Music & Sound Retailer November 2019, Vol 36 No 11

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November 2019 Volume 36, No. 11


Guitars, percussion and pro audio, oh my! These segments of MI, as well as some others, like DJ controllers, are prominently featured throughout the year in the pages of the Music & Sound Retailer. That’s why we like to take an annual look at lesser-publicized products; ones that are featured less often in our pages or not featured at all. Here’s a look at some cool lesser-publicized products you can stock in your stores today. (continued on page 24)


Accessories, Bags and Cases Manufacturers Continue to See a Strong Market By Brian Berk Considering the strong industry MI has enjoyed during the past couple of years, one would think things are gangbusters for manufacturers of accessories and bags and cases. Overall, these manufacturers have enjoyed a robust recent past, with a solid future expected to remain ahead. But that certainly doesn’t mean things are perfect. And with good times comes increased competition. These companies need to continue to (continued on page 50)


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Suzanne D’Addario, Myrna Sislen and Judy Schaefer to Receive She Rocks Awards The Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN) “will survive.” In fact, it will do much more than that, after it announced the honorees for the 2020 She Rocks Awards. Gloria Gaynor, singer of “I Will Survive,” will be among the honorees. In MI, honorees will be Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, executive director of the D’Addario Foundation; Myrna Sislen, owner of Middle C Music in Washington D.C.; and Judy Schaefer, marketing director at PRS Guitars. Also being honored will be Linda Perry, GRAMMY-, Golden Globe-, Critic’s Choice-nominated artist, Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee, multi-platinum producer and former frontwoman for 4 Non Blondes; Lzzy Hale, GRAMMY Award-winning artist/songwriter and frontwoman for Halestorm; Suzi Quatro, pioneering bass player, singer, musician and actress who played the role of Leather Tuscadero on “Happy Days;” Beatie Wolfe, singer-songwriter, pioneer of immersive music formats, UN Women role model; Tara Low, musicbased entrepreneur and editor and founder of Guitar Girl Magazine; and Ebonie Smith, founder and president of Gender Amplified, Inc, and Atlantic Records audio engineer and producer. Paying tribute to women in the music industry, the eighth annual

She Rocks Awards will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, at the House of Blues Anaheim, during The NAMM Show. “We’re ready to kick off 2020 in a big way, and our upcoming honorees are an exciting part of that,” said the WiMN founder, Laura B. Whitmore. “These women go above and beyond in their respective corners of our industry and are perfect examples of why we are proud to celebrate women in music.”

The NAMM Show Adds Financial Summit NAMM is making a new addition to The 2020 NAMM Show with its Retail Financial Summit, which will provide the critical financial training all music retailers need to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace, while looking at new trends and developments that are certain to impact MI retailers. Presented by Alan Friedman and Daniel Jobe of Friedman, Kannenberg & Co., the summit will address new financial trends, regulatory updates, and recent changes in sales tax and labor laws that are impacting retailers and their businesses. Plus, the partici-

pants will address specific audience questions. This program will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. NAMM also announced it will bring back its Retail Innovation Summit, also set to take place on Jan. 15. At this event, best-selling author, sales and marketing expert, Marcus Sheridan, previous host of two standing-room-only NAMM University Breakfast Sessions, will walk attendees through the changing behavior of consumers, as well as strategies to deliver when running a business.

Yorkville to Distribute Aston

Aston Microphones will now be distributed for all of North America by Yorkville Sound. After enjoying more than three years in partnership for the Canadian market, extending distribution into the Yorkville U.S. office is a natural progression for both Yorkville Sound and Aston Microphones, the companies stated. “Aston’s attention to product excellence, reliability and customer care mirrors the very foundation of Yorkville Sound,” says Jeff Cowling, Yorkville’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We are thrilled to bring our joined entrepreneurial spirit to the U.S. market.” James Young, founder and CEO of Aston Microphones, added that “Working with Yorkville Sound in Canada for the past three years, and most closely with Ray Wilson (Yorkville’s national sales manager in Canada), has been an experience packed full of superlatives. Quite simply put, their performance and commitment to our brand has been ‘next level,’ and we are both extremely fortunate and thrilled to be expanding their operations into the U.S. market. Consolidating North American activities along with the release of two new products scheduled for early 2020 means it’s going to be a hell of a year for Aston and Yorkville.” Steve Hendee, Yorkville’s U.S. director of sales, sees endless opportunity for the Aston partnership. “As we’ve seen in Canada, Aston Microphones provides high-quality mics that are sought after by professional and hobbyists alike. The product itself is well paired with studio equipment such as monitors and mixers in our family, giving retailers opportunities to bundle and upsell end users with world-class studio solutions. Our team can’t wait to hit the ground running.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



On the Cover Case in Point

Accessories, bags and cases manufacturers continue to see a strong market.

VOLUME 36 NO. 11

Sweet Sixteen

The Music & Sound Retailer’s salute to lesser-publicized products returns.

Features 28 The Music & Sound Independent Retailer 30 Front and Center

Jessica Buchanan, retail district manager of California, Music & Arts, has had a long, enjoyable and varied relationship with music, starting from childhood. These days, she shares her love of music with many others, including her employees, their customers and music educators.

32 Five Minutes With

Tech 21 is celebrating 30 years in 2019. We have Dale Krevens, vice president, describe the early days, where the name for the company came from, the secret of its success and much more.

34 MI Spy

New Haven, Conn., home to Yale University and a thriving arts and theatrical scene, also loves its music. MI Spy seeks a band instrument.

36 ‘Hire’ Learning

Communication is everything. Will Mason offers three rules for leveraging internal communication to increase your team’s productivity.

38 In the Trenches

Allen McBroom provides a complete guide to the different types of used-gear sellers that may walk into your store.

40 Retailer Rebel

The idea that consumers owe a retailer loyalty because that dealer went the extra mile, provided them with years of service or any other reason is a fantasy.

42 Shine a Light

Saied Music has been a mainstay in Oklahoma for nearly 75 years.

44 Veddatorial

Customer acquisition and retention in the school market is precarious. Dan Vedda explains.

46 Under the Hood

Carbondale, Pa.-based MJC Ironworks, named after owner Michael J. Connolly — well known for his work at Dean Markley, where he was known as the “string guru” — believes it is truly different.

54 The Final Note

Alex R. Ordoñez, vice president, sales and marketing (North America), Alfred Music, spent eight years in the U.S. Army serving as a chemical operations specialist with an emphasis in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

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16 People

18 Products



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

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End of an Era Both the magazine publishing and retail industries have a lot in common. Similar to retail, the lack of an immediate succession plan has caused publishers to either sell their business or close up shop. In publishing, a lack of sales in terms of advertising can draw parallels to a lack of sales in a retail brick-and-mortar shop. And, like in retail, technology — namely the internet — has affected publishing in many ways. Just among the magazines I currently or previously have subscribed to, I have seen Smart Money close, Money turn into a onceweekly email, the venerable Sports Illustrated transition from a weekly magazine to a biweekly one, and although I didn’t see any such announcement, Entertainment Weekly has become a monthly magazine based upon the frequency it has arrived in my mailbox the past few months. (Should it be named Entertainment Monthly?) Sadly, this is par for the course. But in MI retail, the number of stores that close really isn’t that high compared to other retail outlets. In one industry I formerly served — drug stores — Fred’s closed 159 stores this year amid poor sales. Thanks to your strong work as retailers, we have not seen anything like this large closure occur for several years at MI stores. But with this said, one recent MI store closure really hit hard. Many of you know the affable Gordy Wilcher, former owner of Owensboro Music in Kentucky. If you don’t, I hope you can meet him some day. He is as friendly as they come and always has plenty of great ideas. His store has been named a NAMM Top 100 dealer on several occasions. And as for Gordy himself, the former NAMM board member and a founding father of the iMSO retail group was a true friend of the Music

& Sound Retailer. On a personal note, he is a true friend of mine as well. Whenever I asked Gordy to help out with editorial in this magazine, be it our annual Independent Retailer Roundtable or our “Music & Sound Independent Retailer” feature, he was more than happy to help. There is no question Gordy will be tremendously missed as a retailer. What’s most unfortunate is the main reason his store closed. It was not due to a lack of a succession plan or a significant decline in interest. Instead, underground construction taking place directly in front of his store doomed the business. “I’m upset because we never got a warning, during the holidays, that the street was going to close,” Wilcher told the Owensboro Times. “I don’t think they intentionally wanted to harm anybody, but when you can’t pay your vendors, they’re not going to ship to you. This whole thing could’ve been handled a lot better. I could’ve made other arrangements to keep my house in order [had I known].” If there is any silver lining to this story, Gordy has not left the MI industry entirely. He continues to serve as an executive at manufacturer MJC Ironworks. I certainly hope you will check out our “Under the Hood” story this month to read an interview we had with Gordy about his new business.

November 2019 Volume 36, No. 11

BRIAN BERK Editor ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor AMANDA MULLEN Assistant Editor

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



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

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


50s Stratocaster The


in Seafoam Green.

Player: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram


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


z z u B Finding a New Rhythm

Bourgeois Guitars, Eastman Music Partner

Bourgeois Guitars has entered into a strategic partnership with Eastman Music Co. Bourgeois and Eastman are currently working to coproduce a series of guitars designed to take advantage of the respective strengths of each company. Bourgeois will be responsible for design, materials selection, voicing, setup and quality control. Eastman will contribute efficient manufacturing and sourcing capabilities and expertise in global distribution. This project builds upon a successful model pioneered by Eastman and its other boutique manufacturing partners. Dana Bourgeois will retain an ownership position in the company he founded, and will remain as CEO, while chief operating officer Christopher Fleming will continue to lead operations and James Cook remains as sales manager. “Indeed,” said Bourgeois, “our entire team will continue to produce acoustic guitars of the highest quality in our Lewiston, Maine, workshop. For many years to come, our partnership with Eastman will allow us continued control over product quality, quality of service and pricing. We look ahead to an exciting future.” Bourgeois Guitars is committed to providing players with handcrafted, professional-grade acoustic steel-string guitars. Eastman Music Co., founded in 1992, has a portfolio including Eastman handcrafted strings, winds, guitars and mandolins, in addition to flute, brass and clarinet companies Wm. S. Haynes Co., S.E. Shires Co. and Backun Musical Services.


Rhythm Tech launched a new website featuring a streamlined interface that’s fully optimized to ensure a seamless customer experience. “The new Rhythm Tech website represents a colossal upgrade from the original site’s framework,” said Rhythm Tech vice president and general manager Gil Soucy. “It features a strong new home page that highlights multiple featured products simultaneously, updated categories to better organize our extensive product library and vital mobile device optimization.” According Soucy, over time, product screens will receive a glossy update, highlighting key features. “This new site allows us to hammer home what is most important and unique about each Rhythm Tech product in a way that really catches the buyer’s eye.” The new site also eliminates clutter by displaying products by model instead of color, resulting in a more consumer- and dealer-friendly experience than ever before. “With every addition and enhancement,” said Soucy, “the new Rhythm Tech website lives up to the standard of quality and excellence that consumers have come to expect from Rhythm Tech instruments and accessories. With the launch of the new site, Rhythm Tech is better equipped for a new generation of players to find the product that best suits their heart’s desire.”

Casio Donates Keyboards and Digital Pianos

Casio teamed up with Notes for Notes (N4N), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that builds, equips and staffs after-school recording studios inside Boys & Girls Clubs and youth facilities, giving youth the opportunity to explore, create and record music for free, by gifting more than 10 keyboards and digital pianos to the organization’s newest studio and more. Among the donations were a Privia PX-S1000 digital piano and a G-Shock Blue Note Record limited-edition timepiece to N4N for a silent auction in Santa Barbara, Calif., geared toward raising funds for current and future studios in partnership with Seymour Duncan featuring the Steve Miller Band. “N4N studios offer students the chance to discover their passions with professional instruments, without the worry of financial burden,” said Stephen Schmidt, vice president of Casio’s Electronic Musical Instrument division. “Casio is proud to be a part of the N4N community to not only help educate youth about music, but also to inspire creativity and encourage freedom of expression.” “N4N was founded on the core belief that music is the universal language of humankind,” added CEO of N4N, Philip Gilley. NOVEMBER 2019


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Bocelli Highlights RCF’s 70th Anniversary RCF Group celebrated its 70th anniversary with “A Night in Laguna,” featuring the voice of Andrea Bocelli. With the Aperol Spritz, Martini cocktails, Prosecco and wines flowing freely, guests were able to further stimulate their taste buds with

a spread of epicurean delights provided by two-Michelinstarred chef Silvio Giavedoni, Quadri Restaurant, Alajmo (Venice). RCF Group CEO Arturo Vicari emphasized that what RCF had really been selling

Evans Gets New Look


loved and appreciated voices in the world.” Bocelli took the stage with a 69-piece orchestra conducted by Carlo Bernini, and for the next 60-plus minutes, guests were treated to their own private recital of populist light opera.


PRS Parts & Accessories

© 2019 PRS Guitars

Evans Drumheads now has a new look and feel, as all drummers will get a more in-depth look into the innovation and technology built into their drumheads. The new packaging will feature an all-new icon system that breaks down the technological elements of every drumhead Evans makes. Each package will have a head-specific icon printed on its label, so consumers can quickly understand and identify their preferred heads by just glancing at the shelf. Along with the icon, the back of the packaging includes the entire Sound Icon System, which is broken up into three sections: thickness, treatment and technology. The thickness is depicted with an outer ring, the background shows the treatment of the finish, and the technology section includes specific symbols defining additional technologies like Hydraulic, Control Ring, Reverse Dot and more. “While we’re only now using the tagline, ‘the most advanced drumheads on earth,’ truth is, that statement could have been made back in 1956 when Chick Evans introduced the first synthetic drumhead,” said Jim D’Addario. “Over the years, Evans became synonymous with game-changing innovation thanks to Hydraulic heads, EQ bass heads and pads. We’re very fortunate to be able to build on this rich legacy with innovations like Level 360, EMAD and UV technology.”

these past 70 years was “emotion” — a fact confirmed by a short company video. This was followed by an audible gasp as the announcement went out that RCF would now be celebrating its milestone in the company of Andrea Bocelli, “one of the most

The new string and cable lines from PRS Guitars are just the latest addition to our wide range of high-quality parts, accessories and wearables. To see what makes our strings and cables special check out our accesory store at or visit an authorized dealer near you.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Brian, Thank you so much for your editorial, “Music for the Greater Good,” (September issue, p. 6). I appreciate how you are standing up and addressing the tragedy of gun violence with a clarion call for more music education. It makes total sense. The fact that many politicians are not yet pointing to the positive impact of music education to improve children’s ability to learn and to thrive means there is something to be done here. Any of us who makes music understands that learning to make music provides extremely valuable opportunities for personal growth, friendship, and the development of beneficial habits, knowledge and abilities. Your outcry deserves our attention as a call to individual and collective advocacy and action. As a developmental educator, I cannot overstate how important it is that school districts restore full funding for elementary music education. It should be foundational to all other learning as a language that carries other languages swiftly and permanently into our very receptive hearts, minds, bodies and spirits. When every study in the news these days gives proof that music making alleviates trouble and builds social, emotional, cognitive, physical and academic success, our local and national leaders should be joining the fight for its place in education. Clearly, it is up to us to help them make this connection.

In fact, given five minutes online, any of us can pull up relevant studies that make a case for music education. Choosing to write to or meet with a decision maker or official to discuss this is a matter of making it a priority, figuring it out and following through, just like we do with anything else. It takes a bit of courage and a bit of persistence, but the results are often remarkable. Doing something proactive is a lot more uplifting than feeling helpless and hoping something changes. What you have written has nothing to do with second amendment rights. It is about healing our culture. I agree that nurturing positivity and resilience through music in young people is key to reducing the violence. They are facing fierce economic competition, over-dependency on technology, social isolation, family stress, growing concern for the future of the planet, and ever-present marketing and messaging through the media. But engagement in the arts can empower them to make it through, and more than this, to develop critical reasoning, to develop the strength to care and the will to meet challenges with resilience. As parents and grandparents, we can’t turn back the clock, but we can move forward with music. I hope your readers will join all of us endeavoring to create musical opportunities for students so that, at school and at home, they experience and embrace music’s joyful and transformative power. I want to encourage your readers to learn about and support the NAMM Foundation. It is doing incredible work literally day and night to move the needle on music education by helping many organizations like Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and many others to create effective music programs for students in need. Absolutely anyone who volunteers, contributes, encourages or leads organizations like ours, or who advocates through their school boards with local decision makers, is accomplishing something valuable through music. Thank you again, Brian, for taking a bold step and sharing your truth. I hope you will keep talking, writing and inspiring all of us with your passion and clarity. Your words are medicine for our times. With gratitude, Jessica Baron Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom Dear Editor, I wanted to thank you for your very thoughtful and great insight in your editorial to the problems of mass shootings in America. Your words of “Music for the Greater Good” (September issue, P. 6) rang so true in your sentences of “Music is a great way to steer our nation’s youth in the right direction. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, being part of a team, improved math skills and stress relief. … we need every music program we can find to occupy our youth.” As a writer, you do not receive the same immediate reaction that we do as musicians. You write and then receive silence. You commented on the lack of presidential candidates finding music as a solution. I sent your editorial to the Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee and the top seven Democratic presidential candidates. In my 43 years of working professionally in music products, I have never seen a fight, a stabbing, a bombing, a mass shooting and hardly a foul word used during our [NAMM] convention of more than 100,000 musicians of many genres. Completely diverse from country to rock, reggae, metal, punk, classical, banda and mariachi, with attendees from 139 countries, we all get along. Rebecca Apodaca, ASA President/CEO/Accredited Senior Appraiser/Authenticator/Restorer of Musical Instruments A & D Music Inc.




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Sonarworks Launches eBook Series

Sonarworks has released a series of eBooks that address some of the most pressing topics music creators face related to recording, mixing and mastering. The first eBook, “Successful Studio Set Up,” discusses key considerations of setting up a home studio, with the overall goal of producing a creative, comfortable and sonically accurate studio space. Topics such as room dimensions, acoustic treatment products, and monitor choice and placement are discussed in detail, with illustrative images and helpful references for specific tools and products. The importance of sonic accuracy at the listening position is explained, since the ultimate goal in monitoring is to predict how music will translate to the outside world when played on consumer headphones and loudspeakers. The second eBook, entitled “Creation and Translation,” focuses on how music creators can articulate their sonic vision more accurately by working in a trustworthy physical space. To create such a space, the user must create optimal listening conditions so they can be confident that the artists’ creations will translate accurately into the outside world. Terms like loudness, volume and frequency response are explained in the context of audio playback and monitoring. “We created this eBook series in response to the questions and feedback we routinely receive from our customers,” said Katrina Allikas, marketing overlord at Sonarworks. “While there are already many

learning resources available on these topics, the technology landscape is changing so fast that many of these resources are no longer as relevant. This eBook series covers the latest innovative technologies while highlighting the key foundational concepts that anyone working in the studio needs to understand.”

QSC Acquires Attero Tech

QSC acquired Attero Tech, manufacturer of networked AV endpoints and I/O peripherals. “This acquisition is a natural next step for our organizations given our long relationship, highly compatible portfolios, and the exceptional shared values and company cooperation that have developed over the last several years,” said Jatan Shah, chief operating and technology officer, QSC. “Both QSC and Attero Tech were early adopters of network audio transport technology, including CobraNet, Dante and AES67. In addition, when QSC expanded the control capabilities of


the Q-SYS Ecosystem in 2017, it allowed Attero Tech to become the first manufacturer partner to independently develop Q-SYS Control integration plugins and has since developed 20 plugins for their portfolio of I/O devices.” “Attero Tech has grown to become the premier provider of innovative, cost-effective audio networking I/O endpoints and AV connectivity solutions,” said Rus Sundholm, president of Attero Tech. “Our catalog of products have a well-earned reputation as highly robust, innovative products within the AV industry. We are excited and confident for the future of our combined organization.” Added Joe Pham, president and CEO, QSC: “This is an exciting time for QSC and I am thrilled to welcome Attero Tech to the QSC family. We look forward to executing an integration strategy that prioritizes the needs of our customers, incorporating Attero Tech into QSC sales, support, service, marketing and training for our channel, while always striving to ensure and maintain a positive customer experience.” NOVEMBER 2019


QRS to Move Piano Roll Production Facility QRS Music Technologies Inc., a designer, manufacturer and distributor of audio, digital and multimedia products, music content, piano technologies, Story & Clark pianos, and other digital audio accessories, is moving its 119-year-old piano roll production facility to Seneca, Pa. Not only is the company moving, but it is also taking the opportunity to rethink the way it will make rolls. The company looks to take advantage of some modern manufacturing techniques and combine them with established manufacturing equipment to eventually enable QRS to manufacture rolls on demand. Current hit titles and low-volume roll order requests would be produced and manufactured easily, allowing the company to offer a wider selection of music on piano rolls. QRS feels a strong obligation

to keeping this slice of Americana alive. In the future, new laser and cutting equipment will not only allow QRS to keep piano roll production going, but the rolls produced can be made with high-quality graphics and greater precision. “We have had a presence in

Buffalo, (N.Y) for close to 60 years now, which makes it that much harder to leave, but these decisions sometimes make themselves. Moving allows us to maintain our goals of keeping the roll business alive, be more responsive to a shrinking cus-

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tomer base, leverage our existing human resources and take advantage of underutilized facilities and equipment,” said Thomas Dolan, president and CEO of QRS Music. “We have plans for the future of piano roll production that will allow us to keep current.”

Chesbro Acquires SHS International

Chesbro Music Co. acquired SHS International and now owns the following brands and trademarks: Indiana Guitar Co., Morgan Monroe, Rocky Top, Eddy Finn Ukuleles, Stone Case Co., SHS Audio, Tune Tech, Stage Mate and distribution rights to Roxtone Cables. Current SHS International customers will transition to the Chesbro Music Co. customer base. Chesbro Music Co. has opened a new sales office in Indianapolis, with Grant Deaton as the Indiana Branch Manager, joined by his team of long-term SHS employees. “We are very excited to welcome SHS International customers to the Chesbro family of music stores,” said Chesbro CEO, Tana Stahn. “SHS customers will be able to purchase our trademark brands that include Teton guitars and ukuleles, Tanara guitars and ukes, and have access to all of the great accessory brands and printed music that we distribute.”

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Note From Zach


Start Future-Proofing Your Business at The 2020 NAMM Show In the last five years alone, we’ve seen nothing short of a retail reinvention. Look no further than the growth of subscription models, the sharing economy, even augmented reality as a way to supplement the in-store experience. (I think of Ikea’s app, which lets you preview how furniture will look in your living space.) Point blank, consumer expectations have changed. And The NAMM Show is your resource to navigate this new normal—an immersion into trends, ideas and contacts to better position your business to thrive. Four days at NAMM go by fast, though. Given that, here are a few insider tips to navigate the show and make the most of your 31 hours in Anaheim. 1. Develop direct relationships with your vendors. The NAMM Show is your once-a-year opportunity to connect with leadership at the brands you carry. But exhibitors are often booked solid by the time the show kicks off. Whenever possible, set up appointments with current and prospective vendors beforehand. I can’t tell you what a difference this will make. 2. See No. 1. (I can’t stress this enough—start booking those appointments now!) 3. Expand your professional network. The NAMM Show has no lack of opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with your peers. The NAMM YP Reception and Women@NAMM events are free, open to members and fertile ground to develop your network. Plus, new NAMM members can check out the New Member Reception on Wednesday evening before the show. 4. Get new ideas to solve pressing business issues. Start planning as early as mid-November when The NAMM Show education schedule goes live on We’ve organized the education programs on the NAMM website and app by program and topic (music retail, audio production and so forth). This makes navigating hundreds of sessions intuitive, so you can easily curate an education schedule for your specific goals.

5. Think beyond your current objectives. The NAMM Show is a playground for discovering new ideas, and you never know where your next opportunity might come from. I’ve heard from retailers who said they picked up creative inspiration from a record producer speaking at TEC Tracks or a discussion on future-forward music-making technologies at A3E sessions. Likewise, the Pro Production and ESTA-curated educational sessions will unveil the world of stage lighting and entertainment tech—and new concepts to grow your enterprise. 6. Find your next best-seller. If you can't get an appointment with an exhibitor, you can still stop by to check out their products. And don’t be shy about asking questions. That’s why brands are there. 7. Connect with experts and your global business community. Here’s a hack: Stick around if presenters are available after their education sessions. Even if you don’t have a specific question for the presenter, you’ll usually be surrounded by like-minded peers facing similar business issues as you—again, another networking opportunity. I’ve seen lifelong friendships, and profitable business ideas, form this way. We can’t wait to see you in Southern California! Zach Phillips NAMM DIRECTOR OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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Discover new ideas through seven targeted education tracks Music Retail


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Lauten Turns to Trent

Alright for Allred

Lauten Audio named Trent Thompson president of sales and marketing. Thompson comes to Lauten Audio directly from Moog Music, where he spent the last eight years leading product marketing and product management for more than 40 successful products, including the Sub 37, Mother-32, Matriarch and Moog One. “Trent and I met in 2007 when he was a sales engineer at Sweetwater Sound. Trent truly believed in what we were doing and played an Brian Loudenslager (left) with Trent Thompson important role in Lauten’s early success with our microphones. Nearly 12 years later, we are pleased to welcome Trent to the Lauten Audio family and excited about what the future holds,” said Brian Loudenslager, Lauten Audio’s founder. Thompson’s new role includes overseeing global sales and marketing for the Lauten Audio brand, as well as managing strategic partnerships, brand activations, artist relations and sponsored activities. Prior to his time at Moog Music and Sweetwater, Thompson spent eight years as a recording engineer, producer and private studio owner in central Florida.

A Slam Duncan

Seymour Duncan named Eric Dorton its national accounts and OEM sales manager. A skilled musician, Dorton also has a highly successful history of brand management, product development and national accounts management in the wine industry. “We are thrilled to have Eric Dorton join our Seymour Duncan family,” said Cathy Carter Duncan. “He has the energy, passion for guitars and customer-centric approach we’ve been looking for.” An avid collector, Dorton currently owns 37 guitars, although over the years more than 400 guitars have passed through his hands, including a 1953 Fender Esquire and a 1971 4-bolt Fender Strat. He is based in Denton, Texas, where he owns a recording studio, and is continuously writing and creating new music.

Guitar Center named Karl Bracken as its executive vice president of merchandising and private brands, and Matt Allred as vice president of merchandising. “I’m pleased to welcome both Karl and Matt to the Guitar Center family as they both bring a wealth of Karl Bracken sought-after assets to the organization,” said Ron Japinga, CEO of Guitar Center Inc. “Specifically, both of these individuals have a deep understanding of how to listen to our customers and turn that knowledge into the most effective merchandising strategy and product innovation that will help position us for elongated success.” Matt Allred Bracken leads the strategic direction of the merchandising and private brands teams across all Guitar Center Enterprise brands, focusing on the goals of delivering a customer-centric product and assortment strategy, driving product innovation and accelerating speed to market. Additionally, Bracken serves as a member of Guitar Center’s executive management committee. Bracken has more than 20 years of experience across supply chain, merchandising and finance. Prior to joining Guitar Center, he served as chief operating officer for Beach House Group, a brand incubator and consumer packaged goods company, where he led the operations, human resources and finance functions. Allred strategically leads and directs merchandising and product initiatives, emphasizing the technology segment. He is also responsible for championing the omnichannel customer experience while managing all aspects of the company’s technology business. Allred brings more than 16 years of merchandising omnichannel experience in retail. Prior to joining Guitar Center, he served as director of fashion at eBay, helping transform its clothing and shoe businesses.

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Nicole Row

QSC’s Joly to Retire; Promotes Two

QSC promoted Anna Csontos to executive vice president, chief market officer and chief of staff, and Markus Winkler to senior vice president, EMEA & APAC. The timing of these leadership changes were in part triggered by Gene Joly’s decision to retire at the end of January 2020. Joly joined QSC in 2016, assuming executive sales and business unit leadership responsibility for QSC’s Live Sound business globally as vice president, QSC Professional. In 2018, Joly was promoted to senior vice president, Americas, adding responsibility for QSC’s Systems business in the Americas. Anna Csontos “Gene’s contributions to QSC have been tremendous and include reinvigorating growth in our Live Sound business and working cross-functionally to lead and guide QSC through some of the biggest and most successful product introductions in QSC history, including TouchMix 30 Pro and the K.2, KS and CP Series loudspeakers,” said Joe Pham, president and CEO. “It’s been a professional and personal pleasure to have Gene part of the executive team at QSC, and I know I speak for everyone in wishing him the very best in his retirement starting in January.” “The possibilities ahead for QSC are tremendous, with the Markus Winkler positive trajectory of our business combined with our innovative technology and product roadmaps, strong network of exceptional partners, and the best live sound, systems and cinema sales and customer-facing support teams in the Americas,” said Csontos. “I’m very excited to work with Gene and Barry to seamlessly transition executive sales leadership responsibilities in the Americas, bring game-changing products and solutions to market, and drive growth and transformation while continuing to delight our partners and customers.”

In Memoriam: Katsuhiko (Karl) Hirano

Katsuhiko Karl Hirano passed away Sept. 28 following a fierce battle with Alzheimer’s. Hirano was an electronic engineer for Yamaha in Japan during the great MIDI boom of the early 1980s. Hirano was a member of the team that gathered at the 1983 NAMM Show to discuss the MIDI spec and agree on the protocol and how MIDI would be engineered into the vast number of new electronic keyboards and synthesizers that were in high demand at the time. Hirano later played an important role in several MIDI organizations, presentations and focus groups, marking an important part of MI’s history.

Panic! At the Disco




In Memoriam: Tracy Allen

Beacock Music’s Tracy Allen, who served the retailer for more than nine years, passed away recently. Previously, she was a member of the team at Sheet Music Service of Portland, Ore., working with David Wood and Michael Sagun. It was there that her love for the print music industry developed and blossomed, and she attended many Retail Print Music Dealers Association conventions. Allen graduated with a piano performance degree from Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore. “She was a great pianist and a wonderful accompanist. She knew so much about music and music theory, that our staff often played a game called ‘Stump Tracy!’ We would challenge our customers and staff to ask her music-related questions. If they could stump her, they won a cookie from our café! Over the 10 years I worked with Tracy, we never gave away one single cookie. She knew her stuff,” wrote Beacock music owner Gayle Beacock.

In Memoriam: Mike Mahoney

Mike Mahoney, the middle son of three, whose parents Owen “Moe” and Isabella Mahoney founded Mahoney’s Professional Music and Drum Shoppe in the early 1960s, has passed away. The Drum Shop was well known and respected in the Las Vegas valley and achieved national recognition as well. Mahoney worked alongside his parents and siblings until the store was sold to S.I.R. (Studio Instrument Rentals, Hollywood) 30-plus years later. Mahoney continued in the industry, founding System Services, which he operated until his death. Mahoney was memorialized in a Celebration of Life gathering on Monday, Oct. 14.


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Add to Your Rig

IK Multimedia announced the iRig Keys 2 series of mobile MIDI keyboard controllers. Building upon the features of IK’s iRig Keys series, these controllers offer new ways to connect and control, updated compatibility, and a new look, stated the company. The iRig Keys 2 Pro offers 37 full-size velocity-sensitive keys, and the iRig Keys 2 features 37 velocity-sensitive mini keys for backpack portability or use in restricted spaces. Each model comes equipped with a variety of convenient top-panel performance controls, plus MIDI in/out for use as a standalone MIDI controller. In addition to offering laptop and desktop compatibility, these ultra-slim MFi (Made For iPhone) controllers connect directly to iPhone/iPad and most Android models. MSRP: $129 (iRig Keys 2); $149 (iRig Keys 2 Pro) Ship Date: Now Contact: IK Multimedia,

D’Addario introduced XT, which it states is a revolutionary new string technology. The first portfolio in a series, it combines highcarbon-steel cores and D’Addario’s most popular alloys with an extended lifespan treatment on every string in the set, giving players enhanced break resistance, pitch stability and long-lasting performance, all while preserving the tone and feel of their favorite uncoated strings. These strings are made to stay, for performance that never fades away, stated the company. XT is available for acoustic, electric, bass and classical guitar, as well as mandolin and banjo. MAP: Starting at $9.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: D’Addario,

The Story Never Ends Alfred Music released new choral arrangements of “The Never Ending Story,” featured in this season’s finale of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” as the kids from Hawkins, Ind., attempted to save the world … again. This



retro blast from the past made its debut in the 1984 fantasy movie of the same title and went on to hit the top of the pop charts in the U.S. and throughout Europe. Arranged by Alan Billingsley, this promises to be an easy-to-teach singer favorite, stated the company. MSRP: SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), three-part mixed and two-part arrange ments: $2.10 each. Accompaniment SoundTrax CD: $29.99. Ship Date: Now US Distributor US Distributor Contact: Alfred, NOVEMBER 2019


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The Guitar in Black

C. F. Martin & Co. and the John R. Cash Trust introduced the DX Johnny Cash. Designed in collaboration with Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, the instrument is a nod to the rich history between Cash and Martin Guitar. In the early 1970s, Martin Guitar was commissioned to design an all-black lacquered D-35 for country star Johnny Cash. Though Martin had never considered such a request before, an allblack D-35 for the “Man in Black” was custom-made. Cash went on to play his custom D-35 on stage for the next 20 years. Johnny Cash’s signature appears on the rosette and label. The model comes with Fishman MX electronics and a soft gig bag embroidered with the “CASH” logo. The guitar is strung with Martin’s Authentic Acoustic Lifespan 2.0 strings. MSRP: $799 Ship Date: Now Contact: C.F. Martin,

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Mackie announced its latest entr y into the portable PA market, the SRM-Flex Portable Column PA System. Featuring a lightweight design, SRM Series sound quality, a full-featured six-channel digital mixer, and complete wireless control and streaming, SRM-Flex is intended for solo acts, small bands, presentations, events, DJs and more. The modular design of SRM-Flex features a 10-inch LF woofer in the molded cabinet base module that also contains a 1,300-watt amplifier and built-in digital mixer. The three-piece tower houses a wide-dispersion array with six-inch by two-inch high-performance HF drivers for clear, whole-room coverage. MAP: $999 Ship Date: Now Contact: Mackie,



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Bass Hit

Electro-Harmonix’s The BASS9 Bass Machine transforms a guitar into nine different basses and requires no special pickups, MIDI or instrument modifications. It relies on the same technology powering all EHX 9 Series pedals, like the MEL9 Tape Replay Machine, but features a new algorithm maximized for transposing one to two octaves down with superior dynamics and tracking. A rotary switch allows the user to select the sound of their choice: Precision pays homage to the iconic Fender P Bass; Longhorn emulates the Danelectro 6-string bass, ideal for baritone type tones; Fretless features both electric and standup fretless basses; Synth is a tribute to the classic Taurus Synthesizer; Virtual lets the user adjust the bass’s body density and neck length for a variety of bass sounds; Bowed offers classic bowed bass; Split Bass makes it possible for the guitarist to play bass on the lower strings (all notes below F#3) and chords or melody with the higher strings; 3:03 is a polyphonic salute to the Roland TB-303 vintage bass synth; Flip-Flop, inspired by EHX’s Octave Multiplexer, provides a ’70s style logic-driven sub-octave generator that tracks without glitches. MSRP: $221.30 Ship Date: Now Contact: EHX,

Get in the Multi-Zone

TASCAM released the MZ-123BT commercial-grade multi-zone audio mixer. The compact, single-rack-space MZ-123BT builds on the popularity and featureset of its big brother, the 2U MZ-223, adding Bluetooth functionality and a simple, intuitive front-panel control design and layout that makes it as easy to operate as it is to install and set up, stated the company. Three music-playback input channels, including one AUX/Bluetooth input, as well as two mic-input channels, allow for a wide range of background music and announcement routing possibilities. This enables discrete mixes of background music and announcements to be routed to individual zones in a wide range of commercial applications, including retail, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels, to name a few. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Tascam,

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Featuring an Amarillo Gold lacquer finish, Fender Musical Instruments Corp.’s The Britt Daniel Tele Thinline guitar’s lightweight semi-hollow ash body resonates sweetly while sacrificing none of the Telecaster’s signature steely clarity, thanks to its Fender Custom Shop pickups and an S-1 switch that allows you to change instantly between series and parallel pickup wiring, stated the company. The one-piece “Deep C” maple neck shape fits comfortably in the hand, and the 9.5-inch-radius fingerboard and medium-jumbo frets allow for fast playing and choke-free bending. Other features include Fender ClassicGear tuning machines, electrosocket output jack and Elite molded hardshell case. MSRP: $1,999 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Fender, NOVEMBER 2019


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I Choose You, Pikachu!

KORG has collaborated with the makers of Pokémon, releasing limitededition models of select characters for the Pitchclip 2 clip-on tuner and the MA-2 metronome. KORG’s Pitchclip 2 tuner offers four variations featuring Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle and Pikachu. A Pokéball appears if there is a tuning discrepancy and illuminates with a beep when tuning is accurate. In addition, the MA-2 new standard metronome for orchestral instruments will now be available in a “Pikachu” or “Eevee” finish, two characters from the Pokémon series. MSRP: $25.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Korg, ad_Odyssey-MSR_Nov2019_(210mmx295mm)_v2.pdf



1:56 PM

Old Town Road

Farida Guitar & Ukulele expanded its popular Old Town Series of acoustic guitars with the 10 Series, a line of parlorsize instruments. The 10 Series features sunburst-finished solid Sitka spruce tops and vintageinspired appointments. The new models are: OT-12: laminated mahogany back and sides; OT15: solid mahogany back and sides; and OT-16: solid pau ferro back and sides. These guitars are built with the same level of fit and finish as Farida’s 20 Series (00-size) and 60 Series (dreadnought size) instruments, but offer a more intimate playing experience, stated the company. Features include a tortoise plastic pickguard, ivoroid ABS binding and three-on-a-plate opengear “arrowhead” tuners. All Farida Old Town Series instruments are built using CITES-free materials. Sidestreet Distributing is the exclusive distributor of Farida in North America. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Farida, MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER











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It’s Got the Power

QSC introduced the KS118 active subwoofer, the newest member of its KS Series subwoofer family. Intended for mobile entertainment, AV rental, event production, clubs and performance venues, it features a long-excursion 18-inch direct radiating driver powered by a 3,600 Watt Class D amplifier. It also delivers high sound pressure levels with dynamic and musical sound reproduction of very low frequencies. On-board DSP optimizes and protects system performance while also offering advanced capabilities such as the ability to array two units in a cardioid arrangement, maximizing low frequency output in front while minimizing unwanted energy around the sides and rear of the system. DEEP mode provides additional low frequency extension and driver excursion processing. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Kristin Goold Contact: QSC,

Put This Deal in ‘Ink’

Pioneer DJ’s SQUID multitrack sequencer, part of its TORAIZ series, can control workflow and gives an end user the chance to develop new styles of music as unique sequence patterns and phrases are created at the touch of a button. Users can connect, sync and simultaneously control up to 16 instruments via its multiple input/outputs. The terminals are compatible with various equipment from DAW and hardware instruments to modular synths, vintage synthesizers and drum machines. Perfect for on-the-fly music production, the layout and controls are effortless to navigate, so ideas will come to life the moment inspiration strikes, stated the company. This production tool enables end users to randomize sounds, sequences and drums, all in key. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Now Contact: Pioneer DJ,

Sound for EONs

Harman Professional Solutions released the JBL EON ONE compact portable PA system. It is a portable, all-inone PA system with Bluetooth that delivers high-quality sound for hours, stated the company. Its eight-inch speaker produces the loudest output and best bass response in its class, and the swappable, rechargeable battery lasts up to 12 hours, the manufacturer added. Weighing in at less than 18 pounds, it features a variety of inputs for microphones, instruments and more, plus a four-channel mixer with onboard dbx EQ and Lexicon effects. Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to stream music and link multiple speakers. MAP Price: $549 Ship Date: Now Contact: Harman Professional,




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Disco Inferno

For consumers and noise-sensitive venues who want to host low- or no-volume dance parties, VocoPro announced its SilentDisco-310 system. Silent Disco offers up to three different styles of music playing at the same time, so no one is left out, stated the company. It includes three wireless transmitters and 10 pairs of rechargeable wireless headphones. The rechargeable wireless headphones offer eight hours of use per charge. The headphones light up in three distinct colors (red, green and blue) to show the program/music to which they are tuned. The wireless transmitter can easily connect to a DJ console or a smartphone to transmit music in up to a 300-foot radius. MSRP: $1,499; ($1,099 MAP) Ship Date: Contact company Contact: VocoPro,

Drum Delight

Drummer Carter McLean’s new book “Drumset Concepts and Creativity” brings his many ideas to the masses to help drummers improve their own skills and find their voice on the instrument. Featuring more than three hours of drum set lesson videos, it covers a variety of concepts, practice ideas, sticking patterns, grooves and creative workouts. The book includes McLean’s “Kaleidoscope” workout, in-depth notated exercises designed to improve your technique while building upon each one throughout. Topics covered throughout the book include: Groove Construction, Phrasing & Musicality, Practice Ideas, Innovative Exercises, Improving Technique, Drum Tuning & Tips, and more. The video demos featured in the book can be accessed online for download or streaming by using a code found on the first page of the book. MSRP: $19.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Hal Leonard, MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER




Complete with 13 chromatic tones, the Lee Oskar Harmonicas Chromatic Tuner (Pitch Pipe) is useful for singers and choirs, and for tuning guitar, ukulele, violin and other instruments. Following the international standard, this product is designed to either be held in both hands or in the user’s mouth so that the instrument can be adjusted with both hands. This pitch pipe is made with the same level of quality as all products in the Lee Oskar Harmonicas system, manufactured in collaboration with Tombo Mfg. of Japan since 1983, stated the company.


Delta, distributed by Lyon & Healy Corp., is a solid-body instrument with cuttingedge audio technology with smooth playability, stated the company. Innovative use of a base, stand or a strap allows end users to play the Delta sitting or mobile, making it versatile for studios and stages. With an extended bass range down to sixthoctave C, the strings of the Delta run over a bridge, offering playing techniques like pitch bending and slides. The bridge pickup system offers a clean sound across the frequency spectrum from crisp highs to pure bass tones, offering end users the “maximum versatility” to develop their sound.

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Alfred Music, in conjunction with Percussive Arts Society, released “Alfred’s Music Playing Cards: Drumset Rhythms.” This deck of real playing cards provides a unique way to familiarize oneself with drumset rhythms in a variety of styles. The deck contains four suits, each representing a different rhythmic style: Rock, Jazz, Afro-Cuban/Brazilian and World.


The Beatseat is a patented sensory instrument that end users play with their hands and feet, all while sitting comfortably upright. It is versatile and covers several markets. It has benefits for the following artists: solo artists/guitarists can add their own percussion with their feet while playing their primary instrument; drummers/percussionists can play with both hands and feet; and music therapists/special needs players can have a full-body experience and feel the omnitones through their entire body. It should appeal to anyone who wants to release anxiety, build positive energy, or just have fun with rhythms and tones, stated the company.




The color-coded CodeDrum from MukikiM adds to the company’s Rock and Roll It category of electronic keyboard and drums. The CodeDrum drum kit includes a spectrum of colors of five drums and four cymbals with hi-hat and bass pedals, drum sticks and headphones. The multifunctional control unit manages seven different drum styles, a variety of demo rhythms to play along with and tempo control to adjust the speed. The record and playback feature lets end users lay down their favorite tracks to listen to over again. It also includes a “Learn to Drum” color-coded instructional songbook.


VOX Amplification has taken the feel and sound of a standard full-sized guitar and created the SDC-1 series; a line of miniature, electric guitars that embody the tonal quality of the real thing, all on a smaller scale. Unlike other mini-sized guitars, the SDC-1’s pitch, tension and tuning of each string are virtually the same as any standard electric guitar, making it an ideal choice for traveling musicians, beginners and intimate studio setups, stated the company. The SDC-1 series uses the scale length from the fifth fret of a standard guitar to the bridge, providing musicians with a more accurate and comfortable way to play compared to other mini-sized models in the market. In addition, chords and fingering are also the same as any standard guitar, and the clever use of heavy-gauge strings provides a soft feeling on the short scale. The special-ratio tuning machine heads deliver a “full-scale” feel for seamless and precise playing. The SDC Mini Guitar series comes in three colors: black, red and white.




In preparation for its 40th anniversary next year, Kyser Musical Products Inc. is remembering its past by channeling the golden era of guitarmaking with a trio of premium capos. Designed with the spirit of history’s most iconic guitar finishes and materials in mind, the series includes maple, rosewood and sunburst variations. Along with their striking aesthetic, they’re thoughtfully designed to supplement the ergonomic functionality of Kyser’s legendary Quick-Change capo, and are available in select finishes for six-string acoustic and electric guitar, stated the company.

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Kepma USA introduced the Populele 2, a smart ukulele made from carbonfiber-reinforced composite. It features fluorocarbon strings, compensated genuine bone saddle and 72 LEDs build right into the fretboard, which show end users exactly where their fingers go. The Populele connects to a smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth, and a free interactive app gives end users everything they need for the most delightful and rewarding learning experience, stated the company. The Populele is now available in black or white matte finish.

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Amahi has made a foray into the non-stringed instrument market with the addition of a Steel Tongue Drum line, currently available in eight-inch, 10-inch and 12inch models. The eight-inch drum is tuned to a C-major diatonic scale, while the 10-inch and 12-inch models are tuned to a D-major pentatonic scale. Each drum is made from high-carbon steel and undergoes a two-step tuning process. It is available in bronze, red, blue, teal and matte black varieties and includes a padded carrying bag and a pair of mallets.

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Although pro audio and DJ products are often featured in the pages of this magazine, stands deserve their due as well. The ProX X-EZTILT is a stand for professional sound and lighting consoles in road cases. It is a heavy-duty stand designed to transfer mixing consoles from vertical case position to the horizontal working position quickly, safely and easily. This stand is designed to prevent the user from the heavy lifting of the case and console and to provide a strong stand to support a console safely. It has a proprietary hinge design, making it easy to open and fold easily and smoothly, and a wide expanding hinge system (up to 38 inches wide) so it can hold mixers of a larger size. It measures 36 inches front to back, and the 30-inch height of the stand makes for comfortable working height. It features black powder-coated high-grade steel for ultimate strength with four-inch non-marring wheels, and is load rated to 650 lbs. maximum load. It has retractable legs with rubber stoppers to prevent tipping and can be used in multiples for larger consoles.




Yamaha’s Pianica is a breath-powered melodica, a small keyboard instrument that is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece. It is designed with musicians of all ages in mind. The Pianica P25F, the beginner model in the series, is made much smaller and lighter than more advanced models, intended for small hands and fingers. It comes with a lightweight carrying case so children can easily take their instrument from home to school, and back, and it is available in a light yellow finish. The Pianica P32D


The Recording King Phil Leadbetter Signature resonator represents years of research and modern construction techniques for a squareneck that delivers one-of-a-kind tone, stated the company. The PL squareneck is built from highly flamed maple, featuring an interior bracing pattern guided and chosen by Leadbetter, a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, himself. Recording King’s hand-spun spider cone complements the sandcast spider bridge for truly professionallevel sound heard on Phil’s recordings and stages around the world. Leadbetter’s signature is inlaid in pearl at the 12th fret, and his sonic stamp is found in every detail of the guitar. It also offers advanced soundpost design; flame maple top, back, sides and neck; Leadbetter signature block at 12th Fret; sandcast spider bridge; and square neck.

(continued on page 53)


and P37D, which have 32 keys and 37 keys respectively, are both ideal models for teenagers that have mastered the beginner model. Both of the instruments have extended octave ranges, thereby giving advanced students the ability to experiment with

a wider variety of sounds and ranges. And the Pianica P37E, the newest and most sophisticated model in the Pianica line, is ideal for parents that want to experience the joy of playing

a musical instrument with their child. The model comes with a convenient soft zippered case, and is offered in brown and black finishes.

Indy Retailer McNicol Added to Maxwell’s House

Maxwell’s House of Music, which has served southern Indiana and Louisville, Ky., for decades, added Jeff McNicol as business partner. “I’ve literally grown up in a music store,” said Mark Maxwell. “It’s so exciting that it keeps evolving, growing and beating all my expectations. I attribute that success to all the great people in my life, especially our staff and teachers. Bringing Jeff in as my business partner is the logical next step of this evolution.” “Now, after several months of deliberation, I couldn’t be happier to be making this investment to live out my dream. I finally feel back at home in the music business,” added McNicol. McNicol’s 24 years of experience running his own family business, until its sale earlier this year, has Jeff McNicol and Mark Maxwell not only built his entrepreneurial abilities, but it has rendered him a highly accomplished musician, too. In addition, the McNicol family is committed to community with its two foundations, The Chitwood Foundation and The McNicol Foundation. It is also involved with Carole’s Kitchen, a program affiliated with Blessings in a Backpack to help feed high school kids with food insecurity. “This partnership is a win-win situation for Kentuckiana. The additional resources, skills, experiences and relationships Jeff brings to the table exponentially increase our ability to keep our promise of ‘We Create Musicians.’ That’s what we’ve always done, and now it’s what we can do even more effectively with Jeff guiding this ship with me,” said Maxwell.

Golden Anniversary for Garten’s

Garten’s Music is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, after the late Harold and Margaret Garten opened the business in 1969. A ribbon-cutting ceremony, the company’s biggestever retail sale and an anniversary party took place the weekend of Sept. 6-8. The Gartens’ daughter, Amy, Cindy and Michael Houston display a Cindy Houston, is proclamation declaring Sept. 6 “Garten’s Music 50th president of GarAnniversary Celebration Day” in the city of Wichita. ten’s Music today. She and her family, husband Michael Houston and daughter Amy Houston, operate the business, which moved from Valley Center, Kan., to its current Wichita, Kan., location in 2000. “My father studied electronics in the service, and when he was discharged, he spent a few years at Cessna,” said Cindy Houston. “And then he got involved in the music business when he went to work for Jenkins Music as a service technician. In 1969, he went out on his own and opened Garten’s Music, again as a service company.” Garten’s provided ser vice for organs in funeral homes, churches, private homes and more. As Garten’s Music’s staff made ser vice calls and talked with customers, the business became more involved in helping them learn instruments and replace instruments that couldn’t be repaired. “Our business in Wichita has really evolved over the years because now, a very small part of our company is service, and a very big part of it is education and sales,” Houston said. Garten’s Music features pianos, organs, guitars and ukuleles for sale and also carries band and orchestra instruments for rent or purchase. In addition, music books and accessories are available at Garten’s. The store houses the Wichita Music Academy, which offers music lessons for students age 5 through adult, and the Goofin’ Around Keyboard Class, which is designed for adult beginners. Garten’s Music teaches more than 15,000 music lessons annually.


Bill’s Music Has New ‘Idol’

Catonsville, Md.-based Bill’s Music hosted Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, a former “American Idol” contestant who made it all the way to the top six. A Catonsville resident himself, Harmon performed a free community concert at Bill’s Music, where he played piano, acoustic guitar and, of course, sang for more than 500 attendees. People came from as far as Ohio and West Virginia, sporting Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon T-shirts they bought at to see Lloyd Harmon live on stage. Bill’s Music sponsored the event in an effort to help the singer raise funds for his independently released album, “Namesake.” Much to the delight of the crowd, Harmon was chauffeured to the stage in a 1961 Jewel Blue Corvette, belonging to Bill Higgins, owner of Bill’s Music, who started the family-owned MI store back in 1965. Harmon then performed an hour-long set, where the only intermission was when he led a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to his 75-year-old “self-proclaimed” No. 1 fan and ran out into the audience to present her with a birthday card and a hug. At the conclusion of the performance, Bill’s Music raffled off an autographed acoustic guitar to one lucky winner, donated by the Breedlove Guitar Co. That wasn’t the end, however. After the show, Harmon stuck around for a meet and greet with fans and didn’t leave until the last autograph was signed. The talented crooner far exceeded his fundraising goal of $25,000 and looks forward to the upcoming release of his first full length album and new single, “Almost Heaven.”

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon being driven up to the stage in a 1961 Corvette by Bill’s team member Derick Louanglath.


time. Big thanks to Musical Innovations for inspiring the next generations of clarinetists, and also to Fox Music and Buffet Crampon and the tireless teachers that put this together. This is the second year of our event, and it nearly doubled. I see the growth continuing year after year.”

Editor’s Note: Tim and Lana Spicer, owners of Spicer’s Music, have embarked on a cross-countr y trip to visit several music stores in an ef fort to learn how to better run their business. For updates on what they found, check out Spicer’s column, “Not Your Average Column,” in upcoming issues of the Music & Sound Retailer.

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Clarinet for a Day

Musical Innovations and its Charleston affiliate, Fox Music House, recently hosted a Clarinet Day at their North Charleston, S.C., locations. The event was co-sponsored by BuffetCrampon and featured Buffet clarinets, Vandoren mouthpieces and other related products. It was co-hosted by Joseph Fox, owner of Fox Music House, and Marilee Barela, Charleston-area clarinet specialist. The clarinet clinician for the day was Andy Hudson, lecturer of clarinet at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. “The clinician, Dr. Andy Hudson, was top caliber,” said Barela. “He got each student excited about music and the school year ahead. Plus, he engaged with parents and gave an inspiring performance. We were incredibly blessed to have him share his gifts with our students at Charleston’s Clarinet Day. The joy he brought to the room and to the students has already been felt by their parents, families and teachers. And I can’t wait to use all of this new information with the rest of my students. The students who are college-bound gained even more experience and setup for auditions. Then, the younger musicians got the opportunity to experience prolevel instruments for the first MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

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Sound. Thinking. 29


JESSICA BUCHANAN District Manager of California, Music & Arts By Leslie Buttonow

Jessica Buchanan has had a long, enjoyable and varied relationship with music, starting from childhood. These days, she shares her love of music with many others, including her employees, their customers and music educators. A former early childhood music educator, Buchanan now oversees a team of retail employees and educators at Music & Arts, which is one of the largest school music retailers and lesson providers in the United States. Founded in 1952, Music & Arts now has more than 500 retail and affiliate locations and teaches over 2 million lessons per year. To further encourage the next generation of musicians, it also supports local school music programs in each community it serves. Buchanan shares some positive thoughts about how music is for everyone — all ages and genders — and about the dynamic shifts she’s seen in music over the 12 years she’s been with her company. She also discusses the important business of raising the next generation of musicians. The Women’s International Music Network: You work for a company that helps young students begin a lifelong relationship with music and helps established musicians continue on the path. What role did music play in your own life growing up? Jessica Buchanan: Music has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started singing with my brothers at an early age while growing up in a small town in Clayton, N.J. There, I had the opportunity to be involved with music programs from elementary to high school. I participated in multiple musical activities, such as band, choir and drama club. These 30

'The smile on a child's face the first time they see the instrument they picked out to play is priceless.'

activities helped me hone in on my passion for music, whether it was listening to a new local band [or] going to concerts, musicals or operas. I wanted to learn and explore more. It has helped me to become who I am and find my voice.

The WiMN: You’re currently the California district sales manager for Music & Arts. Please share a bit about what you do in that role and what skills are good to have for this type of position. Buchanan: Every day, I get the chance to work with an amazing team and share the joy of music with everyone — from visiting the local schools and learning about their music programs, to hiring educators to teach in our lesson program, to developing teams to share and help customers find their passion in music. The smile on a child’s face the first time they see the instrument they picked out to play is priceless. Over time, I have developed a range of skills such as: Integrity: doing what’s right for the customer and for my team. Motivation: having passion for music and wanting to

share that with others. Leadership: leading by example, helping with any and all projects. Willingness: thinking outside of the box and staying positive with any challenges that may occur. Teamwork: My team works incredibly hard to assist all of our customers, lesson teachers and students, and it takes teamwork to make that possible.

The WiMN: How did some of your previous positions, such as a music teacher and a buyer, help to prepare you for your current job? Buchanan: At the time, I had no idea that my past job experiences would provide me with the skills for my career today. I’ve always wanted to be a music teacher; that’s what I was going to do. Life happened, and things changed. These experiences allowed me the opportunity to work with some incredible mentors who taught me about the bigger picture — the hours a music teacher takes to find the right music to teach, the planning that happens to get ready for a concert, or the time and effort that goes into finding the right products that are best for NOVEMBER 2019

a customer. It helps me relate to local music teachers and the customer who is trying to decide whether a guitar or a saxophone best suits their needs.

The WiMN: Have you seen any new trends in the ways people are making music or the types of products that are currently hot? Buchanan: The digital world is changing everything — how we listen to, record and perform music. It can all be done with a touch of a button on a handheld device utilizing products and brands such as IK Multimedia’s iRig, TASCAM products, music apps and YouTube. The WiMN: Throughout the time you’ve been working in musical instrument lessons and sales, have you seen any forward momentum in terms of girls participating in music lessons or purchasing instruments that were traditionally played by more males, such as guitar or drums? Buchanan: Absolutely. Guitar paired with songwriting stands out. I am amazed at the next generation of musicians. I’ve seen the confidence in some of the young women showing they are not intimidated by anyone when they play drums, have a guitar solo or get up on the stage to perform a song they wrote. I’m excited to see where it takes them and [that they’re] getting rid of the stigma that playing guitars or drums is only for boys. It is for anyone! The WiMN: And your lessons aren’t just for kids. Adults can take lessons from Music & Arts, too. Have you seen adults taking lessons, and what are some advantages of learning a musical instrument at one of your locations? Buchanan: Yes! We have a student who is taking violin lessons, and he is 92 years old! Lessons are for any age, whether MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

you’ve played an instrument when you were younger or never before. The teachers in our locations put their hearts and souls into teaching. Lessons are customized to each individual student and

what their needs are for learning their instrument. We all get to see the process from when they take their first lesson to watching them perform at our open-mic nights or student recitals. The support and

encouragement are contagious for all the students, for each other. They essentially become part of the Music & Arts family. We share our passion and help you find yours.


DALE KREVENS Vice President, Tech 21 USA Inc. By Brian Berk Clifton, N.J.-based Tech 21 has now been an MI mainstay for 30 years. Dale Krevens has been with the company the entire time. She recalls how and why it all got started, why the company is called Tech 21 and even talks about Bernie Williams, the great MI ambassador who uses its products. Any interview with Krevens is a fun and interesting read. This is no exception.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Let’s start with your career and how you’ve gotten to the place you are today. Dale Krevens: Originally, I was in marketing and advertising. I met [Tech 21 founder] Andrew [Barta], and he started to tell me about this thing he invented. I said, “What is it?” I didn’t get it. I said, “How could you possibly do that? It makes no sense. How could you make a small little pedal that sounds like a cranked-up Marshall?” I grew up around music. It’s always been a part of my life. My brother is a guitar player, so I knew what a 100-watt amp sounded like. I hung out at band practice. I always listened to guys talking about gear. Somehow, through osmosis, I managed to retain all this information enough to understand it. Andrew brought a “black box” to my apartment and plugged it into my stereo. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I said, “That’s ridiculous. That’s amazing. That’s incredible. Wow, what are you going to do with it?” He said he planned to sell the technology. He went to all the large manufacturers and spent two years trying to sell it. Nobody was buying. They didn’t understand it. So, I said, “Hey, the writing is on the wall. You have to do it yourself.” He said, “I don’t want to do it.” I said, “Yes you do.” He talked to a few other people and finally said, “Alright, I will give it a shot.” That’s how Tech 21 started. I helped by naming the SansAmp. I had a creative team at my disposal at the agency where I was working that helped design the ads, which I placed through the agency. I wrote all the copy. I wrote the owner’s manual. In fact, I still write all the owner’s manuals. Eventually, I left the agency to work with Andrew full time. I figured [Tech 21] would be fun for a few years. I never imagined it would go on this long. And now, here we are, 30 years later! It’s crazy! 32

The Retailer: Where did the name Tech 21 come from? Krevens: We were batting a few names back and forth and said it should be something tech or tech something. Andrew said, “How about Tech 21?” I said, “I like it, but what’s the 21 for?” He said, “21st Century.” It just worked. We must have had a list of 300 names for the SansAmp, and none of them were working for me. I said I want ‘amp’ in the name, and it was important to me because that’s what distinguished it from every other pedal and gave some indication what it was about. It was a brand-new thing no one ever did before. It was literally an amp in a box, but I didn’t want to call it an amp in a box. I was just trying to come up with something clever [that] made sense. SansAmp popped into my head out of nowhere, ‘sans’ meaning without in French, but I sat on it for three days. I wanted to make sure I liked it. I told Andrew SansAmp and he said, “I like it!” There is such a good synergy in the way we work together and how we think. The Retailer: Can you think of any bad names you had for the company or product? Krevens: No. We used to sit in my apartment, and Andrew would pace back and forth shouting out names. I don’t know what happened to the list [of names we had]. I have looked through papers, hoping one day I would find the list. But I haven’t been able to find it. We did have some crazy names though. It’s a stream of consciousness. You throw out names to see what sticks. You just know it when the right name hits you. The Retailer: Can you tell us about some of the products you offer? Krevens: The SansAmp technology is in al-

most everything we make. Our latest product is the Fly Rig series. It is doing exceptionally well. We are really happy about it. It is literally a fly rig because it has the SansAmp in it. It is not just a multi-effects unit. There are tons of those on the market. You have the amp and the necessary effects. You can just take that with you. You don’t have to worry about flying, baggage check, security and all the other stuff. It’s the perfect rig to travel with. We also have lots of different varieties. There is a bass version, acoustic version and three for guitar: Richie Kotzen signature RK5, Paul Landers signature PL1 and now an updated version of the original Fly Rig 5.

The Retailer: What are some of the keys to your success during this 30-year period? What will it take to keep being successful? Krevens: Andrew has no shortage of ideas, which amazes me to this day. He still runs into my office and says, “I have an idea.” I tell him, “We haven’t finished the last three or four ideas you had, and you are on to the next thing.” (Laughs) He never stops thinking. His brain is going 24/7. He gets really excited about these ideas. The key is doing things that are different and unique. It’s an important factor. Andrew likes to do things that haven’t been done before. Andrew is a visionary. He sees things that other people don’t. The other key is, the SansAmp technology is all analog. Andrew is a stickler for staying with analog. He loves it. He says it sounds better. And it really does, especially to us “older folks” who have grown up on vinyl. You can hear the difference. And you can feel the difference. Your ears are analog, and all sounds in nature are analog. And as Andrew says, it has infinite resolution, which it does. Digital just doesn’t sound as warm. Analog sounds more organic and natural. The Retailer: How well is the market doing for amplifiers, effects and pedals right now? Krevens: The pedal market is very healthy. There are thousands and thousands of pedals out there. It is good and bad. You have to fight for visibility. Luckily, we have an established reputation. That’s the most important thing you can have in business. It is such a crowded marketplace, but wow, [pedals] sell. It’s crazy. In terms of rigs, people are downsizing. That’s why our Fly Rigs are doing really well. People don’t want to carry around these big, heavy amps anymore. The funny thing is they are scaling down their amps, but their pedal boards are getting bigger and bigger. I don’t see this industry ever going away. The acoustic market is really big now. You have all these singer/songwriters thanks to NOVEMBER 2019

reality shows. Big stars inspire younger players. That’s really good. I’m happy to see that. Video games might be waning a bit — I’m not sure, I was never a big video game player, nor was my daughter — but I know they were insanely popular. A lot of people used to be into “Guitar Hero.” I don’t know how well that is doing now. I do know there are constantly more people taking up instruments and playing and I think it will always be like that.

The Retailer: Except for “Fortnite,” where a kid won $3 million. Krevens: Well, you can play poker and win $3 million too. The difference is, if you play a video game and get to a point that you get really good at it, what’s next? There is no next. You have nothing to show for all the time and effort you put into it. When you play an instrument, you have to keep playing it, keep practicing it and better your craft. There is an inexplicable emotion and passion you get from listening to music and from making music. There’s so much personal satisfaction that you get with improvement. You can always strive to get better and better, no matter how old you are and how long you have been playing. As NAMM used to say, “Music Makes You Smarter.” The Retailer: Things have been good economically recently, but we have perhaps seen some alleged “cracks.” Would that in any way affect your business? Krevens: We are not seeing any cracks. We are very fortunate that whatever is affecting people out there is not hugely impacting us. The Retailer: Getting back to your company, on your website, you have a large librar y of videos of both inter views and product demos on your site. What is the idea behind this, and has it helped both retailers to sell your products and consumers when playing them? Have you seen tangible results from it? Krevens: I can’t say there are specific tangible results. But we have a lot of views on those videos. People go to YouTube to learn everything today. YouTube is the modern day encyclopedia. People watch a lot of videos and comment on them. It’s actually quite helpful to get feedback directly from the market, be it positive or negative, so we know what they’re thinking. Videos are extremely important in terms of showcasing your gear, whatever you are selling. It’s not just the music industry. It is true everywhere. The Retailer: Instead of calling famous musicians who use your products artists, you call them your “Hall of Fame.” How did that idea come about? MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Krevens: To me, it seemed like an obvious thing to do. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I thought this is the Hall of Fame, because it is the famous people who are using our products. I think it makes people pay more attention when they’re considering products that are used by artists they look up to.

The Retailer: One of your Hall of Famers is Bernie Williams, perhaps the greatest ambassador MI has today. Krevens: We adore Bernie. He is so fantastic. I don’t remember how we met Bernie, but it was quite a few years ago. We just hit it off. He started using the Roto Choir and then got the Richie Kotzen signature Fly Rig. He is a sweetheart and such a great player. When you are a great player and nice, all the better. He is also such a humble guy who does a lot of charity work, including music education in schools and the NAMM Advocacy Fly-In. I could go on all day about Bernie.

Krevens: We always have new products at NAMM. We have a couple of new products we are hoping to release before NAMM. With any luck, one might even be out when this issue reaches the readers. I can say we will have a signature pedal come out with an artist at a major band we haven’t worked with before, which is very exciting. That should be out before NAMM. We will have another big product, which I can’t talk about. (Laughs) I can’t even drop a hint. We will have a couple of other new things that will make their debuts at NAMM as well. Andrew gets really excited about every new product. It’s really fun to watch. It makes me smile every time.

The Retailer: MI retailers are clearly ver y important to your business model. What is your approach when making sure you have a great relationship? Krevens: Relationships are critical to our business. Whether with a supplier, retailer, artist or distributor, it’s all about the relationship. We communicate with them all the time to determine what’s working and what’s not working. We always ask if they need help. Also, when we sign up a new retailer, we don’t make them buy $50,000 worth of products. And we don’t require them to take “slow movers” along with the package. Our buy-in is not that big, and if they want to order something we think will not sell quickly, we will say, “How about you get this instead?” We want them to be successful. We are very happy we have such long-term relationships. There are retailers we have been doing business with since day one. In fact, Sam Ash was our first music store, and we still do really well with them and have a great relationship. We want everyone to be happy. If they are not happy, how does it benefit us? The Retailer: It is definitely too early, but can you reveal any details about what your plans might be for The NAMM Show? 33



There’s nothing like New England in the fall. If you’re a fan of foliage like the MI Spy, there are few things better than driving down a winding New England road with the canopy looking like a kaleidoscope of colors overhead. The air is as crisp as an heirloom apple — ideal hoodie weather, which is a major plus for those of us who like to remain inconspicuous. And you’ll find no better place to indulge all of your favorite autumnal activities, from hayrides and haunted houses to pumpkin picking and cider sipping. In other words, New England in the fall is the perfect place to conduct an MI Spy mission … at least, that’s what I told the Chief back at HQ. Fortunately, the Chief just so happened to be looking for a report on the MI scene in the college town of New Haven, Conn., and its surrounding areas. The timing couldn’t have been better; I would be able to enjoy the New England autumn to its fullest before winter arrives and turns the whole Northeast into a depressing gray slush pile. So I hopped in the old Aston Martin, cruised down the Merritt Parkway, and took in the sights as I planned my cover stor y. Inspired by the trees and their changing leaves, I decided to mix things up a bit for this mission: This month, your MI Spy would play the part of a parent looking to buy a trombone for a student musician. A few notes about New Haven: It is a leafy, historic city of 125,000 that dates to the colonial period and is best known as the home to Yale University. Because of the school’s size and reputation, the city has a decidedly academic vibe, in addition to being home to a thriving arts and theatrical scene. All these things have made New Haven a popular destination for both weekenders from nearby New York, as well as visitors from much farther afield. The icing on the cake: The Discoverer blog recently chose New Haven as Connecticut’s best among the “coolest cities in each U.S. state.” Added together, these factors should make this small metro a great area in which to operate a musical-instrument store. 34

The Sam Ash chain has roots in the Northeast, and Greater New Haven is no exception. This Sam Ash is barely within New Haven’s city limits, straddling the city line with the affluent suburb of Woodbridge, fronting Connecticut Route 63 (Amity Road). This district of New Haven is officially known as Westville and has its own downtown farther south on Route 63. It’s a genteel area of older colonial and Tudor style homes, and one might surmise that a great deal of its residents are Yale professors. The Sam Ash location occupies a standalone building in a shopping district with lots of other standalone buildings. Next door is a music school, and a large Toyota dealer is across the street. The midsize store is divided into three walled rooms, with its brass-and-woodwinds section in the middle. When I went there early on a weekend evening, nobody else was in the room. A man wandered into the brass-and-woodwinds section with a boy of perhaps 12, followed by a salesperson. They were shopping for a cello (perhaps a better name for the section might be “school instruments”) and found what they needed in short order. This Sam Ash outlet gets almost five stars on Yelp for service, and your MI Spy’s query about a trombone was handled with similar dispatch. The salesman gave me the lowdown on the pros and cons of each model, the costs to rent an instrument, and the price tag for purchasing new versus used trombones. There were several new models hanging on the wall in plain sight, as well as a used trombone. The lowest-priced model was the Benjamin Adams TB-100, priced at $219. Also on display was the Jean Baptiste ST 390, priced at $359. Both instruments come in a package that includes the instrument case and mouthpiece, as well as the trombone itself. The salesman explained that the Jean Baptiste offered several advantages for a beginner. “The machining on the slide is better, which makes it less ‘sticky,’” he said. “We also have noticed that the metal used is less susceptible to dents.” He added that the Jean Baptiste ST 390 is built to last longer than lower-priced trombones. The highest-end model available, the Yamaha YSL-354, represented a steep jump in price. It lists as $1,337 on the Sam Ash website, but discounts are likely to be had in late summer or at the beginning of each school year. It would be appropriate for the most serious of music students, such as those in high school or college.

Sam Ash Music 95 Amity Road New Haven, CT 203.389.0500


Next up on my list was the Music Center of North Haven, which lies along busy U.S. Route 5 in a middle-class town that’s to the immediate northeast of New Haven proper. The store occupies a standalone building in an area that consists mainly of warehouses and industrial parks. Ample parking is available, and a banner out front testifies to the store’s popularity in the community. Inside, a series of wall frames chronicles the store’s place as a perennial favorite pick among readers of a local newspaper. The interior of this store is unusual in that about half of what might ordinarily be a showroom is taken up by tables, chairs, a small stage and a bar of sorts. No doubt it provides a performance space for the young people (as well as adults) who enroll in the robust array of music classes the store hosts. A lattice divider and several potted plants separate the stage from the entry door. Your MI Spy’s 6 p.m. visit coincided with what seemed to be the most popular time of day for visiting the store, as the man who proved to be its owner juggled two customers (one with a kid in tow) and a long informational phone call. Nearby, a teenage girl in braces browsed through several displays of sheet music. A drum set was located right in the middle of it all, and a boy of perhaps 10 beat softly on it and the cymbals that formed part of the set. (He was surprisingly good!) The store heavily promotes its popular instrument rentals, as well as its rent-to-own program, for several key reasons. A 10-month rental can be had for a flat $159 per month, which covers any repairs made during that period. The owner noted that student musicians can be fickle, and renting gives both parents and students the flexibility to change their choice of instrument without incurring much of a financial penalty. Conversely, the rent-to-own program lets the parent apply some of the money expended on a rented instrument toward its eventual purchase should the student decide he or she likes playing it. “We offer the lowest-cost rentals in the state,” the store’s owner said. “In addition, our rent-to-own program has the lowest cost.” The rent-to-own program takes some bite out of what can be an expensive outlay, he explained. “A brand-new trombone runs anywhere from $795 on up,” he said. The store also does a brisk business in used instruments, and there was a wide assortment on the wall next to the checkout counter. Used models included woodwinds, a trumpet and a Mandini trombone priced at $399.

The Music Center of North Haven 473 Washington Ave. North Haven, CT 203.234.8865

The New Haven area’s oldest music store, Goldie & Libro, is right down the street from The Music Center of North Haven. Goldie & Libro moved to its present location 15 years ago from downtown New Haven, where it had been since its founding in 1920. Across Washington Street is a new Amazon warehouse that, according to reports, will employ as many as 1,500 people when it’s fully up and running. (Your MI Spy wouldn’t mind conducting some espionage in there!) Goldie & Libro also heavily promotes its rental and rent-to-own business, and an associate explained how it all works. A trombone is

Goldie & Libro Music Center 380 Washington Ave. North Haven, CT 203.239.2263


considered by the store to be a “Group A” instrument, which is the least expensive to rent. A 10-month trial — which spans the entire school year — costs $180, including the fee for the loss/damage waiver (LDW) and sales tax. Should the student be somewhat unsure about his or her choice, the store offers a four-and-a-half-month trial for $21.27 per month. This includes a heavily discounted rental fee of $20, as well as sales tax; the LDW fee is waived for this period. After either the four-and-a-half or 10-month trial, the rental becomes $31.91 per month. With a nod to the Amazon facility across the street, the associate noted that independent instrument stores still have a key role to play in serving the musical community and budding musicians. She stressed that it’s important for consumers to deal with someone who knows about music — especially parents who didn’t take music lessons themselves. “People are buying more things online these days, including musical instruments, which are often used,” she said. “But it’s not a good idea. They might pick up something for $200 and think it’s a bargain. Then they bring it in here for a tuneup and find it needs $500 worth of repair work to be usable.” For purchasing, the store’s owner strongly recommended one of two models. “The best on the market for students is the Yamaha YSL354, which is on sale for $849 for the back-to-school period,” he said. “In addition, the Blessing BVB from St. Louis Music is good buy at $699. We don’t sell as many, but it is a very good instrument.” All Things Musical was by far the most pleasant, aesthetically speaking, of the four stores I visited on this mission, owing in large part to the remodeled barn it occupies. The store sits within a shady, mixed residentialcommercial condominium on the busy Connecticut Route 10 in the northern part of Hamden. It’s near the popular Sleeping Giant State Park and Quinnipiac University, well known for its political polling. The barn building appears to have preceded the newer residences, offices and stores, and sits in the middle of the complex. It has two levels, and when you walk inside, the atmosphere is that of a gift shop in a resort town, complete with musical wind chimes. From the classrooms upstairs came the pleasant sounds of budding cellists. All Things Musical functions as a school as much as a retail establishment, which was also the case with the two North Haven retailers. There weren’t a lot of instruments on display here. As with the other stores, All Things Musical offers a rent-to-own program, and most band instruments are available through the store’s rental program. For a student trombone, all instruments cost a flat fee of $71.79 for a three-month period or $146.23 for 10 months. Should the student or parent wish to purchase the instrument, $77 is credited toward the purchase price. The trombones are all R.S. Berkeley University Series Bb models. “All of the instruments are used, but are thoroughly reconditioned and come with an excellent warranty,” said the salesperson. “The University Series has a list purchase price of $975. We sell it for $589, a discount of 40 percent.” The salesperson also noted that the store uses R.S. Berkeley trombones because of the company’s reputation for quality. This particular model would be considered mid-range, she said. “They aren’t low-end models,” she said. “Anything you purchase from us will be something that will last for the duration of a (continued on page 50)

All Things Musical 3210 Whitney Ave. Hamden, CT 203.230.9715



Communication Breakdown

Three rules for leveraging internal communication to increase your team’s productivity By Will Mason

If cash flow is the lifeblood of a healthy organization, communication is the nervous system. Think of your brain and all of the nerves that connect it to the rest of your body. Your brain is constantly processing information coming from your sensory organs — eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin — and no part of your body can move without getting a signal from your brain. This flow of information is essential to your every move: thoughts, decisions, actions. When you get a headache, you are less productive, less able to focus and hold your attention to a task, and your judgement is less than optimal. Your organization is similar. If the nervous system is working at less than 100 percent, the business’ output will be less than its potential. Think of all the wasted time and missed opportunities due to communication breakdowns. Below is a story of an imaginary company, Gina’s Guitar Emporium. This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental … But it may sound eerily familiar. • Forty-five minutes of Monday-morning meetings are spent reviewing a metric dashboard. Gina, the CEO, loves to get “in the weeds” on numbers. However, the rest of the team is looking at their phones, wondering when this meeting will be over so they can get back to work. Eight people in the meeting times 45 minutes equals six hours wasted. • Paul takes a special order over the phone but forgets to copy billing on the email to the vendor, Sandman Amps. Two weeks later, when Ryan (the bookkeeper) is catching up on purchase orders, he sees a sale in the point-of-sale for an item that isn’t in inventory and has to reach out to Paul to ask the vendor for a copy of the invoice. Ryan’s time being interrupted to track down a missing invoice equals one hour wasted. • Ryan is upset with Paul because of the time that has been wasted, so he sends him a snarky email titled “3rd request for the invoice from Sandman Amps” that says “I’m still waiting on that invoice from Sandman. How hard is it to stop playing on your phone and call them?” The rest of the afternoon, Paul has multiple conversations with the three other sales team members, Liz, Hunter and Kyle about the email, even showing it to them on his phone. They are so busy talking, in fact, that the floor manager, Ron, reprimands them for ignoring a customer who is browsing the guitar section of the store. Paul and the sales team’s gossip time equals three hours wasted, plus a lost sale. As you can see, wasted time adds up quickly! These are all very typical situations and have cost this company 10 hours of lost time, plus a lost sale. The worst part is, all of this is 100-percent preventable! Let’s look at some simple concepts to help improve your company’s communication and reduce wasted time. 36




02 Rule

Don’t Break Up Over Text/Don’t Hold Meetings That Could Be Emails

One of the mistakes Gina and her team made is choosing the wrong platform of communication for a particular type of information. I’d like to share with you a concept that has drastically changed the way my company communicates. We learned this from Julie Funt at the Global Leadership Summit in 2018. Funt is an incredible public speaker, and she has a super practical tip for deciding what platform to use to share a particular type of information. She refers to two categories of information and platforms: 2D and 3D. 2D Information types: simple yes/no, data-driven communication 2D Communication platforms: text, email, messaging services (gchat, slack, groupme, etc.) 3D Information types: emotional, complex, nuanced 3D Communication platforms: meetings, in-person conversations, phone calls The problem we run into frequently is when we use the wrong platform for a communication type. We’ve all been in meetings (I know I’ve led meetings like this myself) where the conversation gets bogged down in details, and everyone is wondering, “Why couldn’t this just be an email?” or thinking, “I can read!” That’s what happened in Gina’s Monday-morning staff meeting. A 2D type of information found its way into a platform better suited for 3D communication. Even more dangerous is the opposite mismatch; a 3D communication being attempted over a 2D platform. Think about Ryan’s snarky email to Paul. It’s not that Ryan was wrong for feeling frustrated. It just would have saved a lot of time if he had walked into Paul’s office and had a direct conversation with him. Hiding behind a keyboard and sending “hot” emails rarely gets the results one is hoping for. Think of this as the “don’t break up over text” and the “don’t hold meetings that could be emails” rule: Anything that has the potential to involve feelings needs to be communicated in person or at least over the phone, and anything that can be sent in an email doesn’t need to be in a meeting agenda.

No Gossip Allowed


Need To Know Rule

All of that time spent on the sales floor talking about the situation could have been eliminated if Paul and Ryan had gotten together and hashed things out. This type of communication is vital to repairing working relationships and should be done frequently and soon after an incident. If Paul had remembered to send the invoice to the billing department, at least an hour of Ryan’s time could have been saved. A simple question to have your team ask themselves is “Does everyone who needs to know, know?” The opposite is also helpful if you have a team that copies everyone on every email. “Is there anyone who doesn’t need to know who I’m about to tell?”

Following these three simple (but not easy) rules will make a massive difference for your organization. Test these ideas out and let me know what you think on Twitter @goodwill314. NOVEMBER 2019



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By Allen McBroom


As a big fan of old movies, especially sci-fi and horror films from the 1930s-1950s (think Karloff as “The Monster” and Lugosi as “Dracula”), I probably spend too much time in front of the TV. I watch ver y little current-era TV, except for two programs on The Histor y Channel: “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars.” Despite some of the contrived scenarios in those shows, I enjoy the back-and-forth banter between the buyers and sellers. If you’ve ever watched “Pawn Stars,” you’ve probably nodded your head, perhaps vigorously, as Rick tried to explain to a hopeful seller that, if an item’s value is $3,000, he can’t pay $7,000 for it. He also can’t pay $5,000, or $3,200, etc. As music store owners, we’ve all had that same experience. As a matter of fact, I went through it today. A lady came in with a used Squier Affinity Strat and wanted to sell it. Me: How much are you expecting to get for it? Her: Three or four. Me: Three or four what? Her: Hundred. I finally bought it for less than $50. Had I charged for the time I spent explaining why it was only worth X dollars instead of $300-$400, she would have owed me instead of me owing her. This got me to thinking about all the different approaches we encounter from prospective sellers, and I made a short list of the types we run into. It’s certainly not all-inclusive, but I expect you’ll recognize some of these sellers from the transactions you’ve had in your store. So, here’s the short list of used gear seller definitions. The Internet Expert. These sellers usually come in with some piece of gear they know little to nothing about, and when I ask them how much they expect to get out of it, they start off with “Well, I looked it up on the internet, and…”. Further enlightenment for this seller is doubtful but not impossible. Let’s say they have a used Mexican Strat, and they found new USA Strats online for $1,399, so all Strats are worth $1,399. Usually, some discussion will cast doubt on the infallibility of the internet, but you have a less-than-50-percent chance of buying the Mexican Strat at a price where money can be made. The Detached Seller. This seller is rather nonchalant about selling, never has a price in mind and frequently gets around to making this statement: “Really, I just want to get rid of it.” We all know that’s not what they want, and we also know they have a price in mind. If they just wanted to get rid of it, they could have donated it to the church mission auction, but that option never seems to dawn on them. Instead, they go to a business looking to sell it. When they also say they don’t care how much they get for it (usually a number defined as “just whatever”), you can usually get them to own up to having a number in

mind by offering them $20. “Just whatever” quickly becomes “My uncle told me not to take less than $500 for this because ...” This is another buyer who eschews enlightenment, and the chance of buying the gear at a favorable price is low. The “You Tell Me” Seller. These are the sellers who insist that I tell them what I’ll pay for whatever they’ve dragged in, and I pretty much never name the first number. They always claim to

A GUIDE TO USED GEAR SELLERS have no idea what it’s worth, so, “you tell me what it’s worth.” These are easy to deal with. I usually just tell them to do some research, and when they know how much they want for it, come back to see me and we can discuss it. Speaking of research … The Researcher. This seller comes in with a load of questions. “What’s it worth?” “What will you pay for it?” “A guy offered me $300, is that a good price?” “The pawn shop offered me $400, but I don’t trust them, what will you pay?” This guy is, almost without exception, a waste of time. He wants me to put a value on his stuff because I’m the expert, and then he’ll make sure not to take one penny less than whatever I say, but there’s no way he’ll sell it to me, because “You just told me it’s worth more than that.” Unless you’re having an ultra-slow day, make the conversation with this guy short. The Overly Agreeable Seller. This is the seller who comes in and tells you right off the NOVEMBER 2019

bat that they’ll take whatever you offer. This is the 6'4'', 300-pound guy with a sterling silver flute who says, “Just make me an offer on this trumpet.” I could say, “$30 and I won’t call the cops,” and he’d take it, because it’s obviously not his, and it’s likely stolen. Avoid this seller at all costs. No matter the deal, just tell him “not interested.” The Anxious Seller. This is the seller who really, really needs some cash for rent or the light bill, and she’s selling the clarinet her momma bought her in the sixth grade. The seller’s facial expressions tell me immediately that she’s short on cash and doesn’t really want to sell, but her back is against the wall and she has no other choice. These are the hardest sellers to talk to, because whatever they are selling has limited value, I really don’t want to buy it, but they really need the cash. This is a whole different category of seller, and a lot of compassion is needed. Sometimes, I try to connect them to someone who needs it. Sometimes, I tell them I’ll give them X number of dollars, but they should try to get more first. If they can’t get more than my offer, I’ll make that offer

good through tomorrow. These are the sellers that unscrupulous buyers can take advantage of, so I give them all the details about what they are selling, what an individual should expect to pay for it, etc. While I usually don’t want what they are selling, someone will, and I try to help them maximize their return. The Professor. The Professor is the seller who is too smart to sell me what he’s got. After some brief internet research, he has decided his item is worth the internet price plus 20 percent. Let’s say the Professor has an older Pearl kit that sells used anywhere for about $500, so he wants $600. The professor knows how the game is played, and he’s willing to let me talk him down to paying only $500. When I tell him it will sell in our store for $500 (after I put on new heads and clean it up), and I’m willing to pay him half of that, he’ll leave in a huff because I’m trying to “rip him off.” Chances are he’ll be back in a few days willing to take $450. In a few months, he’ll come back looking for the $250 (he’s about out of gas and it’s the weekend), and if I’m loaded with new kits, I may pass on it altogether. Honestly, the very best thing to do on the Professor’s first trip to the store is to pass altogether or make an offer that’s good for only one hour. My Favorite Seller. This is the player who has a cool piece of gear, often vintage gear, and he brings it to us because he just doesn’t want to fool with meeting up with tire-kickers and showing it umpteen times to buyers who don’t have the money. He knows what it ought to sell for, and he wants 50 to 60 percent of that, because he wants to be fair. This seller is on our perpetual Christmas card list. There are a lot of other definitions we could apply to used gear sellers — the seller of a rare guitar autographed by a famous guy we’ve never heard of, the three family members who inherited Uncle Claude’s old Silvertone acoustic that’s worth a fortune, and the list goes on and on. Feel free to add your favorites in the margin. Happy trails.


Loyalty Is Everything (But Not the Way You Think)

By Gabriel O’Brien Customer loyalty is something I’ve spoken to many retailers about in the last 15 years. The rise of internet sales giants and price wars have eaten away at margins, shrunken customer bases and driven plenty of stores out of business. Consumers expect your knowledge and service when it suits them, then go online to save a few bucks at the first sign of a deal. It’s disheartening. It’s easy to feel like customers are being disloyal to your years of good service when they shop elsewhere. It’s easy to feel like customer loyalty has gone down the drain. But what’s important isn’t their loyalty to you. It’s your loyalty to them. I’ve heard all kinds of stories from retailers and consumers alike about their bad experiences. I’ve heard of consumers pitting retailers against each other, sharing quotes to drive pricing down, even having two retailers on different phone lines. I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about consumer behavior and how it has hurt small businesses. And some of it is spot on. But the emotions we too easily attach to those things — the feelings of betrayal and frustration — can do more damage 40

than consumers occasionally shopping elsewhere. They can cause consumers to permanently shop elsewhere. The idea that consumers owe a retailer loyalty because that retailer went the extra mile, provided them with years of service or anything else is a fantasy. Consumers are cost conscious, and that’s nothing new. They didn’t start being that way because there’s an internet; it just got more convenient for them. Most of us shop

on Amazon, as well as other popular websites. Most of us go to Lowe’s or Home Depot instead of the local hardware or appliance store. You probably bought your office supplies from Staples. We don’t only eat at locally owned restaurants either. In each of these cases, there are small local options. Sometimes they’re more expensive, and sometimes they’re not. But often, the convenience of going online and ordering it outweighs having to search locally. Consumers are in it for themselves, as are we all when we’re shopping. We all look for convenience, for a good deal, and shopping around isn’t the personal slight retailers make it out to be. And while we can be quick to blame the internet, we should also be considering that some of that blame may be misplaced. I’ve also heard about retailers treating returning customers differently because they’ve shopped elsewhere. I’ve heard of stores refusing to work on instruments because they were purchased online, even of some guilting and berating customers for buying somewhere else. None of it improved the sense of loyalty between retailer and customer. In fact, all this type of response does is damage the relationship. When consumers can’t get something they want from you, or at the price they NOVEMBER 2019

want, they will buy it elsewhere. I’ve written in the past about why I think it’s better to convert as many of these situations into sales, even if the margins aren’t desirable, but sometimes, you’re upside down and just can’t. Sometimes, you aren’t able to procure something a customer wants. Sometimes, they see a good deal and grab it without even thinking of you or realize they’re out of strings and simply order them online because they don’t have time to stop by this week. When this happens, the worst thing you can do is complain, be negative or hold it over them. I saw my friend Brad Shreve at Larry’s Music handle this a million times. A customer walks in with a guitar we had hanging on the wall but that he had purchased online because he had a coupon or there was a sale banner, without checking with us first. And he needs a setup. Sure, you can turn him away or make him feel bad, or you can congratulate him on buying an awesome guitar and tell him to hang out and play some guitars in the shop while you make his guitar play like it should. Do the latter, and he’ll leave happy he came by. Maybe you’ll even get an opportunity to make him a deal on something while he’s there. But you won’t get that opportunity if you run him off. That’s showing loyalty to your customer, and it’s everything. Customers may not owe loyalty to retailers, but retailers owe loyalty to them. Why? Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to go the extra mile, to provide them with years of incredible service. Sometimes they will shop elsewhere. It’s the nature of being a consumer. It’s a worthwhile goal to try and earn consumer loyalty, to try and build relationships with them and keep them coming back. It’s important and vital to running a successful store. It’s also important that when customers choose to shop elsewhere, you welcome them MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

back every time they step foot in your store like your life depends on it, because it does. This may feel like consumer loyalty is a one-way street, but it’s not. The reason consumers keep coming back to the local store

when they can easily buy everything and anything online is that they are loyal. Be loyal to them and always treat them the same, and you will keep those customers. Yes, they will sometimes buy online or at chain stores. But they

will also continue to buy from you or to seek you for service, and you will have more opportunities to make sales. How do you show your customers loyalty? Write to me at



Saied Music Co. 3259 S. Yale Ave. Tulsa, OK 74135 918.742.5541 Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Kim Koch, Manager


Kim Koch

Kim Koch, along with her five siblings, grew up working in their family’s beloved Oklahoma-based music shop, Saied Music, which was founded by her grandfather, Jimmie Saied, in 1946. “I remember alphabetizing sheet music and running mail through the postage machine when I was 12,” said Koch, who continued working at the store all the way through college before earning a degree in vocal performance from the University of Tulsa. Through the twists and turns of life, Koch has come to hold a management position at the store, working alongside her father, Bob Saied. Her approach to helping run Saied Music can be boiled down to one word that her father left on a Post-It Note on her windshield when she was a teenager: priorities. “Applying that single word keeps my head clear and actions simple,” said Koch, whose father has continued to repeat this word to her in the business many times since. “Seemingly complicated situations get untangled quickly when integrity is a priority. Seeing the opportunity to be the hero for a parent is obvious when customer service is a priority. Saying no to an expense is painless when cash flow is a priority.” In fact, priorities can be credited for leading Koch back to the family business in the first place. After college, she had moved to New York City to study


vocal performance at Manhattan School of Music and forge a career as an opera singer. But a family tragedy made her see that her priorities were elsewhere. “I had a blaze of clarity while living in New York when I lost my maternal grandfather to a stroke. I realized that I wanted to live my life close with my family, not traveling the gypsy life of an opera singer,” said Koch, who taught music in the Tulsa Public Schools district for five years and taught private voice on the side, in addition to having three children, before becoming the director of lessons programs for Saied Music in 2011. “My background enables me to identify with our customers as a student, musician, teacher and parent,” said Koch. “This helps me empathize and communicate with customers across all of our categories.” Being able to form these

relationships with customers has been key to Saied Music’s longevity. “We have to understand our customers, whether they are professional musicians, piano teachers, band and orchestra directors, or the nervous novice signing up for guitar lessons for the first time,” said Koch. When hiring staff for Saied Music’s six locations, she makes sure that anyone coming in shares that desire for success and that commitment to going the extra mile to be sure a customer is happy. Each of the employees, whose backgrounds include a mix of working musicians, former directors and music enthusiasts, “gets it,” according to Koch. “[Our staff] looks for opportunities to make things a little easier or add a little sparkle to each engagement,” she said. “We will do whatever it takes, short of sacrificing integrity, to service our customers and partner with

our directors to do what they need us to do to help them to succeed. That means late nights, extra miles and getting your hands dirty in service to others.” Saied Music has also made sure to reach out to the local community at every possible opportunity, not only to raise the store’s profile and gain new customers but, more importantly, to create an environment that is hospitable to music makers in every territory they cover. The Saied family has served on industry organization boards such as NAMM and the National Association of School Music Dealers for three generations, and the store has made itself an integral part of the community through sponsoring clinics, workshops and master classes, offering free training sessions, volunteering at local food banks, and making donations to charities like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the local Rotary Club

and much more. One particular outreach program that Koch found to be especially meaningful is the Play Me Tulsa Project, where 12 local public school art departments were invited to design and paint 12 used pianos with paint donated by local paint manufacturer Anchor Paint, and then display them at 12 host locations around the city. “This project provided so many goose-bump moments, and folks posted pics and videos of themselves playing the pianos [to social media],” said Koch. “One of the most poignant was a poorquality video a friend took and texted to me of a homeless man, late one night, playing beautifully. Our goal is to provide a fun and impactful way to foster community engagement in music, and the public showed the pianos and the project so much love.” Listening to the needs of (continued on page 50)

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A quick followup to last month’s band rental customer service nightmare: In my last column, a horn was missing on a rental night, and corporate essentially blamed the parent for waiting too long to order. (They didn’t.) In reality, the horn did make it to the school as promised, but it came at

a different time than other horns and was put (by school personnel) in a different place than the horns that came from a competitor. But the greater point remains: Customer service wouldn’t do anything to help the band mom, and instead of going to bat for them and being vindicated in the end, all that’s left is a bad taste in the customer’s mouth from the handling of the problem. No, it wasn’t the company’s fault. But it doesn’t matter now. The previous story illustrates how precarious customer acquisition and retention is in the school market, and I’ve been thinking again how dated and unsustainable our school band business model is in the 21st century. I know this will raise some ire with large band and orchestra organizations, but it’s what I believe. Here’s why. We’ve been working our way through 20 years of disruption, and while there have been updates and modifications to the processes we use in our industry (online rentals, ordering and payments have 44

certainly made a difference), the basic approach in the school band and orchestra segment of our industry remains largely unchanged. Parent meetings and in-school recruitment still drive the numbers, reps still schmooze directors, and the aim is to get students in rentals, buy the horn in some fashion and shoot for a step-up horn as soon as possible before the student ages out. In the meantime, the school music retailers try to lock down bids for school equipment, hoping the thin margins add up while keeping competitors walled off. Certainly, in some markets, this is still a highly lucrative way to go about the business. However, things are changing across the country, while new opportunities fail to be fully exploited. One of the first problems as the internet matured was the proliferation of online merchants, particularly for school staples like band arrangements. The ability to access a vast library of arrangements complete with audio and score page samples (as well as downloading PDF replacement parts) has been a boon for the directors. But no single-market dealer can compete with the selection and ease of ordering. Many directors have shifted their music buying online. Online merchants also expose band directors to lower prices and inventory depth that are not easy to duplicate. Online buying isn’t killing the school dealer, but because of it, the model is weaker than in the golden days, when directors had no alternative and bought everything from their local dealer. Certainly, the pre-internet catalog houses started the shift, but the internet made it a landslide. The proliferation of substandard instruments has taken a chunk of the potential market out of reach. While the worst of the damage is behind us — as band director sermons and consumer experiences reveal the issues with no-name horns — a portion of the market is gone forever, because there will always be some parents that believe a $149 flute is just fine. The used market remains one of our biggest failures. Again this year, I refurbished or sold as many used horns as I rented. Those horns are on the market or in the attic because someone stopped playing them. Our failure to help retain players beyond school age has cost us more customers than we serve now. Granted, that’s a much bigger issue than the business model we’re discussing, but it is a looming presence with an unquantifiable impact. Yet in the quest to capture newbie rentals, many dealers offer loss-leading $5 intro rates and ignore the opportunities used horns present. Those used horns should be placed in a kid’s hands by our stores, not Craigslist. Many band and orchestra dealers have offered extreme program customization in order to remain valuable to directors, but that has just made the job harder as they navigate the inventory nightmare NOVEMBER 2019

of school-specific mouthpieces, strings and brands for rentals. I will get a terse email from a director if I accidentally give a family a percussion kit with the ProMark 2B sticks that one school prefers when their school will only accept SD1 Generals. Why are we encouraging band directors to micromanage our inventory rather than informing them about new products and shaping our own market? Obviously, we will always have the specter of budget and program cuts in school systems throughout the country. And while there are more band parents than ever before to voice support for music, there are also more pay-to-play activities, including sports, vying for dollars and attention. Looming program crashes steal energy and profits and can even be a tipping point for a dealer. No one aspect kills the business model, of course, but each challenge makes it harder to remain viable. Now add a societal change that is a product of our times: In an era of heightened school security as well as financial oversight, school systems nationwide are restricting or banning “outside personnel” from campus. I see this growing in my market, and I expect it will only increase. When a road rep can’t get face time with a director, they’re no different than a website — except the website is likely easier, cheaper and faster. So bit by bit, the foundations of our school music model erode. I would just shrug this off as one more disruption we have to navigate, but the chilling aspect for me is the number of large and small dealers that deny this is happening. Perhaps you’re not affected, at least not yet, but to me this is our industry’s equivalent of climate change denial. We need to plan now to tap into the market beyond school programs. We must take control of our destiny when it comes to recruitment and retention as well. It’s in our history, after all: We invented the school market when talking pictures killed the market for theater musicians.

But times have changed again. I have watched a generation of band directors move away from artistic collaboration in favor of inter-school competition and proficiency testing. While this generates enthusiasm in many districts, many of these students are growing up in a system where

the only meaningful musical endeavor is competition. This does not bode well for growing the ranks of recreational musicians, and those are the ones who will be our customers for a lifetime. It’s time we adjust the business model to suit our best interests, not for the path of least resistance.

We did it almost 100 years ago. We need to do it again. If you have a comment, feel free to share it on the Veddatorial Facebook page, and as always, post an inquiry if there’s another topic you’d like to see covered here. (Please post to the page rather than DM.)


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U N DER T H E HOOD By Brian Berk When it comes to strings, competition is fierce, with several well-known and respected companies in the marketplace. Hence, to enter this field, you need to be different. Carbondale, Pa.-based MJC Ironworks, named after owner Michael J. Connolly — well known for his work at Dean Markley, where he was known as the “string guru” — believes it is truly different. Connolly designed most of the bass strings offered by Dean Markley over the years. He also served as director of artist relations for the northern California company. Joining Connolly at MJC Ironworks is Gordy Wilcher, known in MI as former owner of Owensboro Music in Owensboro, Ky., as well as a former NAMM executive and one of the key cogs of the iMSO group.

Gordy Wilcher

MJC Ironworks Acoustic Guitar Phosphor Bronze Strings Wilcher had several opportunities in the past to work for a manufacturer, but has turned them down to focus on his store. However, the national and international sales director for MJC Ironworks said he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with the company. “I was in retail for 46 years,” Wilcher told the Music & Sound Retailer. “The landscape has totally changed. I still love the industr y, but perhaps I didn’t adjust to the changes fast enough. I look at [MJC Ironworks] as an opportunity to stay in the industr y in a different role. I loved going into a retail store ever y day for 46 years. But the winds of change are strong. I felt I needed to go in a different direction.” But why did Wilcher choose MJC Ironworks? “I was a big Dean Markley reseller,” he replied. “So big, in fact, that they once offered me a job there. Michael and I have long been friends. When he decided to start MJC Ironworks, he wanted me to be a part of it.” “We are only three or four years old,” Wilcher continued. “We are bootstrapping ever ything. We are tr ying to get our feet in the door with the established guys on the wall. We are tr ying to do something unique. We make premium-quality strings with a proprietar y treatment. We have our own core-to-wrap wire ratio we believe is better than competitors. And we have the most interesting packaging in the industr y.” Despite unique technology and packaging, Wilcher stressed MJC Ironworks products are something the everyday working man can afford. This includes its Acoustic Guitar Phosphor Bronze strings, which the company debuted at Nashville’s Summer NAMM show in July. “It has a new treatment. We are trying to get deeper into the acoustic guitar market,” Wilcher stated. As far as packaging goes, MJC Ironworks strings comes housed in what the company calls “cool” tins, with custom displays available for 46

these tins for retailers who make a qualifying order, stated Wilcher. Although the tins are more expensive than some competitor products, MJC Ironworks believes they are worth it for several reasons, including fewer environmental influences that could commence the corrosion process. “We can guarantee that our product will not start the corrosion process until the package is opened, and Mother Nature [then] takes over for up to two years,” the company stated. “So, the tin not only looks cool, it serves a function.” Regarding MJC’s relationship with MI retailers, Wilcher believes his own retail experience, as well as his work with NAMM and iMSO, will provide an advantage. “Many retailers know how trustworthy I am,” relayed Wilcher. “They know I wouldn’t try to sell them a product I truly didn’t believe in. I think 46 years in the industry gives me an edge. Plus, I know the product really well. I hope at this time next year we will be available at [MI stores] nationwide and worldwide.” Wilcher added a distribution deal is possible to get MJC Ironworks to the finish line, but he stressed that no matter what, the company wants to be independent-retailer friendly. “That’s the goal,” said Wilcher, adding that he emphasizes how the strings are made and the quality of the core wire as selling points when discussing MJC Ironworks products with independent retailers, including Acoustic Guitar Phosphor Bronze. “We also treat the core wire with our own exclusive treatment. It is very effective for long life of the strings. It gives it a bit of a different feel, but it should last longer than a generic string.” In addition, another selling point is that consumers will not see MJC Ironworks products flooded all over the internet. Big-box chains also do not sell the strings at this time. “So, we are providing independent retailers with a unique product that they don’t have and is profitable,” concluded Wilcher. NOVEMBER 2019


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Ad Index




AIRTURN.....................................51 AMAHI UKULELES...................25 AMERICAN RECORDER TECHNOLOGIES.....................26 AUDIX CORPORATION


BOURNS PRO AUDIO................51 CELESTION.................................C-II CHAUVET LIGHTING................10 CHAUVET LIGHTING................11 CONNOLLY MUSIC COMPANY................................18 FENDER.......................................7 GALAXY AUDIO........................3 GATOR CASES............................31 GRAPH TECH..............................17 IK MULTIMEDIA........................39 JACK CAPS..................................26 KIRLIN INDUSTRIES.................12 KYSER MUSICAL PRODUCTS...............................16 LAVA CABLES............................52 MALONEY STAGEGEAR COVERS....................................19 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY................................6 MUSIC NOMAD..........................53 NAMM..................................... 14-15 NEUMANN..................................5 NEW SENSOR.............................41 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS...................................21 OMG MUSIC................................24 PRO X...........................................23 PRS GUITARS.............................9 PURE TONE.................................20 QRS MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES.... 43 RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE........45 RAPCO/HORIZON COMPANY.... 24 RAT...............................................53 STRING SWING..........................22 TASCAM......................................29 TECH 21.......................................27 VOCOPRO....................................13 WD MUSIC PRODUCTS............8 YORKVILLE............................C-IV While every care is taken to ensure that these listings are accurate and complete, The Music & Sound Retailer does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors.


(continued from page 43) customers has helped Saied Music to adapt to changing times and remain relevant after 75 years in business. “I am very proud of our history. I am moved when customers stand at the counter renting their child’s first instrument and reminisce about when their parents brought them into our store to get theirs. There is a level of trust and confidence that our history brings, but we can’t rest on our laurels,” Koch said. “Our almost 75-year history certainly

instills trust, but today’s customers want to know what we’ve done for them lately. So, we listen.” Listening to the varying needs of customers and recognizing the changing retail headwinds, as Koch called them, has led to an increased focus on their services, including “consistently excellent repair with reliable turnaround, white-glove piano moving and retention in lessons,” said Koch. “The hard part isn’t seeing the change coming; it’s choosing

your timing and response,” she concluded. “Indy dealers have the advantage of agility. Sometimes we are the big ship, being slow and thoughtful when changing course. Other times we are the jet ski, able to respond nimbly to changing circumstances and emerging opportunity. The ability to anticipate and adjust has made us strong. We are positioned securely for a stable future and will continue to be responsive to change and stay on our toes.”


(continued from page 54) (artificial intelligence) impacting our industry. It’s already being used, but there is so much more we can do with it. Everything from helping to speed up the decision making process to employee training to data security.

The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Ordoñez: I would most likely still be in the military. The only reason I left was to pursue my passion for the music industry.

The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there. Ordoñez: Ventura, Calif. Great people, great beaches and great food … what’s not to like? The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Ordoñez: My 311 album collection. My favorite band plus my favorite audio medium equals pure joy.

The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Ordoñez: Overall, I love books that help me in my professional life. The book, “Steve Jobs,” is definitely my favorite. I’ve always been fascinated with Steve Jobs. Talk about out-of-the box thinking! My favorite quote from him is: “We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make ‘me too’ products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream.”


(continued from page 35) student’s musical career.”

The Sale

All four stores were staffed by pros, and they all knew how to satisfy the customer. The last of the four, All Things Musical, seems to function as much more of a music school than as an instrument retailer, though it came up on and Yelp with great grades in the “musical instruments — sales and rentals” category. Your MI Spy may have managed to visit the Music Center of North Haven at an especially busy time, or perhaps a staff member called in sick. The owner was clearly swamped, so the advice received was friendly, if a bit cursor y. The store clearly benefited from its good reputation, though, as the showroom was busy and there seemed to be several classes going on in the back. The final choice came down to a tossup between Goldie & Libro and Sam Ash. At Goldie & Libro, I was initially assisted by staff at the music school (it occupies

the rightmost of two adjacent Washington Avenue storefronts) because the instrument store was closed, but a call the following day provided a wealth of information from the store’s owner. But the one element that edged out the rest was the longer, more parent-friendly store hours offered by the big kid on the block, Sam Ash. Surely, longer hours will always appeal to parents who commute to New York City or otherwise return home late in the evening, as well as to people who hold more than one job. The realities of raising a child, such as instrument purchases and music lessons, are pricey, especially when you live in a place where housing and taxes take a bigger chunk of your paycheck than they do in, say, Cleveland or St. Louis. In this instance, the salesman at Sam Ash provided polite, no-nonsense service. It was a quick, concise and informative experience, and the store’s staff gave your MI Spy — and, actually, any other customer — all the facts needed to make an informed instrument choice. In fairness, so

did the other three stores. Consumers in the southern Connecticut market would be well advised to visit all four of these locations to shop and compare instrument choices for a trombone or virtually anything else a budding musician might require. At the very least, you’ll be able to enjoy some amazing fall scenery as you drive from store to store. Now, if you’ll excuse me, these apples aren’t gonna pick themselves. CASE IN POINT

(continued from cover) innovate to counter the strong offerings competitors are bringing to market. To learn more about the accessories and bags and cases markets, we reached out to three companies: Manhasset Specialty Co., Gator Cases and ProX Direct. Answering our questions are Manhasset’s president Dan Roberts; Gator’s “dream team” of Rob McCoy and Casey Keough, who lead its product management and development; and Jolil Ula, creative director for ProX. Let’s start with the accessoNOVEMBER 2019

ries market, getting Roberts’ take, before shifting to the bags/ cases market. First, let’s take a look at what are some of the current trends affecting the accessories market. “Our music stands and related accessories continue to be strong sellers, especially at backRob McCoy and Casey Keough Dan Roberts (left) and team to-school time in the USA. Our export expect will be well received.” set stands that perform very well products. business has been affected by as instrument holders. These “We are solutions-oriented,” Brexit, concerns about a U.S.accessories, to be used with noted McCoy. “We focus on the It’s in the Bag China trade war and a gradual Manhasset stands, would make voice of customers and their Although bag and case sales economic slowdown in Europe,” great add-on sales. They are feedback. What we hear as the are often tied to the strength of said Roberts. “We continue to see affordable for consumers and strength of our bags and cases sales of the products they house, sales of single music stands grow profitable for retailers.” is they solve their problems and most manufacturers are diversias a proportion of our total sales Looking ahead, it always has make their lives as musicians fied, which lets them ride the ups as more parents are choosing to and always will be difficult to easier. Our bags guard their gear, and downs of the market, should buy durable Manhasset stands predict the future. But with this whether they’re driving or flying there be any. But more than for their kids to practice with at said, Roberts commented about to their next gig. Plus, [bags and anything, bag and case manuhome, as compared to buying the where his company might see cases] have great designs. We offacturers are trying to solve an cheapest stand available.” future growth. “Manhasset offers fer solutions and experiment. inherent problem when making An especially hot seller for four styles of Universal Tablet Manhasset Stands are new colors Holders at present,” he stated. of its #48 Symphony stands. “This has become a growing “The Noteworthy laser-cut music category for the company as stands continue to grow in sales,” some musicians are choosing to Roberts said. “But our best-selling use a tablet to download printed stands continue to be our #48 music also, instead of purchasing Symphony stands in six-packs sheet music. While this is a very and single cartons, along with small percentage of the number the Stand Carts that are used for of stands that Manhasset sells, storing or transporting Manhasset we do want to take care of that stands. Manhasset’s LED lamps market segment, too, by offerare selling very well, too. The ing these options. All of us at LED Lamp II and The Trente LED Manhasset hope that electronic Lamp are priced competitively with music or dance music will fade great performance and durability.” in popularity. We all prefer to see Perhaps these products have live music played. We try to stay sold well at your store. But if you informed of all new technology want to do even better by that might impact the products ing even more accessory sales, that we make. We want to mainRoberts offered MI retailers the tain our position of leadership by following advice. “One way to staying on top of any new trends.” grow accessory sales is to offer Manhasset Specialty’s presithe consumer step-up opportunident also discussed the immedities for the lowest-priced models ate future, specifically in regard that they may be considering,” to what we might see from he relayed. “Consumers rethe company’s booth during spond strongly to Manhasset’s January’s The NAMM Show. value proposition when they “Manhasset will be showing the realize that our music stands are new STANDMATE instrument covered with a lifetime warranty and mute holders at NAMM, as and that they are made in the well as the company’s Monarch USA. Manhasset also offers many Pencil Clip Holders, both of accessories that can be added to which were recently acquired by our music stands to help keep the Manhasset,” relayed Roberts. musician organized and unclut“We will also have some new tered. Examples are mute holdcolors of stands with textured ers that can be mounted to our finishes. And we are working on stands and a wind instrument syssome other accessories that we tem that can be added to ManhasMUSIC & SOUND RETAILER


Jolil Ula

For example, we offer different types of high-quality materials for gig bags, lightweight and hard cases. We have cases that are TSA accepted. We have cases that you can take a hammer to and they won’t crack, but they also won’t break your back when carrying. And they look great.” Stated Ula, “MI has hit its alltime high in sales when it comes to what’s available, convenient, and almost all the gear companies are utilizing lightweight materials. Bags and cases are becoming slimmer, lighter and more ergonomic due to this trend. At ProX, we use materials and make products that cater to them but are not harmful to the environment. I care about our earth. I have a 2-yearold daughter, so I think our users tend to appreciate it too.” As for what manufacturers value most when designing such products, quality is priority No. 1. “We always think about the user experience first. The overall build [of the product] ends up being the

latter focus,” answered Ula. “In between those two, we try to imagine the brutality each case or bag faces during its lifetime. In the end, we want the user to feel comfortable knowing that their gear is reinforced and protected in all situations with a limited lifetime warranty.” “We design for our customers and what our customers value most are high-quality solutions that protect and perform and allow our customers to focus on what they love,” noted Keough. “We design and make unique solutions to ensure our products never fail our customers.” In the future, consumers can expect more innovation in both design and function of bags and cases, he added. Ula noted that tech integration will lead the industry to innovation and newer trends in the future. “We already see how far LED lighting has come and become more affordable and can be controlled. With our smartphones and technology, there is always room for future trends,” he said. McCoy continued by offering up some advice for MI retailers selling Gator products: listen “to your customers, respond to their needs, solve their problems.” Ula offered this advice for MI retailers: “Other than having the best possible protection for your gear that your customers’ money can buy, most of our products also

include a limited lifetime warranty. We are always looking to help educate our customers and dealers on our products, we are involved with many of our users small and big on social media, you can shoot us a message any time if you have a product-related question and we will try to reply to you.” As for what products are moving the needle, Gator’s GBE and Transit series are very popular, responded McCoy. “The GBE bags are a go-to for gig bags, and the Transits are very stylish and durable,” he said. “The 4G and Pro-Go series also sell well. They offer even more protection for the ultimate traveling musician. We also have great Levy’s [Leathers] gig bags that offer style and comfort. In the Frameworks line, our combo guitar seat and stand sells well. We also have mic stands that are popular amongst musicians and creative pros like podcasters. They’re multi-functional and can be used for guitar amps, bass drum or desktop recording.” Over at ProX, the XF-MESAMEDIA, an all-in-one Portable DJ Table-top facade solution, is a top seller. “It includes a 56-inch-wide table and shelf that mounts [to the] facade frame,” said Ula. “It has a 65-inch TV monitor front mount. It takes five to 10 minutes to set up, and it all fits into one bag. It’s a cool product. Another feature is being able to mount a 65-inch flatscreen to the front and display your visuals directly in

front of you. It adds a huge impact on your show when combined with more monitors. “Another hit this year has been our XS-SX1K2UWLTBL LED case, which fits the Pioneer DDJ-1000/SRT, DDJ-SX Series and Denon MC7000 DJ controller(s),” continued Ula. “It’s equipped with a 2U rack, powerful steel-ball corners, recessed rubber handles and latch locks, and our GloLITE RGB LED Fixture mounted under the sliding laptop shelf.” Looking at the quickly approaching NAMM Show, McCoy relayed he is really excited about the new products the company is working on for the winter show extravaganza, as well as the next year for both Gator and Levy’s Leathers. “We will release new keyboard bags and expand our ukulele bag offerings. We are enhancing our band cases. We’ll also offer more products for creative pros and have even more solutions for photo, video, content producers and podcasters,” he relayed. ProX is often releasing new products throughout the year. Expect to see these on display at The NAMM Show. “We’ve expanded our truss line and we now make a 12-inch bolted box truss called BoltX,” concluded Ula. “We also have a few new innovative products we’ll be demoing at The NAMM Show. You’ll just have to wait to see!”

Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation 1. Publication Title: The Music & Sound Retailer 2. Publication Number: 553510 08941238 3. Filing Date: September 25, 2019 4. Issue frequency: Monthly 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 12 6. Annual Subscription Price: $18.00 Contact Person: Vincent P. Testa (516-767-2500) 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of the Publisher: 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779 9. Publisher: Vincent P. Testa, 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779 Editor: Brian Berk, 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779 10. Owner: Retail Publishing, Inc., 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779 13. Publication Title: The Music & Sound Retailer 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: September 1, 2019 15. Extent and Nature Of Circulation Average No. Copies No. Copies of Each Issue During Single Issue Published 12 Months Nearest to the Filing Date A. Total Number of Copies (Net press run) 10,297 9,811 B-1 Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions 9,479 9,256 B-4 Requested copies other USPS 15 5 C. Total Paid and /or Requested Circulation 9,494 9,261 D-1. Outside Country Nonrequested Copies Distributed 437 380 D-4. Nonrequested Copies Distributed 196 -E. Total Non Requested Distribution 633 380 F. Total Distribution 10,127 9,641 G. Copies not Distributed 170 170 H. TOTAL 10,297 9,811 I. Percent Paid and /or Requested Circulation 93.75% 96.06% 16. Electronic Copy Circulation A. Requested and Paid Electronic Copies 2,590 3,075 B. Total Requested Print /Electronic Paid Copies 12,084 12,336 12,716 C. Total Requested Copy Distribution/Requested/Paid Electronic Copies 12,717 97% D. Percent Paid and /or Requested Circulation Print/Electronic Copies 95% 17. Publication of Statement of Ownership: Will be printed in the November 1, 2019 issue of this publication. 18. Publisher: Vincent P. Testa, President Date: September 4, 2019




(continued from page 27)


Although pro audio products are often featured in the pages of the Retailer, Bluetooth earbuds are not, and this product also represents a different offering from ElectroHarmonix. The company introduced EHX SPORT BUDS Bluetooth earbuds, which feature a flexible earclip design so they are comfortable to wear, fit well and remain stable on the wearer’s ears when he or she is jogging, hiking, biking, at the gym or simply on the go. SPORT BUDS provide an extended battery life, a sweat-proof design, and come with three sizes of ear cushions to accommodate all users regardless of the shape and size of their ears, stated the company. In addition, they will accept an optional cable with an 1/8-inch plug for wired use. They provide five hours of playtime, plus there’s an additional 15 hours of stored power in their compact charging case. The product comes equipped with three different ear cushions.


The malletKAT is a MIDI controller that is designed to capture end users’ playing gestures and performance. It transforms their performance into musical notes (MIDI data) and captures the details of dynamics, pressure, speed, dampening, pitch bend, vibrato, etc., creating an incredible musical representation of playing, stated the company. It is this attention to nuance and detail that makes this instrument so enjoyable to play, the manufacturer added.


EAROS offers EAROS ONE, a high-fidelity hearing-protection device. After suffering from tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, EAROS founder Ronnie Madra set out to prevent others from suffering a similar fate. EAROS ONE provides up to 25 decibels of noise reduction developed by audiologists, acousticians and vibration engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology to enhance the listening experience in high-decibel environments and protect hearing health. Designed especially for loud recreational environments, such as music festivals, concerts, nightclubs, sporting events and fitness venues, EAROS ONE allows people to protect their hearing without sacrificing the ability to enjoy music, communicate clearly with those around them and stay immersed in the vibe, stated the company.


Gold Tone’s Little Gem Banjo Ukuleles combine a solid maple neck with a two-way truss rod and a hard resin pot with resonator to create a powerful-sounding banjolele made for ukulele players looking to diversify their sounds. They come with a POR box, gig bag, tool set and intonation ruler. Available in Sapphire Blue, Amethyst Purple, Ruby Red and Diamond Clear colors. The Diamond and Amethyst colors are also available with LED Lights.




ALEX R. ORDOÑEZ VP, Sales and Marketing (North America), Alfred Music

The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future? Ordoñez: Billy Joel has always been on my bucket list. The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most? Ordoñez: “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. Everyone in the world knows the infamous bass-driven arrangement. To this day, I can’t help but dance (even if only in my head) when that song is played.

Marcia Stearns

The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod? Ordoñez: Pretty much every song (no kidding) from 311. I can listen to them all day, every day, literally.

By Brian Berk The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Alex Ordoñez: Morty Manus. I was fortunate to work alongside Morty for many years at Alfred Music. He taught me many things about markets, creating solutions for educators and that our employees are our greatest asset. The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Ordoñez: “A great leader provides direction and purpose. You can’t have one without the other.” This is something I still take to heart to this day. The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Ordoñez: Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Neither were musicians, but both were lovers of music. I remember my grandmother picking up an older guitar from a local garage sale (I was about 4 or 5 years old) and showing it to me during my next visit. I asked to “play” with it and ended up spending most of my free time that summer strumming and making noise. I instantly felt connected and absolutely fell in love with the idea of creating music. The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Ordoñez: At this point in my life, guitar is the clear winner!

The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show? Ordoñez: I was lucky enough to attend the 125th Yamaha Anniversary Celebration concert back in 2013 at California Adventure and saw all the greats play that night such as Elton John, Earth Wind & Fire, Toto (love David Paich), Chaka Khan and many others. 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? Ordoñez: First it would be my dad, who passed away in 1999. My question to him would be, “So how am I doing so far?” Second would be Prince, and I would ask him to teach me everything he knows. And last but not least, Stevie Ray Vaughn. My question to him would be “Can we jam together?”

The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Ordoñez: I spent eight years in the U.S. Army serving as a chemical operations specialist with an emphasis in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. You know, the perfect preparation before going into the music industry!

The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industr y? Ordoñez: The close-knit community, regardless of competition. At the end of the day, all of us recognize that we are in this together.

The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Ordoñez: I recently found a love for coaching my daughter’s softball team. Those girls are way tougher than I was at 8 years old.

The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industr y and why? Ordoñez: All educators. Regardless of the disciplines they teach, their ability to connect with students and inspire is extremely admirable.

The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? Ordoñez: The Jacksons (Michael and brothers) 1984 Victory Tour at Dodger Stadium. The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Ordoñez: Buddy Holly, hands down. I was introduced to Buddy’s music at a very young age, and every song stuck with me. The early sounds of true rock and roll mesmerized me. 54

The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Ordoñez: This is a tough one! I see AI (continued on page 50) NOVEMBER 2019


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