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To run a great music retail store, you need great musical instruments. 

And if you’ve opened a music store or are looking to open one, you’re probably passionate about music and excited by the idea of selling great musical instruments and accessories to the masses.

But with the wide variety of instruments, accessories, and suppliers on the market, it can be difficult to know which instruments you should stock and where you should source them from.

Luckily, an easy way to educate yourself on your supply options is to attend trade shows and events specifically for music stores. In this blog, we’ll discuss the various ways trade shows can help you add value to your music business.


The Role of Trade Shows and Events in Music Inventory Sourcing

Attending a trade show gives you an opportunity to view and browse the product offerings of many different music suppliers in one place, up close and personal. While searching online is certainly an option, seeing products and meeting people in person gives you a greater sense of the quality of the items a supplier offers, so you can determine who you’d like to work with.

Trade shows are also a great place to discover the newest industry trends. Take advantage of these trends to stay competitive in the industry — this will give you an edge over store owners who did not attend an event.


Discovering New Suppliers and Manufacturers

Meeting with potential suppliers in person can help you develop a rapport with them more quickly. Building strong relationships with suppliers can give you access to exclusive products and better pricing, making you more competitive in the market.

The most prominent trade show in the music industry is the Namm Show, held each January. The show features more than 1,200 exhibitors representing 3,500 brands, welcomes visitors from 120 countries, holds hundreds of educational sessions, and showcases performances from 150 live bands. Only industry professionals are able to register and attend. 

For small stores, this may not be feasible to attend, but for larger stores, this may be the perfect place to find the best products and suppliers and to strengthen your network within the music industry.


Related Read: 5 Industry Trends Shared at NAMM


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Showcasing Product Range and Innovation

There’s an endless sea of musical instruments available online from a wide variety of suppliers. But when you buy online, it’s difficult to confirm the quality of an item or understand how newer, more innovative products work. Attending a trade show can help you with both of these issues.

At a trade show, you can spend some time at a supplier’s booth and see their products with your own eyes. They may provide demonstrations or let you use the product yourself. Live events are also ideal places to find new and innovative products, learn how they work, and understand the benefits they offer.


Negotiating Deals and Exclusive Partnerships

Depending on the situation, you may need to negotiate with a supplier after a show. However, if you do have the opportunity to set up an agreement with a supplier during a trade show, make the most of your time and negotiate strategically. 

Don’t feel the need to accept the first offer. See if the supplier can bring their standard price down at all. Based on how much supply you order, you may be able to secure a volume discount.

If you have a large store and you’re able to develop a strong relationship with a trusted supplier, you may be able to secure exclusive deals. Being the exclusive distributor of the latest Fender guitar, for example, will lead to increased demand and higher sales.

When you meet a supplier at a trade show, be respectful, shake their hand, and look them in the eye. Take a genuine interest in what their organization does and be open to learning. Engaging in interesting conversations can help you build relationships, but you should also be respectful of their time. Even if there isn’t time to secure a deal while in person, developing an in-person rapport with a supplier can help you negotiate remotely later.


Gaining Market Insights and Competitive Intelligence

Attending a trade show or other industry event in person allows you to catch a glimpse of what industry leaders and your competitors are doing. While you can take a look at your competitors’ shops on the web, an in-person event will be attended by all the biggest names in music and allow you to take inventory of many different manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors in a short time. This will help you develop an informed impression of the state of the industry.

When you’ve developed this understanding, you can adjust your inventory and pricing accordingly. Look for popular products you can put on your shelves and pay attention to common pricing standards through the industry. Your prices will need to strike a balance — high enough to keep you profitable and low enough to keep you competitive with other stores.


Building Industry Relationships and Networks

The network of relationships you can build at in-person music merchandise events extends beyond suppliers. You can also meet fellow store owners, musicians, and other music enthusiasts. Creating connections with people like this can help you better understand the industry and can open the door to strategic collaborations.

When at an event, you can give out and accept business cards, which allow others to find your business and vice versa. If you think an organization would make sense as a business partner or collaboration, reach out to them. Remember that a quality network in the music industry requires periodically reaching out to maintain these relationships.


Incorporating Trade Show Discoveries Into Inventory Strategy

Attending a music trade show can be an educational and personally rewarding experience. However, if you fail to implement the knowledge you gained there to improve your business, you’ve missed the point. 

When you return from a trade show, analyze what you learned about products, suppliers, business practices, and the industry at large. Then, determine what adjustment you can make to better run your music business.

Determine which products you saw at an event were the most popular, the most interesting, and seem aligned with what your business does. Taking into account your budget and your target market, you may choose to add some of these products to your store. If you do choose to offer new products, be sure to display them front and center and advertise them well. You may place them in a window display or feature them on your store’s social media account.


Related Read: Maximizing the Appeal of Your Music Retail Store


Utilizing In-Person Events To Grow Your Business

The importance of trade shows and events for music stores is evident in the connections that can be made and the knowledge that can be gained. With so many music professionals in one place, you can easily:

  • See new products
  • Meet a variety of suppliers
  • Learn strategies to help you achieve greater success in your business

By strategically and intentionally navigating a trade show, forging the right partnerships, and applying what you’ve learned, you can transform your music business. In-person events allow you to find the best sources of inventory — and to manage that inventory effectively, you need an all-in-one point of sale (POS) system. 


MusicShop360 has been designed specifically for music retail stores and has the industry-specific features you need to make your shop the best it can be. Request a demo today!