made history in 2019 when he became the youngest Latin Grammy award winner for Producer of the Year and Best Salsa Album and is a premier example of the next generation of Salsa and Latin Jazz musicians. He has worked with an impressive array of notable artists including Tito Nieves, India, Jon Secada, Marc Anthony, Sheila E., Arturo Sandoval, Judith Hill and Obie Bermudez, among others. lpmusic.com
Get the Ball Rolling
Trophy Music Co. presents Mel-O-Dee Balls. They are a fun and easy way to introduce children to music at home or in the classroom. Mel-O-Dee Balls are an accurately tuned, C to C, eight-ball set, individually colored and note marked, so that virtually anyone can learn to play. They produce musical tones when squeezed, helping to build strength and dexterity through the squeezing motion it takes to play them, and can be used by people with intellectual and developmental impairment to develop sensorimotor skills, social skills and creativity. They come packaged in a colorful display box with a handle for easy carrying and can be hung or placed on a shelf for easy display. grotro.com SEPTEMBER 2021
Show No Mercy
Dean Guitars released the Kerry King V Black Satin Signature Guitar. King, Slayer’s founding guitarist, is one of the most instantly recognizable and revered musicians in the industry. The Dean Kerry King V Black Satin Signature Guitar features a mahogany body with a beveled flat maple top, a three-piece maple set-thru neck with a 24.75-inch scale length, Kerry King C-shape satin-finished neck, ebony fingerboard,
Austrian Audio announced two new microphones, the OC707 and OD505. The OC707 is a rugged vocal microphone with a die-cast body and true condenser technology. It contains a small-diaphragm condenser capsule with a frequency response optimized for the human voice. Its combination of low self-noise (19 dB SPL) and high sound pressure level (150 dB SPL) results in an impressive dynamic range, creating a vocal microphone that has all the important characteristics of a studio mic but that can withstand the rigors of everyday stage use, stated the company. The OD505 is an Active Dynamic microphone that combines the advantages of a dynamic stage mic with the sonic refinements of a condenser microphone. It achieves nearly the same sensitivity as a condenser mic due to its stateof-the-art dual-capsule design where the bottom capsule is phase-inverted and passively switched. austrian.audio
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
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24 jumbo frets and King’s crossed-nail inlays. In addition, the guitar is loaded with an EMG 81 bridge pickup complete with PA2 Preamp Booster, an EMG 85 neck pickup, a Kahler Hybrid tremolo system with a Floyd Rose nut, a volume/PA2 (on/off) and tone knob, three-way switch, Grover tuners and black satin finish with black hardware. deanguitars.com
PEAVEY’S $40,000 AMP FOR UNDER $200
It would take many years and lots of dough to acquire the dozens of amps, stomp boxes and instrument models that come in the new VYPYR® X amp. Effortlessly switch from one great amp model to another, select the exact effects that you want and dial in that perfect tone. Use the new VYPYR® X app to control the amp, customize your settings, or share sounds with your friends. With the VYPYR® X, you can dial in the tones you need to Play Any Style on Any Stage.
• Select from 36 unique built-in amps • Switch between 12 premium stomp boxes • Get best-in-class analog distortion • Plug in an acoustic guitar, electric or bass • Remote control with app and Bluetooth (X2 & X3)
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For podcasters, video blog creators and content creators of all kinds, VocoPro unveiled its STREAMERDESKTOP and STREAMER-DESKTOP-VLOG systems. More than half of the U.S. population have listened to a podcast or watched a video blog. Podcasts and video blogs are a great way to educate and share opinions/stories with audiences around the world. Compatible with most popular podcast platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts, these powerful content creator products work well with smartphones, tablets or laptops, stated the company. At the heart of each STREAMER package is the STREAMER USB audio interface. Creators just need to plug in their devices and then use the included gooseneck mic to broadcast or record content. The simple interface makes these the some of most flexible and affordable audio interface packages on the market for content creators, added the manufacturer. vocopro.com
Keep Your Composer
Peavey Electronics introduced two ukuleles crafted to have warm and welcoming tones. Its Composer and Student models offer two different body sizes and scale lengths, premium materials, and high-quality hardware for tuning stability. Peavey ukuleles are designed with full-body sizes in their respective shapes, a concert for the Composer and a soprano for the Student. The Composer has a laminated spruce top, while the Student offers a mahogany top. Both models have mahogany back and sides and spruce body bracing, a combination that helps to ensure warm tone as well as tonal resonance. Both models come in a natural, matte finish. While the Composer ukulele has a nearly 15-inch scale length, the Student measures at just over 13.5 inches. Both ukuleles have a four-string design with Aquila Nylgut strings. peavey.com
Fender Musical Instruments Corp. debuted the J Mascis Telecaster. Fender worked closely with Mascis to recreate his original 1958 top-Loader Tele guitar, the main axe he used when he wrote some of his most iconic songs. The Bottle Rocket Blue Flake finish pulls inspiration from Mascis’ old drum set dating back to his early days. The custom J Mascis Telecaster pickups are voiced to replicate the sound of the original 1958 Telecaster pickups in Mascis’s guitar; these single-coil Tele pickups have a classic vintage tone. Additionally, the Tele is made with a Top-Loader Telecaster Bridge; a unique bridge type originally introduced in the late ‘50s, this top-load bridge offers reduced string tension and a shallower break angle compared to the traditional string-through bridges for a slinkier feel. Finally, the C neck with 9.5-inch radius and jumbo frets recreates the feel of J’s original Tele, while the 9.5-inch radius fingerboard and jumbo frets provide easy playability. fender.com
RCF’s ART 9 offers electroacoustic design and extreme versatility, delivering stellar performance in a rugged, tour-ready cabinet, stated the company. It can be used as the main sound system, a fill speaker or a stage monitor. RCF celebrates a 25-year history of ART speakers by introducing the ninth generation of the series, with a sleek, new design and six active speaker models to choose from. All models share 2,100watt two-channel Class-D amplifier with advanced DSP processing. Now 50-percent more powerful than previous models, ART 9 manages extremely high sound pressure levels. The amplifier is energy-efficient so there is no need for a cooling fan. The circuit is attached to a solid aluminum heat exchanger in the back of the unit with no moving parts. Performance improvements are assured by new RCF transducers, featuring advanced materials such as kapton, titanium and neodymium. The 1.75-inch compression driver with Polyimide-Kapton dome features a new bonding technology and reinforced ribs that make it 10 times more durable than previous models, stated the manufacturer. Newly designed woofers gain more stability over high currents, with less distortion. Every woofer design is tested with a 200-hour continuous signal to stress the transducer at extreme levels. With proprietary FiRPHASE technology, the new shape and the placement of the vented ports, the speaker now acts as a single source for a true sound image. rcf.it/art9
REVERB PRO TIP #5
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PUT A BOW ON IT
THE MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER’S ANNUAL HOLIDAY SALES GUIDE
Although 2020 was of course a different kind of year, 2021 has seemingly flown by. That means it is already time to stock up on products to sell at your store(s) during this always important holiday sales season. The following are some appealing options for you to consider:
By Brian Berk
TECH 21 BASS FLY RIG V2 For stage and studio, the Bass Fly Rig v2 offers a choice of all-analog Character Modes: SansAmp Bass Driver DI for classic tube amp tones, or VT Bass DI with more specific focus on Ampeg-style tones. Channel switching for different Drive and Level settings --go from clean to dirty, not-so-clean to not-so-dirty, or very dirty to downright nasty, or any other pairing in between. Also features an Effect Loop, chromatic tuner, XLR output, and rugged metal enclosure a little over a foot long. No arena is too large. No stage is too small. Just grab and go. tech21nyc.com
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OLD HICKORY Los Cabos Drumsticks offers drumsticks made from red hickory, white hickory and maple. Every dowel is hand inspected to ensure that the grain is straight and free of outer defects; only then is it turned into a balanced, durable and versatile Los Cabos Drumstick, stated the company. Red hickory is the dense heartwood of the hickory tree, and with density comes extra durability for long-lasting drumsticks. White hickory is the sapwood of the hickory tree and is well known for its shock absorption and consistency. Maple, while still a hardwood, is a very lightweight, responsive wood that provides a bright sound and fast attack, creating fluidity on the drum kit. loscabosdrumsticks.com
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Drum filled. The DRS9000 Snare Drum Rack securely stores up to five snares in an attractive display. Adjustable support arms safely hold a wide range of snare drums while rubber padding stabilizes the instruments to keep them quiet. Smooth-rolling casters and a handlebar provide ease of mobility.
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Your source for more than 700 innovative MI accessories ©2021 The Music People. All rights reserved. The Music People (TMP) claims the intellectual property rights to the On-Stage product shown in this advertisement. Any other devices depicted in association with the On-Stage product are property of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, endorsed by, or sponsored by TMP.
THE REVELATION IS UPON US Inspired by the REVELATION and new REVELATION II tube microphones, MXL set out to create a microphone that has the same intimacy and warmth of a tube mic, but built around a FET circuit with a smaller footprint. MXL’s REVELATION MINI FET utilizes a premium 32mm center-terminating, goldsputtered capsule combined with a low-noise circuit to provide pristine sound in a range of applications. It focuses on the midrange and lower frequencies, which sets the mic apart from basic entry-level condenser mics. This design results in recordings with less hum and more music. Additionally, the inclusion of a three-stage pad (0, -10dB, -20dB) provides the flexibility needed for recording high-SPL sources, such as horns and kickdrums. From its black chrome accents to the hand-selected FET and capacitors, it stands out from the crowd by emphasizing the natural characteristics of its sound source, including hardhitting kick drums, soft vocals and everything in between, stated the company. mxlmics.com
THIS REALLY RESONATES IK Multimedia releases The Resonator, a new SampleTank collection created by sample library specialist Indiginus, which captures the “magic of a traditional stringed instrument.” Oozing with bluesy, folksy, twangy warmth, The Resonator’s multiple slide articulations offer incredible realism and are easily controllable with velocity switching and/or key switches, while an auto-harmony function creates even more convincing-sounding tracks, stated the company. Invented in the 1920s, the resonator guitar quickly became a huge favorite for blues and bluegrass musicians due to its characteristically punchy, yet warm sound. Played like a traditional guitar with a bottleneck slide, or with raised strings using a metal slide like a lap steel, The Resonator for SampleTank was sampled using a metal slide for maximum effect, adding unmistakable mojo to any musical production. For the most authentic sound, a Hound Dog Dobro resonator guitar was captured using a coincident mic setup. Positioned eight inches in front of the instrument, a beautiful phase-free stereo image was achieved, with results that also sound great in mono. The overall sonic effect is upfront and present without any room tone that could muddy up mixes. The emphasis is on playability, and the goal was to create an instrument that will inspire musicians and composers to get their ideas down quickly, without getting in the way. The main instruments allow performers to use key velocity switching to trigger slides as they dig in harder (users can select up or down slides with key switches). This system allows for complex, but intuitive, real-time playing. Included are normal key switch versions, as well as “breakout” single-articulation versions. ikmultimedia.com
CINEMATIC MAGIC Alfred Music announced the publication of a full-color piano/vocal selections folio for “In the Heights.” From the creator of “Hamilton” and the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” the cinematic event features streets made of music where little dreams become big. The “In the Heights Piano/ Vocal/Guitar Selections Songbook” features 13 songs from the 2021 film based on the four-time Tony-winning Broadway show. Original, full-color photography and movie artwork are included within this beautifully packaged portfolio. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s kinetic music and lyrics capture a world very much of its place, but universal in its experience. Titles include “In the Heights,” “Breathe,” “¡No Me Diga!,” “It Won’t Be Long Now,” “96,000,” “Piragua,” “When You’re Home,” “Blackout,” “¡Paciencia y Fe!,” “Alabanza,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” “Champagne,” and “Home All Summer.” alfred.com
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QuartoKnows.com FENDER (standard and in stylized form) and the distinctive headstock shapes commonly found on the FENDER® instruments are trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and/or its affiliates, registered in the U.S. and other countries.
ACE OF BASS JOYO introduced the BaDass, the latest addition to the Bantamp line of mini hybrid amplifiers. JOYO designed the BaDass for bass, and it’s the first bass amplifier in the Bantamp product range. It is a hybrid amp that produces 50 watts into a minimum load of four ohms. The preamp uses a single 12AX7 tube, and the power section is solid-state. The BaDass features a three-band EQ, separate gain and volume controls, and a compressor. There is a foot switch to engage the compressor, or end users can use a mini switch on the front of the amp. Connection to the BaDass can be done via Bluetooth so users can jam along with their favorite songs. There is also a headphone output for quiet practice. The amp is compact and light, weighing in at 12.6 pounds and measuring 163x110x140mm (6.4x4.3x5.5 inches). osiamo.com
THE GEAR YOU NEED PRS Guitars has an ever-expanding line of branded excessories that reflects the style and quality you’ve come to expect. From official replacement parts for all of our instrument lines to highperformance strings and cables, rechargeable clip-on tuners, beautiful guitar stands, and much more. To find out how to carry PRS Accessories in your store contact your PRS representative or for additional information on our products check out our site at: www.prsguitars.com/shop.
Luna Guitars added to its Artist Series with the Art Vintage Nylonstring solid-top acoustic-electric. With distinctive rustic looks, the Vintage Nylon offers simplistic visuals and is built with the songwriter in mind. Players can expect warm acoustic tones and can amplify their sound with the onboard Fishman Clásica II Preamp with built-in EQ and tuner. The Grand Auditorium Cutaway provides crisp tones thanks to its solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The Art Vintage Nylon is available in Vintage Brownburst finish with single-ply cream binding, a C-shape mahogany neck with a pau ferro fretboard and bridge, pearloid moon phase inlays, a bone nut, and D’Addario strings. Vintage-style open gear tuners with aged nickel hardware help reflect Luna’s logo on the dark mahogany headstock. The Art Vintage Nylon was designed for live performance, and this stage-ready system offers a clear, full sound that, when combined with the guitar’s comfortable profile, makes it a great choice for a variety of styles, stated the company.
© 2021 PRS Guitars / Photos by Marc Quigley and Hunter Selman
Floating Guitar Stand
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
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HI-FIVE Austrian Audio is shipping its Hi-X15 and Hi-X25BT closed-back headphones. These headphones are the workhorses of the award-winning Austrian Audio Hi-X series, bringing the crystal-clear listening experience of High Excursion technology to everyday use. They’re perfect for studio, stage, rehearsal room, on tour or practicing at home, stated the company. The sophisticated folding design of the Hi-X15, rare in this price range, makes them easy to store and carry, the company added. They are robust, thanks to the durable all-metal hinge and bow. The closed construction and good insulation of the Hi-X15 headphones open up many areas of application in studio recording sessions, as a monitor on stage, and as a reliable companion in the rehearsal room. They’re also well suited when enjoying music at home, songwriting, mastering a new keyboard or going on tour. The Hi-X25BT is designed to provide ultimate listening flexibility. Consumers no longer need to change headphones for different tasks or locations. If users are wearing them in the studio, working on a record or a mix, the headphones can connect with analog or digital audio, and when users are ready to drive home, they can simply unplug and keep listening to their music via Bluetooth. austrian.audio
Gretsch Drums added to its full-range snare drum collection with the the 5x14-inch Black Nickel over Steel Snare drum (BNS). The snare is a shallower version of the 6.5x14-inch BNS. Like its larger sibling, this BNS provides an ideal balance of power, sensitivity, beauty and value, all in one snare drum, stated the company. The 1.2mm, 10-lug steel shell has a wide tuning range; from a loose, slow, dry sound to a very sharp, bold and bright attack. It features 2.5mm triple-flanged hoops, an adjustable throw-off, 20-strand snare wire, Remo Controlled Sound drum heads, 45-degree bearing edges and a mirror-like black nickel plating as a stunning metallic finish. gretschdrums.com
PLENTY OF BITE Peavey Electronics debuted the VYPYR X Series. This latest evolution of the VYPYR design includes three new models with updated styling, enhanced acoustic performance and improved TransTube/digital hybrid technology. The new VYPYR X2 and X3 models also come with Bluetooth remote control and audio streaming in. True to the VYPYR VIP legacy, the new VYPYR X Series offers world-class processing and cabinet design with Variable Instrument Performance, stated the company. Users can switch from electric guitar to bass to acoustic on the same amplifier. The VYPYR X2 and X3 models take utility a step further with up to 10 different instrument modes and 26 total onboard amp-accessible effects. The X2 and X3 models can also be controlled remotely with on-board Bluetooth wireless remote control via Peavey’s exclusive VYPYR control app for iOS devices. Users can change and store all their presets remotely, stream audio in, and play a backing track or favorite music. The VYPYR X Series allows users to access any features right from the front of the amplifier or with the use of a footswitch in the case of the looper. The user doesn’t need to hook up a computer in order to edit a preset or swap out an effect — it can all be done right from the amp itself. Peavey’s WYSIWG (What You See Is What You Get) interface allows VYPYR X users to identify the position of the knobs by simply looking at the amplifier. The LED light around the knob indicates which position it’s in relative to the current preset, a helpful feature that avoids confusion and mistakes that result when the knob position no longer corresponds to the actual setting. peavey.com
CABLE GUY Hosa Technology Inc. introduced two new highly adaptable cable organizers. With such a variety of solutions needed to accommodate ever-changing setups, these cable wraps offer the kind of customization customers have been requesting, stated the company. The Hosa Neoprene Cable Wrap is a simple hook-and-loop sleeve capable of organizing small and large bundles of cable. The design, which firmly fits around any number of cables, makes any addition or subtraction a quick adjustment. The sleeve itself is five feet long and can be easily cut into custom lengths with simple scissors. The Hosa Spiral Cable Wrap features a more unique design that
allows users to insert or remove cables at any point along its run. This design is beneficial for longer setups that would otherwise require many different cable ties and organizers. The plastic spiral is 10 feet long, flexible and can also be cut into customized lengths with simple scissors. hosatech.com
ALL FOR ONE HARMAN Professional Solutions unveiled its latest addition to the JBL Professional PRX Column Portable PA family, the PRX ONE all-in-one portable PA. JBL Professional also introduced the all new, universal JBL Pro Connect app for simplified management of the PRX ONE system. PRX ONE meets the needs of a broad range of portable and installed applications. The system delivers 130dB of wide, full-bandwidth SPL with consistent front-to-back throw, thanks to its custom-engineered, 12-tweeter column array, featuring JBL A.I.M. (Array Inumbration Mechanics) acoustic design; 12-inch bass-reflex woofer; and a built-in 2,000-watt (peak) Class D amplifier. Performers at any experience level will dial in PRX ONE’s suite of professional-grade Lexicon and dbx processors and eight customizable presets, stated the company. Built-in effects include reverb, eight-band EQ, delay, compression, limiting, ducking, echo, sub synth and dbx DriveRack Inside technology, featuring AFS Pro Automatic Feedback Suppression. Triple-Tier DSP control offers multi-level user experiences based on knowledge level. Creatives will work faster and easier with PRX ONE’s Soundcraft-designed sevenchannel, dual-mode digital mixer that can be set to control either general mix functions or channel-strip functions, the company added. harman.com
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
MEET THE NEW
THE GIG BAG THAT PROTECTS LIKE A CASE
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INDUSTRY ICON Blizzard Lighting announced its newest family of products, the IRiS ICON LED video wall series. The ICON series consists of four different video panels, with a combination of indoor and outdoor IP65-rated models: IRiS ICON 2.6 (Ultra HighRes Headliner, 2.6mm pixel pitch, indoor, 500x500mm, HDR-capable, 800cd/m2); IRiS ICON 2.9 (Portable Indoor Panel Perfection, 2.9mm pixel pitch, indoor, 500x500mm, HDR-capable, 1,000cd/m2); IRiS ICON IP3 (The All-Weather ICON, 3.9mm pixel pitch, indoor/outdoor IP65, 500x500mm, HDR-capable, 4,500cd/m2); and IRiS ICON IP3 XL (The Feature-Packed Double Stack, 3.9mm pixel pitch, indoor/outdoor IP65, 500x1000mm, HDR-capable, 4,500cd/m2). ICON panels are built with NovaStar’s A8s series of receiving cards, which feature HDR10 and HLG support, automatic module calibration, image rotation, and more. This advanced technology is coupled with NationStar RGB 1921 LEDs, fitted into an extremely lightweight aluminum die-cast frame. blizzardpro.com
COVER BAND In its commitment to protect musicians, bands, singers, music educators and students, Gator designed instrument and face mask solutions that follow recommendations from the NFHS (National Federation of State High Schools) performing arts aerosol study. The company’s instrument bell covers with a pocket for a replaceable MERV 13 filter (included) are made from a breathable, non-woven polypropylene fabric. The fabric and the filter are expected to greatly reduce the spread of aerosols. The bell covers are available in multiple sizes to fit various instruments. All the covers feature an elastic closure and cord lock to properly secure them over the bell openings of wind instruments, and they do not cause any backpressure or acoustic loss during performance. The GBELL Cover Series will fit a wide variety of wind and brass instruments from clarinets to large tubas, and range in size between two and 32 inches. The instrument face masks are specially designed with a front flap opening for easy playing while staying safe, and they are available in youth and adult sizes. Gator’s double-layer French horn bell covers range from 11 to 13 inches in diameter and are made of a reusable, hand-washable Lycra fabric with an elastic closure to keep the cover secured to the bell opening while in use. The aerosolfiltering singer masks include triple-layered protection while keeping space between the mouth and interior front wall of the mask for proper breathing and clear enunciation. gatorcases.com
PRIVY TO THIS Casio America Inc. announced the release of the PX-S1100, the latest addition to the Privia PX-S series of digital pianos. The PX-S1100 replaces the PX-S1000, which has become one of the top-selling digital pianos on the market today and earned its reputation for sound and features that “punch” far above its price class, stated the company. The PX-S1100 makes the most of Casio’s advanced technology with a sophisticated design and boasting the world’s slimmest depth, the company added. The svelte, contemporary design complements the interior of any home and makes the most of rooms with limited space. With gold accents and three color variations — black, white and red — the PX-S1100 has a minimalist, elegant and clean appearance, featuring a mirror-like, flat control panel. All settings are handled by touch buttons that disappear when the piano is powered off. What’s more, the PX-S1100 boasts the simplest interface in the Privia family. Despite its slim profile, the feel of the PX-S1100 duplicates a grand piano with a weighted action that is subtly heavier in the lower range and becomes lighter as the player ascends the keyboard. Improved string resonance reproduces the complex harmonics of an acoustic piano. Upgraded speakers and speaker positioning give the PX-S1100 a warmer tone than ever, and the multi-dimensional morphing AiR Sound Source provides a sense of ambience, localization and clarity, the manufacturer noted. casiomusicgear.com
Coming in the October issue of the Music & Sound Retailer: • The Hottest Trends in the Percussion Industry • More on NAMM's decision to move The NAMM Show to June • MI Spy in Mississippi • Shine a Light: Creative Music Center • The Final Note: Evan Rubinson, Armadillo Enterprises Plus much more MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
THE MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER’S
15TH ANNUAL INDEPENDENT
A trusted brand for decades... F. E. Olds is ready for the 2021 back to school season:
RETAILER ROUNDTABLE By Brian Berk
For the first time in two years, our Independent Retailer Roundtable returns. For our 15th edition of this September issue staple, we hosted a Zoom video call to conduct the interview, as opposed to an in-person get-together at Summer NAMM. Joining us this time are representatives from two
Inventory in house ready to ship
California retailers, Lana Negrete, owner of Santa Monica
No minimum buy-in, units or dollars
Music Center in Santa Monica, Calif., and Robin Sassi and
Flexible payment plans
Music Studio. We asked them what good things are happening
right now in the MI industry, what can be improved upon, how
Selling to music dealers: no direct to consumer
they got through the COVID-19 pandemic, plus much more.
Kimberly Deverell of San Marcos, Calif.-based San Diego
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The Music & Sound Retailer: L e t ’s s t a r t w i t h w h a t y o u a r e seeing in the MI industry or at your store that is positive r i g h t n o w. Lana Negrete: The newfound passion for learning an instrument is something that came out of the pandemic. We saw an increase in piano and ukulele sales, but especially guitar sales. That is something that has changed that is really awesome. More people are interested in learning. Secondary to that is, because of the pandemic and having to do things online, we have been able to capture an audience that is a lot broader and wider than just within our ZIP code. We now have clients out of the state and out of the country taking lessons with us. That is something really cool I have been happy with. Robin Sassi: To go along with what Lana was saying, we had a lot of changes. One of the great things is, we have new revenue streams in areas we were not expecting. Also, a lot of our vendors are handling things a little differently. We still blame things on COVID, but everything is starting to come together. We are learning how to reshape our business. It is almost like we have been given another chance to start from scratch, because we feel like we are building from the beginning. We have the knowledge, capital and inventory. We get to grow in a way we should have grown in the first place.
The Retailer: Ecommerce was mentioned. How has that changed for you? Did you have an ecommerce presence before? Did you have to create an ecommerce option during the pandemic?
Kimberly Deverell and Robin Sassi
Negrete: We did not have an online presence in terms of managing inventory and people being able to buy online [before the pandemic]. But we quickly changed so that you can rent and reserve instruments online. We still want to provide a personal experience where customers can come, touch the instruments and try them out. We do not have a desire to be a place where you pick something out and we ship it to you. But we did add the ability to reserve the product online and the ability to view our inventory. That was a big deal because it was something we talked about forever. The pandemic forced us to take action and do something about it. Sassi: We have always had an online and ecommerce presence. So, there was nothing new for us. Honestly, as a small brick-and-mortar retailer, it is really hard to compete with the big-box virtual stores that are online. Kimberly Deverell: I would say there are two online retailers that take up about 40 percent of the market. There is no way we can compete with that, so we have to offer what we offer and do our best.
Tommy Lee with Lana Negrete
Negrete with Raelyn Nelson at Summer NAMM
“There seems to be a
independent and large retailers."
The NY Meyer Flexibility. Easy to Blow. Outstanding Consistency. This free-blowing alto sax model has superb control and note separation at any tempo or volume level. Offers great intonation and even response, too. It’s ideal for students and pros alike.
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Sassi: But we are creative online locally. We have done ecommerce beyond California, but with the pandemic, we learned to have a stronger presence locally online and to be responsive to people getting in touch with us personally. People do not want to talk to us on the phone anymore. They rarely contact us by email either. It is all by text. We have learned how to communicate with customers that way. That has been new and different. It is easier, but also addicting, and I am now on my phone late at night answering questions about mandolins. It’s great, but it can also be difficult for a business owner. It is difficult to put the phone down. I get texts at 10:30 at night and I take care of it. Deverell: It is one less thing you need to do the next day. Sassi: Right. People like that they are reaching a real person. A customer came in the store the other day and bought a bunch of stuff. I said, “Hey, I was talking to you late last night in Spanish.” I said, “How was my Spanish?” Negrete: Podium brought that to the table for us. I think we were one of the first music retailers that signed up for [Podium’s service]. We were looking for a way to answer questions, and Podium was one of the best things to happen to us. It was so neat to see them at the Summer NAMM show. I did not expect them to be there. I am on Podium all the time. My kids tell me to get off my phone, but I will tell them there is somebody asking about lessons or a clarinet. I have referred Podium to other retailers also.
The Retailer: Tell us your thoughts about the Summer NAMM Show. It appeared that a lot of buyers were there. Absent were the ver y large manufacturers, but plenty of smaller companies exhibited, who may have gotten more time in the “spotlight.” Was it a concern for you that major manufacturers were not there, or were you happy you can spend time with other companies? Negrete: This year was my first Summer NAMM, so I have no point of reference, except for people telling me the show was smaller than before. For me, I did not think I missed out because big companies were not there. I did take notice of it, and I was looking forward to spending time with some of the companies that we carry, but I think it was neat to see other companies. When you are at the big show [The NAMM Show], you go in saying you will have time to look at other things, but your day gets eaten up, and you do not get to [those other things]. Summer NAMM was a way to look at products we never carSEPTEMBER 2021
ried, brands we never heard of. We got to have one-on-one conversations with what seemed to be a lot of owners, as opposed to just reps. That was really neat for me, but again, I have no point of reference. Deverell: I thought it was a really cool opportunity for small companies to get their voice and products out there. There were lots of owners we probably otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet, so I think the big guys really missed out on an opportunity. Summer NAMM does not have as many buyers as Winter NAMM, but it had so many more than it usually does. I do not know how many more, but I do know way more buyers attended the summer show than usual. Sassi: I talked to a few manufacturers and vendors. The smaller ones told me it was their best show ever. Either big vendors were not there, or they were, but the booth was really scaled down, which made it less distracting for the smaller players. These companies are filling the void and doing a great a job. I saw things I thought I might have missed. Deverell: I do want to note that part of the audience was the NASMD [National Association of School Music Dealers] crowd that does not normally go to Summer NAMM. RPMDA [Retail Print Music Dealers Association] was there too. That brought in more people. I talked to several manufacturers that had a really good show that had never been to Summer NAMM before or had not exhibited in a couple of years because they did not feel like there was enough ROI [return on investment]. They got a lot business out of Summer NAMM. Negrete: There were a lot of owners [of stores] talking to owners [of companies]. Sassi: Some of the largest players that did attend did not really “bring it.” We did stop by as a courtesy, but what are we going to see there if there is nothing [interesting on display]? Deverell: There was also a new thing this year called a Networking Pass for manufacturers that were not going to have a big booth. So, you were still able to chat with those people on the side. I thought that was really interesting. Negrete: If you are not used to going to these shows, it is our industry’s version of a science fair [laughs]. I am stealing that (continued on page 50) MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
“Kimberly said we were
COMPLACENT. We were, a year and a half ago. We did not think so."
FI V E M INUTE S W ITH
THOMAS RIPSAM CEO, C.F. Martin & Co.
By Brian Berk After a thorough six-month-long interview process, Thomas Ripsam was recently named CEO of C.F. Martin & Co., following in the footsteps of the tremendously successful Chris Martin IV, who retired from the company after a 35year career (but who will stay on as chairman). We met with Ripsam at Summer NAMM to find out what qualities won out in terms of getting the job, his management style, and taking over a company that is anything but broken.
The Music & Sound Retailer: Let’s start by telling us about your career and background. Thomas Ripsam: I grew up in Germany, and I developed a passion for guitars and music very early on. I started to play in my teens, and since then, guitars have been with me forever. I also collect them. I also have had a career in business. For the last 25 years, I was a consultant working with companies in consumer retail and 32
technology to help them grow and continuously improve. The third thing I wanted to mention is, I am a very strong believer in family. I have four children. I met my wife 31 years ago. We have been married for a long time. To me, the Martin opportunity allowed me to combine all of these three things. Passion for music, passion for business and passion for family are really important to me. Martin has always been a family business. I love that.
The Retailer: How did you first find out the C.F. Martin job was available? Ripsam: As you know, Chris [Martin] announced his upcoming retirement last year. It was actually two retirements from chairman of NAMM and CEO of Martin. I found out about the opportunity late last year. I was at a point in my career when I frankly wanted to find an opportunity to better combine my passions. I wanted to get more into music and the music space while also bringing in my business background. The Martin opportunity came up, and I got involved in the process. It was a competitive process. There were multiple candidates. It took six months to get through it, and it worked out in the end. I
felt very comfortable with the company and the people I met during my visits. I felt this was the place to be.
The Retailer: How did you end up the victor in the end? What separated you from the competition? Ripsam: I think the passion for guitars was a big thing. My wife always says I am obsessed with guitars. I play and collect guitars, and I am not only talking about acoustic guitars. I play electric, acoustic, bass and other string instruments. I also think my personal DNA and leadership style is very people focused. It is participatory. I believe in the power of people and teams. I think that fits with the Martin culture. I think that was critical. Last but not least, I think the mix of having worked in consumer goods was important. I understand the manufacturing environment. I understand the retail environment, working in specialty retail. I have also worked a lot with high-tech companies. I think this mix has a lot of relevance regarding what Martin is facing in terms of the environment. In terms of consumers, the bar is being raised. Technology keeps improving. Ultimately, those qualities really made the difference. SEPTEMBER 2021
e g e l The
! 5 2 1 s n r u t d n Learn More
FI V E M INUTE S W ITH
opportunities and how to do it in a way that is consistent with our brand regarding what we are all about. At this stage, though, it is about learning and absorbing. It is about getting to meet the people and learn about them. My first week at Martin was spent in the factory. I literally worked with people in manufacturing on the floor. It was incredible. It was wonderful to get a sense of what is involved building guitars and getting to meet the people who make them. That was so important to do.
"The key advice [former CEO Chris Martin IV gave me so far is] it is a marathon, not a sprint. That is very good advice." —Thomas Ripsam, pictured at the C.F. Martin Pennsylvania factory
The Retailer: What is your favorite Martin guitar you own? Ripsam: I have several Martin guitars. My favorite Martin guitar is the first one I bought. It was also my first real guitar. It is an MC-68 from 1995. It was made for about 10 years and then discontinued, but I love it. It has been with me for a long time. It feels wonderful to play. It looks wonderful. It just is wonderful. I have an emotional connection to it. I still play it. But I love all of my Martin guitars. The Retailer: Let’s talk about company culture. When many CEOs start a new job, they are tr ying to fix a broken company. But that is not the case with C.F. Martin. So how do you honor the successful culture 34
of Martin while also tr ying to advance the company in the future? Ripsam: That is a critical question. As you said, the company is in incredible shape, and it has been around for a long time. So job No. 1 is to embrace the legacy and never, ever forget it. It is such an important part of the business. I do not come in with any agenda. For me, it is really important to learn about the business, learn about the culture and really understand what makes Martin tick. In my “prior life,” my whole career was spent working with companies and the people at those companies. I have a lot of experience working at companies that have strong legacies and diverse people. I have worked with them to ultimately figure out what our opportunities are, how to go about those
The Retailer: Was there anything you were surprised about or particularly impressed about during that factor y experience? Ripsam: I always knew the products were exceptional, but I wondered Why is that? I know about the woods Martin uses, but what makes a Martin a Martin? To me, the “aha” moment is when you go through the process and see people touch everything at all points of the process. To have the ability to know if a guitar looks right and feels right and is right is really hard to do with a machine. It takes time to develop that. When you look at a finish for example, I might say something needs to be fixed. But everyone at Martin is constantly problem solving and knows how the finish should be. I cannot emphasize enough how important the human touch is. Every piece of wood is different. There are different characteristics of wood and how you apply glue. There is a lot involved, and the people at Martin are critical to doing it. The Retailer: What advice or words of wisdom did Chris Martin give you about the CEO role? Ripsam: The key advice so far has been it is a marathon, not a sprint. That is very good advice. The Retailer: Did you set forth a three-year or
five-year game plan before beginning your current role, or do you need to learn and absorb information first? Ripsam: The timing of me joining Martin was actually perfect because I have several months to get to understand and learn about the company. But our planning starts now for the next year and the following years. I will have enough understanding to then get involved with actively thinking ahead and working with the team. There is a team in place already. I am working with the team to think about the nearterm and potentially further out. Right now, there is a guitar boom out there. There is a lot of demand, and priority No. 1 is to meet the customers’ demands and deliver the product. With the COVID pandemic still around, it is not so easy, but we are hard at work.
The Retailer: How are you going to make sure all of these new guitar players are going to stay in the industr y and not quit? Ripsam: Our objective is to connect with musicians and any people who ultimately want to play instruments. There are lots of opportunities to do that. There are a lot of [education] resources available nowadays, like YouTube. I do not think it is a lack of resources. The question to me is, is there an opportunity to move people along and keep them going? I am sure there is more that we can do. I do not have the answer of what exactly we will do. The question of connecting and engaging consumers through their lifelong journey with instruments is a big opportunity. We are all very early on regarding what is possible. That is going to be exciting. The Retailer: C.F. Martin has always been a great steward of the environment. How are you going to continue these ef forts and how important are they to you personally? SEPTEMBER 2021
Ripsam: It is really important for me. I mentioned I have four kids, and the environment is part of dinner and lunch conversations at home. It is a part of our lives. Martin has a lot of awareness about the need to protect the environment, but there is also a lot of action behind it. FSC- (Forest Stewardship Council) certified woods are very important to us. We have been certified on sustainable and eco-friendly practices. So, there is a lot of activity there, but there is always more you can do. We are going to do more over time. It is good for the business, but it also feels right. Personally, it gives me satisfaction that we do not just take [from the earth]. We are also contributing.
The Retailer: You touched upon your management style before. But can you add anything regarding working with MI retailers? Ripsam: I like to collaborate. I want to work together to figure out opportunities and make them happen. I also think we have a diversified set of customers. To us, everybody is important. Everybody matters. As I mentioned, on the consumer side, there are a lot of opportunities to engage more. On the retail side, with technology and different channels you have available today, there is a lot you can do that help retailers. I really look forward to meeting our customers. I met some at [Summer] NAMM, and it has been wonderful. I also love to get input and feedback because ever yone has a lot of perspectives. It is always good to listen, learn and to work together. The Retailer: Will we see any changes, even if subtle, in the future? Will you use the wisdom you gained from your business background to make those adjustments? Ripsam: Businesses always have to look at what is going on around them, what MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
they are doing and how do you best stay relevant. I think our world is changing quickly in many different ways. We will look at what we do, how we do it and when we do it to see if we can do things better. The answer is always “yes.” We will continue to evolve. If you look
at the histor y of Martin, it has made a lot of changes during that time. Nothing is static. I am excited about it, but I am also excited about truly embracing the legacy. Knowing who you are is something you can never forget. That is in my mindset right now.
The Retailer: Anything you would like to add? Ripsam: I am super excited about being part of Martin, but am also excited about being a part of [the MI] industr y. I want to be a contributor and also have fun. I am really looking for ward to it.
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M I SPY
Heading to the Southern Tier and Central New York
I’m back on the road this month, MI Spy fans! You all know I love to travel, but it seems like I can never really get away on a true vacation. These days, I’m only ever traveling for business. But, hey, these tuxedo dry cleaning bills won’t pay themselves. And until the gin companies get serious about signing me to a sponsorship contract, I’ll have to keep picking up my own martini tab. So it’s back on the road, and back to work. When I got the word from Spy HQ that this month’s mission would take me to some of upstate New York’s coolest college towns, I thought going everywhere by myself might be a bit embarrassing. I am not exactly college aged, after all. I figured a disguise might help me fit into the college bar scene, but when I looked in the mirror, I realized I was dressed exactly like Steve Buscemi in that “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme from “30 Rock.” Fortunately, there are plenty of fun family activities to do in New York State’s Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions, so I felt I would be less likely to raise suspicion if I was disguised as a typical family man. However, as a debonair spy and a fixture of the single scene, I have no kids of my own. So I enlisted the help of a family who let me bring their two oldest kids along with me. (The family is part of a program Spy HQ has where we call in favors owed to us by people who we’ve helped out in the past. You’d be surprised how often us spies farm out McNeil Music this kind of work to civilians.). With college-aged Temp Agent J and her 4517 Vestal Road younger sister Temp Agent M in tow — and wondering if these rookie Vestal, NY 13850 agents had what it takes to handle a high-risk mission like gathering 607.729.1548 intel on music stores — I packed my hiking shoes and my laptop (and A room full of pianos beckoned to us at McNeil Music, particularly a notepad, because I have a few old-fashioned work habits) into the MI because Agent J just finished taking a course in piano tuning. Atop one Spy Mobile, and we hit the road. of the upright console pianos, there were a few spare piano pieces, and First, we snooped around in the Binghamton area, and then moved J demonstrated what they were and how they are used. on to Ithaca (with a special stopover in Corning). In order to establish The pianos were not the only star of McNeil’s inventory: it carries a our cover, we drove around some famous colleges (including a posh large number of acoustic and electric guitars and basses, percussion, Ivy League school and a few State University of New York (SUNY) drums, orchestral and band instruments, as well as an impressively branches), and I played the part of a dad bringing his kids on a college large selection of sheet music (in which the offerings were especially tour. But even though this was a business trip, I wasn’t going to miss geared toward students). In fact, this store had more choral music out on the opportunity to enjoy all the area had to offer, so we hiked offerings than just about any music store I’ve ever seen. The selection through parks, marveled at waterfalls and gorges, patronized a few exalso included NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) cellent museums, and ate at some incredible restaurants (including one rankings, and apparently a significant portion of this music is offered as particular ice cream shop, Purity Ice Cream, that I can only describe as a lending library, with the check-in/out dates displayed on cards. “creamy heaven”). The room with the store’s acoustic guitar display was neat and very And oh yeah, we checked out some MI stores, too. The stores on the appealing, and in addition to the wide variety of acoustics, there were agenda for this mission were all independents or small chains. Your MI many banjos and mandolins on offer. Another area had several violins Spy was a bit surprised to find so many worthwhile retailers, including on display, including an unusual S-shaped model. two surprises which I’ll discuss later. And I was particularly keen on McNeil Music had so much to offer, but one thing that it didn’t have, investigating each store’s acoustic guitar offerings this time around, at least in our estimation, was a really friendly staff member who would since the acoustic guitar market has been on fire. 36
The Bobcat S66 and V90 bring back the spirit of classic Italian-made guitars, the Giulietta 3D & 3PS expand the possibilities of archtop guitars with the AREOS-D and Super Capacitor preamp systems, and the SDC-1 Mini makes playability and portability accessible to everyone.
M I SPY speak with us. We saw one man working on a violin repair at the front, and he spoke at length with two or three people, but when he turned to me, he gave me a curt greeting and didn’t deal with us again. I actually wanted to ask him some questions and hovered about awkwardly at first, but then eventually slunk away. McNeil Music is across the road from Binghamton University, one of the top SUNY schools, and this store’s offerings would make any music student happy. There is also ample parking for customers. But I’d prefer better customer service the next time I came here.
Music City 3104 Vestal Parkway E. Vestal, NY 13850 607.723.2615
Some music instrument stores are like treasure chests, packed with amazing arrays of musical riches. These stores can be intimidating, with their inventories of expensive, perfectly curated items. But occasionally, you come across a store like Music City, which is a mix of treasure chest and plain old fun. In addition to musical instruments and accessories, Music City also has a few other musical consumer goods for sale, like prerecorded music (mostly CDs but also vinyl and tapes) and music-related gifts such as apparel, stickers, posters and tchotchkes. Your MI Spy bought a pretty cool tie-dye shirt, M bought a book of sheet music and a poster, and J bought a guitar stand and a sticker. As far as musical instruments, acoustic and electric guitars are the main offerings, and there were many, covering a decent price range and several brands. (To give you an idea of how big guitars are at Music City, the front of the store features a Fender sign underneath the Music City sign.) Prices are clearly marked, and the owner, a genial guy, talked to us about the most popular of the mid-range guitars for sale. There were even a few guitars signed by celebrity musicians on display. The store also stocks violins, ukes, drum sets and percussion, some brass and woodwinds, some keyboards, and more. Music City also sells its own selection of T-shirts with snappy designs, and as I mentioned earlier, I just had to take one home with me. When we first walked in, the owner was demoing an ukulele for an older customer. His laidback and jovial manner fit the store just right. In addition to chatting with the owner about the store’s guitar selection, we also talked about baseball (specifically the AA Binghamton Ruble Ponies, featuring potential future major leaguers Brett Baty and Mark Vientos) and Record Store Day (“We had so many people come in for that in June! I was surprised,” he said. “I’m getting ready for the next record drop. I like that it’s now more than one day.”). Music City is a lot of fun, and if you’re a
rock ‘n roll or jazz fan and musician, and you’re in the area, you’ll definitely enjoy a visit. I dare you to walk out without purchasing something. And you’ll have no problem parking here in the provided spots out front (except perhaps on Record Store Day).
Ithaca Guitar Works 215 N. Cayuga Street, Dewitt Mall Ithaca, NY 14850 607.592.4135
The next two stops on our agenda were in Ithaca, home of Cornell University and Ithaca College, the latter of which annually plays “The Biggest Little Game” of college football against nearby SUNY Cortland. Small stores sometimes can surprise you with the depth of their inventory, service and pure music appeal. Ithaca Guitar Works (IGW) is a modest-sized shop located in the Dewitt Mall (a large brick building that houses some small shops and a few eateries, located not far from the trendy Ithaca Commons). But despite its smaller footprint, IGW has many acoustic and electric guitars and a wealth of accessories for sale. It also has a few workers who really, really know their stuff. These guys offer practical advice and lessons on the spot, and gladly. Not only does IGW have an impressive selection of guitars, it also carries banjos, resonators, mandolins, ukes and a superb grouping of effects pedals and accessories. One member of my party (Agent J) is a music major in college, and one of the workers at IGW gave her an in-depth, enthusiastic presentation on the different types of banjo picks (I liked how he described one item as the “grippiest of picks!”) and stringed instrument straps. This kind of pinpointed customer service is what you’d want in a specialty store such as this. And I overheard one of the other workers giving a highly detailed description of an acoustic guitar repair to another customer. The IGW team loves their guitars, and it shows. Ithaca Guitar Works can seem somewhat intimidating because it is so densely packed, but it is orderly, and the vibe is laid-back yet professional. There was metered parking, which was convenient. The store also has a wall display of CDs by local performers, and it’s always nice to see music stores support their local music scene. If you stop by, don’t miss the Dick Dale Fender lunchbox, the classical sitar, and the Elvis Presley guitar clock!
Hickey’s Music Center 104 Adams St. Ithaca, NY 14850 607. 272.8262
Tucked into a quiet residential area of Ithaca, we came upon Hickey’s, a sprawling musical instrument store that has certain features that make it extra special.
Hickey’s has a great variety of instruments for various levels of students and professionals, and it also displays some curious antique instruments on a few walls. In addition, it has a section of books and sheet music geared especially toward college and graduate students, including one targeted to Ithaca College students. Across from that display were photographs and press/media clippings of local musicians and music professors; these offered an interesting and really cool glimpse at the area’s musical history, and I found myself admiring the store’s commitment to preserving that history. The staff working here when we stopped by were very pleasant. I asked a saleswoman about acoustic guitars for beginners and she admitted that, “I’m not the main person to ask; he’s at lunch. But I do have some recommendations for beginner guitar combo packs. I know he’s made these suggestions to customers.” And she showed me a selection of instruments worthy of beginner students. Hickey’s serves all levels of musicians, including a customer who came in, clad in a kilt, who does not (I repeat, does not) play bagpipes. Nay, he plays tuba, and he is a regular who made his way comfortably around the store. For a non-regular like myself, the store was fun to navigate, although a bit messy in a few corners. I saw plastic ukuleles and plastic instruments for little tykes, as well as sophisticated band instruments and drum sets, keyboards and synthesizers, lots of sheet music, and lots of equipment and accessories for marching band musicians. Hickey’s even has its own water bottles for sale. And there was a lot of parking, and a park across the street.
Two Special Mentions Old, Odd and Unique 93 Clinton St. Binghamton, NY 13905 607.725.4208
This shop on Antiques Row deserves special mention for its unique offerings of musical instruments. This is definitely Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. When we visited, the owner showed us a piano that was built in the time of the Civil War! And there were even a few guitars in the selection when we stopped by. The owner was engaging and had lots of cool stories to share, and we enjoyed our brief stopover here.
Corning Art & Frame 87 W. Market St. Corning, NY 14830 607.962.8692
You might think, at first glance, that this store would have little to do with music. But we wandered into this store anyway and were very grateful for doing so. The owner builds (continued on page 52) SEPTEMBER 2021
I N T H E T RENCHE S
Summer NAMM Was Different This Year. So What? By Allen McBroom This is Monday morning, and I got back from the 2021 Summer NAMM Show around 9 p.m. Friday night. By now, you’ve heard various descriptions of this specific show, and they probably all sound similar: smaller than before, fewer exhibitors than 2019, fewer attendees, etc. I was kind of bummed that there was no breakfast served before the floor opened (I love the NAMM Show breakfasts). A large selection of those manufacturers that are viewed commonly as the “big guys” made no effort to show up — even some who are headquartered in Nashville. A lot of the suppliers I wanted to see didn’t come to the show. These various less-than-positive takeaways from this summer’s NAMM Show leave me with one question that I think needs to be answered. Here it is: So what? So what if the big guys didn’t show up? The reality is, they probably don’t currently have the inventory to support new dealers, and they can’t serve their existing dealer base the way they did in 2019. So what did the retailer miss by them not showing up? Not much. I
think retailers missed very little by the big guys staying home, while the big guys missed out on a lot. The big guys failed to show their colors at the show, and a lot of the retailers I talked to thought it said a lot about the big guys that they weren’t there to shake hands, meet their customer base, and talk directly and personally to customers and potential customers about how the waning pandemic would impact these customers in the coming days. The big guys who did show up showed what product they could, and they were really visible to the attendees. They had the opportunity to talk with current customers and potential customers and had good traffic in their booths. Kudos to them. While showing up may not pay big dividends for them right away, it will certainly help those big guys who attended the show avoid the negative feelings a lot of retailers developed toward the no-shows. Even a small booth and a sign are an expensive investment, but it shows your customers they are worth the effort to see in person. So what if NAMM didn’t have a complimentary breakfast before each day’s show? We didn’t travel to Nashville so we could eat breakfast. We went for the show. Did I miss the breakfast? Yes, I did. Did it diminish the show’s value for me? Maybe by some extremely small percentage — so small that, in the final assessment, it really doesn’t matter where I ate breakfast. The lack of a complimentary breakfast did cause me to get out and discover the Sun Diner, which serves breakfast 24 hours a day. I had a
great omelet and some good coffee, and I found a new place to eat in Nashville. So, what did I miss? Nothing. Of course, I’d like to see NAMM serve breakfast next year, but if they don’t, the show’s value remains the same. So what if there were fewer attendees at this year’s show? I would have liked to see more attendees, but considering that a lot of retailers had a tough year, a lot haven’t been fully open that long, and some were concerned about being in a crowd with COVID-19 still being a thing, I’d have been really surprised if attendance had been higher in 2021 than in 2019. Some exhibitors hosted “open houses” or had “company suites” off-site during the Summer NAMM Show floor times. So what? To me, that sounds a lot like going to the dance and trying to dance to the music in the parking lot instead of paying the entry fee to dance on the dance floor. If you want to show products to the folks who came for the Summer NAMM Show, pay the floor rent and make yourself available to everyone who came, not just the folks you had email addresses for before the show. At the very least, do your off-site venture outside the normal NAMM Show hours. Don’t try to pull NAMM attendees away from the NAMM Show. We came for the show, we’re at the show, so please be on the floor and don’t ask us to leave the show during show hours. I looked up the 2019 Summer NAMM exhibitor list, and there were well over 500 listed. This year, there were well under 300 listed. Some of those listed this year were sharing a booth with
other exhibitors. Yes, there were roughly half as many exhibitors this summer, but going back to today’s No. 1 question: So what? Fewer vendors meant I had plenty of time to actually stop and look at the small booths, the small vendors who often get overlooked amid the maelstrom of a full-blown Summer NAMM Show. While I ordered product from only one new vendor (I made several orders with established vendors at the show), I found that one new vendor only because I was taking the time to look at small booths with smaller displays. Know what? I’m pretty darn excited about that one small vendor. With fewer attendees for me to visit, I had time to learn about the company’s background (it’s a great story), and the pride it had in its product lineup was evident in the team’s faces. I made a small order, and after some thought, went back and added more cool stuff to the order. I know of at least two other retailers who did the same thing, and I think that small booth took home a list of new orders and new retail outlets. I asked the representatives in this small booth if this was the company’s first NAMM Show, and no, it was its fourth. FOURTH. Three other times these people were on the show floor, and I never noticed them. Shame on me for not doing my job better. Several vendors showed up ready to play and brought full-size displays. So what? For starters, they wrote a ton of orders from dealers who were hungry for product and hungry to get a fresh look in their store. One of these manufacturers had possibly the SEPTEMBER 2021
was best for our MI community, which was bringing us all back together. Big-double-kudos to NAMM for saying “Damn the torpedoes, full-speed ahead.” In the final analysis, the 2021 Summer NAMM Show was a good show for our store. It was also good for me personally. I
largest booth in the show, and he went full-bore straight ahead for two solid days. At the end of day one, he told me he wrote orders non-stop, including a huge order to a multi-store operation that he’d been trying to sell to for over 10 years. That store group came to Summer NAMM with a list of SKUs, ready to buy, and since the manufacturer was there, they bought. Isn’t that how the Summer NAMM Show is supposed to work? We found several other cool suppliers, including a sheet metal fabrication place. So what? I would never have looked at a sheet metal fabricator in 2019, and this year I talked to them and found out I could get custom pedal boards fabricated for a very attractive price. That got my head spinning with ideas. And who knows? I might have Backstage Music pedal boards available in the future. I also may not. But now, if I want to follow that path, I know who can do the hard part for me. I found the right folks at Summer NAMM. With ever ything that’s been going on in the world, it’s amazing that a 2021 Summer NAMM Show happened at all. NAMM could have not hosted this show, and ever yone would have understood. It was a risky effort, it was expensive for them to tr y, and they probably got criticism (both unwarranted and warranted) for their effort. So what? They were going to get criticized by someone no matter what they did, so they may as well prioritize tr ying to do what
saw friends I’d been missing, saw some reps I’d visited with only by phone for over a year, I picked up a cool new vendor, and I got to ride around Nashville in Ubers again. If you were there, you probably felt a lot of the same things I did. If you weren’t there, plan to attend the NAMM Show in 2022.
Being able to attend the NAMM Show, and Summer NAMM in particular, is the greatest benefit I’ve ever had from membership in any organization. So what? For me, it’s a great value for my business’s money, and I like value. I’ll bet you do, too. Happy trails.
V E D D AT O R I A L
NEWS OF OUR DEMISE IS PREMATURE By Dan Vedda
I always shake my head when I hear someone say, “[insert once-ubiquitous item here] is dead.” Why? Well, in our industry alone over the last few decades, I’ve heard predictions of the demise of the acoustic drumset (how’s that going, Simmons?), the death of the acoustic guitar (a store I worked in during the ‘80s discontinued them as “no longer needed”), the utter dominance of the DJ market ending live music (DJing is strong, but so still is live performance), and the permanent replacement of electric guitar with synthesizers (it’s been predicted for about 50 years, but it hasn’t happened yet). However, rather than going the way of “Flock of Seagulls” hairstyles, these supposedly doomed market segments not only survived, but are bigger than before. No matter what the style mavens predict, the Will of the People tends to determine the outcome. More recently, vinyl, the pivotal audio format of the Baby Boomer generation, resurfaced as a hip, trendy and of course sonically superior alternative to the digitally mashed sound of the MP3s that a lot of kids now reaching adulthood grew up on. While I don’t expect the reanimated corpse of Tower Records to resurface (never say never), it’s reasonable to assume that vinyl is more than just fashionable, because there
are merits to the format, and a generation that embraces it in their nostalgia-formative years will carry it with them as they grow older. Sure, vinyl is more likely to be a “gourmet” format than a fixture in the bedroom of every American teen like it once was, but it ain’t dead, folks. I always adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward the “inevitable” obsolescence of our pop-culture trappings. For example, I don’t believe books are dead, and any kid that grew up waiting for the next Harry Potter volume wouldn’t think so, either; they’ll always have a spot in their hearts for books. Plus, books work for decades without an upgrade, they never need charging, and they don’t disappear if you miss a subscription payment. While certainly there are examples of our cultural linchpins that no longer perform their original function in our daily lives (think of things like pay phones), many others have been refreshed or repurposed. For example, the pandemic helped reboot the almost extinct drive-in movie (albeit in an upgraded form) and energized carhop-style restaurants like Sonic and Swenson’s. They’re no longer just a nostalgia trip, they’re “pandemic adapted.” This reinvigoration is actually a trend that started a few years back, but the appeal has been am-
plified by our year in lockdown. The backward-looking re-creation of old formats, artifacts or even business models actually has a name: “newstalgia.” It’s being embraced not only by people who remember it fondly, but by a fresh audience that responds to its throwback novelty and utility. Even Pizza Hut has jumped on the trend, turning back the clock on a subset of its dine-in restaurants to the '80s décor and format of the company’s earliest years. So recently, I was interested to read an Axios article by Erica Pandey, “The Pandemic-Induced Renaissance of Malls.” We all know malls are dead, right? It seems not, at least in some instances. The attraction of malls as public gathering places is on-trend: “A year and a half of isolation has reignited a desire to gather in public spaces — and spruced-up, futuristic malls could make billions off of a cooped-up America,” Pandey wrote. Am I suggesting that you move your store into a mall? Well, in some markets, there might be a progressive re-imagining of a mall with reasonable rents (thanks to the down market in retail real estate). Only you can say if it’s a viable option. But more to the point, let’s think about why these malls are set to attract people again and see what lessons we can learn from them. According to the article, the malls that thrive will offer much more than a cluster of retail stores. Attractive public space, special events, ancillary services and hyper-local content will drive the experience. The Axios piece quotes Michael Brown, a partner in consulting firm Kearney’s Consumer Products and Retail Practice: “There’s a long future for the malls who are doing it right. Malls need to be more than just a place to shop because frankly, we can just shop online,” he said. When you think about it, many music industry stores are already
doing a micro-version of this. We all know the importance of an attractive and inviting retail salesfloor, and plenty of us offer special events like performances, recitals, drum circles, uke nights and any number of other participatory musical experiences. Many offer the so-called ancillary services in the form of lessons and repairs, and perhaps even a snack bar or rehearsal space. Frankly, a local store, by definition, also has to be hyper-local. Tastes in music, specific demands of school programs, and local artists playing on the scene are all part of the little corner of the market where we hang our shingles. That local positioning is crucial, according to a recent National League of Cities report on the future of retail: “The flexibility of shopping from the location most convenient for the customer will remain a primary driver of sales.” Woo! Again, so many of us are right in the neighborhood, poised for convenience. So being “in a mall,” while perhaps viable for some, isn’t the point. We need to be aware of what our customers — long-term and newly-minted — are looking for: convenience, engagement, variety, and a focus on the needs and interests of the surrounding community. In theory, we should have been doing all these things pre-pandemic, of course. It’s just good retail practice for any business trying to build goodwill and a loyal customer base. But our year of darkness, so to speak, has made the best practices obvious and crucial. Those of us in a brick-andmortar environment, particularly those of us without a strong online storefront, should be on notice. The way for us to survive is to focus on the will of the people. If we position ourselves to serve our customers — not just sell to them — we’ve got a chance to survive. And if we do this right (and with the right attitude), we have a chance to flourish. SEPTEMBER 2021
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S HINE A LI GHT
A Musical House All Players Can Call Home By Michelle Loeb At Fanny’s House of Music, Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples seek to create a music store that serves as a safe and inspiring space for all musicians, no matter their gender, aptitude or walk of life. “We make a point of treating everyone the same, whether you’re a professional guitar player or a six-year-old child picking up a guitar for the first time,” said Leigh Maples and Pamela Cole Maples. “Boys and girls come in here on a level playing field, and there’s no questioning if the other can play or not. It’s quite a thing.” The idea to create a store that treats all players equally stemmed from a lifetime of experiencing both the high and the lows of being a female musician. Cole and Maples are both bassists and came to meet each other in college due to the sheer novelty of having two female bass guitarists on one campus. From that common interest grew a friendship that spanned decades, as Cole managed artists and ran her own business, and Maples worked in the restaurant business while continuing to tour. “We stayed close, followed each other’s careers, through the good and the bad,” said Cole. “We were in our late 40s and figuring out what to do next. And we happened to be in the same place at the same time to open a music store.” Added Maples, “One day we were in a coffee shop, and Pamela said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a music store that was welcoming for everyone?’ And we thought maybe this is what we were meant to do.” With that, Fanny’s House of Music was born. The store opened in what had been a residence dating back to the 1900s. The building currently houses three lesson rooms, in addition to a retail sales floor that offers vintage clothing alongside a selection of catalog and player-quality vintage acoustic and electric instruments, amps, pedals, percussion, and accessories. Though the building required extensive renovations, Cole and Maples made sure to keep some of its more unique elements, including the hardwood floors and a threeway fireplace that divides the room “We brought in some of our own antiques, and we have an antique 44
Fanny’s House of Music 1101 Holly St. Nashville, TN 37206 (615) 750-5746 www.fannyshouseofmusic.com www.fannysschoolofmusic.org Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples, owners
counter from a general store,” said Maples. “We want it to feel like you’re walking into a house of music.” In order to make their space inviting for female players in particular, Cole and Maples made one very deliberate decorating decision: “We also only have women with guitars on the wall,” explained Cole. “We’d noticed that not even Bonnie Raitt was on the wall at Guitar Center. But a young girl can come in here and see herself on the walls.” She continued, “It’s important for young girls to mirror someone. Like if you’ve never seen a female astronaut, you’d never think a woman could go into space. We want them to see that a woman can do that.” Cole and Maples also go out of their way to make sure that there is a mix of both men and women on the staff, on the sales floor and as part of the lesson program. “Because we’re in Nashville, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a singer-songwriter or a musician, so that helps us with hiring, but we still have to be intentional about it. It’s easier to find a female singer than it is to find a female drummer or electric guitar player,” explained Maples. In addition to Cole and Maples, who work at the store full time, the store currently has five employees who work part-time in order to balance their music careers with their time at the store. “The people who work here are in bands, and they want to perform, so we make room for that,” said Cole. “We understand because we lived that life too, so we promote that and we’re very positive about it.” The unique customer service and shopping environment Fanny’s SEPTEMBER 2021
provides has helped to raise its profile over the years, drawing interest from everyday musicians and rock gods alike. “Robert Plant came in once, and that kind of did it for us that day,” said Cole. “More and more female musicians have heard of us and make a point to come here, but there are also a lot of people who haven’t heard of us, so we’re kind of under the radar sometimes,” she continued. “When Brittany Howard came in, we felt our mission was fulfilled.” Howard is now part of the advisory board for a nonprofit Cole and Maples are starting, which will build a second twostory facility to house Fanny’s School of Music. The building will include 10 lesson rooms, space for a music therapist and community space for workshops and small performances. They are currently fundraising with the hope of breaking ground next summer. “It’s a weird time to think about growth, but this was our plan before COVID,” said Cole. While 2020 was a tough year for everyone, Cole and Maples had an especially difficult time because of the one-two punch of a devastating tornado that tore through their Nashville community on March 3, just weeks before COVID-19 shut down businesses across the country. “Because of the tornado, everything around us was destroyed, and they are just starting to build back. So that made our pandemic experience different, and we have a lot of gratitude that we’re still here,” said Cole. Fanny’s is still not operating at 100-percent capacity, and during the pandemic, the store pivoted to online sales and virtual lessons, much like everyone else in the industry. But Cole and Maples are looking forward to returning to the in-person music-making community they have fostered over all these years. “A lot of companies are going to stay virtual after the pandemic is over because it works for them, but we’re small enough MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
and community-minded enough that we think being together is so important,” said Cole. “The same conversation you might have over text lights up different parts of the brain when you have it in person. That connection can’t happen virtually.” “We’re looking forward to seeing the families and kids again,” added Maples. “It’s great to see these kids find their tribe, as it were. It’s inspiring to watch it happen. We want to remind people of the joy and healing of music.” A tornado struck both Fanny's and the Nashville community.
U N DER T H E HOOD
By Brian Berk
“Enter the Dragon.” Luna Ukes announced the release of three ukuleles featuring the warmth of mahogany, the power of a builtin preamp and Luna’s own signature laser etchings, showcasing a Henna Dragon on the top. Why the Henna Dragon? “Historically, the symbol of the Dragon is deeply rooted in cultures throughout the world for its spiritual meaning of offering courage to those who need it most. Much like Luna’s Henna Dragon acoustic/electric guitar, Henna Dragon ukuleles are powerful allies to musicians of all skill levels,” stated Luna. “Since the brand’s inception, the Henna Series has been a staple to the Luna line and a movement of artistic expression. As the first two works of art in the series, the Oasis and Paradise were inspired by Medieval Spanish henna patterns of that era, and gently laser-etched across the guitar’s spruce wood top,” Adam Gomes, brand director and artist relations for Luna Guitars, told the Music & Sound Retailer. “The introduction of the Henna Dragon design was a testament to the brand’s growth and expansion over the years. In 2020, we were looking for a design that reflects on a musician’s long journey and embodies those characteristics such as strength and perseverance. For both male and female players alike, the symbol of the dragon resembles that exact feeling. Having a powerful design by your side serves as a pleasant reminder to keep doing what you love, and given the challenges we faced in 2020, the Henna Dragon guitar meant even more.” For ukulele enthusiasts, Luna added a family of Henna Dragon 46
and Luna Percussion Henna Dragon Series
ukes of different sizes and body shapes that feature an all-mahogany body. “Mahogany is a great tonewood used on many ukuleles that produces warm and vibrant sound,” Gomes said. Luna Henna Dragon ukes are available in Concert, Tenor and Baritone models, and feature mahogany tops, bodies and C-shape set necks, which give the instrument a warmer sound overall and higher-pitched tonality, according to the company. In addition, they have pau ferro bridges and fretboards with pearloid moon phase inlays, chrome hardware, slotted headstocks with open-gear chrome button tuners, Luna UK-T2 preamps with built-in EQ and tuners, and open-pore natural finishes. They come equipped with Aquila strings and a gig bag. Luna Percussion, the percussion arm of Luna Guitars, also added the Luna Henna Dragon Cajon featuring birch construction. The cajon’s birch construction provides a wide tonal range with exceptional projection, the company stated. Its built-in snares can be engaged with a quick switch of a steel knob, allowing percussionists to provide the backbeat to go along with the deep rich percussive tones of the instrument. “For percussion fans, we laser-etched the Henna Dragon design around all four sides of the new all-birch cajon,” Gomes said. The delicately laser-etched dragon design is on full display all around the 12- by 12- by 19-inch body. “Regardless of which Henna Series instrument you choose, one can always enjoy running their fingers across the raw wood-burned artwork of each of these designs on a satin-finish instrument of their choice,” Gomes concluded. SEPTEMBER 2021
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INDEPENDENT RETAILER ROUNDTABLE
(continued from page 31) thought from my kids, who attended the show. Sassi: When we had NAMM in January it was [a virtual event]. That was great, but to actually see things in person was tremendous.
The Retailer: How about seeing people you had not seen in 18 months since the 2020 NAMM Show? That had to be so joyous for you. Sassi: It felt more like two years. I know we last officially saw each other at the 2020 NAMM Show. But the January show is so different from the summer show. The January show is a big blur. It is work, work, work. We often do not get to have meaningful conversations with people we know in the industry like we do at Summer NAMM. It is more “I drive around the city and see like a quick “Hi. See you. I have to go.” the legacy businesses It felt like two years because it was two years since the last [in-person] Summer NAMM where we could actually sit down and talk to people.
LOST TO COVID. It is sad."
The Retailer: Let’s talk about resolve. In addition to the pandemic, Lana, you had to endure a looting and fire. Robin and Kimberly, you went through a ton as well. But you made it through. Are you at a point where you can say you have seen ever ything and you can now do anything? Deverell: Like Robin mentioned earlier, we had to explore other revenue streams. Recently, everything has been coming back, so we have this dichotomy of old versus new. We are busy. I remember looking at Robin and saying, “This is the best worst thing that has ever happened to us.” It did force change. We are not afraid of change. Robin is a change junkie. But we were definitely stagnant. We needed something to move us into a different direction. As painful as it was, and it was painful, I am glad we got through it and are on the other side. Sassi: Kimberly said a few months ago that we were complacent. We were, a year and a half ago. We did not think so. We thought we were killing it. After the pandemic happened, we thought we could grow in so many different ways. It was the best worst thing that ever happened to us. Negrete: That is a great way to phrase it. I had taken over a family business and was in the process of rebirthing something. I felt like I was given a bike in the middle of a triathlon that had a flat tire and the chain was falling off, and I had to jump on and just continue. I did not get to focus on every other part of the bike to fix it. The bike literally got swept out from under me. In a way, I was able to rebuild from the ground up. We were literally demolished. We looked at a lot of issues and how to improve. The fire that happened the day after the looting in Santa Monica, we redid our Culver City location. That was long overdue. We are going to rename it and have a new grand opening. Also, five of our 10 studios are now podcast stages. We brought in the revenue stream of podcasting. We now offer multi-purpose studios. I have had to look at square footage differently. If I am not getting the revenue from kids taking lessons, how can I utilize this space and continue? Each room has livestream capabilities. You can teach a lesson, or you can come in there and rent a room and talk about your cat for an hour, as long as you pay for it. You can have one of our engineers edit your video. Teachers can teach a class to virtual students. Or, you can mix and record. We have a live recording studio being built now. These are all things I had on my bucket list, and the pandemic afforded us that opportunity. The other thing to mention is, we were put on a map in a different way. We were always there, but people in the community told us they passed by our store for 50 years. Now, they are coming in to take lessons. More importantly, people are coming in to hear our story, SEPTEMBER 2021
which was amplified after what happened to us. Like Kimberly said, it was the best worst thing to happen to us. It is not that, all of a sudden, we are doing something different. It is that people did not know what we were doing. We had been giving back to the community and had been a staple in the community, but the right people took notice. Some celebrities took notice, and that definitely helped us to amplify what we were doing. Everything was literally lined up against us, including a competitor trying to take us out, and the pandemic. I do feel that this past year has been so crazy that I can do anything now. I am even on [the Santa Monica] City Council now. I believe there is no challenge big enough. It was like I was going to the gym and training for an event. I am all “trained up” and can do anything. When the next challenge presents itself, I am not afraid.
The Retailer: Let’s shift to what concerns you in MI. What is your biggest challenge or biggest concern right now? Negrete: I have a couple. First is that there seems to be a silo between independent retailers and large retailers. It is just my perspective and the vibe I get. I would say to large retailers, let independent retailers flourish, because it supports your business. I know it is a concept that is hard to look at in a dog-eat-dog world, but if we went away, that is not a positive for large retailers. We have octopus arms that can reach way out into the community. We are the ones spending the time not just selling the product, but music education and its importance. We go to the NAMM [Advocacy] Fly-In to learn how to capture funds. Music education is where it starts. I would like to see larger retailers respect and honor what the independent retailers are doing, as opposed to what seems to be happening: aggressive backdoor ways of eliminating those people. On the product side, there really needs to be more direct, straightforward dialogue and not talk-around about how they can support the independent retailers. If we are not competitive in the market and we lose the bid, what does that do for the vendor? If I am able to win the bid, there are three of four more accounts behind that. But if I get outbid by a larger company, [the manufacturer] should not think it does not matter because their product is still out there. I take an interest in every product from our vendors and will be their sales rep. I do not see that from larger competitors. I do not see them standing up with a PowerPoint that has [the vendor’s] logo on it. People have asked me if I am invested in the company. I tell them “No, but I really want you to buy their stuff because I truly believe in it, so I took the time to learn about the product so I could effectively sell it.” I would like to see the vendors really supporting us independent dealers and providing an opportunity for us to flourish, because if we do not help the economy of this industry, then everyone suffers. Sassi: To emphasize what Lana is talking about, there is a danger to having too homogenous an industry, where we are all selling the
same thing. We have also taken a stance that if there is a manufacturer that sells its product directly online, we do not carry their products. We are not a free showroom for them. People have come into the store looking for a certain product, and I tell them I would love to [carry that product line], but they sell them online direct, and you can buy it from them. I tell them I cannot help them in these situations. We have to understand we cannot be everything to everybody as a retailer. If manufacturers are doing well selling online, that is fine. But what we like to do is find some of the smaller companies with new products we can move quickly, and by the time the big places find out about it, it is a year and a half later, and we are on to the next thing. Negrete: That is a great point. I would like [manufacturers] to decide if they are direct or not. Many are on the fence, and it is tricky. In the same respect, when it comes to school bids, which we rely heavily upon, I have witnessed the same thing, where companies are creating their own products and going direct to school accounts. What happened to that code of honor of “I am your rep in the area and that is how it is supposed to work”? I am a marketing major. If I created a product and I am selling it, being online is not going to effectively have longevity and a long-term generational buy-in into my brand. But somebody actually being able to show my brand so they can touch and feel it first and then buy it, that is what creates longevity and long-term buy-in into a brand. We are the ones that help vendors stay longer. But if they focus too much on selling online or only the big-box retailers, we get pushed out. Sassi: It is true. Look at this in any other industry. Let’s say it is the restaurant industry and Denny’s. They have consistent portions, predictable prices and customer service. There are a ton of them. When I go out to eat, I really do not want to go to Denny’s. I want to go somewhere special. I want to go somewhere different. Something local and cool. If I travel, I will go to Denny’s because I feel safe with its offerings. But if I am local, I want something original. I think people desire that, and that’s what smaller retailers are able to provide. If you come into our music store, I do not think there is anything else like it in San Diego. People come in all the time and say, “Wow, what a vibe you have here. This is great.” We are not corporate. We are a community music store. We are like an oldfashioned coffee house where you used to be able to go on a Friday night, bring your guitar and sign up for an open mic. You cannot do that at Starbucks.
The Retailer: With this said, are you optimistic about the future? Deverell: If we made it through last year, I think we can make it through anything. I am always a person who is optimistic and positive. Negrete: We are still standing. That is a good sign. I take a drive around my city and see the legacy businesses that are gone due to
THE FINAL NOTE
COVID. It is sad. But then you look at the businesses that are still standing, and you talk to those people, and you learn about the individuality Robin talked about.We strive through social media and marketing to create a brand, and we have had to do it virtually. Having been locked in our homes and forced to be away from people, we are all craving for this one-on-one, old-school vibe that you actually feel and see. Instead of creating a feeling that is material on the internet or social media, people are coming into the store looking to create that feeling in person, including live music. We are trying to engage and have outdoor events that will not be impacted by whatever is going on with COVID right now. I am seeing a big rush and influx of people wanting to come into the store. They are even fine with finding a parking spot. Before, that was a big issue. People are looking forward to having a chitchat with the store owner. My dad, who is 81, gives them a tour of the store. People miss the culture, and it goes across all age ranges. Going forward, this pause we had in the world has given us an opportunity to reevaluate what our beliefs are and focus on what is important. I think human connection is a big part of it. Small retailers like ourselves
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are creating that vibe. We are creating that connection. We are touching their heart with music. It sounds so cheesy, but it is so true. I think things look good. I am with Kimberly. MI SPY
(continued from page 38) acoustic and electric guitars and basses that look as amazing as they sound. He even makes guitar effects pedals! And he is friendly and super knowledgeable about many things, especially repairing and modifying guitars, and he took the time to explain to Agent J how to begin building your own effects pedals. In some corners, the store resembled a museum (with signed records and albums, vintage concert posters and the like). And there were lots of rock ‘n roll and jazz posters and memorabilia on display, too. If you are seeking well-crafted, indie-brand musical instruments, stop by. This place really is something else. The handmade beauties we saw during our visit included some unusual body shapes, like a six-sided guitar and an eight-sided one, as well. But the JEB custom guitars are the real draw here; you gotta see them (and yes, the owner will let you strum them).
If you’re in the market for a guitar in this district, head out to Ithaca Guitar Works for excellent selection and service. My team of MI Spies truly appreciated this store, and it is the winner this month. We were also quite impressed with Hickey’s and Music City, both very good stores with a wider variety of instrument offerings. Serious musicians (and choral singers in particular) will appreciate McNeil’s, but they may have to do a lot of hunting through the displays themselves. And for those searching high and low for special, one-of-a-kind guitars, JEB at Corning Art & Frame will be a delight. But remember, if the desire to commune with nature strikes you, and you bring an acoustic guitar to one of the beautiful parks or gorges in this breathtaking area of New York State, make sure to protect them from the roaring rapids, you dig?
(continued from page 54) an Italian-based company. I am fortunate to regularly enjoy the world’s best wines and vineyards in California and Italy.
The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Ferranti: Probably U2 Live in Montreal, 1997. I was finishing my music degree from The Crane School of Music in Potsdam, New York, and drove myself just across the border to Montreal, Canada, and experienced a powerful concert. It really spoke to me at just the right time. A close second would be Pavarotti and Friends: Under the Stars and Live in Italy in 1999, [which I attended] while I was in summer school in Italy. That was simply a magical evening and summer. The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Ferranti: It would have to be an experience that you couldn’t replicate today. I can only imagine seeing Johann Sebastian Bach play the organ at a small cathedral in Germany. Or imagine the experience of taking a gondola ride across the water canals of Venice, Italy, to the Cathedral of the Pietà to see Antonio Vivaldi play the violin and conduct a youth symphony through The Four Seasons. That would be an unforgettable night, for sure. The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future (postpandemic)? Ferranti: At Proel North America, I am blessed to work with some of the finest singers, pianists and performing artists in the world. They are our family. I am excited for them to put this hiatus behind them. This pandemic has been devastating to our industry artists. They have found creative ways of getting through it (and helping us all get through it) with online performances, house concerts, etc. But I am ready and excited to support them as they come back to doing what they love to do. The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod?
Ferranti: My song library has so many diverse and eclectic artists on it, and my favorites change all the time. During the pandemic I was enjoying Kate Tempest’s “People’s Faces” as it perfectly captured the moment and what we have been missing for 18 months. But you’ll regularly find me enjoying the best of the rock legends, jazz and Rat Pack classics, impressionistic piano music, great soundtracks, classical music, a cappella music, electronic music, world music. I honestly love variety, and my current favorite changes throughout the year depending on what my soul needs.
The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? Ferranti: It’s always thrilling to see world-class performers hanging out with us at our Proel North America booth having fun, jamming, and just being musicians and colleagues. We regularly are delighted to welcome Stevie Wonder, Don Randi, Marcus Miller, Ray Parker Jr., The New Power Generation, Sheléa, Victoria Theodore, Russell Ferrante, and more than I can list playing our Italian-made Dexibell Digital Pianos, Tamburo Drumsets, singing with our Eikon Microphones, or auditioning our Proel Sound Systems and Axiom Pro Audio in the arena. That’s the magic of NAMM. It takes us all back to being kids in a candy store again. And we have the sweetest Italian candy that fine artists love. 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? Ferranti: Did you see the movie “Midnight in Paris?” Fun movie. It explores this very scenario. A modern-day writer, played by Owen Wilson, goes to Paris to write his novel and dreams of the Golden Era of the past. Each night he finds himself transported back in time to Paris of the 1920s, having dinner and drinks with his artistic heroes such as Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso, Cole Porter and more. While initially fascinating, he ultimately realizes that living in the past is a romanticized concept, but ultimately SEPTEMBER 2021
its reality is no more or less satisfying than the present. I find the simple pleasures of taking a music dealer out to lunch while visiting their store, dinners at NAMM with colleagues, or a trip to our Proel headquarters in Italy with industry partners to be just as enjoyable as any legendary names I could invoke. Everyone in our industry is welcome at my table, and we’ll have the best time if we remember to include a glass of great wine.
The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them). Ferranti: Before the pandemic, I brought some of North America’s top MI retailers and music press (the Music & Sound Retailer included) to visit our headquarters in Italy. We had three of the most fun days I’ve had in a long time. Factory tours, new instrument previews, wine tasting, dinners, and a celebratory banquet and concert with some of our top artists. While these retailers compete with each other daily for the business of musicians across the USA and Canada, they were like the best of friends. We all were and continue to be. Lifelong friendships grew from that trip, and we plan to do more trips with our dealers to Italy when the pandemic ends! The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry? Ferranti: The best thing about the MI industry is that what we do matters. How we do it changes. Where we do it changes. Who is doing it changes. But what we do matters, and it always will. My previous company, Alfred Music, says it well: “We help the world experience the joy of making music.” And that matters. The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industr y and why? I had always admired the intuition, salesmanship, and ultimately the creative products of Steve Jobs and Apple. His dedication to simplicity and highquality intuitive design on behalf of his customers is remarkable. He reportedly had a question that he would ask to his management staff: “What did you say ‘no’ to today?” In a noisy, oversaturated MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
world, I find that level of focus and commitment to purposeful design inspiring. Another great quote of his is “Never settle.” I love selling our world-class, quality musical products with their thoughtful, beautiful Italian design which inspires our customers. Our goal is to innovate, not inundate. Customers should never have to settle.
The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Ferranti: There are several emerging technologies that are in their infancy but have interesting long-term possibilities. For music education and performance, I think that immersive Virtual Reality could be an exciting platform and provide unique learning, playing and appreciation opportunities and break down costly barriers of entry to these experiences. I can imagine the impact virtual reality could have once it develops further. Imagine bringing to life worlds which one would otherwise never have access to; being completely immersed in an era of music; or even being transported to a stage, concert hall, or even a country or region of the world to experience performances and instruments within a context and reality that goes even beyond today’s platforms. Recently, I experienced a robust flight simulator with complete immersive VR technology. I charted a course from one airport to the next and explored several cities for hours in flight and with a reality that was so satisfying to experience, all on my own schedule, without being in the physical aircraft. I can imagine an aspiring musician practicing, playing or appreciating music for many additional hours outside the in-person lesson room or music studio with this kind of immersive technology. And it could be an exciting market expansion for manufacturers, content creators and MI retailers.
creative side. And the storytelling behind the presentation and sharing of the final product appeals to my business and marketing side. It shares a lot of similarities with quality music products and our MI industry.
The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there. Ferranti: I live in the Santa Clarita Valley suburb of Los Angeles. I love it for many reasons. It’s secluded enough from the big city to feel like a small town with its peaceful nature and hiking, running and bike-riding paths, and it also has an old town center with eclectic shops, restaurants, a farmer’s market, and even attractions like Hollywood’s original cowboy movie sets, and the famous Vasquez Rocks (original “Star Trek” fans will recognize it as the other-worldly landing site of Captain Kirk and the away-team explorers). And Hollywood, Burbank, and the bustling music and entertainment opportunities of downtown Los Angeles are only 20 minutes away. It’s a great area. The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Ferranti: My most prized possession is a one-of-a-kind homemade gift that could never
be replaced. When I moved away from home, my mother, rest her soul, gave me a heart-shaped glass music box with a picture of her and me together at a café. When it is wound, it plays “Unforgettable.” It reminds me of her unforgettable love, support and sacrifice for me up until her sudden passing several years ago. I keep it on my desk. If I look at the picture and hear that music box play “Unforgettable,” it can be very emotional. I can’t do that very often.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Ferranti: I enjoy reading. I currently read about 20 books per year (mostly business and non-fiction), but my lasting favorites are stories I read during my formative years. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho would be among my favorites. A smalltown shepherd boy, in pursuit of his dream, sells his flock, leaves the comfort of his hometown, journeys into the unknown, falls in love, goes through life’s hardships and setbacks, finds a mentor who teaches him the secrets of alchemy and ultimate sacrifice, which transforms his life, and he finally realizes the meaning of his dream. Turning a humble life into gold: the ultimate alchemy. I can identify with that. Hey, a boy can dream.
The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Ferranti: If I weren’t in the music industry, I suppose I would explore the wine industry. There’s something about the artistry and craftsmanship of winemaking that appeals to my 53
FI NAL NO T E
ANTONIO FERRANTI President, Proel North America
By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Antonio Ferranti: I have been blessed with many wonderful mentors in my music education and music industry career. Ultimately, my greatest influence will always be my mother (rest her soul). My mother was an Italian immigrant who raised three children single-handedly in America, with the added challenge of one child, my sister, being handicapped from a devastating car accident. I was blessed to learn the meaning of strength, grace and resourcefulness from a remarkable woman who was faced with hardships, but never complained and always found working solutions for everyone. Her example will forever be my inspiration. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Ferranti: The best advice I ever received was from Morty Manus, the patriarch of Alfred Music, where I was vice president of sales and worked for over 12 years. In one of the last times I ever saw him before his passing, he was counseling me during a particularly trying time in my life. I was concerned about making mistakes and failing. He confidently said to me, “You should make mistakes. I want you to make mistakes. In fact, as your employer, I demand that you make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not trying hard enough. So, make mistakes. I only ask that you never repeat them.” While I still struggle with the anxiety of making mistakes, failing and letting 54
people down, I continue to hear his advice today. His words continue to comfort me, challenge me and help give me the courage to keep trying.
The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Ferranti: My first meaningful experience with a musical instrument happened at the piano when I was five years old. My sister was 12 and recovering from a devastating car accident that would leave her mentally and physically challenged. Her brilliant brain surgeon recommended that she take piano lessons to help with her hand-eye coordination, brain development and recovery. My mother hired a piano teacher from our church, and I was recruited as my sister’s piano assistant. That powerful experience gave me a lifetime of purpose promoting music education, appreciation and ultimately
a career in our beloved music products industry.
The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Ferranti: The piano. Ironically, the long hours of hard work launching and promoting our beautifully handcrafted Italian pianos throughout North America keeps me from playing piano as often as I would like. But selling quality digital pianos to generations of musicians who will make music for years to come is tremendously satisfying and fulfilling. I am happy to play piano vicariously through our customers these days. The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Ferranti: With our lives displayed all over social media these days, I’m not sure I have any secrets anymore [laughs]. But
seriously, I enjoy connecting online and sharing experiences with friends, family and colleagues around the world. Recently, I shared a photo memory on Facebook of me with my flight-school Cessna and Piper aircraft. I was always into aviation and took lessons for several years to become a private pilot. Many of the comments from industry friends seemed surprised yet supportive to learn about my flying hobby.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Ferranti: A favorite activity is wine tasting with friends. I enjoy touring vineyards, driving the countryside with the car top down, savoring wine, talking with winemakers and appreciating their craft — and all in the company of friends. It’s a great way to spend a day. I’m really lucky to live in California and work for (continued on page 52) SEPTEMBER 2021
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