Who Are You?
Jaimie Blackman • June 2020The Sound of Money • June 1, 2020
I live in New York City. I suspect as you read this June column, some social distancing may be relaxed in different parts of the country, but as of the date this column is being written, I’m still hunkered down in my NYC home. This life-pause has slowed down my tempo, giving me more time for inner reflection. Perhaps you have also had the time to recharge your inner battery, helping you to better connect with your customers, when once again you can shake their hands.
It is in the realm of philosophical thought to ask questions which ultimately lead to self-knowledge. For instance, why might a solid philosophy of music retail lead to a high level of personal and business success? Or, does the music retailer draw its primary inspiration from music, or retail? And of course, the ultimate philosophical question: who are you?
The attraction your customers have to music and, by extension, your business, can be found in the aesthetic qualities inherent in music itself, rather than the business of retail.
When the lover of music tries to describe the musical experience, the messaging will be found in the language of human feelings. As a music retailer, music educator, music maker, or music lover, we understand and deeply feel the relationship between music’s aesthetic qualities like melody, rhythm, and harmony, with the subjective qualities of life like the patterns of feeling, and the feeling of significance.
Maximum retail value happens when retailers help impact and improve the human condition. At the heart of the matter, music retail is not the same as grocery retail. The former nourishes the soul, the latter nourishes the body. It’s easy to get lost in the flashing lights and colors of merchandising.
The successful music retailer well understands that the purpose of the retail environment is to cultivate the desired emotions. He or she recognizes that customers are buying the music gear and taking lessons, because they feel their life will be enriched.
Ultimately, the music retailer’s financial success is determined by the impact the MI retailer has on the human condition. The MI retailer who understands how to connect on a deep level, is rewarded both personally and financially. On a practical level, how is this is accomplished? Caring – caring about yourself, your employees, and your customers. I have personally walked into music stores, ready to buy, but didn’t because I didn’t feel the love. The salesperson did not ask me the questions which would create the retail bond needed to buy. Questions like, “Tell me what music means to you?” or “What type of music do you listen to?” or “Tell me what’s important to you in the guitar your looking for today?” Caring is an essential chapter in the playbook of all successful MI retailers. (Refer to my MMR March 2019 column, “How is Caring Measured?” and from MMR September 2019 “The Art of Music Retail,” where I explore how owners can use the language of music to communicate with their team.)
All the core skills you would value in an employee like deep listening, caring, and character require the ability of your employee to manage their own mindset – to quiet the gremlins, and to be in the present moment.
Especially now, in wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, a practice to turn down the mental chatter is key: What are your inner thoughts? Do you have a mechanism to quiet the noise so you can be more creative? Having a regular mindfulness practice to quiet the mind will create a mind state, which helps to answer these questions. (refer to my MMR March 27 online post titled In Tune: Music as the Bridge to Mindfulness, a book by Richard Wolf.)
In my first “Sound of Money” column in November 2017, I wrote “Tapping into, and successfully managing, your intangible assets is key to growing the value of your business and selling it profitably.” A sound philosophical foundation for music retail, rooted in the value of music itself, may be your most valuable intangible asset.
In the end, it will never be about things. It will be about the human condition, and since music has an express path to the heart, the impact will always be profound. When I asked my dad shortly before he died if he had any regrets, it wasn’t about having more money, or more possessions. He said it was not spending enough time with his children. Music retailers are better positioned than Disney to deliver happiness, purpose, and meaning. So, answer the question: who are you? Be safe and be well.
Jaimie Blackman – a former music educator & retailer – is a financial advisor, succession planner, and certified business advisor. Blackman is a frequent speaker at NAMM’s Idea Center. He writes The Sound of Money a monthly column for MMR. Visit, bhwealth.com to subscribe to newsletter and podcasts. Registered Representative, First Allied Securities, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.
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