StringWorks Blog

Notes from the founder of StringWorks, Todd French. Please feel free to email me with your questions or comments, or even suggestions on blog topics I might tackle.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mass Market Music

I know it has been quite some time since my last Blog entry - either I have been too busy, or too lazy. I received some feedback from someone who reads this Blog and was urged to get back to writing, so as testament to my promise to take your advice into consideration, I'm back at the keyboard...

Today I'd like to touch again on the Mass Market of Music, specifically musical instruments, and even more specifically, that of a certain firm who has aligned themselves with a car manufacturer to offer a free guitar with purchase of a particular vehicle. Unfortunately, this is the same company that is responsible for the vast downgrading of the low end of the market in musical instruments through - by their own admission on their website - mass marketing.

One could argue, perhaps, that mass marketing of musical instruments brings down the price and therefore puts music in the hands of those who may not otherwise have been able to. Extremely low cost instruments make them affordable through major retailers, but what is gravely missing in this theory is that we are not talking about VCR's or skateboards - we are talking about a 'product' that requires at least some acceptable level of build quality, attention to detail, and expertise in construction, setup, and tuning (no pun intended).

I find myself continually frustrated by the leadership of this company, where not a single person seems to have been involved in music at any time in their life, other than one who was with Sony Music in a PR role. How can you run a specialized product line with zero expertise? A better question might be how can you run such a specialized product line with zero expertise and have it not only be a huge success but change the market in which you have no real business being in? It is frustrating for all the many thousands of experienced and educated retailers, manufacturers, and distributors out there who suffer the results of this 'Mass Market' campaign that has become so successful, and the greater disappointment is with the products themselves and the inevitable loss of quality which negatively affects the market as a whole for more than just the immediate future, but the long term.


Blogger Jeff said...

What I also find intersting in regards to this mentality is the $199 Cello that comes with a Bow, Hard Case, Soft Case, 2 sets of strings, a professional Set-Up AND A FREE VIOLIN on EBAY. What is weird is I think I would be more comfortable paying $300 for that same cello without all the extra stuff.
You just know (I would also hope the general public would know) that for $199 that it will be crap.

If you walk into Costco and see a Violin on the shelf above the bulk box of Fruit loops and suddenly decide you need that violin then you most likely aren't real serious about playing. Most likely you will get it home and break all the strings trying to set it up. Now if you are still interested in playing you will head to a store that sells Strings and then notice that your string shop (if you dare to bring your investment in) will tell you that the violin isnt worth the cost of the strings OR they will offer to set up your violin for $200+. NOW you can try and get this violin working on your own, but YOU KNOW that if you were not smart enough to know that a Costco violin isnt going to get you the respect of the local symphonies concertmaster that you most likely wont even know how to set up the bridge.

In the end your broken stringed violin will either end up in the garbage or on your front lawn during a Yard sale where the dreaded cycle of crap begins again... God Help you if you try to sell it locally in the papers. Well You could sell it on ebay... that is a whole other issue.

What would be a shame is a child who wants to learn violin because they saw thier local symphony ask thier parents to let them try out an instrument. Instead of going to the Music store (like we did in the old days) to rent an instrument they might just run to Costco or Ebay and BUY an instrument cheaper than what they can rent one for. This could Lead to a WHOLE new Blog "Rental prices vs Buying an Ebay instrument"

3:35 PM  
Blogger rory said...

I see these guitars in wallymart, but they are unplayable as is and need to be set up, for around the same money most big guitar stores have offshore fender products that play very well right out of the case.
My first guitar was a broken old P.O.S. I found in the garbage back in 1969 that I figured out how to repair and make work ok. Kinda like my first computer,,,,,,,,,

5:03 PM  

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