PASIC 2008: Voices from the Show Floor
Under the backdrop of an economy in turmoil, billions of dollars in bailouts being bandied about, and the nation’s leadership due for an overhaul, the Percussive Arts Society’s annual International Convention proceeded with remarkable success. The turnout of over 6,500 at the Austin, Texas show represented the third highest attendance in PASIC’s 32-year history.
MMR was on hand to ask vendors for their thoughts on how the new administration headed by Barack Obama will impact the worlds of MI retailing, manufacturing, and music education.
How do you think the results of the recent election are going to impact the worlds of MI and music education?
“I can only tell you what I’ve read, and that is that it is Obama’s preference to put music and the Arts in the schools. I didn’t hear that from McCain. I think highly of both candidates, I thought McCain was terrific, as well, but it was very encouraging when I heard that Obama was very strong about education and about putting Arts and Music in the schools. Hopefully, that’s a positive sign for the future.”
“Who knows? Things are so volatile right now with commodity pricing. How can you make any plans when every minute gas is going up or down by two dollars. Things are changing so quickly – it’s just really hard to read. Being a category leader, I think we’ll survive the storm better than the average bear. People are pretty confident with a brand leader, but who knows. It’s still too early to tell. October was certainly a hiccup month, and hopefully things will get back on track now that we know at least who the President will be. We’ll have to wait to pick up a vibe on what the changes will be.”
Avedis Zildjian Company
“I think [having the election over] will only help solidify the country, and everyone will come together. This can help people feel good, and music is going to help stimulate these activities: when people feel good they go out and buy, they go out and spend money, they seek entertainment, and want to be active and participate. It can only be positive. Also, prior to the election, the country only had one way to go.”
Mike Balter Mallets
“I hope that, not just in the music industry, but consumers in general will have a renewed sense of optimism. That there’s change coming, that we’ll be able to get through this financial crisis, that there’s new leadership at the top and maybe we’ll have the confidence to spend some money. If this show is an indication, it’s been an incredible day. I’m hoping this is a bellwether for what’s going to happen.”
Grover Pro Percussion, Inc.
“It’s really hard to tell. One thing about having the new administration is that idea of change. Everyone wants something new. We’re coming from an environment with the recession and the economy where it is. Everybody pretty much wants something to happen, and something needs to happen in order to get the economy jump-started, and what better than a new President and a new administration to come in and hopefully reenergize the economy. Once the economy starts doing well, everything else will pick up along with it.”
“It has been a little slow moving as people were waiting to see the outcome of the election. Now we at Hal Leonard, at least, are looking forward to moving into a major upswing, and seeing what we have the ability to do and how people are going to feel about education and about funding for kids and teachers.
“The country was pretty divided for a while, so at the very least, now 50 percent of the people somewhere are going to start buying. So we think they’re going to stock up on our products and in the fourth quarter, upcoming, and especially for the beginning of the year. I’ve already seen our NAMM releases, very educational, really playing on the Rock Band and Guitar Hero mentality. These are products we’re really focusing on, along with Disney titles.
“Looking at next year, we were all really waiting for [the election] to be over, and now we’re extremely excited to hit the phones and talk to our customers about and how they’re feeling. There’s going to be changes, and I think it’ll take a little while for it to turn around completely, but from a teacher and seller of retail goods standpoint, I think we’re going to be on the up and up.”
“I think and I hope that [the new administration] continuse to invest resources – time, financial resources, individuals – into strengthening and bettering music education in general. With the people that will be tending to that, I think there is going to be an increase in importance more for than just the core classes, which is vital because one of the things I’m faced with in the field, as an education relations manager, is watching orchestra programs evaporate because there is not enough money to sustain them. Schools are faced with the decision of taking away an orchestra program, which puts on concerts, or taking away a band program that puts on concerts but also supports the football team and the basketball team, so it’s a little more in the public eye. I think the [election results] are going to be a great thing. I just really hope that the people in charge, the ones making the decisions, realize the importance of the Arts.
“We all know on the inside the importance of strengthening the mind and providing an outlet for some kids, be it in a situation where the band program needs that kid or in the even more important situations where the kid needs band. A little bit of the growth of each of us as individuals can be attributed to our activity in music, the people we’ve connected with and looked up to, and have followed in this field. All in all, I’m optimistic.”
“I’m just really hopeful that [the election results will bring] a sense of hope and a relaxation of fear in the country in general. The MI market always seems to be late in reacting either in the downward or on the upward swing. I’m hopeful that there’s a renewed energy in the President and that will trickle down to the people and that we can follow along. The fear that seems to be gripping everyone right now – the financial problems – will be sorted out and hopefully the impact on the music industry will be positive.”
“That’s a very interesting question. I think the MI market is a small thing that’s not going to be addressed for a couple of years. Indirectly, I think the new administration is coming into a situation that has never happened before. It’s a global economy and it’s not just hurting here in the US, it’s hurting all over the world. I think this new administration has a tremendous task ahead of it, and it’ll be interesting to see how they attack it. It’s my personal belief that we’re in a long recession.”
Humes & Berg
“Well, first of all, in my opinion only, I am absolutely thrilled because I think this is something that’s going to breath a lot of new hope and new life into everyday people. I think that’s going to encourage people to make music. We don’t really know that the educational policies exactly are going to be in the new administration, but I think it’ll be better than what we’ve had, what with No Child Left Behind, which has really been quite a drag on school music. I’m very encouraged that things are going to get better. Maybe not for the first two years, but in a couple of years, it’s going to get better.”
“The first thing [the new administration] needs to do is try to fix the problems within the global market. The music industry is just such a small piece of that pie. I think the key is that we have to get confidence up and get job security back in the world. Once that happens, we can probably see the numbers that we did last year. It’ll be really interesting to see how it takes place. The number one market for musical manufacturing and retailing is here in the United States. We’re definitely feeling some of the effect. ’09 will be interesting. The instrument dealer side might be slower than expected, but I think the companies that have a broad base are going to get through it. At the same time, companies that are starting up and trying to get on their feet might fall apart. We’ll see.”