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Music Instrument Industry Retail Trends

Is it just a case of follow the leader?


by Chris Loeffler



Curious what’s new in the music instrument industry? So is every retailer!


That said, there are a couple of interesting trends that seem to be shaping 2018 as a resurgence in an industry that has gone a little soft in recent years, which is exacerbated as a competitive environment given the increasing number of manufacturers, big and small, throwing their hats into the ring to vie for a share of the market.


As expected, DJ, synthesizers, and basically any gear that is tied to solo composition continues to rise an incredibly healthy rate to address the newer entrants into the music instrument world and their musical tastes. More surprising, you may find, is how well the acoustic guitar category has grown within the US. NAMM reports that acoustic guitar sales are up a whopping 36% over the same time eight years ago, suggesting the kids are just fine.


There’s something else that’s been looming in the horizon that officially became a “now” thing in the last 18 months… used instruments and reselling channels. While sites like eBay and Craigslist have existed for over a decade, and forums (like our own) have provided places for musicians to list used gear, but Reverb created a centralized location where used value is actively recorded and has a large following, meaning the market value for nearly any piece of gear is now well established and easy to reference/discover.


This obviously creates a challenge for new gear retailers, as the abundance of used gear is more easy to surface and browse than ever, but it also represents an opportunity for retailers to easily price (and rationalize) their used gear to ensure sales and capture the “showroom queen”, or person who tests in the shop an buys online for a slightly cheaper price.


Another trend, probably the most heartening one, is that music education in public schools is actually on the rise. Contribute it to the political climate or people donating after finally accepting that public schools themselves aren’t going to save music, but in more than 35 states more money is going into public schools’ music programs than the year prior. New players mean more music sales (or at least rentals), and the possibility of a more musically educated generation than the one before; one more likely to buy.


At the time this article was written, the stock market is tanking, BitCoin is creating and erasing fortunes, and we may well be entering a trade war with, well, everyone,  so it’s  far from certain where we will be at the tail end of 2018, but for now all signs are pointing towards a bright future!


Do your part to support the industry... play out, recruit new players, spread the word!






Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 




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