December 16, 2020 I MI Editor I by Daniel Margolis

On a Year Of Change

You hold in your hands (or desktop, laptop, tablet or phone) the December 2020 issue of Music Inc.

At the end of any year, it’s natural to look back and reflect on the last 12 months, and it’s no different here, as much as we all may want to forget 2020.

Our Excellence Awards have existed as long as the magazine itself, and gathering the stories of this year’s winners meant more examination of how much this year changed everything and challenged all of us. When we were speaking to retailers and suppliers as the coronavirus started spreading, company leaders described taking safety precautions in their buildings, such as turning up the temperature on sinks in bathrooms and having people attend meetings from their desks via teleconference. Understanding of what was necessary to keep employees safe escalated rapidly from that, and speaking to some of the same people seven months later, you get a sense of permanent changes in the way people work and where.

On page 42 of this issue, Yamaha Corp. of America President Tom Sumner tells us, “We’re not going to have everybody back in the office full-time. It’s just not going to happen.”
Fender CEO Andy Mooney echoes this on page 36: “I don’t see a one-hundred percent return to people going back to the office.”

But these executives don’t paint this as a negative. “We found that we can be really effective in ways that we never would have contemplated,” Mooney shares.
At retail, all of this is a bit more complicated. On page 28, you’ll hear from The Music Zoo owner Tommy Colletti, who built the showroom of his dreams last year but at press time still has it closed, with his sales staff consulting with customers via phone from their homes.

“I’m sure I’m giving up some business to the people that just truly need to go into a store and play 20 or 30 guitars,” he said. “But at the moment, it’s not going to happen here because we haven’t figured out a way to keep everybody safe.”

Colletti hasn’t yet figured out how to keep his stock safe either. “I haven’t found a way to disinfect a guitar properly from one person to the other person without using some kind of alcohol-based or hydrogen-peroxide disinfectant that is going to mar a finish,” he said.

He’s faced challenges on this. “It’s funny, because I get emails from customers saying, ‘Hey, well, this store is open and that store is open. So why aren’t you?’ Well, I care about your safety, and I care about the safety of my employees. We’re able to function in a new way right now.”

Congratulations to all the Excellence Awards winners and MI in general for functioning in a new way in a year in which we all pretty much had no other choice.

And lastly, R.I.P. to a man who made his instrument function in a new way, and, as you’ll read in these pages, directly inspired some of our interviewees this month, Eddie Van Halen. MI

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