Music Industry

More on Peavey and the Music Business

I’m not a television watcher. Other than the news occasionally, Jeopardy, and a few shows on the History Channel, I rarely have the thing on. I would rather read or practice one of my musical instruments.

So it came as a surprise to me when, doing some research on Peavey guitars (see last week’s blog), I came upon some information on the company that had me taken aback. It seems that the company was highlighted on an episode of the reality show Undercover Boss a few years ago, and what is worse, had some bad fallout prior to the finished production airing on TV.

It seems that the COO of the company (Courtland Gray) went undercover at Peavey Electronics to see what was happening with quality control. During the show, Gray learned that one employee had numerous bills to pay due to cutbacks, and another was turning in his two-week notice for better employment. At the end, Gray was able to give the first some financial assistance, and convince the second to stay with Peavey. Happy ending?

Not really. After the filming but before the airing, Peavey announced that it would be closing the factory that these two employees worked at, screwing them and others royally. The second employee got transferred to another facility, but he was pissed to say the least. The first lost her job entirely. Now this was all back in 2014. I can only hope that the both of them found better opportunities. A number of YouTube channels are showing this episode, so just Google “Peavey Undercover Boss.” Here is Casino Guitars talking about the situation:

Peavey was not alone during the past decade of music instrument soap opera drama. In 2018, Gibson (home of the Les Paul guitar and Bill Monroe’s F5 mandolin) filed for bankruptcy protection. The company has proceeded on, but news like that does not just get pushed under the rug.

So many companies have gone overseas for operations to save costs, with varying amounts of success (Fender = big rewards!, Peavey = way too late for the bus). Also, think about the music stores that have had varying amounts of success. Mars went belly up (again, see my previous blog on that company), Guitar Center keeps surviving despite multiple bankruptcies and legal woes, yet Sweetwater proved to be one of the most successful businesses out there, not just of music businesses, but of ALL businesses, during this last year with the pandemic.

With the interest in learning musical instruments while stuck at home this past year, one can see that an online music store would be successful. The downside was that in-store shopping was temporarily halted, and many stores, especially independents, are starving or closed altogether. As I stated in last week’s blog, prices for used equipment has also skyrocketed, I guess due to a renewed interest in musical instruments.

As for Peavey and its history, it makes me sad. Hartley Peavey started this company to bring affordable, durable products into the hands of blue-collar musicians. Between overseas competition, a drop in quality, and a change in the taste of musicians, it has become nearly a joke of what it once was. I still swear by those old bass guitars and the durable amps, but I know of so many people who look down on that equipment as lame.

What about the rise in learning a musical instrument? It is great to see, but will it last long-term? Everyone is stuck in the house, and after getting burned out on TV and video games, some people want to be educated, even if it means learning a guitar or some other instrument. Heck, I am sure that other hobbies are booming just as much. But what about a year from now, when it is expected that there will be a full return to going out, attending shows and restaurants, and not having to be forced to stay at home? I do see a small benefit for those of us who are passionate about the music. There will be a lot of guitars, basses, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, and keyboards for sale on the cheap.

Chew on it and comment.

Music Industry

The Hypocrisy of the Music Industry

I’m keeping this one short.

We all know what a senseless act it was for George Floyd to die the way he did. Now every corporation and industry is standing up against racial injustice.

On Tuesday, June 2, a number of music-related organizations and companies participated in the Blackout Tuesday to show their support for the racial injustice. These included musical instrument companies like Gibson and Epiphone, and perfromance rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP and BMI.

Fine, but what are they doing to help those smaller businesses that have kept these companies and organizations in their high-rise towers over the years? NOTHING. Hundreds of restaurants and boutiques were destroyed in the ensuing riots. These shops and restaurants have paid fees to the PROs over the years as royalty payments. If these were not paid, most likely the businesses would be fined or closed down. Now that these businesses have been ruined (on top of the months that they were closed down due to the Coronavirus panic), the PROs are doing NOTHING to help out. But, if these restaurants and shops are able to open up again, you can rest assured that the PROs will be the first people knocking on their doors to collect money.

In Emeryville, California, a Guitar Center was vandalized and looted of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of music equipment. Looters were seen carrying two guitars at a time leaving the destroyed store. Guitar Center stores are also known for selling other people’s equipment on consignment. I am sure that there were a few pieces like that stolen. What are Gibson and Epiphone doing to help out the store? NOTHING.

Think about it.

While you are thinking about it, remember David Dorn, Dave Patrick Underwood, Chris Beaty, Italia Kelly, and about a dozen others killed during this past week’s riots. Also keep Las Vegas officer Shay Mikalonis in your prayers. He was deliberately shot in the back of the head by Edgar Samaniego during violent protests in that city and is still in critical condition as of this writing.

Chew on it and comment.

6/7/20 Addendum: Now keep the family of Santa Cruz County (CA) officer Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller in your prayers. He was shot and killed yesterday (along with two other officers being injured) in an ambush set up by Steven Carrillo.