All of the recent news about the state of the player piano market
might have people thinking that it's pointless to be involved with
player pianos. While that might be becoming increasingly true in
America, it's not true worldwide. In fact, the sale of player piano
music rolls has never been more brisk. The sale of music rolls at
Player-Care.com has increased by more than 10% this year, and we
haven't even entered the Christmas buying season.
So one might ask, "Who is buying all the rolls?" It's no surprise to
me that the answer is, "The Australians." Why am I not surprised?
Because I've been on the Internet since 1996, and I've kept a keen eye
on the player piano market from a worldwide perspective. When
Mastertouch went out of business, Australians were left out in the
cold with regards to music rolls. As the stock of rolls diminished
in their country, they started looking elsewhere, and they found QRS
Interestingly enough, QRS tried unsuccessfully to establish a presence
in Australia. I don't know what their aim was, but it didn't work.
Searching Google, I found a number of press releases and profiles. But
I know the Australian people, and they're not dummies by any stretch of
the imagination. Since they live on an island continent, they realize
that goods need to be imported, if they aren't "Made in Australia."
Sadly, QRS seems to be tied to UPS with regards to shipping, and unless
a customer specifically requests that rolls be shipped by a different
carrier, they get shipped via UPS. Those of us who ship things all over
the world know that USPS is always less expensive. So, that's my carrier
of choice. On top of that, I sell QRS rolls at a 15% discount. So, even
though I don't make as much money as QRS, the savvy buyer soon discovers
where to get the best deal. And, by-and-large Australians are savvy
buyers, because they've spent generations importing goods. So, my roll
sales are booming!
This posting wouldn't be complete without a look into the culture of
Australians. They are, for the most part, a fiercely independent
democracy. Anyone who follows the events in Australia knows that they
don't like change. They are very content with their strong moral values,
family traditions, and limited government. In a very real sense, they
are much like America was after WW II. So, it isn't a big surprise that
player pianos play an important part in the lives of many Australians,
just as they did in America some forty years ago.
Naturally, there are those who will say that player pianos were merely a
fad in America in the 1960's and 70's, just as there are those who claim
that family values were destroyed by the hippie generation. But it's a
moot point, when you consider an industry whose main attraction has
always been the family. Say what you will about American values or
family values, but since the Great Depression of 1929, the allure (or
magic) of the roll-operated player piano has been its ability to tune
out, or wall out, the pressures of society, the woes of failing markets,
and the tragic onslaught of government intervention into the lives of
well-meaning Americans who want nothing more than to be free and happy.
Isn't that why we own a working player piano?
It's not the music! It's not the performances of stellar artists! It's
not the sound of an acoustic piano! It's the freedom I feel in my soul
when the piano bangs out a tune that stirs my heart to sing out loudly,
"I am FREE ... I am WORTHY ... I am IMPORTANT!" Anything less than that
is meaningless! I've cried, I've laughed, I've pondered my present and
my past. Nothing (save My Lord) brings me closer to who I am than my
John A. Tuttle