Current Issue


Do music instrument manufacturers sacrifice quality and profits by going green? This is a two-pronged question that is becoming imperative as more and more companies seek to become environmentally friendly with the products that they make and sell – especially now that recyclable and reusable materials are more commonplace.

"It does seem like the industry is making a push towards the green movement, which we think is great," says Trevor Franchi, operations manager for Ernie Ball's guitar and bass division, Music Man. "We have a few direct competitors who have launched significant marketing campaigns highlighting some of their efforts." He offers two reasons why a green choice is not always logical for business: It is cost prohibitive and, as far as raw materials, one generally pays more for recycled materials and sustainably harvested woods.

Read more: Is the Price Right? >>>


Retailers responded in great number and with enthusiasm to this month’s survey on the topic of “going green” and its impact within the world of MI.

As environmental issues are inexorably linked with politics and policy, some responses were fairly heated. Many went into great detail explaining the importance of adopting eco-friendly procedures and reducing one’s carbon footprint, but a few found the very subject of this poll to be irrelevant to musical instrument retailers and suppliers – and perhaps even offensive. “If people want environmental news they can go watch CNN,” one participant suggested. “Let's get the music trade magazines to stick to what's actually important: dealers, manufacturers and trends!”

A strongly held opinion, to be sure, but the metrics place such sentiment squarely in the minority: With a combined 81.2 percent of dealers describing an MI supplier’s involvement in “green” policies as being either “very important” or “somewhat important” when deciding whether to do business with that company, it’s clear that this topic is “actually important.”

Read more: MI Retailers Give Environmentally Sound Business Practices the (Green) Thumbs Up >>>

Upfront Q&A

One of the more significant events in the world of MI in 2015 was the announcement in early January that Fender’s subsidiary, KMC Music, had sold its drum and percussion brands – Gretsch Drums, LP, Toca, KAT, Gibraltar, and Ovation – as well as the Ovation guitar brand and exclusive U.S distribution rights for Sabian Cymbals, to Drum Workshop, Inc.

MMR recently spoke with DW’s president and CEO, Chris Lombardi, about the acquisition, the recent development which finds Sabian now selling direct to U.S. retailers, and Drum Workshop’s plans for the future.

Read more: Drum Workshop’s Chris Lombardi >>>

Last Word

What does the Federal Aviation Administration have to do with the MI business? More than you might think. Most times when I’m getting on a plane going to or coming from Nashville – which is very often – there’s at least one, and usually a few people bringing guitars into the cabin. Those musicians recently got some welcome news, in the form of some clearer guidelines from the FAA regarding carrying musical instruments on airplanes.

Read more: The Case for the Airline Case >>>


It became pretty clear, fairly early on in the process of compiling information for this year’s “Green Issue,” that the subjects of “environmentally sound business practices,” “going green,” “reducing one’s carbon footprint” (all the neat little catch-phrases) elicit strong reactions from folks – in both directions.

Proponents who believe that embracing “environmentally wise” (there’s another one!) actions is “the right thing to do” often assert that one person (or business) can truly make a difference, or that the actions of a few ultimately snowball and lead to positive change on a larger scale with larger companies and politicians eventually enacting policies that can reverse ecological damage propagated by humans on our planet. In the other corner, those not on the green bandwagon often view the whole movement through a fairly jaded lens – companies only do it as a PR stunt; it’s a meaningless exercise if countries such as China continue to pollute, unchecked; the damage to the environment has gone on for too long and at too great a scope and cannot be reversed (or, alternately, no damage has been done, global warming is a myth, et cetera).

Read more: If it Matters to Them, Shouldn't it Matter to You? >>>

In the Trenches

In the summer of 2013 the Music Industries Association of Canada (MIAC) canceled its scheduled September trade show and closed its doors. A forty-one year old fraternity of musical instrument manufacturers, distributors and dealers was no more. The recession of 2009 had taken its toll. Exhibitors could not justify the expense. MIAC was gone – and it was a sad day because twenty-nine years ago the 1986 MIAC show had set Levy’s on the path to international success.

Read more: Why Trade Shows Matter >>>


In the 1970s, Japan had the world’s third-largest gross national product. The country was experiencing an economic boom, driven by an increase in exports. Right around this time, Hisatake Shibuya was opening his shop, Electric Sound Products, or ESP as we now know it. “For the company’s first 10 years, starting in 1975, ESP was only involved in the domestic Japanese market, starting with a single guitar shop and developing as a parts company and maker of mostly vintage reproduction models,” says Matt Masciandaro, current president and CEO of ESP. In the mid to late 1980s, an increase in domestic demand drove the Japanese economy forward. By this time, ESP had already begun the process of introducing their replacement parts into the U.S. market. Masciandaro joined the ESP team in the late 1980s. “I started with ESP in 1987, right after the first overseas division opened in New York City,” he says. “Those vintage-style models soon began changing into different instruments that were unique and innovative in design and style. Many professional artists took notice, and word began to spread that ESP was the place to go to get a custom guitar built exactly how you wanted it, with the quality you need. During those early years, we focused exclusively on the high-end and custom shop market, which still remains an essential part of our business to this day.”

Read more: ESP Guitars at 40 >>>


On OMG Music’s homepage, the following is emblazoned in big, white, bold lettering: “Delivering the most respected names in music retail accessories, all at manufacturer direct pricing, since 1990.” It seems that 25 years later, OMG is still working to achieve those same goals. “OMG started off as a manufacturer’s rep firm in the U.S. – fast forward 25 years and we’re now distributing and manufacturing for customers around the globe,” says Mark Blasko, a partner at OMG Music. Who are some of those respected names? Rotosound, D’Addario, Hohner, Henry Heller, LOXX, Get’m Get’m, LM Products, Perri’s, Copperpeace, Revo, Peter Schmidt, and D’Andrea. A few of those aforementioned brands will have a hand in helping OMG to celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. “We’re working with our core partners Rotosound and D’Andrea to come up with an offering to help celebrate our anniversary with our dealers who made it possible,” says Blasko.

Read more: OMG Turns 25 >>>


It all began in 1915 with a Polish immigrant named Benjamin Bronen, his wife Rose Bronen, and their three sons – Murray, and twins Jack and Sidney. Benjamin Bronen opened what we now know as Bronen’s Music in 1915. He was a violinist in a band orchestra pit, doing instrument repair on the side. It was those repairs that became the vessel through which Benjamin was able to open the first retail store. As the years passed, Bronen’s Music survived blow after blow – from The Great Depression, a major fire, to World War II. The New York City blackout of 1977 and the subsequent looting cleaned out all but a piano and some sheet music, but Bronen’s persevered and 100 years later still stands. The store was honored in 2000 by then-Bronx Borough president, Fernando Ferrer, who paid tribute to businesses that have been in the Bronx for 75 years of more. 15 years later, the Bronx Borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., awarded Bronen’s Music a Citation of Merit to celebrate the occasion of 100 years in business.

Read more: Bronen’s Music: A Centennial Celebration >>>

Show Report

It's great to see so many familiar faces each year,” says outgoing NASMD president George Quinlan, Jr. “Almost like a family reunion for many of us! We also saw many new folks attending NASMD for the first time. They were delighted to learn that most of our educational sessions were provided by our members with a ‘caring and sharing’ attitude. I was proud that our ‘newbies’ told us they felt most welcome, of course, aided by our social events including several fantastic receptions, our golf outing, and the "Band on the Run" scavenger hunt based on the "Amazing Race."  We must thank our sponsors for their generosity allowing us to offer these events. History was made on Saturday night as our new president, Rosi Johnson was announced as the first woman president of NASMD.”

Indeed the 2015 gathering was memorable for a number of reasons and, by any metric, a success. In addition to the announcement of Johnson as the organization’s new president, a record-busting attendance of 444 dealers, suppliers, representatives, and guests this year’s NASMD Convention continued the upwards trends established by the previous years. “Over the last several years, the leadership has tried to focus on growing our organization, making the conference affordable, and strengthening our businesses through high quality educational sessions and, having some fun together too!,” comments Quinlan.  “I think we were able to accomplish all these objectives this year.” Held at the fourth-generation, historic Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, NASMD 2015 saw an unprecedented number of high profile, “big name” speakers, including Bill Rancic [the first winner of television’s “The Apprentice” – Ed.], Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, and Ellis amd Branford Marsalis.  “They delivered inspiring presentations followed by a closing party which could only happen in NOLA,” observes Quinlan.

Read more: 2015 NASMD Convention – STEAM, not STEM >>>

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