Musical Instrument Museum: A model for music retailers.

Blues pictureIs their a need for physical shopping spaces in a world of AI intelligence and a global community tethered to their device? Yes according to retail guru Doug Stephens. I agree.

 I believe that consumers, will pay according to the value of the emotional connection they have for the special “moments” only brick & mortar retailers can create; aka customer experience. This is not pie in the sky talk. Humans are wired to shop, to interact with people, to be entertained, to share stories. This is how joy central  kicks in and releases the beloved dopamine we all want and can’t get enough of.

In fact customer experience is so important to the world of global commerce, there is even a Customer Experience (CX Index). Forrester’s Customer Experience Index is based on consumer survey data. Criteria for Customer Experience Index rankings include how effectively respondents felt their needs were met and how they assessed the ease and enjoyability of their experiences.

On 9/11/17, an especially solemn day for New Yorkers, I had the pleasure to receive a VIP tour of the “Worlds Only Global Musical Instrument Museum. Bob Ulrich, the former CEO and Chairman of Target, retired and in 2010  founded the museum. My tour guide was Camille Crujido, a Marketing Associate who was so passionate about the museum, it was impossible not to be engaged. That’s what I call providing a” world class” customer experience. MIM is located in Phoenix Arizona and is a must see when visiting the city. The museum offers a dazzling array of musical instruments from over 200 countries and territories.

MIM picture 1Aside from being a cool experience for lovers of musical instruments, you may be asking what does this have to do with the busy music retailer. Retail gurus and thought leaders experts are telling us that the community retailers who lead with “customer experiences” as opposed to selling a product, will be the winners. Those that are trying to compete using the Amazon model—fast delivery and cheap products— better have access to unlimited financial resources or will lose.

As a way to better engage customers, retailers may want to promote educational events where customers can explore, learn and play. Rethinking your “space” is key because the old ROI per square foot, is no longer viable in this knowledge sharing, customer-centric economy.

You may be surprise with the small number of MI retailers who are promoting in store events on their web sites. For example in a recent unofficial survey I took of the NAMM’s top 100 dealers for 2017, I found only about 30 retailers who have an “Events” tab on their menu. Brick & Mortar retailers ought to consider using their internet site to promote their in-store events, as a way do demonstrate their competitive edge and provide a “wow” experience to their customers.

India mimHere are some event tips from MIM designed to bring in your neighborhood kids. With a bit of imagination I bet you can adapt some of these ideas to fit your own space.

1-STEM: (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) How Science Brings Music to Life. Students explore the physics of sound production, vibration, and how musical instruments can be classified. Speak to your local science teacher, and partner in setting up a demonstration at your store. Then ask the teacher bring a bus load of kids to your door.

2-Discovery: Musical instruments tell of musical journeys from across the globe. Partner with the various cultural organizations in your community, and put together an event to celebrate  cultural diversity through musical instruments. Illustrate histories as well as how music impacts the daily lives of people around the world.

3- Artist Residency Program: Inventory your employee talent, or locate the talent from your customers. Put on an educational event where students and adults can explore the amazing variety of music available in our daily lives. Students can consider how everyday sounds help people express themselves through music.

Another idea is to bridge the gap between classical music traditions and today’s popular culture. Popular music, fiddle music, original compositions, and classical favorites, will captivate students.

Be sure to reach out to your local media outlets and get coverage. And do be sure to add an “Events” tab on our home page and promote your in-store or if you don’t have the space, community out-reach events.

For more information on MIM visit



Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman — a former music educator & retailer— is a Certified Wealth Strategist & Succession Planner. Jaimie helps business owners accelerate the value of their company so it can be sold profitably when ready to exit. He is a frequent speaker at the National Association of Music Merchants, (NAMM) Idea Center and has spoken at Yamaha’s succession advantage.

His content has been published in multiple trade magazines including: Music Inc., Music & Sound Retailer, Canadian Music Trade Magazine, and Sound & Communications. His column is now published monthly in MMR— Musical Merchandise Review—and contributes to NAMM U online.

Jaimie is CEO of Jaimie Blackman & Company, and Creator of MoneyCapsules® and the Sound of Money®. To register for Jaimie’s live webinars, or to subscribe to his podcasts & webcasts, visit

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