Editor’s Note: “Front and Center” is brought to you by the Women’s International Music Network (The WiMN). The interviews showcase accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. Visit thewimn.com to view the weekly interviews and to learn more about how to be featured.
Connecticut-based The Music People’s — manufacturer and home of On-Stage Stands and a full-line pro-audio distributor, TMP Pro — goal is to offer top-quality customer service to sustain the needs of music professionals globally. President and owner of the company, Sharon Hennessey, states what makes The Music People is the people. With an innovative, hardworking staff, it’s no wonder that The Music People has won the title of Top Work Place twice by the Hartford Courant and is ranked No. 38 in top suppliers worldwide.
Behind the scenes of this small, but prosperous, company is Hennessey. Whether it’s handling everyday business operations or running projects that are linked to the company’s goals and identified initiatives, her favorite task is always reaching out and connecting with partners. Hennessey is also confident in women in the industry and has high hopes for the future.
WiMN: Your father started the company. Did you always think you’d move into a leadership position there?
Hennessey: Not quite. I went to college pursuing a degree in education with an emphasis on special education, thinking I wasn’t going to fall back on the business. But I will say my father was brilliant in persuading me with an introduction to my first Winter NAMM Show back in the 1980s. At that time, I didn’t have to work at the booth. I could lounge by the hotel pool (I’m an East Coast girl … the balmy January weather was sublime) and hang out with rock stars at night — it was the perfect plan to expose me to the industry. It was at that show I distinctly remember the Peavey booth. The line to the booth wrapped around the entire hall as people waited to meet Eddie Van Halen and purchase Peavey T-shirts and swag. Something resonated with me when I saw this. Having drunk the Kool-Aid, I returned home and told [my dad] I was coming to work for The Music People (TMP).
WiMN: What’s it like supplying local companies versus bigger chain stores?
Hennessey: You may imagine supplying product to smaller stores versus bigger stores would look very different, but actually, it isn’t. We strive to create strong relationships with clientele who have big or small operations and we’re grateful for the opportunity to receive business from all our customers. TMP has been around for close to 40 years, and over that time we’ve created many systematic processes and put them in place to easily service large and small companies alike. This means we can give the same attention and service to all customers.
WiMN: What do you think makes The Music People special?
Hennessey: Honestly, it’s the people. It’s one reason the company got its name. Although we’re not a large company, our business touches multiple sectors of the industry. TMP is multidimensional, consisting of pro-audio distribution through TMP Pro, as well as On-Stage, which manages and develops our own accessory and stand line. Our knowledgeable, hardworking staff is the face of both divisions and the reason we’re so successful. It’s the people that make it possible to manage a large catalog of products, develop and patent great ideas, and provide top service while creating lasting customer relationships.
WiMN: The Music People is a family business. Is working with your family ever challenging?
Hennessey: I chuckle when I consider how to respond. My father Jim and brother John are very passionate people, and so am I; it makes for an interesting combination. It wouldn’t be unusual to see us in a passionate discussion in the NAMM booth over a mic clip or some other product. Our customers always love experiencing our family dynamic. Jim, John or I will often challenge one another on how a feature, benefit or specification should be considered when doing a product sales pitch. We love what we do and the product we provide.
WiMN: I see you’re always looking to expand The Music People team; what type of people do you look for when hiring?
Hennessey: There’s a motto we like to use at TMP for our employees: “Get it and get it done.” The mentality behind this saying is that we believe our employees to be the best in the industry. They are adaptive, hardworking and do what’s necessary for the company and their co-workers to succeed. It’s always exciting to come join the TMP team. We are continuously adding partnerships with the industry’s biggest brands and manufacturers and expanding the ‘crème de la crème’ line card offerings through TMP Pro, developing and creating new product through On-Stage, and finding ways to connect and celebrate our employees.
WiMN: Tell us about a typical day at work for you (if there is such a thing!).
Hennessey: After 28 years, my typical day will always be evolving. As a rule, I handled many of the strategic On-Stage customers both in MI and OEM, and still do in combination with running day-to-day business operations. On average, a typical day is getting a big-picture overview on all aspects of the business from a project-management perspective, and meeting with different departments to review our top-down priority projects. Often, there are sales trainings conducted by our TMP Pro distribution partners and business clientele. In combination with the day-to-day operations, I go out of my way to connect with our partners. That’s a real highlight for me. It’s always enjoyable to connect and share some laughs; many of us have grown up in this amazing and unique industry. As the years go by, we gain insight from our history and learn to apply it to our business as we move forward.
WiMN: What do you like most about what you do?
Hennessey: I like that TMP is a relatively medium-sized company. We’re grateful to experience many benefits of a Fortune 500 company. We are in a place where we are still small and agile enough to take a right turn today even if we’ve been taking a left for so many years. I’ve been doing this job for quite some time, and I always look forward to engaging with long-term relationships I’ve created through the years. I love learning and applying fresh ideas to the company to keep it ever-evolving and sustainable. I feel like the music industry is one long vacation where you get to spend time with people you connect with on many different levels and design products together that meet challenges and provide solutions.
WiMN: Have you ever faced challenges as a woman in the music industry? How did you address them?
Hennessey: Personally, I have not. Quite the opposite. Many of my mentors over the years have been men. I think the music industry is unusually welcoming in comparison to other industries. I think that women can excel in our industry and tap into the many resources available. I’m excited and inspired seeing that anything is possible. I encourage women from not only the music industry but all industries to have the self-confidence to pursue their dreams. In addition, I’m an available contact and resource through NAMM Young Professionals and its empowerment of new generations. Male or female, it gives me great satisfaction when they reach out for guidance in pursuing their careers in the industry.
WiMN: What’s in the future for TMP?
Hennessey: As we approach our 40th anniversary, we’ve never been more energized. We’re clear in our vision and excited to embark on the next 40 years of exclusive partnerships, continued patented innovation and strong relationships that span the globe.