Insight From Our Experts

Take Your Music Department to the Next Level

This article was written by Tommy Wilson, VP of MIRC, and first seen in the NPA Industry Partners 2022-2023 Buyers Guide

The Guitar and Music side of your business may seem a bit foreign to some of you, and even difficult at times. There is a different language and cadence to a music department within the retail environment. While there is a great opportunity to create a thriving revenue stream and make new customers, the other side of the coin can result in squandered resources and remorse if not properly addressed and fostered. Since the onset of the covid pandemic, music companies, most notably guitar companies, have seen a huge increase in consumer demand resulting in increased sales and revenue in every price category and region of the country. You should be serious about your musical endeavor, but also have FUN doing it!  


It may seem obvious, but sometimes the simplest things are often overlooked. When analyzing the performance of your music department, one of the first areas to examine and evaluate is your staff. You can have the best gear and merchandising around for miles, but if you (and your staff) don’t know what the equipment does, it will potentially sit and collect dust. You must have the right staff allocated to the music department. This will have a huge impact on the reputation, and ultimately the profitability and performance, of the music showroom. You don’t have to employ experts on vintage instruments or music gear “geeks” (like myself). However, it is fundamentally important to have someone in your store that plays an instrument or is at least quite familiar with music industry basics.  


Next, carefully consider the demographics in your local marketplace. I spent many years in Texas as a sales rep for a major music industry company. Thankfully, I speak fluent Spanish, and I learned immediately that my best accounts had at least one spanish speaking salesperson on their staff. This was a valuable lesson I learned from my good friend, Jackie Bonds, who owns several successful pawn shops in Texas and Arkansas. 


Many of today’s successful stores also have their own dedicated website and e-commerce presence. Just like your in-store showroom, it is important to treat any web activity as its own store location. 

Training for your music department is also very important. Since we all realize our segment is different, ensure your staff is educated, qualified and comfortable having music product conversations.

You should have a dedicated staff member able to take photos, assess current value, and place products up on your website to ensure those items turn quickly and profitably. The internet is a wonderful thing, in that if you have something that you can’t sell locally, I guarantee someone out there somewhere is looking for it. Turn it into cash now! 


Make sure your inventory is diverse and features “in demand” products. Your selection should consist of quality used and refurbished items, and new musical instruments. You can’t always rely on folks bringing in their instruments for pawn or sale in times of need. Be proactive and stock accordingly. Again, this will help promote your store’s reputation as a serious player for the local consumer. There are reputable musical instrument wholesale companies that can help fill your store.  


Training for your music department is also very important. Since we all realize our segment is different, ensure your staff is educated, qualified and comfortable having music product conversations. Make sure you have subscriptions to the music industry periodicals such as the Music Merchandise Review, and Music INC. Knowledge goes a long way, and just a little insight will ultimately increase transactions with your clientele.  


Whether you have just opened your showroom, or you’re seeking to revamp and revitalize this segment of commerce, focus on merchandising, sales training, and buying decisions. Make your store a place where there is always something new to look at and a place that is exciting to visit. Music is what makes the world go ‘round, and it is the universal global language. Foster your music department and make your daily course of business both fun for your customers and profitable for yourself.  


Tommy Wilson, VP of Sales, Mirc, LLC.