Why is the MI industry such crap?

As any visitor to this site can readily see, I spend a lot of money on guitars and gear. I’m a gearhound who takes the trouble to investigate, follow up and often purchase new and interesting things. This usually involves following a link from a publication, website or forum to make an enquiry of a manufacturer.

In the past few months alone, I’ve had yet more spectacularly crap experiences from people who claim to be trying to earn a living from inventing, manufactuing and selling guitar-related kit :

1 I’m looking to source a high-end piece of well-known rack kit from a European manufacturer through trade channels for a cable company for which I act as a brand ambassador. After four months, flipping between Twitter (their perferred method of communication) and email (mine) and numerous reminders and follow-ups, I am still in the dark. Rubbish communication.

2 I came across a really neat new low unit price accessory, only to be told by the manufacturer that there were but four dealers worldwide. Two were in US, one in Finland (wtf?) and one in UK whose minumum order is £150, which equates to about 60 of the item in question! After some admittedly pretty browbeating emails from me, the manufacturer agreed to provide a smaller quantity to his local dealer to sell & mail to me. The product arrived and is terrific.

3 I contacted a manufacturer of interesting new tuning gears asking for pricing and retailers. I’ve had no response at all despite repeated follow-ups on my part. He could be dead for all I know.

4 I sought the advice of the world’s leading specialist lutherie and parts dealer as the only seller of a particular set of replacement tuners for one of my instruments. They declined to advise me on compatibility, so I ended up borrowing an instrument with the replacements I was comtemplating, dropping one into my own instrument successfully and then ordering them. The lutherie supplier made the money for doing asbsolutely nothing beyond posting them to me. Grr.

All of this comes on top of years’ experience of most retailers never returning sales enquiry calls, and dealers of pre-owned gear never following up even after they have diligently written down my genuine wishes in their ‘wants books’ in store. This even includes people I’ve spent serious money with and who know I’m good for a lot more.

Some of these experiences could be explained by the fact that press releases or marketing often precede the securing of effective dictribution or retail of new products – though it’s hardly much of an excuse.

But the truth is that they all linked by one thing – the general crapness that pervades musical instrument manufacture, marketing, distribution and retail. If you read their own trade media, you’ll get a strong sense of woe yet it’s as if most of them actually believe that the very thing they do is somehow beneath them, probably because they’re ‘artists’ themselves. Please.

To be fair, there are a few exceptions, VDC for example. Exemplary service and turnaround, but companies like them are the exception, not the rule.

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