Music Inc Magazine May 2024





MAY 2024 I VOL. 35, NO. 4




OFFICES Phone: (630) 941-2030 Email: CUSTOMER SERVICE (630) 941-2030 ext. 122

Jack Maher, President, 1970–2003 SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free to qualified retailers and suppliers of musical instruments. For all others: $60 one year (11 issues). $100 two years (22 issues) to U.S.A. addresses. $85 one year (11 issues), $150 two years (22 issues) to Canada and other foreign countries. Air mail delivery at cost. SINGLE COPY (and back issues, limited supply): $14.95, plus shipping, surface mail. Air mail, delivery at cost. We cannot be responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and photos. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from Maher Publications Inc. Copyright 2024 by Maher Publications Inc., all foreign rights reserved. Trademark register pending. OTHER MAHER PUBLICATIONS: DownBeat, UpBeat Daily CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please allow six weeks for your change to become effective. When notifying us of your new address, include your current MUSIC INC. label showing your old address. MUSIC INC. (ISSN 1050-1681) Published monthly, except March. Printed in U.S.A. by Maher Publications Inc. 188 W. Industrial Drive, Suite 310, Elmhurst, IL 60126. Periodical Postage Paid at Elmhurst, IL and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to:

MUSIC INC., 188 W. Industrial Drive, Suite 310, Elmhurst, Illinois 60126



May 2024


Jake Wu

26 I FROM THE TOP Donner’s Jake Wu on why U.S. dealers should stock the buzzy company’s products. 34 I EMBRACING THE FUTURE: AI & MI How MI retailers and audio software suppliers are utilizing the ever-evolving technology.

Gabe Dalporto


30 I GUITAR CENTER’S ROCK STAR CEO In our exclusive sit-down with Gabe Dalporto, he discusses his new role as CEO and how being a lifelong GC shopper will inform his decisions, as well as how his digital background will bolster his plans to turn Guitar Center into an MI digital powerhouse.

Tips for finding the best point-of-sale system for your business.

21 I AI IN MI X Brendan Alviani breaks down voice chatting and AI. 22 I THE MARKETING GURU X  Tracy Hoeft discusses when and when not to boost a post on social media. 23 I E-COMMERCE REVERBERATIONS X  Jamie Major advocates preparing your online storefront for global buyers. 24 I NAMM YP X  Kelly Riordan details her experience from music student to studio owner. 25 I WOMEN OF NAMM X  Jennifer Mayes shares ways to stay informed with tech advances in business.


16 I NEWS X NAMM Names Newly Elected Officers to ExComm X  Fender to Open New Phoenix Co-Headquarters X Marshall Music Unveils New Retail, Service Center X Korg USA Appoints Director of IT X  Sync2Sell Announces Enhanced Shipping Integration X  Yorkville Sound, Blackstar Strike Distribution Deal X  Guitar Center Names Kristin Shane Executive VP 12 I INDUSTRY PROFILES X AmpliTeach aims to enhance the lesson experience — for both store owners and students. X MusicMax amps up its distribution portfolio.

54 I ASK THE RETAILER X  Retailers share the one SaaS they can’t live without.

Cover photo by Greg Alter



T he week before we shipped this issue, the Music Inc. team spent four days in Florida at the annual National Associa- tion of School Music Dealers (NASMD) Conference golfing, networking and learning from fellow industry members and experts on a variety of topics, including how to incorporate the latest technology tools into a music business. While full coverage of the 2024 NASMD convention will appear in next month’s June issue, this month’s annual Retail Tech issue seemed like the perfect place to highlight a few of the most interesting tech tools we discovered while attending the convention’s many educational sessions. PERSPECTIVE I BY KATIE KAILUS TECH UP TO LEVEL UP

It’s also worth mentioning that all these tools offer a free, basic version while sharing a similar end goal of improving communications and streamlining busi- ness operations. 1. is an AI meeting assistant that transcribes meetings in real-time, records audio, provides summaries, extracts action items and much more. NASMD speaker Dennis Hallmeyer of Bertrand’s Music suggested MI retailers’ educational road reps use the tool while meeting with band directors to improve post-meeting commu- nication and service — but really it can be beneficial in any important business meet- ing that requires follow up. “ shares bullet points and action items and works

like having ChatGPT incorporated into your conversation,” Hallmeyer said. 2. Also recommended by Hallmeyer was AI assistant Claude . Hallmeyer said he prefers the service over its buzzier counterparts Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini and suggested using these AI assistants to create custom- ized recruitment emails for middle school music programs — but it would work just as well for summer rock camp email campaigns. “You have to play around with these AI technologies, but you can even create recruitment- themed social posts for, say, a marching band program,” Hallmeyer shared. 3. FollowUpThen is an email reminder service that every member of the industry can use — regardless of what segment they work in. Suggested by NASMD keynote speaker and Dialog Consulting’s Dave Nelsen, the free and simple email tool lets you schedule reminders by BBCing its domain with a specified time frame on any important email — such as 3days@ or When the designated time arrives, FollowUpThen will ping only the emailer on the date they specified on the original email, reminding them to, well, follow up. Bottom line: If we learned anything at the 2024 NASMD convention it’s despite some small learning curves, once adopted, these tech tools will help your business run more effectively and more efficiently, while improving customer communications. Consider deploying tech tools that offer a free one-month trial to see if it enhances your business before signing up for a monthly plan. In today’s market, the best way to level up is to double down on tech. MI

10 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024

‘Keep Telling it Like it Is!’ I don’t do a lot of comments to editors. Your job is hard enough. However, I do want to thank [Mu- sic Inc. president Frank Alkyer] for his Perspective editorial in the April issue. It’s my view that com- panies that decide not to support The NAMM Show are forgetting the impact of NAMM, as [Frank] pointed out. The circle of benefits show- ing how income from the show is used to plant seeds to grow music participation and create more op- portunity for both the industry and those who find making music life- changing is a mission that cannot be overlooked. It’s our position that, while we may be able to do business through several channels, NAMM and programs like the NAMM Fly- in supporting music education and grants for like-minded organiza- tions looking to make more music makers are important enough for us to be there in support. It’s my opinion that if a company needs to save the investment that it costs to attend [The] NAMM [Show], they should, at least, donate a third of their savings from their absence to the NAMM Foundation so the important work can continue. Keep telling it like it is!

be part of Music Inc.’s Industry News section in the April issue (highlighting the store’s 100th anniversary). We have received numerous compliments from friends in the music business and our local customers. We’re still trying to improve our method in ordering printed music and instrumental supplies. Technology is great, but you need to continue to do what is right for the customer and your business. [Our] future goal is to con- centrate on the areas that we excel at and step back from the areas that sap our energy and resources. Also, [we aim] to be able to change with the times without losing sight of [our] core values. Slow and steady wins the race — and 2024 hear we come.

Bruce Marquette Owner Loser’s Music Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Thanks a Ton! W e would like to thank Music Inc. for featuring our cus- tom shop in its April issue! As we approach 29 years in business, receiving continued support from our industry peeps is warming and heartfelt. We’re grateful for the many individuals who have embraced us and continue to do so, and to our authorized dealer network who stand behind our products, encourage us and play a huge part in our success!

pace, the essence of what drives consumer loyalty remains un- changed. Consumers today are not merely seeking products or services; they’re seeking experi- ences. In this era of abundance and choice, where competition is fierce and options are plenti- ful, it’s the quality of customer service that sets businesses apart. As consumers, let us con- tinue to champion and support enterprises that prioritize our satisfaction and well-being. And as businesses, let us never lose sight of the fact that amidst all the changes and advancements, the true measure of our success lies in the smiles and satisfaction of our customers. I’d like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to all of Mojo’s cur- rent customers and a heartfelt invitation to check us out to those we haven’t met yet. We’d

be honored to make your tone dreams come alive!

Michael McWhorter CEO Mojotone Burgaw, North Carolina

‘Is MAP Taking a Break?’ S o, are we just not doing MAP enforcement anymore? I see all you vendors sneaking around Amazon and third-party platforms undercutting your loyal, beautiful dealers. Don’t you see that this race to the bottom will wreck the music industry? Please stop. Anthony Mantova Co-Owner Mantova’s Two Street Music Eureka, California Slow & Steady Wins the Race I t was quite an honor for Los- er’s Music and our family to

Michael Skinner President Dansr Champaign, Illinois

‘Success Lies in Smiles’ I t was an honor to be included in Music Inc.’s April issue and share the story of Mojotone in the From the Top article. Over the last 24 years, we’ve definitely seen our fair share of changes, and it’s always fun to look back on our history. One thing that hasn’t changed for us is our appreciation for and our dedica- tion to our customers. As the music industry con- tinues to transform at a rapid

Kimberly Dalton Sales & Marketing Huss & Dalton Guitars Stauton, Virginia


MAY 2024 I MUSIC INC. I 11

INSIDE NEWS > Page 16 NAMM Names New ExComm Officers > Page 17 Marshall Music to Open New Retail & Service Center > Page 18 Yorkville & Blackstar Strike Deal

John McCarthy SCHOOL’S IN SESSION Newly launched AmpliTeach is more than just a platform for running a music lesson program — it offers a comprehensive curriculum, student quizzes, a payment portal, marketing materials and more. — By Katie Kailus

F or music retailers, adding store-offered lessons onto the purchase of a new instrument seems like a no-brainer. But without the adequate lesson program setup, many retailers can be left juggling schedules, invoices, curriculums and more. Enter AmpliTeach — a new, all-in-one lesson program platform for music studios and music stores looking to streamline their lessons business. Everything an ad- ministrator needs to communicate with

students, house and build a curriculum, schedule lessons, and accept payments are included in AmpliTeach’s platform. A bonus? Company founder, and owner of Rock House School of Music in Con- necticut, John McCarthy, said his team’s step-by-step process gets music stores and studios set up and trained on the platform in only two days. And with a full lesson curriculum built into the platform, Am- pliTeach is as “plug-and-play” as it gets.

“I started my first music school when I was a sophomore in high school,” Mc- Carthy explained. “Throughout the years, I developed the curriculum and found out what worked and what didn’t work. But to run the music school over the years, we used like three or four different plat- forms at once — one for scheduling, one for invoicing along with my curriculum — and it got to be overwhelming. So, I’d been wanting to figure out a way to

12 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024

streamline this for a long time, and one of the good things that came out of the pandemic was that all of a sudden I had a lot of extra time to do it. So, I wrote out the whole plan for AmpliTeach and found a company to code it for me and really created an all-in-one solution.” A CURRICULUM-BASED PLATFORM McCarthy said the one feature he felt was key to incorporating into AmpliTeach was the curriculum he’d built over decades of teaching. “When you’re running a music school, I’ve found it’s not how many students you get, it’s keeping those students,” McCarthy said. “And having your teachers trained on how to teach while having a good cur- riculum is important. You can have the best players in the world working at your music school, but if they don’t know how to teach, students aren’t going to stay with it. I wanted to focus on not only what the admins needed, but also what the teachers needed so that you could give teachers the resources to teach at the highest level.” Additionally, AmpliTeach houses unique resources for students, including short quiz- zes and ear training exercises, as well as a place for teachers to assign practice materi- als specific to the student. “There’s more than 5,000 lessons that we’ve put into this curriculum already, and students have access to videos, au- dio tracks and PDFs that all correspond with each lesson in the book,” McCarthy explained. “At the end of a lesson, with just one click, a teacher can send all these resources to the student to use at home. Normally, the student is playing with their teacher once a week. Now, suppose they go home and they’re wondering what fingers they’re supposed to use for a particular scale, they no longer have to wait until next week for the answer.” MARKET YOUR PROGRAM Simplifying the lesson program process further, AmpliTeach features an autopay system that, thanks to its relationship with Visa’s, allows students to pay monthly and sends out an automatic text message or email to remind parents. “Another useful tool AmpliTeach offers is our lesson reminder texts,” McCarthy said. “We have 48-hour lesson reminder texts that go out so students don’t forget about their lesson. At my lesson studios — Rock House School of Music — if you don’t give the teacher 24 hours notice, the

student still pays for their forgotten les- son, so with these automated messages, it eliminates the amount of teachers waiting on students who don’t show up.” Outside of its included curriculum, sched- uling and billing capabilities, AmpliTeach also equips music store and studio owners with marketing materials and best-practice PDFs designed to help start, run and grow their lesson programs. From downloadable forms and documents that teachers and ad- mins need to keep their programs running to sales training PDFs and info on how to

start and grow social media accounts for a business — all of the info is housed in the “build my biz” portion of the platform. “Basically, we’re looking to equip les- son program administrators with every- thing they need to successfully run their program,” McCarthy said. “We officially launched the program at last January’s NAMM show to really great response. We’ve worked out all the bugs and re- ceived great feedback so far. Now, we’re excited to be able to bring this platform to a wider audience.” MI

MAY 2024 I MUSIC INC. I 13


MusicMax brings its 360-degree view back around to its MI roots. — By David Ball

ing alert to potential new opportunities. He credits a fateful meeting with a now-familiar name at NAMM shows as exemplifying for him, firsthand, the importance of building relationships with like-minded individuals. “I met [now-former NAMM CEO] Joe Lamond when he was working as the guitar tech and stage manager for Todd Rundgren,” Joseph said. “We became fast friends, so when they announced the next Todd Rundgren tour the following year, I called him up, and he told me he wouldn’t be taking the gig. So, that’s when I asked, ‘How about me?’” 360-DEGREE APPROACH TO RETAIL Offering a wide array of brands that span across the range music-related product cat- egories, from pro-audio to musical instru- ments and accessories to DJ and lighting, Joseph’s “jack-of-all-trades” mindset has not only helped MusicMax survive when market fluctuations forced him to turn toward new product categories, but once market conditions stabilized, helped MusicMax began to thrive. “As the industry changed, there came a time in the 2000s when certain dealers were eating up so much of a dealer’s bandwidth that we had to find something else to offer,” Joseph said. “At that point, I fully pivoted into pro-audio and lighting. Of course, I’m glad I did, because now lighting is one of our top performing categories, with Chauvet DJ being one of our top brands across all categories. And, man, do I get to have a lot of fun designing lighting.” Following 25 years of steady growth, Mu- sicMax continues to cultivate collaborative partnerships, leveraging data-driven analysis bolstered by decades of industry expertise to provide a 360-degree offering of brands aligned with MusicMax’s core values, foster- ing mutually beneficial partnerships along a righteous path, promising a better way of doing business. MI

Rob Joseph

O ver the past 25 years, MusicMax Inc. has grown from a manufacturers’ representa- tive firm to a leading nationwide distributor of professional audio equipment, musical instruments, and lighting and accessories, fostering collaborative partnerships and con- necting its diverse portfolio of manufacturing partners to a growing network of dealers. Now, with brands like Maybach Guitars, Ashdown Engineering and Faith Guitars recently added to its roster, MusicMax is showing just how a passionate, “antennas up” approach to identifying opportunities on the horizon ahead — alongside an open- ness to pivot whenever necessary — has brought MusicMax back to its MI roots. The result? A full, 360-degree perspective on the industry. BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP-BASED BUSINESS As a musician himself, MusicMax CEO Rob Joseph discovered just how much more of an asset he could be to other musicians and

music lovers, alike, by developing a broad set of skills within the realm of things that moved him most. “Because of my background as a musician, I realized early on that I could walk into a concert venue and — short of doing the rigging or playing in a horn section— there was not a job I could not do, from mixing to light-direction to [working as the] gui- tar technician,” Joseph said. “Plus, I could also play drums and keys, as well as guitar and sing.” Having worn numerous hats in the de- cades since Joseph first cut his teeth on the retail side of MI back in 1985, the MusicMax founder has been immersed in all aspects of the music products industry, garnering skillsets suited to a range of essential roles — from retail, to touring, production, re- cording and performing live. Throughout his decades in the industry, Joseph continually maintained what he calls an “antennas up” mentality, always stay-

14 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024

MAY 2024 I MUSIC INC. I 15


T he NAMM board of directors has elected officers to represent the executive com- mittee, effective immediately and will serve through April 2025, representing NAMM’s global membership and the music industry at large. In a vote at the 2024 board meeting in Arizona in March, Joe Castronovo, president of Korg USA, was named treasurer, joining Tom Sumner, president of Yamaha Corp. of America and current chair of the NAMM board of directors. The executive committee is also represented by Chris White, president of White House of Music, as vice chair, where he serves in an ex officio role as chair of The NAMM Foundation board, and Whitney Brown Grisaffi, president of Ted Brown Music, who serves as secretary of the executive committee. “It’s been an incredible year thus far as chair during a monumental period for both NAMM and the music industry,” said Sum- ner at the board meeting. “The results of The 2024 NAMM Show are best measured by our members’ overwhelmingly positive

From left: Korg USA’s Joe Castronovo, Yamaha’s Tom Sumner, Ted Brown Music’s Whitney Grisaffi, White House of Music’s Chris White and NAMM CEO John Mlynczak.

feedback on the success they experienced for their businesses, and we remain laser- focused on bringing the right mix of our industry together each and every year.” Sumner also welcomed Castronovo to the executive committee. “Joe brings a wealth of industry knowl- edge, experience and leadership that will be the perfect complement to the existing

NAMM executive committee,” Sumner said. “We’re so honored to welcome Joe.” “I’m excited by the opportunity to serve the industry in this capacity,” Castronovo said. “I look forward to working with the board of directors in driving NAMM’s vi- sion, mission and objectives — and rep- resenting all NAMM members globally.” {}

Fender to Open New Corporate Co-Headquarters in Phoenix in 2025 R ED Development, a commercial real estate company, has added Fender provide our team members with an excep- tional workplace experience.”

Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC) to its tenant roster at PV, a redevelopment of the former Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix, in a single-tenant office building set to open next year. FMIC will be relocating its corporate co-headquarters from Scottsdale, Arizona, to the new space in Phoenix, which will break ground later this year. FMIC also has a corporate co-headquarters location in Hollywood, California. The new space will be a 80,000-square- foot, three-story building, which will open to team members in fall 2025. The new building, designed by SmithGroup, will be a dynamic hub for collaboration and will boast an array of cutting-edge facili- ties, including a dedicated model shop for its guitar and amplifier designers, a

Spanning more than 100 acres and situated in the heart of one of the most prominent neighborhoods in Phoenix, PV is a monumental mixed-use development. The master plan for the project features a plethora of dining, entertainment, retail, living and working experiences, which are linked to a more than three-acre, centrally located community open space with heav- ily landscaped multi-modal pathways. The scale of the project will redefine what live- work-play means. “Welcoming an iconic brand such as Fender to PV is truly remarkable,” said Mike Ebert, managing partner at RED. “This partnership underscores the ground- breaking innovation coming to PV and the exciting developments that are shaping our community’s future.” {}

state-of-the-art sound room, along with meeting rooms and flexible workspaces strategically designed to foster teamwork and innovation. “Fender’s decision to partner with RED Development reinforces our longterm com- mitment to Arizona and a local community we have called home since the early 1990s,” said Matt Janopaul, FMIC CFO. “Our build- ing will foster a dynamic environment that attracts top engineering, finance, IT, product development, sales and supply chain tal- ent. Most importantly, we believe that PV’s mixed-use offerings will enhance Fender’s culture of creativity and innovation and

16 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024

made the presentation to Caleb Chapman, Soundhouse’s founder, chairman and chief executive producer. The Sound Support Foundation Scholarship Concert took place at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City on Feb. 10. In addition to Jody Espina, special guests included Thurl Bailey, NBA player and NCAA national champion; Michael Ward, guitarist of The Wallflowers; and Sal Cracchiolo of Tower of Power. “Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse is one of the very best places in the world for aspiring musicians, and Caleb is one of the world’s preeminent music educators,” Espina said. “JodyJazz has been a longtime supporter of Soundhouse and Caleb’s activities and is proud to have provided mouthpieces for the Crescent Super Band for almost 20 years. Having seen the phenomenal growth of what we consider to be one of the very best extracurricular mu- sic programs on the planet, I could not have been prouder to participate in the concert and to contribute $10,000 to the scholarship program to provide opportunities for youth that might not be able to attend otherwise.” {} M arshall Music, a full-line dealership headquartered in Lansing, Michigan, has announced the upcoming opening of its newest Retail and Service Center for Music Education, located in Troy, Michigan. The new state-of-the-art facility is designed to cater to the specific needs of band and orchestra educators at secondary and collegiate levels, their students and the music community in the Detroit metropolitan area. The Retail and Service Center for Music Education is designed to serve as more than just a retail space and will offer a range of services and products, specifically tailored to support the educational music community. From advanced repair facilities for wind instruments and string luthiery to an expansive showroom of band and orchestra instruments, the center is designed to meet the needs of music educators and students. “We are incredibly excited to open our new Retail and Service Center for Music Education in Troy,” said Jimmy Edwards, CEO of Marshall Music. “This facility is a testament to our dedication to music educators, students, and the entire music community in Detroit and beyond. We believe that by providing a space that fosters education and service, we can make a significant impact on music education.” {} Marshall Music Unveils New Retail, Service Center for Music Education

JodyJazz’s Jody Espina (left) presents a check to Caleb Chapman for the company’s $10,000 donation to the Sound Support Foundation at its recent scholarship concert in Salt Lake City.

JodyJazz Donates $10K to Sound Support Foundation’s Scholarship Fund

J odyJazz has announced it’s donated $10,000 to the Sound Support Founda- tion Scholarship fund in support of Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse. Based in Salt Lake City, Soundhouse is nationally recognized as one of the leading music performance train- ing studios for musicians ages eight to 18.

The donation was announced at the recent Sound Support Foundation Scholarship Con- cert, which was presented by the artists and staff of Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse. Jody Espina, founder and president of JodyJazz and world-class saxophonist, was one of the special guest performers at the concert and

Sync2Sell Empowers MI Retailers with Enhanced Shipping Integration S ync2Sell (S2S), a provider of e-com- merce integration solutions tailored for

include expanded partnerships with Re- verb, Amazon and eBay, enabling retailers to manage listings and inventory across multiple marketplaces effortlessly. “Sync2Sell is committed to empowering music retailers with the tools they need to succeed in e-commerce,” said Justin Sims, co-founder of Sync2Sell. “With our en- hanced shipping integration and expanded marketplace integrations, we’re helping brick-and-mortar music stores across the country thrive in the digital marketplace.” By offering comprehensive solutions tailored specifically for the music retail industry, Sync2Sell remains dedicated to simplifying e-commerce operations, maxi- mizing online presence and driving sales for its users. {}

music retailers, has announced significant enhancements to its platform, designed to help brick-and-mortar music stores thrive in the e-commerce landscape. At the forefront of these developments is Sync2Sell’s new shipping integration, which lets music shops compare shipping rates from various carriers to find the best price for their shipments. This feature simpli- fies the shipping process, reduces costs and enhances the overall customer experience. Additionally, Sync2Sell continues to strengthen its Shopify and Lightspeed inte- grations, providing seamless connectivity for music retailers to major e-commerce platforms. Notably, these integrations now

MAY 2024 I MUSIC INC. I 17

GUITAR CENTER NAMES KRISTIN SHANE EXECUTIVE VP G uitar Center has appointed Kristin Shane as its executive vice president, chief merchandising and marketing officer, effective im- mediately. Reporting directly to CEO Gabe Dalporto, Shane will oversee the integration of the marketing and merchandising functions to enhance the end-to-end customer experience. Shane will be responsible for product, promotions, visual merchandising, omni-channel experience and activations. Kristin Shane “As a visionary leader and a world-class merchant, we are thrilled to welcome Kristin Shane to our executive team,” Dal- porto said. “Kristin’s impressive track record of market and sales growth, coupled with her nearly 20 years of retail expertise in the specialty product market, will be instrumental in activating Guitar Center’s new strategic direction and creating a more customer-centric experience.” Shane transitions to her new role from PetSmart, where she served as senior vice president and chief merchandising officer, driving billions in incremental sales and market expansion. She has also served as Target’s vice president merchandise manager for the beauty and personal care business. {} KORG USA APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF IT K org USA has announced that after an extensive search, engineering

YORKVILLE SOUND, BLACKSTAR STRIKE DISTRIBUTION DEAL C anadian pro-audio manufacturer and distributor, Yorkville Sound, and amplifier brand, Blackstar Amplification, have announced a new distribution partnership. Effective immedi- ately, Yorkville Sound will distribute Blackstar Amplification products in Canada. “The Canadian market has always been incredibly important to Blackstar and having our products represented nationally, in the best stores is integral to our brand,” said Joel Richardson, Blackstar Amplification’s director of marketing. “Producing world-leading products is just one part of the Blackstar story, having world-class partners to help deliver those products is paramount to realizing our vision. Yorkville Sound is that partner, and we’re looking forward to the team stitching Blackstar into the fabric of the illustrious and dynamic Canadian music scene.” “Yorkville’s distribution catalog is curated with brands that help musicians take their craft to new heights,” said Jeff Cowling, Yorkville’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Blackstar’s constant goal is to provide musicians with innovative ampli- fier designs that inspire their art. We are excited to have this exceptional brand as part of our distribution family.” Blackstar Amplification products are now available through Yorkville Sound. {;}

FENDER’S MIKE LEWIS PASSES AWAY M ike Lewis, vice president of product development at the Fender Custom Shop, passed away on March 6. He was 70. Lewis first joined Fender in the

and technology leader Kevin Han has joined its executive team and will lead its IT division into the future. “Kevin brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will contribute to Korg’s strategic goals

Kevin Han

sales department in 1991, where he engaged with dealers over the phone. Later, he revitalized Fender’s amp line by introducing products, such as the DeVille series and the Vibro-King.

and objectives,” said Diana Cecchini, Korg USA’s CFO. “He will play a pivotal role in driving our company’s continued growth.” Han has more than 20 years of experience in leading large technical teams in highly complex environments. Prior to com- ing to Korg USA, he worked at Google for nine years and IBM for 13 years in various leadership roles. Han holds a BS in computer engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. At Google, Han served as head of contact center infrastructure and automation and senior manager of a $25 million budget leading a global team of network engineers, system develop- ment engineers and technical program managers. “I’m very grateful to everyone [who] helped in the selection process,” Cecchini said. “I’m confident that Kevin’s contribu- tions will help us achieve even greater success.” {}

Mike Lewis

Lewis’ innovations also extended to Fender’s electric guitar depart- ment, where he actively contributed to guitar innovations based on player preferences. Notably, he introduced Fender’s first production Stratocaster with a regular humbucker: the Lone Star Strat. Lewis’ impact reached new heights when Fender collaborated with Gretsch, and he revamped the entire line, restoring speci- fications to the original magic recipe, which resonated instantly with fans. In the Fender Custom Shop, Lewis utilized his design aesthetic and management skills, resulting in the best 10-year run in the shop’s history, according to a statement from Fender. {}

18 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024

MAY 2024 I MUSIC INC. I 19

20 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024

> Page 22 The Marketing Guru > Page 23 E-Commerce Reverberations

> Page 24 NAMM YP

> Page 25 Women of NAMM

AI IN MI I BY BRENDAN ALVIANI MAKE SPARE TIME PRODUCTIVE A s music retailers, we’re pretty busy. Personally, I’ve got a commute of be- tween 30 and 50 can be really helpful to settle my nerves and help me think through some tricky situations at work. Occasionally, we all need a tech detox, no matter how short. Try role-playing sensitive situ- ations at your workplace using voice technology, so you can bet- ter handle difficult conversations with employees or customers in the future. Specialty Topics: Because

minutes each way every day to my store, Family Piano Co, and I’m always looking for ways to make that time more useful, as well as the time I spend doing activities such as folding laundry and washing dishes. Here are a few ways I make these everyday tasks more productive, including how I incorporate AI, of course. LISTEN TO PODCASTS & AUDIOBOOKS I’ve been a huge fan of Audible for years now, but I recently switched to Spotify’s new Au- diobooks collection. Included with a Premium subscription, you get 15 hours of audiobook listening time per month, so you can start and stop any book in its impressive library without using credits. LISTEN TO YOUTUBE VIDEOS If you subscribe to YouTube Pre- mium, you can turn off the screen on your phone and listen to just the audio. This is also an ideal way to spend time during those long morning and evening commutes. MAKE PHONE CALLS I’ll proactively try to schedule phone calls with friends, fam- ily and co-workers in order to squeeze in deeper, more involved

VOICE CHAT WITH CHATGPT That said, since last October, I’ve added a new feature into my routine, which in many ways combines the best of those above options. Voice chatting with Chat- GPT has quickly become my fa- vorite way to interact with the technology. Here’s how it works. First you download the official ChatGPT app. It doesn’t work on the desktop version, so you need to do this through your phone. It’s available through free and paid plans. By default, it’ll use the best model available for your plan, but you can also utilize this with Custom GPTs as well, if you’re on the premium plan. Then, press the little “headphone” button to activate. It’ll bring up a new interface that’ll take a little time to adjust to, so I don’t advise trying it for the first time while merging onto the highway. The voices are impressively realistic and engaging. In the settings, you can choose between five voices. Here’s what I love using this voice technology for: Sensitive Topics: There are certain topics that are awkward to talk about with loved ones or co- workers. With a robot, it’s easier to just say whatever you want.

ChatGPT has been trained on a massive swath of the internet, it can readily engage in pretty much any topic you want to talk about. Foreign Language Practice: ChatGPT can fluidly switch be- tween English and the new lan- guage you’re currently learning, giving you tips and advice. Please note: it can’t really slow down yet, so I’d only recommend trying this if you’re at least intermediate- level in the language. Business Topics: Voice tech- nology is great for brainstorming marketing ideas, business best practices, weighing the pros and cons of decisions, and more. As always, don’t fully trust anything it tells you, but use it as material to consider during the decision- making process. Also, a quick thanks to every- one who came out for my talk on text generation at the Ideas Center during January’s NAMM show. If you would like a recording of the talk or the slide deck, email me at MI Brendan Alviani is the president of Family Piano Co in Waukegan, Illinois, by day, but has spent every day for over a year learning about artificial intelligence for various side-projects. He wel- comes feedback at

conversations when I’m away from my desk and the store. has quickly become my favorite way to interact with the tech.” TRY VOICE DICTATION Voice dictation options exist on all of your favorite devices nowa- days. While you drive, you can talk into your phone and it’ll type what you’re saying — which is convenient if you have a sudden brainstorm while sitting in traffic. GET SOME THINKING DONE Sometimes, a block of quiet time “Voice chatting with ChatGPT

MAY 2024 I MUSIC INC. I 21


I nstagram and Facebook feeds are increasingly saturated and, with algorithms evolving, even those who follow you on these platforms only see a small portion of your posts. The question I get regularly is whether you should use Meta’s option to promote a post or not. The answer is maybe. When you have a post that meets certain criteria and you tar- get the ad correctly, using this tool can be highly effective and, in fact, one of the best values in digital media. On the other hand, no amount of ad money spent can help with the wrong content or if you’re targeting the wrong people.

days at the most. Since these are your regular posts being served, you don’t want a three-week-old post being shown to people in their feed. Keep it on the short side, and if you want more reach, spend more or boost a different post. The budget does impact the ad’s potential for success beyond the understood difference of spending more to get more ad impressions. It also allows the Meta ad bots to learn the type of people who like your post and fine-tune to whom it serves your ad next. Consider spending at least $20 per day on each boost for at least three days. MONITOR, LEARN & IMPROVE The best way to really answer whether you should boost or not is to try it and follow the data. You can see the key performance indicators like cost-per-impression, cost-per-click and average video watch time, giving you a potent window into the impact your boosted posts are having. Dig into that data, compare it over several posts, and take action to improve your posts and your tar- geting based on what it shows. The fact is boosting posts can be a great strategy, but like everything else, you have to be willing to learn, practice and improve. I have found that boosting is one of the best available tactics to grow brand recognition and move customers toward action. This is only the case with the right posts, tight targeting and ongoing refinement. If you’re willing to work on it, boost away! MI

ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE For a post to be effective when boosted, it needs to fit the platform and engage your target audience. If the post delivers real value by teaching the end-user something, entertaining them or in some other way connecting with them, it’s a candidate for boosting. Social media should not be about what you want to tell people, but rather about you sharing what you think your customers will want to see. Start with a post that real users will engage with enough to like, share, comment on and appreciate. Video posts work best and especially if they’re made in a vertical format (9:16 aspect ratio). Make sure that you have a “hook” in the first five seconds

— something that clearly tells the viewer why they’ll want to stop their scrolling and see this. Keep it as short as you can, get to the point and end without over-selling. DEFINE YOUR TARGETS The success of your boost effort will also largely depend on the targeting that you select for your ad. The simple rule is the tighter you target, the better. If the typical customer for the product or service being showcased in the post is over 35,

“If the post delivers real value by teaching the end-user something, entertaining them or connecting with them, it’s a candidate for boosting.”

don’t target 18 and over in hopes of catching the small number of younger customers who might be interested. This will drive down your ad efficiency and confuse the Meta ad bots that are trying to help you win. Similarly, when using interest-targeting, find catego- ries that best align with your ideal customer. Geographic targeting is also key; if you’re promoting something at your physical store, limit your targeting to your city or maybe even to just five miles from your store if you’re located in a larger city. HOW MUCH & HOW LONG? Plan to set your boosts to run for three days minimum and seven

Tracy Hoeft is the president of Amplify 11, a marketing firm specializing in the musical instrument industry.

22 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024


S pring is all about fresh starts — and allergies, but we’re focusing on the positives here. For some, that means a new degree or a big move. For music makers, it’s the itch to buy some new gear. While warmer weather might bring more customers into your shop, these days, it’s important to remember that your business can — and should — be global. Sound daunt- ing? It doesn’t have to be. Let’s talk about some easy ways to bridge the physical and digital experience to ready your online shop for buyers from all over the world. RULE NO. 1: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GEAR. Just because a potential buyer from another city, state or country won’t be able to step into your store, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the full experience. A great way to ensure that your online shop is just as impressive as your brick-and-mortar is to double check that all of your inventory is available online. I know, I know — it sounds so simple. But after a busy holiday season, and what is often a hectic start to the new year, there’s nothing wrong with reviewing your stock. Trust me: The holidays might sound like a lifetime away now, but in October, you’ll be thanking yourself for all that work you did in April and May. RULE NO. 2: MIRROR YOUR IN-STORE POLICIES ONLINE. From loyal customers to new buyers, re- flecting your store policies online is a great way to build confidence with music makers looking to snag a new piece of gear. This includes everything from returns and friendly shipping policies to eliminating restocking fees. The more your digital shop reflects the policies of your brick-and-mortar, the better! RULE NO. 3: MIMIC THE FLOW OF CONVERSATIONS YOU HAVE WITH IN-STORE CUSTOMERS ONLINE. Customers might reach out to ask about how a certain synth sounds or about the

feel of a guitar neck. The more info you can provide, the better, and the quicker you can answer their questions, the sooner they’ll have the information they need to make a purchase. Plus, every touchpoint with a potential buyer online is an opportunity to build a relationship. And just like in-store, the conversation doesn’t have to stop after a purchase is made online, either. Ever offered a new in-store customer a coupon for

their next purchase to encourage them to return or rewarded returning customers with points or freebies? Similar tactics can be used to build loyalty online. One example of this are Thank You Coupons on Reverb. Users can send a coupon to buyers as soon as they make a purchase from their shop, enticing them to return. They can also use Thank You Coupons to drive repeat purchases from past customers, sending them to those who have purchased gear from their shop in the past 90 days. From a quick influx of sales to building brand loyalty, using the tools at their disposal to turn their online shop into a welcoming environ- ment is a key to success. Here’s what Frederick Kantor, senior buyer of Focus Pro Audio, had to say after using the new tool: “There is a lot that goes into be- ing a top dealer on Reverb … but to me, there are two key components. One is always be listing — fresh product keeps you relevant. The

Rule No. 1: Double check that all of your inventory is available online.

second is customer retention. We now have several hundred repeat customers, and that number contin- ues to grow. To reward the customers who return to us with a coupon on their next purchase from us has fit perfectly with our goals. From day one, we have seen an uptick in sales and repeat customers.” Whether you’re reaching out to past buyers or readying your inventory for the rest of the year, it’s important to think of your online presence as an exten- sion of your brick-and-mortar shop — and a gateway to potential customers all across the globe. MI

Jamie Major is a seller engagement manager at Reverb.

MAY 2024 I MUSIC INC. I 23

NAMM YP I BY KELLY RIORDAN Crafting a Career in Music

A fter graduating with two music degrees, I felt prepared for a performance career, but needed the funding to travel to auditions and tour with an ensemble. Teaching was always a passion, but the university positions open to a new grad could not reasonably pay my bills. My goal after graduation was to not leave music. I also felt like I didn’t belong to the wider “music industry.” Where does a classically- trained clarinetist fit into retail, manufacturing, recording, production or events? Throughout my college years, I had maintained a small number of lesson students. It was a hugely fulfilling experience for a few hours each week, and I knew I would be happy growing the studio and teaching full-time. There was just one glaring issue: I had no idea how to start a business.

error” was the only option af- ter six years of music school. BRIDGING THE BUSINESS GAP Now for the exciting news: You don’t have to muscle it on your own. Several university programs are developing music entrepreneur- ship and business courses with op- portunities for students to explore a variety of industry career paths. Professional organizations are also working to bring more business education to independent musicians. Joining NAMM has supported significant growth in both my studio business and my studio business accelerator pro- gram, Outside The Bachs. I’m thrilled that NAMM just launched its individual membership option, which makes it even easier to join as an independent musician. Music careers and music en- trepreneurship are increasingly common topics of conversation in social media content, podcasts and books. My own podcast, also titled “Outside The Bachs,” tells the stories of how musicians and music industry professionals have found their way. Finding experts and mentors to follow through these mediums is a huge help and inspiration. Most importantly, I cannot overstate the importance of ask- ing for help. When I reflect on my career, guidance from music industry professionals and music entrepreneurs has had the largest impact on my success and growth. This industry is such an incredible community, and I’m grateful to be a part of it. MI

Frustration set in quickly when I realized that most of my colleagues were gigging or teaching, and trying to figure out the business side on the fly. “Why don’t I know more about how to have an actual career in music?” “Why aren’t we learning about this in music school?” “Where am I supposed to acquire business skills?” “How do they expect us to make it work?” These were all questions I asked myself as the overwhelming terror of being jobless set in. Dur- ing my college years, I found myself working in event-based marketing for brands like American

Express, Cadillac and Red Bull, which gave me practical experience in organic marketing. A high school internship at Hartland Music in Wisconsin also intro- duced me to dozens of successful private music instructors. They had shown me it was possible to support yourself through an independent lesson business. When I relocated after music school, I spent 40-plus hours each week using every bit of organic marketing knowledge I had to get connected in my new community. I

“When I reflect on my career, guidance from MI professionals and music entrepreneurs has had the largest impact on my success and growth.”

spent two months interviewing private music teachers about best practices around studio policy, accounting and marketing — skills they said were learned through trial and error. This meant reach- ing out to school music programs and local ensembles, posting in local online forums and on my personal social media, volunteering with student organizations, posting flyers around the community, and consistently following up with every single possible contact. Within two and a half months, my studio was full with 43 stu- dents. I’m incredibly proud of the work and drive it took to estab- lish my studio business. I’m also very frustrated that “trial and

Kelly Riordan is the CEO and co-founder of Outside The Bachs, an entrepreneurship program for private music educators.


Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56

Powered by