D'Addario's Eli Navarro, Sergio Bonsignore and Nick Gordon

Seeking New Markets
One thing was clear at the 2015 PASIC Show in San Antonio, Texas, this year — change is in the air for the drum and percussion market. In a sector of the musical products industry that observers believe has shrunk by a third or more in the past decade, exhibitors attended this consumer-driven show, held Nov. 11 — 14, 2015, with an eye toward capturing new drummers, expanding revenue streams and creating new categories for percussion.

One man's trash, another's drum kit
At LP, the new Raw Series was front and center. Designed to look a lot like trash cans and pots played by street percussionists, right down to the snare being built from a trash-can lid.
There is a big influx of percussion into the DJ market," said Victor Filonovich, LP director of product management. "It's huge. They have these festivals with hundreds of thousands of people. What do you see on that stage? You don't see a bass player. You don't see a guitar player. You see a percussionist. So, we took those elements and adapted the Raw Series to the DJ market.
"We had to find a new market. When's the last time a company created a new category?"
Remo, too, is looking for new percussionists in unusual places. When the company realized that the drumheads for its Versa world percussion line were the same 13-inch diameter as a standard five-gallon paint bucket, the Rhythm Pal was born.
"These heads have a press-fit spacer that just fits down over the paint can," said Bob Yerby, Remo vice president of sales and marketing. "We've got bass drum, snare and tom. And now, basically, you can participate in drumming for about $35, if you have the buckets. All you've got to do is buy the Rhythm Pal drumhead, press fit it on the bucket and it fits all the tolerances of any bucket made in North America."

Electric Growth
If there's a growth area in percussion, it's in electronic drumkits. And the leaders in the market are experiencing double digit growth, especially driven by drummers finding the right balance between electronic triggers and traditional acoustic kits.
At Roland, the V-Drums model TD-25KV has been a hit this year.
"It's been fantastic," said Drew Armentrout, product & artist relations manager for drums & percussion. "Sales have been really strong. In fact, Drum Magazine has its Drummies Awards and the TD-25KV won the electronic drumset of the year.
"We're in growth mode. Our sales are up in the U.S. by 14 percent over last year. It's very encouraging. We have great plans upcoming. The big splash will be in 2017 with the 20th anniversary of the V-drums."
Yamaha, too, has been having electronic drum success displaying it's DTX700 and 900 electronic drum series as well as it's KP100 Kick Pad trigger.
The other thing driving Yamaha's electronic drum business are new apps that are constantly being updated with sounds and functionality that is easy to use.
"For example, the DTX Multi-12 apps are so easy to navigate and can trigger anything from your iTunes library," said Steve Fisher, Yamaha marketing manager for acoustic and DTX drums. "A lot of guys use multi-12 in the studio. They are so user friendly that it really flattens out the learning curve. If you can use an app, you are in business."

New partnerships, new ownerships
While the booths may not shout it, for long-time observers the PASIC show floor was the scene of consolidation. Drum Workshop now owns LP and Toca, Gretsch, Kat and Gibraltar. D'Addario flies Evans, Pro-Mark and PureSound under its banner. And KHS picked up Sonor in its purchase of Hohner earlier this year, adding it to the company's Mapex and Majestic percussion brands.
"We're in the final stages of bringing the companies under one roof in Nashville," said Andy Strayer, KHS America's vice president of sales. "We'll still have distribution in California and Nashville. We want to make sure we take care of those west coast dealers. The product from Hohner and Sonor will be split between the two facilities."
On the Sonor side of the business, Strayer said he thinks KHS has great potential.
"There's really been very little marketing or sales effort for it in the U.S.," he said. "So, we have a real opportunity to bring back an iconic brand to a level of where it had been in the '80s and '90s. It's very exciting. The quality and sound of the products is fantastic."
While KHS sought growth through acquisition, Hoshino's Tama brand has sought partnerships, according to Bill Reim, Hoshino USA president.
"Over the last couple of years, we've been able to establish a pretty good footing in terms of what we've been doing in marching percussion," said Reim. "Slowly but surely, that's been building. But we really want to deal with somebody who has the full-line offering: drums, brass, percussion keyboards. So, a couple of years ago, we started distributing Kanstul.
"We had to try to find someone we wanted to partner with on the mallet side as well. We talked to a couple of different companies, but ultimately, we found that Bergerault was the company that we could really partner with. As of this show, we're introducing this line of Bergerault-made mallet instruments for Tama.
"So, now, if retailers want to work with us in terms of having a full-line offering, it's a one-stop shop."

Drum corps, drum retailer
On the retail side, the next competitor for retailers may just be your local drum corps. San Antonio's Crossmen drum and bugle corps had a booth at PASIC announcing that it is now selling instruments and accessories online.
"We decided to offer another revenue stream for the drum corps side of it, the Crossmen drum and bugle corps," said Joel Moody, assistant corps director. "It's a not-for-profit organization, so we started an LLC on the side based here in San Antonio, and we feature a lot of retail band and color guard accessories. We do shoes and gloves and drumsticks and drum heads and brass instruments. We focus on the sponsorships and the partnerships that the Crossmen drum & bugle corps uses exclusively. We try to focus on the products that we believe in and that we use on the drum corps side.
"Unlike school music programs where you have a safety net, you don't have that with drum corps. If you aren't really working to bring in revenue, the drum corps goes bankrupt and you're done. So, these organizations are looking for any and all revenue streams."
The Crossmen are also getting into the instrument repair business, too, Moody said.

Noteworthy gear
Where the drumstick hits the head, though is with new product, and there was plenty at PASIC.
Dream Cymbals displayed its new Crotales, a tuned percussion instrument with a sound similar to a glokenspiel.
"It's one of my favorite instruments in the whole world," said Andy Morris, Dream Cymbals president. "They are a standard instrument, but I was never happy with what was out on the market. There wasn't enough sustain. There wasn't enough volume. They didn't have enough presence. Sometimes their range was a little bit limited. So, we just made them about 30% bigger."
DrumClip displayed it's new Bass DrumClip and Accessory DrumClip. Both attach to the dreamiest with no dampening. The Accessory clip can be used for lights, a metronome or even a GoPro to tape practices and performances.
D'addario displayed the ProMark Glenn Kotche Active Wave 570 drumsticks, which have a heat-activated coating on the stick's WaveHandle to increase tackiness as the drummer heats up.
Alfred celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Drumset Method, by Sandy Feldstein and Dave Black with the launch of Beginning Drumset Method, Book 2, by Black and Mark Powers.
Gator cases displayed the New GoPro Snare Drum Bag. It has a removable padded strap, padded interior and a compartment for iPad or tablet and a compartment for sticks. An additional rain coat is included to keep the case dry.

Play the kits of the stars
Both Yamaha and the D'Addario took an interactive approach to their booths at PASIC by setting up the actual kits of artists presenting clinics at the show, giving drummers young and old an opportunity to play the actual kits of their favorite drummers.