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To get a more detailed view of the state of the piano and keyboard market in America in 2015, MMR spent time with three distinct retailers from across the country: Kim’s Piano in California, the Midwest/Northwest’s Schmitt Music, and M. Steinert & Sons in Boston.

Kim’s Piano

A passion for pianos drives the business at Kim's Piano, a three-store Southern California chain co-run by David Kim and his son Benjamin. Catering to a clientele that loves acoustic pianos, but also bringing aboard digital brands that are gradually growing in favor, the company appeals to both the middle level and high-end piano market. And with the recital hall in their flagship Stanton store, Kim's Piano offers both a forum for performance and a venue for networking.

Read more: U.S. Piano & Keyboard Dealers in 2015 – A Snapshot >>>


It all started back in the 1970s. A few piano teachers had been requesting a keyboard console that offered them the ability to review and critique student performances along with the student. This, according to Jim Levesque, was how Yamaha’s Disklavier was born. “Yamaha’s development team set out to fulfill this educational need by creating an instrument that could be used as a music tool, with both record and playback functionality,” says Levesque, Disklavier marketing manager, Keyboard division, Yamaha. “In 1982, Yamaha introduced its first reproducing piano in Japan, called the Piano Player. The Piano Player featured a record-and-playback system, floppy disk storage of performance data, and the ability to playback multi-track performance files that included instrumental tracks whose sound was reproduced by a tone generator. While the Piano Player never made its way to U.S. retailers, many of Yamaha’s American staff and consultants provided feedback for what would become the first generation Disklavier, introduced in 1987.” The first consumer sale of a Disklavier didn’t happen, however, until 1988; the instrument was sold to a McDonald’s restaurant in Limon, Colorado.

Read more: Born to be a Disklavier – Getting to Know the Award-Winning e3 >>>


“Slow and Steady Wins the Race,” goes the old adage and there are some signs of hope that such maxims can prove true when applied to the piano & keyboard market. Seven months ago, in a survey similar to this one before you, 34 percent of retailers reported that sales within this segment of MI were up, while when we look even further back to March of 2012, only 33 percent of piano & keyboard dealers claimed sales were on the rise. Compared to spring of 2015’s nearly 42 percent (41.7) noting an upwards trend in units sold, that’s a not-too-shabby uptick of nearly 10 percent within less than half a decade.

So, while piano sales are still nowhere near the numbers that veteran dealers fondly remember from the salad days of years gone by, we may have truly turned a corner.

Read more: Getting Keyed Up – Piano & Keyboard Retailers Discuss the Market >>>

Last Word

MI retailers who sell pro audio are going to have a lot of explaining to do. Explaining, that is, about the confusing state of wireless microphones, which isn’t their fault, but which will continue to impact their business.

The category has been a solid one for retailers – it was worth $132 million in retail sales in 2013, according to NAMM-provided statistics, up over 20 percent in the last 10 years. The flexibility, mobility, and flat-out sexiness of wireless microphones, which have also been gaining significant bling appeal as vocalists trim them with everything from rhinestones to mirrored discs, has made them an integral component for performers, whether in arenas or on postage stamp-sized stages at Holiday Inns.

Read more: Getting Wired Up Over Wireless Audio >>>


Piano sales are back. Sort of.

“As the housing and stock markets improved, pianos have experienced a revival,” noted a report in the Chicago Tribune from March 23rd of this year. Hal Leonard’s Larry Morton was quoted in that same article: "The sales of new acoustic pianos, particularly grand pianos, have always been driven by people buying new homes… It's part of the experience of having a house, not unlike buying furniture, in some ways."

All of this not only makes sense to those in the MI industry, but it just stands to reason: Increased housing sales (and car sales, and general retail sales figures) speak to a growing – or at least stabilizing – economy and greater disposable income. Families concerned about making next month’s mortgage payment aren’t apt to throw down a few thousand dollars on a grand piano, after all.

Read more: Piano Sales and the ‘New Normal’ >>>

Show Report

As Ronnie Dungan reported in this month’s “European Beat” (see page 22), the hot-button topic in Frankfurt this April was the proposed changes to Musikmesse and ProLight + Sound for 2016. The increased attendance and significance of Music China, coupled with the continued strength (and proximity to Musikmesse, time-wise) of Winter NAMM has unquestionably impacted the annual Frankfurt convention. In light of those developments, organizers plan to shake things up next year, consolidating aspects of the joint Show and opening the majority of the gathering to the public.

This year, Musikmesse reported 1,329 exhibitors and 65,355 attendees – down from over 110,000 visitors and 2,242 exhibiting companies in 2014.

Read more: 2015 Musikmesse and ProLight + Sound >>>

Small Business Matters

Often I am asked about how you build a successful music lesson program. I believe the best answer is to make quality you first and only priority. If your program entails the following six steps and your purpose is to serve others with genuine specialized knowledge, you will serve your community and your purpose well. 

1. Begin with the end in mind.

Let me suggest this Steven Covey principal. Be clear on your purpose and how you intend to implement it. When starting a music lesson program, your only agenda should be to offer high quality music education. Therefore, you have to begin with the end in mind. I have witnessed many stores developing lesson programs for a chance to earn additional income, and while that is probable, it should never be the initial reason to do it. Once you are clear on your purpose, you should build your program in stages. A word of precaution: If you are a teacher working for a music store and wish to build your own studio, I don’t recommend pilfering the students from the store in which you work. The story will never die, and your reputation going forward will always be besmirched.   

Read more: Six Easy Steps to Begin a Lesson Program in Your Music Store >>>

European Beat

Huge changes are afoot at German trade show Musikmesse, which is shifting its emphasis to become a consumer event next year. Ronnie Dungan talked to the show’s new chief, Kai Hattendorf, and gauged some reaction from regular visitors and exhibitors to find out what the future holds for the sprawling Frankfurt expo…

Amid the excitement, or otherwise, surrounding new product launches at this year’s Musikmesse in Frankfurt, by far the biggest story over the four days of the show concerned the future of the event itself.

Put simply, its harshest critics would say that, long term, it simply doesn’t have one, a future that is. Changes to the format of next year’s Musikmesse will see it opening its doors to the public every day. The MI industry’s biggest trade show has just become a consumer show.

Read more: A Messe Situation >>>

European Beat

Yamaha has appointed Thomas Schoepe as its new European president.

Schoepe, formerly vice-president, head of administration for the company, replaces Mr. Sasaki who will be returning to Japan to retire in May.

The appointment has significance for Yamaha, which has never previously appointed a non-Japanese to such a senior position.

Read more: New European Boss for Yamaha >>>

European Beat

Music Sales Group Acquires Carisch

The Music Sales Group has bought Italian printed music business Carisch from the Monzino Group.

Carisch is an educational music publisher with a history dating back to 1887.

Before the acquisition MSG was already a distributor of the Carisch catalogue, having formed a joint venture in 2013 – Music Sales-Carisch Distribution – to exclusively distribute products throughout Europe, using Music Sales logistics and a combined sales force.

Read more: European Beat >>>

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