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Taking on Internet Competition for Small-Ticket Items: Band & Orchestra Accessory Sales in 2017

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • Survey
• Created: June 14, 2017

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Reeds, drum sticks, clip-on tuners, stands, strings – these items and many more are essential to all active players of every ability level.

As such, Band & Orchestra accessories have, for decades (longer, even) been a reliable income generator for MI retailers. Much like many products from all retail segments, though, these items are increasingly sought out and purchased online.

While a few, such as Mark Monaco of Monaco’s Violin Shop in Getzville, New York report some optimistic counterpoint to the general shift (“Consumers [are] going to Amazon et cetera, being dissatisfied, and coming back to the store”), most are seeing movement of accessories take a serious dip: 71 percent of respondents in this month’s poll report sales are either down or level with this same time in 2016.

Patton Music’s (Owensboro, Kentucky) Jon Patton notes, “We are seeing less sales of reeds which used to be a big seller. The Internet has affected nearly all accessory sales. From reeds to mouthpieces and cases, these accessories were a solid profit center but now just take up room and operating capital.”

With the convenience provided by portals such as Amazon (search, order, wait for delivery – done!) even when retailers can match price, they often still lose out on the sale. Marty Puzon of Puzon’s Music in Lansing, Illinois notes that the main trend he’s noticing lately is: “Customers buying on the Internet, even though my pricing is the same or better.”

While a musician might – hopefully, anyway – be reluctant to purchase a $1,300 violin, un-played and sight-unseen, from an online retailer, when the bulk of accessory sales are under $50 (over 94 percent, according to this survey), it’s just not much of a risk.

As John Czarnecki of Little Ferry, New Jersey’s The Music Gallery says, when it comes to B&O accessories: “Online sales are killing brick and mortar stores.”

 What larger trends have you been noticing in the B&O accessories market?

“Consumers going to Amazon, et cetera, being dissatisfied, and coming back to the store.”

Mark Monaco

Monaco’s Violin Shop

Getzville, New York


“An overall slow decrease in volume, as more customers (including schools – our main market) shop more online.”

Jeff Young

Marshall Music Company

Lansing, Michigan


“Find something that works and stock it. Customers trust you to weed out the weak and the sick.”

Sam Atkinson

The Candyman/Strings & Things

Santa Fe, New Mexico


“School music teachers seem to be requesting upgrades on mouthpieces and reeds over the past two years.”

David St. John

Gard’s Music

Montebello, California


“Music retailers have been abandoned by many of the orchestra accessory brands. It’s sad – we need orchestra brands to start including dealers in the profits.”

Anthony Mantova

Mantova’s Two Street Music

Eureka, California


“Parents opt for replacing single strings with violins, violas, and cellos rather than purchase full sets of strings (especially with cello) because of cost.”

Samuel Perkins

Strait Music

Port Angeles, Washington


“More folks buying instead of renting. The cost to purchase an instrument has come down, plus there is a healthy used band instrument market to pick from.”

Spidey Mulrooney

The Music Shop

Southington, Connecticut


“Parents seem to be a little more comfortable investing in needed accessories for their child’s instrument than last year, as long as the item is recommended and justified.”

Karen Janiszewski

Music Room

Cheektowaga, New York


 “New ways of packaging products that have been around a while are helping get these products into the hands of more customers… As an example, the reed sampler packs originally from Vandoren and now also from D’Adarrio are very popular.”

Steve Gibson

Absolute Music

Reno, Nevada


“Decrease in reed sales. More going to the Internet.”

Kevin Walters

Central Penn Music

Palmyra, Pennsylvania


“Less money is available to municipalities (meaning they spend less). The best companies to work with engage MAP pricing for their products. ALL companies need to use MAP pricing. (For example, Vandoren reeds… a customer could purchase them online for cheaper than our store can even buy them to keep them in stock.)”

Mike Bauer

Giant Steps Music Corp.

Chattanooga, Tennessee


“More competition from the Internet – big surprise…”

Tom Hosmer

Hosmer Violins

Fayetteville, New York


“Guitar Center [is now] carrying reeds and other B&O supplies in-store.”

Erik Swenson

Music Go Round

Woodbury, Minnesota


“April 2017 is the first month in the last 29 months where we have seen sales drop, month to month, and it was in all categories. The malaise and feeling of uncertainty generated by the press on a daily basis is hitting home. It’s ongoing and significant. We will push back with more outreach, ads and promotions as we begin our fall recruiting season.”

Drew Parker

Separk Music

Lewisville, North Carolina


“People are going online for more and more of their B&O accessories.”

Stephen Schafer

Schafer’s House of Music

Howell, Michigan



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