East Coast Rocker

Putting You in the Front Row

Hartley Peavey to Retailers: Get Passionate

‘Know your product, service the customer, improve the sales experience’

Hartley Peavey, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Peavey Electronic Corp. said sales expertise, customer service and product knowledge are critical to survival of the music retailer today.

How should retailers proceed going into the future? Should the music retailers lobby congress?

“If you’re waiting for the government to come to the rescue forget it,” Peavey advised.  “It’s insane to expect that you’re going to get help from on high. We’ve been spectacularly unsuccessful.”

Hartley Peavey, East Coast Rocker Donna Balancia

Hartley Peavey has an educated opinion. You can ask for it. – photos courtesy of Peavey

Peavey’s stern comments came during a panel discussion at the 2014 NAMM Show.  East Coast Rocker editor Donna Balancia was in the front row.

“I talk to dealers every day, but I want to spend a minute talking about survival for the retail music dealer.

“I went to my first NAMM show in 1954.  I like to ask questions. ‘Mr. Dealer in this value chain what is it that you do? What do you add to the formula? What is your reason for being?’ (He’ll respond) ‘I have trained people,’ which is a lie 98 percent of the time.

“They ignore retailing 101. We’re all consumers. Every day we make decisions where to spend money. When you distill it down, what (the music retailers are) telling you is they’re delivery boys.  The best damn delivery boys are the guys driving those big brown trucks if you compete with them, you will lose.

“So the answers are within you but only if you ask questions. By the way that’s the way you learn stuff, you ask questions. Every one of you retailers . What do you add to the value chain?

“I’m a big believer in education, we started our education program 30 years ago. You go in most retail music dealers they don’t know what the hell they’re selling. How are you going to sell things the customer knows more about than you?

“Your salvation is not with some congressional body, the answer to your future is within you. You’ve got to be willing to rise to the occasion. Music is one of the few things people will fight you over. If you happen to be a country music fan, and the guy sitting next to you is saying bad things about country music you want to give him a knuckle sandwich.

“You’ve got to make the experience of coming into your store a pleasant one.

“One of the things that’s wrong is we want to be everything to everybody. There is no way in hell you can know the features advantages and benefits of more than three or four products.  Are you demo-ing your products that way?

“The internet is not going to go away. It’s here and it’s going to get more pervasive.  Decide now what you’re going to do.

“Selling is not a noun. Retail is not a noun, it’s a verb. The government is not going to save your butt, they’ll kick it if you give them half a chance.

“Education on the retail music sales floor today, it’s at the lowest point ever. If we don’t do something to change that, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“You’ve got to ask questions.  As a music industry we have done a lousy ass job of promoting ourselves. We’ve gotta ask the important questions to allow us to survive.  You better get back involved in selling with passion. We help people realize their dreams.

“A good salesman helps people realize their goals, objectives and their dreams. We’re in the dream business whether we realize it or not.

“Do things you can’t do by mail. Do installations. Do service. But here he is, in your store. He’s in your store.”

Donna Balancia is editor of East Coast Rocker and California Rocker.  Email her at editor@eastcoastrocker.com

Music Industry Experts: Network, Network and Network Some More

East Coast Rocker photo

Industry experts tell aspiring musicians to collaborate, know the audience. BALANCIA PHOTO

ANAHEIM — If “It’s not what you know but who you know,” then aspiring songwriters and musicians are in good company, a panel of music industry experts said at NAMM over the weekend.

During a panel discussion entitled 360 Degrees of a Hit Music Track, a room of 250 songwriters and musicians were told to work the event circuit and talk up their work — to each other — and help each other make it to the top.

“Network with everyone,” attorney Neville Johnson of Johnson and Johnson LLP of Beverly Hills said. “Look around you.  The people in this room are your colleagues. Go to the events, industry meetings, groups for writers. It’s a team effort.”

Panelists included singer songwriter Barry Keenan, A and R executive Don Grierson, producer Matt Forger, publisher Robert Case, attorney Johnson and was moderated by Alex Del Zoppo of the renowned band Sweetwater.

Aspiring musicians must know their audience, take stock in their catalogues and pay close attention to the emotional communication they intend, said panelist Grierson, who has worked with many of the most notable artists in music. It all comes down to the message and the appeal of the message, Grierson said.

Musicians told to collaborate with each other, seek out music partners.

Musicians told to collaborate with each other, seek out music partners.

“I guarantee you this: They will never ask if you recorded on one track or two tracks or if it was analogue or digital,” said Grierson. “They only care about ‘Did it resonate here,” he said, pointing to his heart.

Keenan said competition may be tough, but “Never give up on your dream.”  He added that when the time is right to get your CD into the hands of a producer, make sure the product is good.

Johnson added that with continued efforts, it is possible for a new artist to break through.

“Look at Lorde, she came out of nowhere,” he said, referring to the 16-year-old New Zealand-born phenom, nominated in four categories at Sunday’s Grammy Awards. “And Adele, she’s broken all records…”

The Internet has done a lot to help aspiring and established artists get exposure. Keep networking and posting song, it was advised.

“Find a great song,” Johnson said. “I know a guy who had a one-off song that became a hit, then he bought a nice house, got a nice car, nice wife, nice life.”