Is This Thing On…?
Taking a break from the all too familiar “wow, the economy sure is awful” perspective on business, MMR took the opportunity to focus on microphone sales this month, surveying almost 3,000 of our readers to gauge the market.
Not that microphone sales are exactly “booming” or “recession proof,” but it does represent relatively vibrant segment of the MI world. Why? Built-in customer base. For many, microphones aren’t a luxury or an option; they’re a necessity. If you’re a gigging or recording musician, you pretty much need to own at least one mic. Of course, if you’re putting on performances of any type at a venue of any sort (club, church, arena, school), or working in a recording studio, you also need mics – and plenty of them.
The folks we spoke with told us some things we already assumed we knew (the SM58 is a strong seller – shocking!), some things we suspected (wireless microphones are accounting for more overall sales than ever before), and some things we only had guessed at (according to many, direct-to-computer USB compatible mics are all the rage right now).
While preferred methods of displaying, promoting, and selling microphones understandably vary from one retail outlet to another, by most accounts mics remain a “strong” overall product, even during these shaky economic times.
How do you display microphones in your store (display case, behind counter, dedicated area, et cetera)?
“We make use of a device created by Bob Heil called ‘The Comparator. It’s in the PA section of the store. It allows eight mics to be compared against the others. It is awesome.”
Springfield Music, Springfield, Mo.
“We stack boxes up high with the models and photos showing. We like vendors/manufacturers with a consistent look throughout their line because of this. Customers can see we have a huge inventory and selection, and will generally ask staff to pull something down for a demo or to purchase.”
Watermelon Music, Davis, Calif.
“We display mics in various places dependent on packaging and price. Clamshell packaged mics on hooks of gondolas that are easily accessible to customers help with impulse purchasing. All handhelds are displayed on the wall behind our Pro Audio counter using String Swing locking mic display brackets. Recording mics are also behind the counter in glass display cases or on wall using String Swing individual mic brackets. Wireless systems are displayed on shelves taking advantage of POP boxes and some are unboxed in glass display cases.”
Ken Stanton Music, Marietta, Ga.
What are some significant, recent trends you’ve noticed in microphone sales?
“Customers want a mic with plenty of range and will pay the price for quality. $125 to $200 is the price point.”
Swansboro Music Center, Swansboro, N.C.
“Everyone wants the cheapest. Also, the confusion over the FCC auction of airwaves is preventing some wireless sales.”
Firehouse Guitars, Grandville, Mich.
“Lower priced small brands are outselling the older established brands and often have equal or better performance at a much better margin to the independent dealer.”
Lou Kraus Music, Ogallala, Neb.
“It’s polarizing – most sales are either of well known brands or off brands with cheaper prices/great value.”
BCR Music & Sound, Lemoyne, Penn.
“We’re seeing much more interest in studio mics.”
Tone Music, Owatonna, Minn.
“The only trend that I’ve seen is that we can’t sell them at what people can buy microphones for on the Internet.”
Don Banks Music, Tampa, Fla.
“USB compatible mics are selling to home recordists.”
Encore Music Center, Auburn, Calif.
“Microphones, unlike other items, remain a constant good seller.”
Bibb Music Center, Macon, Ga.
“Sales of low- to mid-priced condensers for home recording are up significantly.”
Marcum D. Havens
Matt’s Music, Inc., Monroe, La.