Coalition of Independent Music Merchants Forms
The directors of MusicStoreOwners.com (MSO), a forum for independent music merchants, and the directors of the Independent Music Retailers Association (IMRA) have merged to become the IMRA/MSO Coalition. The combined membership of the two organizations is 250 independent community-based music industry retailers, and the group projects that number to grow to 800 by 2009 Winter NAMM show.
Gordy Wilcher, of Owensboro Music Center, was voted president of the group. He has been a member of both the MSO and the IMRA. “Gordy was elected because he embodies the proactive, cooperative, and highly personable community oriented style that independents recognize as the model for success,” says IMRA board member Frank Hayhurst, Zone Music.
Harry Gillum (Showtime Music), formerly president of the interim IMRA executive committee, was voted vice president. Pat Oliver (Treble Clef Music) and Chris Lovell (Strings n Things) were voted treasurer and secretary respectively.
The new Board voted unanimously to make the MSO forum IMRA’s public discussion forum for indie retailers. The MSO directors currently managing the forum will continue to do so as before.
“This is a great step forward for IMRA,” says Gillum. “We have formed a coalition of two of the most forward thinking groups of indie music retailers in our industry.”
Looking for ‘Competitive Equality’
“The more we got to know each other, the more we thought we should unite,” Wilcher says of the merger. “We both had the same goals, and merging just made sense on many levels.”
The immediate goals do not include becoming a buying group. “But we will perhaps help smaller groups within the organization form co-ops and buying groups – there are a lot of dealers interested in doing that. Our bylaws have the states divided in eight regions, and they may end up [individually] becoming buying consortiums.”
The dealer-to-dealer forum on MSO’s site will be a big draw, he adds. Here dealers have blunt conversations about what is moving in their store and what isn’t. Also being discussed is which vendors are naughty and which ones are nice…
“We’re currently doing an interesting survey and it’s a good tool to help our members know which manufacturers are striving to help independent retailers.” Also part of this survey is an informational census of their member’s operations – square footage of their stores, number of students being taught, etc. “That’s been a real eye-opener – just 30 members participating in that survey adds up to a collective ‘store’ that is teaching over 5,000 students a week and bringing in over $25 million a year. It proves that we are the industry’s best choice for growing the market.”
Wilcher says this organization’s ability to survive and thrive is more important than ever. “We’re losing more community-based stores than ever before, and there are more struggles and challenges. Basically we want to recommend and encourage manufacturers who give independent music stores ‘competitive equality.’”
The board voted to continue both organizations under their current names for 2008, with discussion of a new identity possibly in 2009. Pat Oliver (IMRA) and Maureen Johnson (MSO) will continue to manage the respective budgets.
Other board members of the collation include Dave Byers (DC Music), Hayhurst (Zone Music), Bob Campbell (Campbell’s Music Service), Johnson (Johnson Music), Bill Wagoner (Wagoner’s Music Shop), Peter Hix (Hix Brothers Music), Jeff Simons (Watermelon Music), and Don Ulrich (Yenney Music Company).
Joining the organization is free to all independent music retailers, but those who pay the $25 a year fee will have voting privileges.
Like any good organization, they have their priorities straight: “One board member jokingly told me that my first order of business needs to be throwing a really great party,” he laughs. Wilcher did not shirk from the challenge: on Thursday June 19, in Nashville, the group will be hosting a meet and greet event with Samick at B.B. Kings featuring live music from Ladd Smith, followed by an industry jam.
After that they will get down to business with a meeting Friday June 20, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. This meeting will be open to all independent retailers interested in learning more about the group. The session will include introductions and testimonials.
For more information go to www.musicstoreowners.com.
|IMRA/MSO Coalition Mission Statement
The IMRA/MSO coalition is an alliance of independent community-based music industry retailers who intend to thrive in the challenging current marketplace by creating regional and national partnerships that benefit all participants.
Our proactive approach welcomes and includes everyone willing to contribute to growing sales and the market by utilizing our greatest strength – our strong presence and connection to our local communities.