Q&A: The Music People – MMR chats with Jim, John, and Sharon Hennessey
With a sterling reputation and having fielded one of the industry’s go-to brands for three decades (On-Stage Stands), The Music People (TMP) is amongst the MI world’s premier suppliers and distributors.
Founder Jim Hennessey cut his teeth fabricating metal for Kaman Aircraft, eventually shifting over to the company’s Ovation Guitar division. With a simple, yet hugely innovative idea (multiple guitar stands) serving as catalyst, Hennessey left Ovation and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now a legitimately global company with locations in Connecticut, California, and China, The Music People remains a true family operation – Jim today works alongside his son, John and daughter, Sharon. MMR recently spoke with the Hennesseys about TMP’s ongoing expansion into the realm of pro audio, issues affecting all of the music retail marketplace, and the company’s plans for the future…
MMR: Let’s discuss the history of On-Stage Stands and how it expanded into other lines.
Jim Hennessey: The Music People, Inc. found its first success meeting the needs of working musicians, providing inexpensive and functional products. There was a demand for affordable microphone and instrument stands, and The Music People thrived fulfilling that need better than anyone else. Now, however, The Music People has responded to requests from dealers to produce high-end products to compete with pro-level brands. The hallmark innovation and value engineered into On-Stage Stands for three decades has translated well to the company’s recent pro-level products. Studio booms, keyboard stands, and the new MS9700 Series microphone stands have gained a growing share of the tour-grade production market.
On-Stage Stands is a leading producer of MI accessories and can be found at music stores, band rehearsals, recording studios, and live gigs everywhere. The success of On-Stage Stands has etched a deep and widespread understanding that The Music People is a stand company, and On-Stage Stands continues to be the first association consumers make with The Music People. Increasingly, though, other members of The Music People family of products have been making their marks on the accessories industry. On-Stage Gear™, DrumFire™, Hennessey Guitar Parts®, HotWires®, On-Stage Sticks™, and Audio-Spectrum™ are all sister brands to On-Stage Stands, and they are all growing in terms of product offerings and market share. Yes, The Music People is a stand company, but its various brands have established it as a major supplier of drums, cases, tuners, picks, audio cables, and other MI accessories.
MMR: Can you tell us about any OEM business The Music People in involved with?
Sharon Hennessey: The Music People will not divulge who its OEM partners are, but there is a decent chance that your favorite guitar stand, keyboard stand, or speaker stand pack may have been manufactured by them, even if it doesn’t have an On-Stage Stands logo. The expertise, efficiency, facilities, and relationships developed by The Music People evolved into custom accessory agreements with many of the most recognizable names in the industry. The Music People’s OEM business has grown particularly fast in recent years as the company has repeatedly proven that it has the design team, the factory facilities, and the systems in place to deliver the quality and quantity its partners demand.
John Hennessey: The fastest growing member of The Music People family is its pro audio division, TMP Pro Distribution™. The Music People has offered microphones and other audio products, along with true deployment expertise, for more than 25 years, but it wasn’t until 2006 that it launched the dedicated TMP Pro division. TMP Pro markets itself as a leveraging tool for dealers. For example, when a dealer enters into a manufacturer direct program, it usually means he/she is obligated to minimum orders with that brand. TMP Pro gives dealers access to 150+ pro audio brands and thousands of products, far more than any single dealer could possibly maintain on his or her own, with no minimum order commitments. Not only does this allow dealers to offer their customers an expanded selection, it lets them pick the brains of the audio wizards at TMP Pro for a non-biased opinion of the models across each product category. Every member of the TMP Pro staff has a background in live and/or commercial audio, and each receives regular training on the newest products and technologies entering the market by factory engineers and their representatives.
MMR: How do you work with dealers to promote your products?
Sharon: The relationship between The Music People and its dealers is a tight one. The company taps the needs and requests of dealers to develop new products and to improve existing models. In turn, the company utilizes its experience to provide high value, high turn products that dealers can sell in volume at a healthy margin.
In addition, The Music People prides itself on its sale-oriented packaging. It has been recognized for excellence repeatedly with awards for marketing and POP displays. The goal is always to create sharp displays that inform both the dealer and consumer about the products within, and that act as a silent salesperson in the retail setting.
MMR: How important are your websites to overall business? What do you hope to achieve via your online presence?
John: The Music People, Inc has reached out to dealers via social media outlets and recently redesigned its flagship website, www.onstagestands.com. The company’s pro audio division expects to introduce its own redesigned site, www.tmppro.com, later this year. Our ongoing objective is to provide dealers with a secure environment to place and research orders.
John: The Music People is headquartered in Berlin, Conn. where it maintains its offices and primary warehouse. An additional warehouse is located in California, and the company soon plans to open a third distribution center in the Midwest to expedite and lower the cost of shipping for its central U.S. dealers. This year the company has also announced the opening of an office in China, from which it can focus on quality control and new product development in its proprietary and OEM ventures.
MMR: Can you discuss The Music People’s Involvement with issues concerning the MI retail industry, as a whole?
Sharon: Product, logo, and website knockoffs are an increasing problem that threatens the industry as a whole, so The Music People has become an active industry activist against piracy and supports legislative and commercial efforts to curb the counterfeit market. This advocacy, along with my own recent election to the NAMM board of directors, has established The Music People as a bona fide and growing leader in the industry.
MMR: Any future developments on the horizon that you’d care to talk about?
Jim: Export business is a quickly growing aspect of The Music People’s future. The company already ships to 40 countries and is expanding worldwide. The export team heads to three international tradeshows a year to actively recruit importers and distributors around the world. International distributors who sign on with The Music People are provided with an extensive online imagebank, product catalogs, individual product sell sheets, editable print advertisements and specialized support from a dedicated export department. With a comprehensive line of products and marketing services, On-Stage Stands offers international distributors a complete package at a very low cost. The Music People is proud of its international growth and expects the pace to increase.
MMR: Final thoughts?
Jim: The Music People started when I observed the need for a multiple guitar stand. Now The Music People itself is an entity of multiple companies, each of which simultaneously provides specialized products and diverse expertise. The Music People is a leading company that provides an extensive range of accessories, pro audio products, OEM capabilities, product knowledge, and customer service all under one roof.