Canadian Music Trade - April / May 2018 - Page 21

We’ve connected with several of the 2018 RPMDA Convention presenters to offer a sample of what their upcoming presen- tations have in store. The idea is to share some practical tips that you can put into practice right now while also encouraging convention attendees to check out the full sessions. THE 21 ST CENTURY PRINT DEPARTMENT Bob Kohl, Long & McQuade & Alan Friedman, FKCO CMT: What are some of the most no- table differences between how a print department is run now vs. when you first entered the industry? Bob Kohl: I started in the print music industry in 1979. At that time everything to do with print music inventory manage- ment was completely manual. My stock records were kept on index cards and file folders. Purchase orders were handwritten using carbon paper to keep a file copy and either sent to the publisher by post or phoned in, if the supplier had a toll free number. Today, everything is automated. My purchasing software creates a suggested order based on whatever criteria I specify, whether it’s placing a daily order to restock titles that sold last week or forecasting for a stock order to cover an entire selling sea- son’s requirements. Purchase orders with my largest print music suppliers are sent by EDI directly from Long & McQuade’s soft- ware system into the publisher’s computer system, eliminating the risk of data entry errors. Purchase orders for other print mu- sic suppliers are sent by email. Inventory management reports alert me to areas that require attention, whether it’s identifying dormant stock that needs to be moved to clearance or tagging best sellers to be featured in prime merchandising spaces. CMT: Print and educational media products have largely kept pace with popular formats – for example, VHS to DVD to online video. Can you think of times when the print industry was notably ahead of or behind the curve in adopting a format or technology? BK: I agree that print music is keeping pace with the progress of technology. Many new print music titles now feature user access codes for online support content that is truly remarkable. The ironic part of this transition is that, in some cases, it has resulted in a lower retail price for a book because the production cost is more economical than the legacy formats of book with CD or book with DVD. This makes print music more accessible and a lot more interesting for customers who are budget conscience and tech savvy. CMT: Are there any current or incom- ing trends affecting the industry in general to which publishers and/or retailers have to adapt? BK: People notoriously leave things to the last min ute and one of the biggest challenges that music retailers have always struggled with is being able to fill a customer’s request on demand. Print music has now transitioned beyond just commercially printed books and sheets to digital downloads, which provide instant access to a staggeringly huge amount of repertoire. This format also offers the flexibility to customize the score to suit a customer’s specific needs by changing the key or instrumentation or level of difficulty. Interestingly, the inclusion of this new dig- ital delivery service into the music retailer’s offering has not impacted the overall sales of traditional print music products. CMT: What do you plan to share with those attending your session about how they can up their game and gener- ally refine their approach for a success- ful 21 st century print department? BK: Print music is a “constant consumable” and a great print music department can be a key motivator to drive customer traffic to your music retail business. Today’s diversity and variety of print music product offerings are now actually expanding the customer base and making print music accessible and interesting to all kinds of musicians. The landscape of retail is ever chang- ing, and if your business is not evolving, it is going extinct. While it is essential to stay current and adapt to industry and consumer trends, be mindful that the first steps you take may not always lead in the right direction. Get your bearings and keep moving forward and you will usually find yourself on the correct path. TWO STEPS BACK, ONE SPRINT FORWARD Elliott Wessel, Schmitt Music A FRESH GRAB BAG OF RETAIL IDEAS RPMDA and print and educational media industry in general are known. “We’re very proud of the camaraderie in this organization and the reputation the event carries,” Langlie shares. “In planning the program, attention is given to finding topics that are relevant to both retailers and publishers, and at the same time will generate discussion about how these topics can affect each in different ways and how we can work together to address them.” Of course, the acceleration of techno- logical evolution has affected virtually every sector of the business world, and as Langlie acknowledges, print music is no different. This will not only be a theme of exploration at the 2018 convention, but also a key focus for the association going forward. “The eventuality of digital delivery is of huge interest and concern to the print industry,” Langlie emphasizes. “I believe that a move to strictly digital is still a long way off, but as disruptive technologies seem to just suddenly appear, this organization’s role as an arbitrator of these eventualities is more important than ever.” CMT: First off, can you break down what you mean by taking two steps back and one sprint forward when it comes to your print department? Elliott Wessel: When there are reports of any product category showing declining sales over a period of years, for whatev- er reasons, a closer examination of that category’s profitability is bound to follow. CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE • 21