December 22, 2020 I MI Editor I by Daniel Margolis

On Reconnecting

For this January issue, we asked retailers what’s their resolution for 2021. Andy Cohn, owner of Andy’s Music Chicago, had an awesomely unique answer. He just wants to keep being the best Paiste gong salesman he can be. A gong-centric New Year’s resolution is unexpected, even in MI, but his reasoning is compelling, as you’ll read on page 46. Other retailers said they want to reconnect with their customers, voicing a frustration common in MI and at retail in general as this pandemic twists on. The easiest way to do that would be to just get people back in stores, of course, but when something shifts online, making it physical again can be like trying to get toothpaste back in the tube.

Thomann CEO Hans Thomann Jr., whose German-based company we profile on our cover this issue, commented on this in our expansive interview for the article, pointing out that the way forward is going to vary from country to country:

“When we talk about the way people shop, I would guess that the pandemic has accelerated
developments that were already well underway before it hit. By this I mean that online shopping has become a normal activity for many who would not have considered it previously. We probably need to differentiate here by geography [and] national markets, though. U.S. consumers have always been far more enthusiastic about ordering from websites than their German counterparts. And other markets in Europe are different from Germany in turn. But I do think that the closure of non-essential, highstreet stores for many weeks has driven more people online than ever before.”

So, how do American MI retailers eager to reconnect with their customers do so? The answer is probably a hybrid, a word we’ve heard almost as much lately as the now-dreaded “pivot.” Companies preserving the online models they embraced as a result of the coronavirus as the physical world opens up could actually enhance what they’re capable of by blending the two approaches.

As our columnist Mike Robinson asserts on page 18, it may revolutionize trade shows as well. He asks what if MI trade shows “finally transformed into a true hybrid B2B and B2C event? In-person attendance could be better controlled and dedicated to the B2B customer, but the virtual experience could be opened to all participants in the world of music, who could explore and learn what’s new remotely.” As you’ll read on page 30, NAMM is convinced.

We’re seeing such outreach in foundations as well. In her column this issue on page 19, Natalie Morrison, a public relations strategist at D’Addario who also dedicates her time and skills to Smart Women In Music, describes how once the pandemic began she was practically on a mission to reconnect the foundation’s membership to keep advancing its cause. She launched SWIM Masters, a podcast dedicated to helping women in MI have a dialogue.

So here’s to reconnecting in 2021. I would say let’s ring in the New Year by banging a gong, but, as you’ll read at the end of this issue, Andy would prefer you didn’t. That might actually break it. MI

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