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36th Annual 50 Dealer/50 State Review & Forecast

Victoria Wasylak & Denyce Neilson • December 2019Features • December 4, 2019

2019 Shows Promise for the Coming Years of MI Sales, Boosted by Gibson, Tagima Guitars, and Repairs, Among Other Factors

 

ALABAMA

T Shepard’s Discount Music

Huntsville

Tom Shepard, Owner
How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? It was basically the same.  My repair business might have been up a bit. I think the numbers are similar year-to-year for the last couple years.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? No, I’ve really been working on the repair side of business, as opposed to the retail side.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? I use social media a lot, and I’ve gotten great reactions from it. It’s relatively inexpensive, if not free, other than the time you put into it.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? The VOX AC30S1 amplifier.

 

ALASKA

The Music Man

Anchorage

Al Green, Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 isn’t quite over yet, but I would say it’s up just a little bit.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Ibanez, we took them on last year.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our most successful advertising is always The Book of Good Deals, it’s a quarterly magazine.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? The Yamaha P-515 digital piano.

 

ARIZONA

Brindley’s Music Center

Chandler

Bruce Brindley, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? So far 2019 has not kept up with 2018 numbers. 2018 ended very strong, and that momentum carried into the first few months of 2019. Since then the business across the board has been struggling to match 2018 sales numbers.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? The strongest new line for us has been Tagima guitars and basses. The quality and value of the product was the perfect match to what our customers have come to expect from us. The Tagima line of instruments also seemed to compliment the large array of Ibanez products our store has carried for over 40 years.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  Our marketing strategy includes an active social media (Facebook, Instagram) with information focusing on repairs, service, and lessons. As a result, we have seen significant increases in those areas. We have also used the local internet selling website Offerup to show our products and advertise all the services Brindley’s provides. We have seen direct results from these two marketing strategies.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? The product of the year for us has been the Ibanez Promethean P20 20 watt bass amplifier.

 

ARKANSAS

Palmer Music Co.

Conway

Preston Palmer, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? We are happy to say that business is way up in 2019, compared to 2018. This September and October have been the biggest retail months we have had since we opened in 2016.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We picked up Martin guitars this year. They have been flying off the shelf. Martin has proven to be a great company to work with! Kala is another that has been great for us!

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We really only do social media marketing, and we tend to focus on lessons, and entry level instruments. Creating campaigns around those areas has yielded positive results.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Surprisingly, the Boss Katana 50. Super cool amp, with super cool features, at a really great price point. Once we demo it to a customer, they fall in love!

 

CALIFORNIA

Tweed Hut Music

Vacaville

Matthew Taynton, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 has so been a much better year than 2018 for us. And 2018 was better than 2017. We should be about 12-15 percent up. Hard to say due to the dip in sales caused by the fire and power outages.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Martin and PRS are both in their second year with us and we see growth in both lines.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our most successful strategy has been our consistent use of short product videos. We post on social media, new arrivals and special features…this sort of thing. It’s nice to see the views and watches reported. And it’s free.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Our product of the year would have to be the Yamaha Trans Acoustic line.

 

COLORADO

Rupps Drums

Denver

Alex Simpson, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Gross sales are up roughly 15 percent for 2019, due in part to the positive improvements we made in 2018 regarding employee training, customer experience, Ecommerce presence and community engagement.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  We’ve had some success with the Meinl Sonic Energy line as well as high-end Sonor Drums (SQ1, Prolite, Vintage, SQ2).

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our marketing focus involves hosting as many local events as possible (drum clinics, private masterclasses, Denver Drum Society meetings, festival backlines, drum competitions and store sales) in order to engage and energize our community.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? The Roland TD-17KVX Electronic Kits have been a strong, consistent seller all year and sales are expected to increase during the holidays.

 

CONNECTICUT

Acoustic Music

Guilford

Brian Wolfe, Sales Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? I think 2019 is going to end up being a mirror of 2018 for the most part.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? No new brands, we have quite a few guitar dealerships already.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We used Reverb and found it to be a great way to move used instruments.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Gibson Guitars, they are back in a big way for us.

 

DELAWARE
Accent Music

Wilmington

Ronny DeNest, Assistant Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? We’re even.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our Facebook page.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? We do really well with acoustic guitars and Blackstar 10 watt amps.

 

FLORIDA

Blues Angel Music

Pensacola

Jim DeStafney, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Blues Angel Music opened a second store in November of 2018. During the year, we saw modest growth in most of our retail business with the strongest retail increase in percussion. Long term rental of school band and orchestra instruments also saw a modest increase. Our audio, visual and lighting department, as well as our short-term rental department saw huge growth in 2019.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We started carrying Martin Guitars in 2019. Customers have had great interest in the line and we have seen solid sales.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our weekly free ukulele class is a great draw and our strongest marketing strategy. The class is full of veterans and newcomers every week. It has been a big success in our second location and the biggest draw of repeat visitors by far.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Breedlove Guitars and ukuleles.

 

GEORGIA

Music Authority

Cumming

Melissa Loggins, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  2019 has, so far, been an amazing year for us.  Student numbers and repairs are both up double digit percentages from 2018.  This has increased our bottom line and has also increased our small good sales.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  We haven’t taken on new lines this year, but we have focused more on our selection of small goods. From keeping the ukulele wall stocked (we find Ohana and Kala are both fabulous brands that do well for us) to avoiding products stocked by our nearest competitors, we try to give our customers an experience that isn’t doubled somewhere else. We want them to feel special when they’re at Music Authority.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our best marketing strategy has nothing to do with a piece of gear.  It’s a “PTO” style organization at Music Authority – the Music Authority Roadies. It gives parents a platform to be a part of our music program. They host special events, service projects, and appreciation gifts to our staff.  The parents feel like part of the “Music Authority Family” and are more likely to refer their friends and neighbors.  It’s the most effective overall store marketing we do all year.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019?  Takamine GX11.

 

HAWAII

Lahaina Music

Lahaina
Heidi Turner, Sales Associate

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Right now we’re up about three percent from last year.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? No specific brands, but we’ve been experimenting with different price points for ukuleles.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our YouTube tutorials from 2018 and 2019 have been our most successful.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? All-solid Hawaiin Koa Hawaiin-made ukuleles. We can’t keep them in stock.

 

IDAHO

Piano Gallery Music Superstore

Ammon

Rulon Leman, General Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? I think all in all, it was a positive increase. There were some things that were down a little bit. A lot of the local string programs and school programs, they’re struggling on the school side, so of course that affects us, but our band rental numbers were great, sales-wise.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We started carrying Schecter Guitars this year and I’ve had pretty good success with it.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We did these competitions, we called it a “share your talent” competition, and what we did is we would have an instrument up for grabs – a ukulele or a guitar – and we’ve had customers come in and play the instrument. Then we would take a video, and then we would put all the videos up on Facebook and have them share with their friends, or have their friends share it, and whichever video got the likes and shares won the instrument. On a day-to-day post we’d get a couple hundred impressions and a couple likes,  but we were getting 40,000 to 50,000 impressions on the “share your talent” videos and hundreds upon hundreds of likes, comments, and shares.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? We usually sell acoustic to electric 10 to one, but the nicer Schecter Guitars, I usually sell them within a few weeks of getting them in stock.

 

ILLINOIS

PM Music Center

Aurora

Eric Downs, Purchasing Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  2019 was a good year for us. New school accounts more than made up for slightly lower numbers we saw at some of our existing accounts.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? This year we started working with American Way Marketing, and we’ve been extremely happy. Great fill rates, great pricing, and they’re just great people to work with!

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? This year we hosted many successful clinics, including our highest attended clinic ever, and their success was due to our multipronged marketing strategy – social media promotions, highly targeted email blasts, in-store signage, personal invitations, and connecting with local teacher organizations.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? I would have to say Yamaha intermediate and pro band instruments. We’ve been a big Yamaha store for a long time, but this year was a banner year for sales of Yamaha step-up band instruments from flutes to tubas.

 

INDIANA

Maxwell’s House of Music

Jeffersonville

Mike McAfee, Buyer

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? I’m thrilled to say our 2019 has not just been better than 2018, but good enough that we’re expanding for the second time in five years. Our focus of growing more students, closing more sales and doing more installations has paid off.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Fender’s Tone Master line of amplifiers have dazzled everyone! We added the Washburn Bella Tono line of guitars and cannot keep them in. Our new Paul Reed Smith guitars and amps have moved well for us as have every Steinberg interface we carry.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Building our student count through after-school outreach, band building programs and free monthly concerts. We’re approaching 500 individual students per week ranging in age from 7 to 70. The impact this focus has made on our success is massive.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? The Fender Tone Master amps are absolutely amazing and get our vote. If you haven’t played on yet… do! A close second would be the upgraded Gretsch Electromatic series Jet guitars.

 

IOWA

Ray’s Midbell Music

Sioux City

Mike Guntren, President

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Although most areas are fairly similar from 2018 to 2019, we saw a small overall increase in 2019.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We’re really having success with Cort guitars.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We believe that from the cleanliness of the restrooms, to the way guests are greeted, to advertising campaigns, to salespersonship, “it’s all marketing.”  As for advertising mediums, we use social platforms, direct mail, and even a little TV, and in the end, email is still king.  We’ve found email coupled with good salespersonship and communication within our team gives us the best results.  This being said, there is no silver bullet.  Getting them here is one thing.  Following through and making the guest experience awesome, and ending with a sale is the rest of the job.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? We are privileged to carry so many great products…all having different strengths and niches for different types of clients.  For our business, reducing everything down to just numbers, Yamaha B&O is absolutely #1.

 

KANSAS

Garten’s Music & the Wichita Music Academy

Wichita

Cindy and Michael Houston, Owners

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? We saw a decline in all keyboard instrument lines but an increase in lessons as well as guitar and ukulele.  When Cindy’s parents started our company 50 years ago, it was 100 percent electronic organ service. We have evolved over the years by adding retail and education.  Today service is less than 1 percent of our income and, for the first time, education edged above retail by 2 percent.
 
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Ortega ukuleles are new here. Sometimes ukuleles from some brands look quite similar to other brands; Ortega has managed to create some unique instruments that look great and sound great.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our 50th anniversary celebration in September was amazing! We promoted events on social media, sent press releases and invited dignitaries. Over the course of that week, we received a proclamation from our city council, a tribute from the Kansas Senate, held a ribbon cutting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, were featured in an article in the daily paper, hosted a live, on-site broadcast by our local ABC TV affiliate, and had a big anniversary sale over the weekend. Tons of free publicity and exposure!

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Private music lessons. These are up 24 percent from last year.

 

KENTUCKY

Willcutt Guitars

Lexington

James Adkins, President

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? In 2019 we have seen almost 10 percent growth overall.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We just signed back on with Gibson. They are making incredible guitars and their offerings are exactly what the customers have been wanting.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Being more active on Instagram has definitely helped with marketing and reaching the right customers.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019? We have seen a big increase in Fret Doctor sells this year.  It is an incredible fingerboard conditioner.

 

LOUISIANA

Christy Music

Slidell

Sean Murphy, Sales Associate

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? We’ve stayed kind of even so far. We’re up some months, down others, so it kind of levels out.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Not really, we have increased a couple brands, dropped a couple brands. We haven’t seen any significant change in our numbers, as far as that goes, we’re just increasing the quality of the materials we’re bringing in.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Word of mouth. We’ve been here for 41 years, so we get more out of word of mouth than we do any other way.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Tagima Guitars.

 

MAINE

Mainely Music

Ellsworth

Chris Jovanelli, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Sales were up. 2018 was up over 2017 too, it’s been climbing steady for the last two and a half years. Even more so now that they tax the internet.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Devil Cat amplifiers.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Treat customers well.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Chris Mitchell electric guitars.

 

MARYLAND

Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center

Wheaton

Adam Levin, General Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 was a strong year, despite its obstacles with tariffs, implementing out of state taxes and the like. It was a good year for gear.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? This year we really started rolling with eurorack modular synths. It has been a very fun and exciting new category. New brands that have shined this year are Victory Amps, Rampone and Cazzani Saxophones, and Dexibell keyboards.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Focusing even more on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and creating engaging, informative and fun content. The level of engagement we see and the response we get, both locally and customers from elsewhere, has been incredibly positive.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? The Fender Acoustisonic Tele was a fun one – people didn’t really know what to think when they saw it, but once people got hands on it they could see the massive creative potential. Others that are definitely worth noting: Yamaha MODX and Roland Fantom were both incredible releases that did extremely well out of the gate. BOSS SY-1, KORG Minilogue XD, QSC KS118, Allen and Heath SQ, RODE Rodecaster Pro, Roland TD17-KVX all had great roll outs and have been strong sellers all year.

 

MASSACHUSETTS

University Music

Lowell

Steve Bears, Combo Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? I believe it was up very slightly.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? There really hasn’t been to many changes as far as bringing new brands in, we’ve been pretty stable.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Most of our marketing we keep extremely local. It’s a lot of things like dealing with charities, and we just did a raffle for breast cancer, we raffled off a couple of musical instruments. We support the local baseball teams – people come in here and we give them free tickets to the game. We do a lot of that kind of stuff, very “close-to-home” things, because that’s where 90 percent of our business is. We did just start this year selling on Reverb. It’s an outlet for stuff that we don’t move that easily in the store, but there’s a market for in the wider world.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Cannonball saxophones.

 

MICHIGAN

B’s Music Shop

Mt. Pleasant

Brian Hansen, Owner
How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 has been a slower year for us in terms of sales. We are still performing strongly, but mid-year we began to show smaller sales that previous years. We are working hard to change that for our 2020 predictions!

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  We’ve been picking up much more smaller pedals companies. We have a large pedal selection and going into companies like Mattoverse, Deep Space Devices, Alexander, RaingerFx, et cetera has really allowed us to have some truly unique things in the market. This industry is so saturated with “me too” products that its’ fun to show off things that customers won’t stumble upon online or at other stores.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We have really leaned harder into Instagram and showing off the parade of things that come through here. For us, nothing beats direct social interaction with our clients.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? We have really had success with Reverend Guitars this year. They always seem to just be the guitar people pick when they pull the trigger.

 

MINNESOTA

The Music Mart

Joe Meidl, president

Mankato

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? It’s up tremendously, but I think it’s a little due to adding locations and buying other locations. In the last three years, I’ve added two locations, so it’s been very good. Up 20 to 30 percent.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Currently in one of my newer locations, I took on Taylor Guitars.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Going online with everything. A combination of online [sales] with our regulars in the school music world.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019?  Snark tuners. When people buy a guitar, they buy a Snark.

 

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Music

Flowood, Meridian, Biloxi, Hattieburg

Rosi K. Johnson, President/CEO

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Business was up.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Franklin Straps.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Social Media videos.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Roland/ Boss Katana Amplifier KTN-50.

 

MISSOURI

Will West Music & Sound

Jefferson City

Will West, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  2018 and 2019 have been similar from a dollar standpoint.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We reauthorized with Gibson after several years layoff and they have been well received.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  We are working hard to keep our website up-to-date and to list items for online sales. We’ve tried to get out in the local music scene to see our customers perform. And we’ve continued to work with local school influencers to keep us in the mind of our local students.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019?  The product of the year is hard to say.  I can say I am very excited about the new Tone Master amps from Fender. QSC continues to dominate PA sales. Boss Katana amps are still a top seller too.

 

MONTANA

Music Villa

Bozeman

Paul Decker, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  Looking to be about 12 percent up for the year.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Breedlove guitars and Reverend guitars.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Continuing to remodel.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019?  Bose S-1, Gibson J-45.

 

 

NEBRASKA

CGS Music

Lincoln

Bob Popek, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 was very good. I know a lot of dealers are losing sales to the internet, but because we do a lot of repairs and restoration, we don’t have that problem.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We do sell instruments, but most of our business is repairs and restoration, so no, no new lines or products.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our marketing strategy is all word of mouth.

 

NEVADA

Absolute Music

Reno

Steve Gibson, Owner
How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 has been a little strange for Absolute Music. While we are on track to exceed 2018 in gross receipts, new rentals (which are our bread and butter) are down almost ten percent. We believe we got fewer new rentals this year because our shopping center has been under major construction for the last 4 to 5 months. The construction is almost done now, thankfully, but it has been pretty hard on us. There were many times that the store looked closed because it was so torn up out front. We knew going in, that the construction was going to hurt, so we worked really hard to make sure people knew we were here for them. In the end, I’m almost surprised that we only lost as much as we did. And in the end, our total sales numbers are up because we worked hard and forced ourselves out of our comfort zones. We were able to get through this difficult transition and found some amazing new opportunities along the way.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We added the Buffet Crampon line back to our offering this year. We let that line go years ago, but are very happy to have it back in our lineup. They have really solid brands with great reputations. On the guitar side of our business, we added Alvarez guitars, and this has been a great addition that has single-handedly doubled sales in that department.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our most successful marketing happens when we are out of the store where our customers are. Absolute Music has a display set up at as many concerts, festivals, and competitions as possible. We offer free emergency instrument repair and have a selection of instruments and accessories to show off and sell. We pay for the opportunity to advertise in the printed programs at these events, and we’re even the title sponsor for a few of them. Being out and about at these events has been very good for our business. We physically go to where our customers are. Today’s consumers spend a lot of time on the internet; trying to meet our customers on the web is far more difficult, there are too many distractions there.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? This is a hard question to answer with one singular product. On the accessory side of the business, we are constantly pleased with D’Addario and their expanding line of Reserve mouthpieces has been a consistent best seller for us.  On the instrument side of the business, Yamaha products never cease to amaze me. If I have to choose just one, I’ll go with their new Mariachi trumpet because the excitement it has drummed up in our store has been pretty amazing.  The only products that should get more praise from us are all the Hohner Kazoos and Trophy Slide Whistles we sell at our booths while we are out at those concerts, festivals, and competitions I was talking about before.

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gary’s Guitars

Portsmouth

Marc McElroy, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? We managed to increase retail sales in 2019. Overall, foot traffic is down, but decreasing opportunities in the online sales has convinced us to emphasize our brick-and-mortar status.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Just some traditional medium size makers. Results have been good but nothing amazing.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our most successful marketing strategy is to concentrate in the social media realm for marketing.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Our product of the year, based on sales, would be the Fishman Loudbox Mini. It’s an easy up sell, and in all forms of amplification small is the new big. Therefore, we’re going to concentrate on small amplifiers is in general.

 

NEW JERSEY

The Music Shop

Boonton

David Scott, Director of Sales

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  2019 has been a great year for The Music Shop. We are continuing to grow and are always expanding the products and services we offer.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  Our new and exciting product this year is the ZOE clarinet by Buffet. It is a professional model, designed for a younger player looking for an upgrade. The bore is slightly smaller, which allows for students to play more freely while staying in tune.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  Our most successful marketing strategy in 2019 has been listening to our customers. Sometimes it’s better to be reactive than proactive. Rather than bombarding our customers with offers and promotions, we have focused more on receiving feedback and implementing changes based on that feedback. After all, our customers are the most important part of our business.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019?  We don’t have a true “product of the year” as our business is quite diversified, but we have seen growth in our printed music sales. We have a huge selection of sheet music, and we will special order anything we don’t carry.

 

NEW MEXICO

Musicality

Albuquerque

Michael Keith, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Musicality is entering our second year of business, and 2019 sales are up from 2018. We’re hitting our goal of a 25 percent growth.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We’ve added Ohana and Diamond Head ukuleles, and Washburn Guitars. We’re a music, arts, band and orchestra instrument rental affiliate dealer, so we’re able to add products and lines through their music instrument sales department easily. We’ve expanded our print music and combo instrument departments over the last three months, which has been driving our back-to-school sales.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We employ direct mail, social media, Amazon, and Google advertising. We’ve had the best luck using Google and Facebook advertising. While Amazon is a very competitive marketplace, we’ve seen increases over 25 percent in the last year.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Our “product of the year” for 2019 is ukuleles.

 

NEW YORK

Mike Risko Music

Ossining

Mike Risko, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? In 2019 we implemented more technology in our lesson program. Through the use of live video lessons, we are able to have a much greater reach teaching student from other states, as well as having teachers working from across the country. The live video lessons have been really exciting. We are able to record the lesson and examples played by the teacher, as well as write out assignments, and send that email along to the students for further review.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? This year we started working with Alvarez Yairi Series, and they make great guitars at all price points. They also offer many body shapes and sizes of guitars, which is a great because guitar is one of the most popular instruments to study at our school. The guitars start at $170 and go up to $2699. They are easy to play, set up well from the factory, and sound great.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our most successful marketing strategy for 2019 was hold community events at our space. We have in store clinics and concerts with artists from the manufacturers that we deal with, pet parades, fireman’s parade watching party for our community, PTA shopping events, ukulele group jam, and more.

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Tempo Music

Hendersonville

Michael Hall, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  Better.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  No.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  Social media, paying more attention to online presence and website.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Without a doubt ukuleles, can’t keep them on the shelves.

 

NORTH DAKOTA

Flatland Guitar and Lutherie

Fargo

Brett Marcuson, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  We’ve seen growth throughout the store. We opened 2014 and have been growing every year. 2019 has been better than previous years with additions of new product lines and increase in new customers.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  We try to expand and stay current on the brands we currently deal; Taylor, Yamaha, PRS have all seen higher sales. We added FMIC brands like Gretsch, Jackson, and Charvel in late 2018/early 2019 have been doing very well for us.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  Our most successful marketing strategy would be simply having the gear our customers want, and giving them a selection of other products to choose from. Combined with competitive prices and above and beyond customer service, customers keep coming back and new customers walk through our door.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Paul Reed Smith Silver Sky.

 

OHIO

A Max Music Ltd

Akron

Julie Ross, Manager/Director of Music

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? We noticed an uptick in business that started the last part of 2018 and has kept on going strong in 2019.  2019 has been very busy. The customers keep coming in and buying. We rarely see slow days anymore.

We have a lot of repeat customers, but we also keep getting lots of new customers all the time. I’ve noticed that customers are splurging on purchases. There is also a trend with older adults either wanting to play an instrument or getting back into playing. Things have gone so good this year we were able to expand our stores square footage. We tore down a wall, raised a ceiling, and made our store bigger. It has been an exciting year. We are one of the few full-line music stores still around. We carry pianos, guitars, amps, drums, school band and orchestra, recording, sound reinforcement, and everything in between. We try to cater to all their musical needs under one roof. We are all things music. We are the old fashion brick and mortar music store whose family history in the music business dates back to the 1940s. Our store was so packed with merchandise, you almost had to walk sideways, so we had no choice but to expand.

The expansion has been well worth it. We are able to display the instruments a lot better and the customers love the extra space. Even though the store is larger, we try to utilize every square inch of our floor space. We built snare racks to the ceiling, installed a guitar rack on the ceiling, and put storage with an access handle underneath our window stages. All I can say is business is on an upswing, so take advantage of this economic wave.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We’ve taken on several new lines this year, EVH guitars, Nord keyboards, Tagima guitars and Lâg guitars. I have always been a Van Halen fan and so are many of our customers. So far, the customers really like the new guitars, and they notice things are happening at our store. Nord has also been popular with churches and professional musicians. Tagima has reasonably priced guitars made in Brazil. Everyone is impressed with the quality. But the Lâg guitar line is probably the best hit with the customers, featuring the first smart guitar.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Probably the most successful marketing strategy for 2019 is an event we participate in what’s called the “guitar fest.” The guitar fest is a guitar show is at the summit county fairgrounds. It features local and out of town music stores, guitar builders, manufacturers, and collectors. It’s everything guitar and a celebration of it. It promotes guitars, guitar playing, and collectibles. Local and famous clinicians participate in the event. It’s a great opportunity to showcase new products, get new customers, and catch up with some customers you haven’t seen in a while.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? The product of the year is the Lâg Hyvibe smart acoustic electric guitar. The guitar features a built-in multi-effects processor with reverb, delay, and a looper with a recorder. It’s easy to use. You just record your rhythm loop and play along with it. It also has built-in Bluetooth. The way the guitar is engineered it acts like a speaker, but there is no built-in speaker. Sometimes we just record a loop and let the guitar play by itself with no one around. When the customers come in, they at first can’t figure out where the guitar playing is coming from. Then we show them how the guitar is playing by itself with the built-in looper. The customers just freak out over it. The guitar is truly amazing. People just love new and different innovations.

 

OKLAHOMA

Edmond Music

Edmond

Scott Starns, General Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  So far, our gross sales are up about 20 percent this year.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  We have continued to maintain the same strong lines we have carried in the past. We have added Genzler Amps and increased the presence of Taylor Guitars as well.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  We have begun to have a social media footprint in 2019. We feature one of our talented employees each Friday in a “Friday Feature.” In addition, we have started a campaign titled “Inspiration Can Happen Anywhere” where we showcase an instrument at a local business.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Our product of the year has been Steinway Grand Pianos. We had another university gain the status of an “All Steinway School” and have continued to grow our Steinway product line.

 

OREGON

Five Star Guitars

Beaverton

Geoff Metts, CMO

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Q1 and Q2 were strong and met our growth projections. Q3, however, has exceeded any expectations we could have hoped for. We are hoping to ride that momentum through Q4 and go into 2020 bigger and better than ever.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? In 2019, we’ve added ESP, Gibson, Epiphone, and Suhr. In addition, we added more local manufacturers, including Benson Amps and Divine Noise cables. Each brand was chosen to complement our existing inventory and have met or exceeded our projections. We look forward to growing in 2020 with each of our new vendors.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We’ve had a lot of success partnering with our vendors on in-store experiences e.g., clinics, artist appearances, etcetera. Our lesson program continues to grow, bolstered in part by our series of student concerts throughout the year.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? We have been really impressed with the Lu’au ukuleles from Breedlove. They look great, sound great, and are a favorite of our customers and staff alike.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

Progressive Music

McKeesport

Mark Despotakis, Director of Market Development

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Things are about the same.  We’re solidly in the school music market and things have remained steady.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We’ve begun to offer some Hunter Musical instruments to our customers. While they’re not a significant part of our sales, we’ve been happy with the product and the price point they offer.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We’ve started more outreach in the community by getting involved in more instrument petting zoos that are part of community events.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019? We continue to have success with anything we purchase from Maple Leaf Strings. We have worked with them for years and have yet to have any problem with any instrument they’ve sold. That’s pretty rare in the orchestral string instrument world.

 

RHODE ISLAND

Empire Guitars
Providence

Mike Samos, Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? In 2019 we saw continued, steady growth for both in store and online sales.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Yamaha’s Red Label guitars and the Hudson Electronics Broadcast are new hits around the shop.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our marketing remains primarily social media, also sponsoring local events and organizations and supporting the local music community.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Chase Bliss Mood.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

Fox Music

North Charleston

Joseph Fox, Vice President

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 was a banner year for Fox Music House. Not only did we exceed sales goals, but we expanded to a new 22,000 square-foot showroom, largest in the southeast, with eight lesson studios and a full-service center. Furthermore, we are just about to open a second location in Columbia as our satellite expansion store.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? As Yamaha’s oldest piano dealer, we have continued to excel with their line of new innovative instruments. We were awarded the Institutional Solutions Group dealership for South Carolina and have worked closely with our prime market, schools and churches, to bring them the best in piano performance. New for 2019, we took on the Seiler line. A high-quality piano made by Samick from one of the oldest German heritage manufacturers. This has opened up a whole new arena of sound for our customer’s ears.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We have continued to use what has always been paramount to our success, community engagement. We believe in cause marketing – it’s the root of all we do. Every effort to bring more people into music, expose all ages to the benefits, and give them the opportunity to play. In our larger space, we are now able to host monthly events. Partnering with local organization has not only increased their awareness and raised funds, but helps those with musical interest find us too. At our most recent Jazz Series show, we had over 80 attendees, raised $400.00 for Jazzscape Jr Jazz Foundation. Everyone got to enjoy some incredible music and one happy customer now has a new Yamaha Grand piano.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Product of the year is hands down the Yamaha CSP Clavinova Smart Pianist.

 

SOUTH DAKOTA

Haggerty’s Musicworks

Rapid City

Marcus Lavake, Co-Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 so far has continued to be on par with 2018. Although we are more profitable, because of Operational changes. The upswing we have had in on-Line sales has served to counter any slight decline in the local market.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We brought Gibson back this year because of the change in the company, and we have had a positive response from the community. It is exciting to bring this legacy grand back to our store. We have also Added Clavinova Pianos in a dedicated showroom, to create a great buying experience. A few other brands we have added that have done well are JHS, Alexander, and Diamond pedals, as well as Luxxtone Guitars.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? The most successful marketing strategy continues to be making every effort in sales training, in-store environment, and service to provide an amazing customer service experience. Whether online or in person, the continuous push to bring professionalism, inspiration, and excitement for music to our customer base proves to pay off.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? For us “product of the year” means new products that have been released this year that have made a significant difference in the market. The Taylor Grand Pacific certainly takes the award by sheer sales volume, and the Katana Amplifier Series by Boss continues to amaze me.

 

TENNESSEE

Fanny’s House of Music

Nashville

Pamela Cole, Co-owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Sales were up slightly. Our location in the Five Points neighborhood of East Nashville has helped with the slow months, as tourists enjoy coming in and browsing our selection of new and used instruments as well as vintage clothes.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Our sales of Danelectro and Eastwood instruments have increased. We like to carry unusual models customers may see online, but want to actually play before they buy like the Eastwood Warren Ellis line of tenors and such. Customers love their unique, throwback designs with the reliability of modern construction.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We are so excited to have wrapped Fanny’s van, “Vanny,” with our beautiful mural designed by Nashville artist Scott Guion. Guion designed the artwork on our T-shirts, and we love seeing artists like Melissa Etheridge and Flight of the Conchords representing Fanny’s on Instagram. We were also honored to have been mentioned in an NPR piece about the amazing Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a rock and roll foremother by whom we are very inspired.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Our “product of the year” for 2019 has to be baritone guitars. We try to keep several baritones in stock all the time so customers know they can come to Fanny’s and try one out. We’re starting to like baritone guitars more than regular guitars. That may be due in part to the owners of Fanny’s House of Music being bass players.

 

TEXAS

Music Go Round

Fort Worth

David Boswell, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 is up over 2018.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Pig Hog cables.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Google.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? SIT strings.

 

UTAH

Provo

Bill Harris Music

Ford Harris, Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? 2019 compared about the same for us as to 2018. I would say Q1 was better this year than last, but last year’s Q2 was easier to swallow compared to this year. Q3 and Q4 are where we really expect to do a large percentage of our annual sales. So, we are on par I would say, comparatively speaking.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Towards the end of 2018 we added Tagima and Palatino fully and we haven’t looked back since. Both companies offer some of the best bang for your buck in terms of quality for price and have really done well for us in our marketplace.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? Our back to school sales always does really well. We are doing a clearance sale right now that has really helped as well for both new and used inventory. The Christmas sale or holiday sales usually are the best though.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019? If it’s specifically one type instrument, that would be acoustic guitar or acoustic ukulele. If it is for accessories, I would have to say cables or strings – Tour Tough does well for us in cables, S.I.T., DR, and Cleartone have done really well for us string wise. VHT came out with an 80 watt stereo guitar amp that has received a lot of positive customer feedback.

VERMONT

Burlington

Randolin Music

Nowa Crosby, Owner, and Luthier

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  Well, you probably don’t want to hear this, but drastically down, by as much as 30 percent. Some of it is due to the national economy and some to local circumstances. I’m hoping to turn the last three months around with a new website, trying to draw in new business, and expanding on the web.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  We took on the Alvarez line a few months ago and are having some success with it, though our Recording King and Loar line has been doing best for us.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  Using Facebook more has added to our market and bringing back the Canadian market. We’re running a fall and maybe a winter special for Quebec, doing dollar for dollar, though at the moment, I can’t say how successful it is, as it’s just starting.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019?  That might be the Goldtone Little Gem, acrylic, colored banjo ukuleles. Very popular with adults and parents looking for a banjo for their kid.

 

VIRGINIA

Stacy’s Music Shop

Charlottesville

Shep Stacy, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? So far, we are going toe to toe with 2018 in sales. However, we have seen a significant increase in electric guitar sales compared to last year. This is making up for a slight decrease in acoustic instruments. We will celebrate 75 years in business next year and have seen this trend many times.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We have done very well with the Focusrite Scarlett USB recording interfaces, as well as Novation midi controllers. Because of the small margins, it’s something we have shied away from in the past, but I’m glad that we now have them in stock.
Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We only advertised out lessons and performance programs this year. And because of that, we have seen a large shift in traffic as well as a nice increase in private lessons.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Our product of the year is our Highway to Rock performance program. It’s has outsold all other products we offer. Kids really want to get on stage and play. Being able to mentor kids in a band setting and then take them to a local club to perform is a wonderful thing. It’s good for the store and even better for our community.

 

WEST VIRGINIA

Bandland

Clarksburg

Evan Jones, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? It looks like our B&O rentals for 2019 will be up about 8 percent over last year. 2018 was the only year that rentals were slightly down, otherwise we have seen steady growth over the last 10 years.
Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Amati strings and Amahi ukuleles have been excellent additions for us. Several of the lines Hal Leonard has taken on (outside of print) have also been a nice surprise.
What is your “product of the year” for 2019? It would have to be student trombones from Conn-Selmer. Trombone rentals have been crazy popular over the last few years.

 

 

WASHINGTON

Ted Brown Music

Tacoma

Whitney Brown Grisaffi, President
How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? Our fiscal year ends in December, but so far 2019 sales are tracking about five percent ahead of 2018. On a separate note, I’m happy to say our school rental numbers continue to grow incrementally over previous years as well.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We took on Hercules DJ as a new line this year, and it has been doing well for us.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? Our most successful marketing strategy was increasing the number of students taking lessons at Ted Brown Music. It was successful enough to earn us the NAMM Top 100 Award for best marketing and sales promotion. We’ll be sharing more details on this in the Idea Center at Winter NAMM.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? It’s too hard to pick just one category, so I have three products we’d like to share as product of the year:

Kala KA-15 ukuleles – we’ve sold hundreds of these and expect to sell more for the holidays. Yamaha CP88 keyboard – it’s the right product at the right time. Sebastian London and Paris violins – a good product at a good price.

 

WISCONSIN

Heid Music

Appleton

Alyssa Retza, Marketing and Communications Manager

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business?  There are peaks and valleys every year, and the comparison of year-over-year varies by department. We’ve seen notable growth in 2019 within the band, orchestra, and the digital piano realms. The moral of the story is patience – this is a marathon, not a sprint. We really work to stay aware and pivot to maintain relevance.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year?  Ohana is a ukulele brand that we’ve added, and we’ve started to see traction. We’ve also introduced the Bravo and Q Series line of instruments from Eastman for intermediate and professional band, and the response has been positive. The Fender Tone Master Series of amps is also something that was new to us, and we sold out in about a week.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019?  Most of our success stems from a giving mindset. When you’re generous with others, they’re often generous with you. For example, Music in our Schools Month during March has been a massive success, and we’ve been able to work with several schools to keep music programs healthy. Through this, we introduced a large social media campaign, complete with prizes. We worked with vendors to gather prizes and keep the musical spirit alive. We were also able to raise thousands of dollars back toward schools working through growth and development. In addition, we’ve also found success through digital mediums this year, like email, our website and social media outlets.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? There are many pieces to the musical puzzle, so the product of the year varies by department. That said, we must give a nod to a few. For band, product of the year would be the Shires Q Trumpet. The Yamaha P515 has also been a great product in our line of pianos and keyboards. The overall crowd pleasers are ukuleles, and we continue to diversify our portfolio and support the engagement with events, group lessons, and community programming.

 

WYOMING

Fremont Music

Lander

Sean Robert Francis, Owner

How did 2019 compare to 2018 for your business? The summer was great, but the fall has slowed down a bit. Last year, we moved to a better, more visible location, which helped a lot.

Are there any new lines or brands you’ve taken on with success in the past year? We were getting a lot of requests form customers for Earthquake pedals, so we decided to order them and they’ve been doing well.

Most successful marketing strategy in 2019? We’ve been using social media more than we have in the past, and it’s definitely helping. We’ve been selling quite a bit on Reverb, mostly small stuff that’s been sitting around for a while, and that’s been good for us.

What is your “product of the year” for 2019? Gretsch ukuleles

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