Robert Estrin - piano expert

Is the Music Industry Imploding?

What is the status of the music industry?

In this video, Robert discusses the status of the music industry by describing some dire aspects of it.

Released on November 27, 2019

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Robert Estrin here at The question today is, is the music industry imploding? What do I mean by that? That sounds like a horrible topic to bring up, but it occurred to me because there are a couple of big bankruptcies going on right now that you may or may not be aware of.

One of them is the venerable American guitar manufacturer, Gibson. Been around for a long time and they are one of the leading guitar makers in the world, and they're facing a bankruptcy. Gibson, by the way, owns many different brand names of drum companies, other guitar companies like Epiphone and Steinberger and things like that, and a whole range of products, even pianos. Gibson's involved in the piano business also, they own the names Baldwin, Wurlitzer, Chickering, Hamilton, and they certainly are an important segment of the piano industry. What got Gibson in trouble more than anything was going into consumer audio. They bought TEAC and Phillips, and maybe they should've just stayed with their core music mission of musical instruments because they were doing just fine with that. Hopefully they'll be rescued from bankruptcy and will emerge stronger once they let go of some of the ancillary businesses.

The other bankruptcy is one that's extremely troubling and may be related in some way, which I'll explain in just a moment. The other company is is Guitar Center. Guitar Center's facing a bankruptcy. Now, any of you who follow Guitar Center might not be shocked by this, because although they're the biggest music retailer in the United States, they have always been very leveraged. They're a publicly-traded company, so seeing their numbers is available to everyone to a great extent, and they've always been borrowing and borrowing and borrowing, and expanding and expanding and expanding. In fact, they're so big that Guitar Center by themselves is bigger than the next 27 music retail companies combined. That's astounding. So it is a big deal when a major, major force in the music industry like this is facing bankruptcy.

Well, part of it I think has more to do with guitars than anything else, because people were buying guitars at a voracious rate not that long ago and things have kind of stabilized a bit, which could explain both the Gibson and Guitar Center bankruptcies. I'm sure there's a lot more to it, and I believe that a lot of this may be coincidental. It just seemed kind of shocking to me that two of these major companies are facing bankruptcy at the same time.

Music will always be with us, I am an eternal optimist in this regard, but we all have to do our parts to support music wherever we can and in any way, as educators, performers, and as audiences. So let's keep music alive and make sure that all these companies emerge and more fresh companies grow in the music industry, so future generations can enjoy music. Thanks again so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at, your online piano store. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Ken Turley * VSM MEMBER * on December 3, 2019 @5:26 am PST
It is a common malaise in the American attitude towards business that the goal is to continuously expand and grow profits rather than finding a homeostasis of a good product for a good price and maintaining a positive lifestyle. Perhaps its is true even as musician, while one seeks to continuously improve and grow a repertoire, it must be done within reasonable self-recognized limits and not collapse in trying to over reach.
Robert - host, on December 3, 2019 @5:14 pm PST
It is a fact that the global economic model is dependent upon continuous growth. While this isn't always a good thing (or even feasible), as a musician (and a human being) I believe that we must continue growing to cope with the reality of constant change in our lives. Here is an article and video that relates to this subject:
Tosh * VSM MEMBER * on November 27, 2019 @8:07 pm PST
What you have related above is not limited to the music industry.
There have been several/many businesses that had a highly successful niche or speciality, but which started to expand in a voracious drive to dominate their speciality as well as to start including other goods and/or services that were not part of their
original special niche...only to find that the market demand they thought they would service just wasn't there to the extent they had banked on. Of course, they had to borrow magnum amounts of money to create this mega expansion. And of course, when their
expenses began to overshadow their income, they went into bankruptcy or disappeared altogether. To exacerbate their predicament, these businesses often were not cognizant enough
of changing market forces, including changing consumer demands.
Mike Iltshishin on November 27, 2019 @9:25 am PST
I understand all of that, and yes, you are correct.
I thought you were going to speak more on the pop music 'trapformula writing to suit the dwindling desire for melody/harmony these days.
Our top 'pop' musicians used to take pride in knowing their instrument and growing as players, but lately, it seems that learning a few tricks and having 'the look' that suits producers is mostly what is left.
Robert - host, on November 27, 2019 @11:40 am PST
Popular music has always appealed to the masses with less sophisticated music (with some notable exceptions). The trend in recent years is towards technology. So, traditional mastery of acoustic instruments has become somewhat irrelevant in our digital world when it comes to popular music. However, the skills required to produce music with computers opens new horizons in music which could bring about new avenues of creativity.
Mike Iltshishin on November 27, 2019 @3:36 pm PST
I'm going to take a 'wait and see' on that one for now...
It doesn't seem to be working out all that well so far.
Thanks for the response!
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