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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Upcoming Gear Shakeout

It's right around the corner and it's coming on strong - the musical instrument/recording gear shakeout.  There are so many me-too products, so many duplications, so many cheap knock-offs, while the retail outlets that sell them are falling ever more quickly by the wayside.

What's a duplicated product?  If manufacturer A has a big hit with a product (say a USB computer interface), manufacturer B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J and I release a similar version of the product.  What's worse, it may all be coming from the same plant in China, so it's basically the same thing anyway.  The problem is, manufacturer A did all the hard work - the market research, R&D and building the market through advertising and marketing, so the other manufacturers just dilute the market for everyone.

There used to be a good reason for duplicated products.  Only a few large dealers could get the franchise for certain lines (like Fender, Gibson, Digidesign, etc.), so all the other dealers would look for an alternative product to sell (like Peavey).  With fewer dealers around these days, most gear manufacturers will sell to anyone with a heartbeat and enough cash to buy a display model and some backup inventory.

But there's about to be a pushback from large and small dealers alike.  Thanks to the economy, the market can only take a product with one or two competing products maximum.  The other 15 will soon be relegated to blow-out sales or never see the light of day.

So get ready for some cheap deals, just make sure the warranty is backed up!

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