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MMD > Archives > December 2005 > 2005.12.05 > 04Prev  Next

Mechanical Music for the Masses
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Having just experienced the most active two weeks of roll
sales in my career, it seems to me that there are two relatively
distinct classes of music lovers buying music rolls.  By far, the
largest class is the one buying 'modern' music.  Their favorites are
the Beatles, the Eagles, everything Disney, Show Tunes, and TV tunes.
The smaller class buys rags, two-steps, and pre-60's music.

What's interesting to note is that those who buy modern music seldom
buy anything that's pre-60's.  On the other hand, those who buy the
older music occasionally buy a couple of modern selections.  My
assumption is that those who primarily buy older music are buying
modern music for their grandchildren.

Although the vast majority of sales these days are handled without
ever talking to the customer, I still have occasion to speak with them.
The stories I hear are almost always the same.  Either someone has been
enjoying a player piano all their life, or they have recently inherited
a player that they remember from their childhood.

To wrap things up, I'll share with you a recent exchange I had with
Bob Berkman concerning Duo-Art and Ampico Test Rolls.  (For those who
don't know, Bob Berkman is the general manager of the QRS music roll
factory in Buffalo, New York.  Basically speaking, he's the man who
decides which songs get turned into music rolls.)

I pleaded with Bob to put the test rolls back into production.  He
said "No".  His reasoning, "The reason we stopped making those rolls
was that the volume had dropped too low to make it profitable.  The
handful of test rolls we'd be likely to sell, even at $25 each,
wouldn't begin to offset the cost of setting it all up again."

He went on to talk about the market for music rolls these days, so
I asked him how the market for reproducing test rolls compared to the
market for Britney Spears music rolls.  (Yes, Britney has been punched.)
His response was, "New releases are always a gamble.  But the mass
media spreads to millions the desire to purchase Britney Spears music.
The reproducing piano on the other hand is virtually unknown."

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Mon 5 Dec 2005, 10:56:45 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Masses, Mechanical, Music

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