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MMD > Archives > May 2002 > 2002.05.02 > 10Prev  Next

Piano Roll Business Economics
By Craig Brougher

All business is done either with trust and enthusiasm, or it isn't

You trust your product.  You trust your procedures and system for
getting the product out the door.  The customer trusts you.  He also
trusts your product and trusts that you will provide what he needs.

Both the businessman and the customer needs enthusiasm for the product
and enthusiasm for its future.  Both must know that it is a growing
concern, or it isn't going to be around very long.

There has always been the dampening side to every prospective business.
In every endeavor, there are those who have tried it and will tell you
that isn't the right way to proceed.  There are also those who will
tell you that no matter what you try, it won't work.  Then there are
those who will tell you there's no money in it.

When I quit engineering and got into player piano rebuilding, that's
what I was told, too.  But I did what I wanted  and figured that I
would make it work!  Well -- I did make it work.  In (possibly) the
most unlikely state in the union, at that.  I did it because I wasn't
the type to say, "You can't do it."

My point is this: It is seldom the endeavor that's to blame, but rather
the spirit of the person endeavoring.  If you are sold on something,
then who can "unsell" you on it? If they can, then what's your value as
a motivating force in the lives of anybody else?  It's called _zero_.
You don't count.  You are more or less selfish, and that's defined as
worthless.  (This is not to say you should not listen to advice, pro
and con.  It's free.  What does it cost to listen?  You might learn

When you have a desire and it is worthwhile, then follow your dream,
but wisely, and listen to both sides and take appropriate precautions.
Don't be an idiot and say it's my way or the highway.  But realize that
all adventures include setbacks and hazards.  If you are a coward, then
for goodness sake don't attempt anything more than criticism.  You
might fail.

Player Piano Rolls are the future of Player Pianos.  I think we've all
got that basic, elementary point by now.  I think everybody knows that.
Old player piano rolls (of course, orchestrions and Violanos and
everything else too) are going, going, gone.  And all the very best
ones that were ever cut were (mostly) played to death already.  They
cannot all be recut on a mass scale.  There's just too many of them.
That's history right down the drain.

We are approaching that "golden" era in which a generation has never
even heard of a player piano of the teens and twenties.  They don't
even know what "teens and twenties" means.  We cannot even imagine
how ignorant these generations are.  But we have a product that beats
anything that was ever invented in the field of real music, and we
produce it in real time, live!

Electronic players are swell, but they lack the charisma and power
of the old, original instruments.  They are "copies." They don't have
paper rolls.  They don't have words.  They don't have pedals, they will
not be supported, and they aren't "ancient." Is there anybody in the
MMD who says that these features are not the most valuable of all
commodities, when it comes to authenticity, longevity, and real
musicality of the original, real McCoy?

The idea of producing roll copies on demand, one or two at a time, is
a great one.  This music is going to be getting very, very valuable
shortly.  And this music with its words intact is going to be far more
valuable, yet!  And then,  when you can actually present a brand new
copy of a valuable roll in paper format, you will have an instant
collector's item.

I have just repaired 5 of the finest rolls I ever owned.  They played
just fine for me 10 years ago.  The paper weakened as it sat in my
air-conditioned home until it was fragile.  I have experienced that
decay, and know that others are doing the same thing.

As long as we can still buy rolls, we will still repair pianos, and
the business is now taking an upturn, simply because the promise of
a reliable electronic interface is on the horizon.  But that isn't the
basis of player pianos.  Its basis will always be paper rolls, and
their availability will determine the activity.  People, I feel, are
anticipating a sense of advancement in the air.  They don't wish to be
left out.  At the same time, they don't want to be the first to get
screwed, either.  And unless that same piano can play paper rolls as
well, they will not buy the interface at any price.

That means, rolls will always be sold, or else! And regardless of the
other media available, unless these players have rolls to play, the
electronic interfaces will gather dust.  When both are available, then
both will succeed.  Each will strengthen the other.  It's a synergism
that demonstrates confidence -- in what?  The music.  When it's all
said and done, "It's the music."

As I have said before, that same music that we still have on our
player piano rolls is still what sells our products on TV and radio.
When you listen to background music for commercials, what do they use?
Modern music?  No way.  They use portions of tunes _with words_ that
the subconscious mind relates to and every one of them dates back
before the 1950's.  So, do we have a product, or what? I'd like to say,
"Hey, you ought to hear the rest of that tune sometime, played like it
was meant to sound."

There will always be the nay-sayers, and those who have met with defeat
or mediocre activity in their chosen field.  But real enthusiasm's
basis is knowledge.  It's as true as scripture and as infectious as the
measles, and when all else fails, it will prevail.  For every problem,
there's a solution.  It seems to me that men like Gene Gerety, for
instance, has quietly been putting his money where his mouth is.

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Fri 3 May 2002, 02:30:48 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Business, Economics, Piano, Roll

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