Actually, we have 10 problems. Here they are:

  • Beyoncé
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Jay-Z
  • Usher
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Chris Brown
  • Rihanna
  • Justin Bieber
  • Drake
  • Kanye West

They are among the top music performers of 2014, and the problem has nothing to do with taste in music. The problem is this: they sing and dance, but they don’t play a musical instrument and nobody knows anyone in their bands.

I watched Nicki Minaj on television the other night and her band was 30 yards away on the side. They were a dark, blurry image off in the distance.

This is telling our youth that you don’t have to play an instrument to be a music star. There are no guitar heroes anymore. The stars of today could just as well not even have a band and just be singing and dancing to recorded music.

This reminds me of the bad old days of disco.

Luckily, that didn’t last very long and it did help sound system sales because bands realized putting the instruments through a sound system improved their sound. Many sound systems were sold because of this realization.

However, not having musicians on stage during a show is not good for us. We have to do all we can to promote musicianship.

When the Beatles came along in the ’60s, the music business was booming. We saw their music being made by them. Whenever I mentioned them in my presentation when enrolling music students, I made a sale almost every time.

In the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, we had great bands: the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, KISS,AC/DC, Iron Maiden, The Who, Queen and many other great bands. They all encouraged the youth of those eras to be musicians.

When I think about the next generation, I wonder who the equivalents are.

The country music scene is not as affected by this problem. It is still band-oriented and its stars are happy to show their musical prowess.

We have to overcome this problem by reminding our customers that you need a band to make music, and that playing an instrument is a pleasant and rewarding hobby.

I know you think your problems are competitive discounting and big-box stores and manufacturers going direct. Believe me…this is a bigger problem than those.

The media doesn’t realize what it is creating; the media just wants to sell its magazines and TV shows. But this trend has to change. We have to change the mindset from singing and dancing back to playing instruments.

I think we have to eliminate these performers from our vocabulary and talk about bands. Get some posters of great bands and put them on your walls. Talk about the great performances you’ve seen by these bands.

I know we can solve this problem. However, I thought you should be aware of it and do something to combat it.

We all know how rewarding it is to be able to play a musical instrument; we have to convey that feeling to our customers.

I don’t see musicianship in these artists today. In my view, it’s the controversy that keeps them in the headlines.

I can’t imagine why a performer would want to keep the musicians out of the picture during a musical performance.

Miley Cyrus is known for twerking. Do you have any twerks for sale at your store?

We’ve got to work at changing this trend.

After all, many parents wouldn’t want their children to grow up to be like these artists. If a parent thought buying his or her child an instrument would make that child grow up to be like some of these stars…they wouldn’t.

I hate to bring this up in the last quarter of the year, but you can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broke.

I just want you to be aware of what’s going on in the big picture, because it can cause problems in the small picture and we won’t see them coming.

Meanwhile, put all your plans for the last quarter into action and get it while you can.

We’ve got October, November and December to get all the sales we can, and now is the time to spend the bucks on advertising and promotion. Don’t forget the worship centers. This is their time. They will have their most elaborate services during these months, and they have to be sure their sound systems are working well. They will probably have a greater number of musical productions during this period. They might need additional instruments for these performances.

This would be a good time to do a promotion with the worship centers and offer them a free inspection of their sound systems.

Of course, there are Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are all celebration and gift-giving times. Make it as easy as you can for customers to purchase an instrument during this time. Start your layaways immediately. Decorate your store accordingly. Have music playing all day, every day.

Keep the problem I wrote about in mind, but don’t let it throw you off your game. There are millions of people out there, and lots of them aren’t influenced by these top artists. And, for those who are, help them see the joy in playing an instrument.

Let’s get ’er done!

I wish you good selling.

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