Taking The Pulse Of The Piano Industry

A panel weighs in on the economy, technology, social change, and their impact

...expressed optimism that the industry is slowly recovering from a particularly difficult economic slump. Here we offer a few of their observations:

Selling pianos in this market has everything to do with the salesperson¡¯s skill in working through the current technology. We¡¯re selling in ways we never have before: We actually have salespeople selling pianos via text message.

- Danny Saliba, president, Steinway Hall¡ªDallas/Fort Worth/Plano

If you look at the sales numbers for acoustics and digitals combined, you¡¯ll see that the total unit sales are not as severely impacted, though there¡¯s less money being spent. We believe many customers look at any instrument with keys as a piano, and we¡¯ve placed a priority on serving that market.

- Paul Calvin, vice president and general manager, Yamaha Keyboard Division

Music making and learning continues to shift to adulthood. Our main buyers aren¡¯t necessarily buying an instrument for a child; they may be buying it also¡ªor just¡ªfor themselves. That makes the purchase process more researched and the customer more discerning.

- Basilios Strmec, president and CEO, Hailun Distribution

The biggest challenge right now is getting dealers to re-inventory. There can be a self-fulfilling prophesy where dealers don¡¯t order pianos because nothing¡¯s selling¡ªbut the truth is that nothing¡¯s selling because you don¡¯t have the pianos to sell.

- Todd Sanders, vice president of sales and marketing, Steinway & Sons

In the public education sector, there¡¯s been an increase in funding for [other parts of the curriculum] that have arguably cut into funding for music programs. This, along with competing technologies, entertainment, and instant gratification are capturing the mindshare of would-be music makers. It¡¯s a battle.

- Tom Lagomarsino, executive vice president, Mason & Hamlin and PianoDisc

The uptick in upright sales among consumers shows that there is still a strong interest in what we sell. In general, you don¡¯t purchase an upright for the way it looks: Uprights are purchased because someone wants to learn to play piano.

- David Slan, president, Steinway Piano Gallery¡ªWashington, DC



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