Current Issue

Spotlight

In the old days, peering into the world of film and audio production could be an intimidating, exotic experience. There were big shoulder-strapped tape machines, strange-looking microphones, and audio techs following around with military-looking monitoring devices. Ambitious musicians, on the other hand, bought tabletop multi-track machines and scrounged together microphones to record practices. Most of them would simply find an old tape recorder like the ones their high school band director used for auditions. Even with the emergence of laptops and Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, users have often gravitated toward product downloads and online purchasing for products like audio interfaces.

The room for an MI dealer’s influence wasn’t great.

Nowadays, a new generation of recording devices that boast unprecedented levels of portability, features, and ease of use has opened up a range of consumers to both MI retailers and suppliers.

Read more: Handheld Recorders Get a Grip on the Market >>>

Features

As with most fretted instruments, ukuleles sporting beautiful tone woods carry a distinct advantage in the market. Koa, Rosewood, Zebrawood, and Mahogany - the names and the rich grains that they lend instruments are instant attractions. But with those luxuries often come a jump in cost.

Amahi Ukuleles has recently introduced a way around that jump. The new “Exotic Wood” line of ukuleles now offer dealers a handsome series of instruments (with Aquila strings and a padded gig bag) with MAP prices starting under $80. Amahi president Michael Schear says the instruments establish a new standard in what consumers can find with double digit price tags.

“We’ve hit a new price point here,” he says. “We’ve got a Koa ukulele that’s affordable for a child.” In an increasingly crowded uke marketplace, that could prove to be a real advantage.

Read more: Amahi Ukuleles Chart New Ground with Exotic Woods >>>

Features

When Wi Digital first introduced their breakthrough product, the AudioLink, they ran into a peculiar problem – customers didn’t believe that the tiny units could actually work. The product, which was designed to reinvent the way musicians and engineers could approach wireless connectivity across platforms, was several factors smaller than the typical VHF/UHF products that dominated the market for years.

“Those older systems would come as basically a belt pack,” says COO Pierre Abboud. “And that was just the transponders. There was also a big clunky receiver that you’d have to place somewhere onstage.” Users had been trained to expect bulk with their wireless products.

Read more: Wi Digital Emerges as a Wireless Pioneer >>>

Survey

By the time you receive this issue of MMR, your store likely already has in place plans to attract student and parent customers as kids return to school in September. Each new academic season brings with it first-time musicians, as well as student players looking to advance to that next-level instrument and children needing to stock up on sheet music, reeds, strings, mouthpieces, and so on. Sales of PA/sound reinforcement gear, instructional and recording software, and other related products to instructors and administrators also commonly see a spike in the weeks and months leading up to the fall semester.

 

This month, MMR reached out to over 1,000 MI retailers to see what sorts of “Back to School” events are working for them, what types of product move the most during this season, and what trends are currently defining the season.

Read more: Getting the Most Out of Back to School Sales >>>

Upfront Q&A

MMR: One of the new products to make a big splash back at Winter NAMM was Fishman’s Fluence pickup. Can you talk about the origins of the project – what was the process, what was the goal?

Larry Fishman: Well, we’ve been in the acoustic instrument application business for, I guess, 33 years now.  I hadn’t gone in the direction of electric guitar pickups because I felt that the existing companies out there – you know, the DiMarzios, and [Seymour] Duncans, and EMGs and so forth – were doing a really good job and I didn’t have a lot to add.  So rather than going in there to have some market share without offering anything new, we just totally avoided it.  But two years ago, I was made aware of a patent that a colleague had applied for involving stacked printed coils, based on printed circuit boards.  It was his thought, because he was a guitar player as well, that maybe somebody could take this and turn it into something useful for electric guitar.

Read more: Q&A: Larry Fishman >>>

Last Word

Back in April, a little-noticed decision by the Federal Trade Commission was released. It didn’t make the New York Times, but it does have significant implications for MI retailers who rely on music education services as part of their brand and revenue base. It’s worth looking at what happened.

The FTC had been looking into allegations that the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) had violated Federal anti-trust regulations.

Read more: FTC Gives Music Teachers a Regulatory Nudge >>>

Editorial

I am writing having just arrived back home from Nashville and the Summer NAMM Show. If you attended, I believe you will know what the headline above is about. Our industry felt more like a community the past few days down in Nashville. Of course there was plenty of time for business on the Show floor. However, Joe Lamond and his staff have to be commended for bringing a gathering together that provided inspiration, innovation, and opportunity to the attendees and exhibitors.

Read more: NAMM Show: It's All About Community >>>

Editorial

It was announced on July 24th – and reported by MMR in this issue (see page 6) – that 16 guitar brands have filed for extensions in order to oppose Gibson Brands’ trademark application regarding the double-cutaway “335 [guitar] body shape.”

This may ring a bell for many, as back in November of 2000, Gibson brought suit against Paul Reed Smith over PRS’ line of single-cut guitars, claiming the shape was too similar to Gibson’s iconic Les Paul and would cause “market confusion.”

The case was much discussed within the industry, as well as amongst guitar players, many of whom took to the blogosphere and Internet bulletin boards to add their two cents – most of them clearly siding with whichever company produced “their guitar.”

Read more: Gibson's '335' Trademark Battle >>>

Veteran Voices

Daniel Pink begins his book, To Sell is Human, with the story of Norman Hall, the last remaining Fuller Brush salesman - on Earth. At age 75, Norman routinely transverses the halls of modern office buildings in San Francisco, selling his wares to his longtime customers.  An echo of days gone by.  He is… The. Last. One.

There were once 8,300 “Fuller Brush-men” making fifty million house calls annually selling cleaning supplies and housewares from a suitcase. I remember many house calls made by these door-to-door salesmen to my mother in the 1960-‘70s. Who would believe in 2014 that an antiquated and inefficient distribution model that blossomed in the 1950s would still be in existence?

Read more: Brush-men & Bobbleheads >>>

Anniversary

For a couple of decades now, one of the hottest spots for reed players to visit in New York City isn’t a nightclub, bar, studio, or even university. It’s Vandoren’s Advisory Studio. Located on 54th Street just around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater, the studio provides a unique environment for musicians to meet up with each other, participate in masterclasses, relax with a fresh cup of espresso, and to try out new Vandoren products, which are always on hand.

“It’s become a mecca in New York,” says Michael Skinner, president of DANSR, which handles all of Vandoren’s U.S. operations. “It’s where we meet thousands of musicians on a yearly basis.”

Read more: DANSR Marks 10 Year Anniversary >>>

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