Another happy Fretish user
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Spark Joy by Kondoing Those Unused Orchestral Band Instruments

What’s the hottest trend these days? Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. And Fretish is all about hopping on trendy bandwagons – sharing economy, peer-to-peer, et al. Heck, trendiness is our jam.

It may be the dead of Winter, but Spring is just around the corner. And it’s never too early to start planning what to de-clutter in your annual Spring cleaning ritual.

Particularly for households with children about to leave for college (or graduate from college), soon-to-be empty nesters, there’s one big de-cluttering opportunity: orchestral band instruments that will never be played again. First, ask yourself this: does this string, woodwind or brass instrument spark joy? Whatever your answer, Fretish can help.

No Joy Sparked: Sell it! Join Fretish (it’s free). List the instrument for sale (also free). Set the price you want for the item. Set the fulfillment options (in-person pick up or include shipping). And then post the listing to your social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter to increase its visibility. You could also email the listing to the band director (or PTA) at your child’s old school and s/he could let the incoming class of students/parents know about the available instrument. Fretish handles the payment processing, so the payment will go directly to your bank account.

Major Sparking of Joy: Can’t bear parting with that instrument? Share it! You’ll continue to own the instrument, but you’ll be able to monetize your collection while giving another up and coming musician an opportunity to play/practice on it. Join Fretish (it’s free). List the instrument for rent (also free). Set the nightly rental rate you want for the item. You can also set the rental to be for several weeks or months at a time. Simply specify the terms you want in the instrument description field. Set the fulfillment options (we strongly recommend to only offer in-person pick up/drop off for instrument sharing). And then post the listing to your social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter to increase its visibility. You could also email the listing to the band director (or PTA) at your child’s old school and s/he could let the incoming class of students/parents know about the available instrument. Fretish handles the payment processing, so the payment will go directly to your bank account.

What are you waiting for? Get started now.

Aren’t sure what type of instrument to list? Any of these instrument types have a home on Fretish (along with a suggested monthly rental rate):

  • Flutes – $17 – $25/mo
  • Percussion – $13 – $40/mo
  • Mellophones – $50 – $60/mo
  • Clarinet – $17 – $60/mo
  • Trumpets – $19 – $50/mo
  • Flugelhorns – $36 – $46/mo
  • Saxophones – $36 – $70/mo
  • Trombones – $25 – $60/mo
  • Oboes – $33 – $90/mo
  • Tubas – $80 – $100/mo
  • Violins – $16 – $25/mo
  • Violas – $19 – $40/mo
  • Cellos – $38 – $80/mo
  • French Horns – $36 – $60/mo
  • Baritones – $40 – $60/mo
  • Euphoniums – $50 – $70/mo
  • Piccolos – $20 – $30/mo
  • Bass Clarinet – $60/mo
  • Alto Clarinets – $50/mo
  • Bell Kit – $29/mo
Avis Shuttle Bus at LAX
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Key Learning From NAMM 2019

This was my first time attending “the NAMM show” at the Anaheim Convention Center. The event is, by any measure, the biggest trade show for musical instruments (MI). Every exhibitor was bringing their “A game” to the event, spending a significant amount of energy and resources to highlight their newest product lines. For three days I walked miles of floor space seeing/hearing the latest gear, meeting with potential partners, bumping into rock/pop stars, demoing product and reconnecting with friends & colleagues. The scale of this annual event is awe-inspiring.

And yet, by 3pm every day, I found myself hitting a proverbial wall. The sounds of percussion instruments, human voices and amplified instruments began to merge into a virtual hammer on my ears. I struggled to speak loudly enough over the din of noise when engaged in conversation. I only caught every third or fourth word from people that were speaking to me.  This isn’t just my own personal experience.  A number of people who attended NAMM this year said similar things to me, unaided.

NAMM is a must-attend when you work in MI. And I learned a ton over these past three days. But, I think my biggest lesson came from something that happened shortly after dropping my rental car off at Avis. Immediately after I checked the car in and received my receipt, I hopped on to the shuttle bus to take me to the airport.

Here’s what transpired next:

  • The bus driver greeted me at the door.
  • He asked which airline I was taking.
  • He took my bag and placed it on the luggage rack near where I was sitting.
  • When bus was 3/4 full, he asked the riders on the bus if anyone objected to us immediately leaving for the airport.
  • Everyone agreed.
  • He sat down in the driver’s seat and began driving slowly towards the exit of the car rental lot.

He then began speaking to the entire bus, “I didn’t want to wait until the bus was too crowded before we left for the airport.
You’re people, not cattle. You deserve some breathing room. You want to get to the airport on time.
Before we leave the lot, I want to ask you a question, ‘Have you brought everything with you?’ I don’t know what you packed but here are some things that people sometimes forget: Eyeglasses, cell phones, laptops, jackets. How about the rental car keys? If you still have your rental car keys, please leave them with me and I’ll return them for you. Otherwise, you’ll get charged for a replacement set of keys and that will be expensive. I don’t want you to have to pay for a set of keys that you’ll never use again. Have I jogged your memories? Has anything been left? I take your silence to mean that we have everything.”

By the end of this short dialog, the bus had reached the end the rental lot. As no one had forgotten anything, we exited the property and headed towards the airport.

The driver continued speaking:
“Here are the airlines that people are taking (he then listed the airline names as reported to him from the passengers as they entered the bus) and these are the terminals in which you will exit (he then shared the exact terminal number to the corresponding airline). Did I forget any airlines? Does everyone know which terminal they are getting off at?
You can see that I’ve placed the luggage near where you are sitting so you can monitor it throughout the drive. At each stop I will pick up your luggage and remove it from the bus for you, so you won’t have to worry that someone else will accidentally remove your luggage.”

And, just as he had promised, when we arrived at a terminal stop, he would get up from his seat and take each passenger’s luggage off the bus, placing it on the sidewalk. It occurred to me after I got off the bus, as I was walking to my gate:

  • This driver cared about my experience on that bus ride.
  • He wanted me to feel safe. To not have to worry about catching my flight. Or pay for things that were unnecessary. Or to lose anything of personal value.
  • In short, he actively worked to make that the best possible experience I could have on a shuttle bus. He was pleasant, professional and methodical. He was, without question, the best bus driver I have ever received a ride from.

My expectations for bus rides had been limited to fundamentals like:

  • Safe driving
  • Getting from point A to point B
  • And not much else

This ride was a revelation to me. An entirely unexpected epiphany.

With his commitment to identifying all the things that could make a traveler unhappy – communicating his awareness of these things clearly and, at the appropriate time, to everyone on that bus – and proactively making sure that those things did not come to pass, I began to rethink my NAMM experience. Yes, it was big. Yes, it was important. But, was it all that it could be? Had the experience of the attendees and the exhibitors been fully considered by the organizers? Or, was the entire enterprise focused on making it “bigger” – bringing in more participants and monetizing every possible activity? Could NAMM be remade into something beneficial, on a more human scale?

This bus driver set off a light bulb in my head with his example of creating the optimal experience. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I’m committed to re-examining all aspects of sharing musical instruments between peers and applying those observations into the DNA of Fretish, with the customer’s perspective firmly at the center of all decisions. Thank you Mr. Shuttle Bus Driver. You taught me such a valuable lesson.

The Verdict on Sharing Gear Through Fretish
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Case Closed – Sharing Gear Beats Borrowing Gear

A recent piece titled The 7 Laws of Borrowing Gear From Other Musicians was posted to the Reverb Blog.  The vast majority of comments to the blog post were some variation of Nigel Tufnel’s “don’t touch it” reaction in This Is Spinal Tap.  Very few saw the need or had interest in letting other musicians borrow their gear.

The post began with an anecdote of guitarist Larry Carlton showing up for a UK gig and his amplifier not arriving.  Yikes, stressful.  Larry called on his social media followers to let him borrow an amp for the night.

As it turns out, for touring musicians, this is not an uncommon issue.  Two years ago in the summer of 2017, Dweezil Zappa had the head stock of his Gibson SG (in)conveniently removed by the baggage carrying staff of American Eagle Airlines while on tour.  Total suckfest.  But, Dweezil made lemonade out of the lemons that life handed to him.  On Instagram, he listed the next three cities of his tour and asked for fans to let him play their guitars for those remaining shows.  His followers responded with dozen of offers – deepening his connection with the Zappa fan base while giving him something to play on stage.

So, the need for temporarily using other musician’s gear is real and ongoing.  Plus, it can produce win-win outcomes.  Fans get to hear their music and artists get to perform (and presumably get paid).

On the whole, most of the Reverb suggestions were well-reasoned and prudent, especially in the context of borrowing an instrument.  But, what if the model for instrument consumption was about “sharing” (aka renting) – just like exists for homes (e.g., Airbnb) or automobiles (e.g. Uber or ZipCar)?  If sharing was the context, like the instruments listed on Fretish, then some of the laws in this blog post would need an update, as I detail below.

The writer, Rich Maloof, started with “Be selective” as the first law, by which he meant don’t borrow expensive gear.  Well, when you’re on a sharing platform, you should be selective based on what you need to play, not on the value of the instrument.  Why?  Because the value of the instrument is going to be reflected in the price you’ll pay in order to use it.  On Fretish, people who make their instruments available for sharing set their own price.  Generally, this results in higher quality instruments costing more for a sharing (rental) period.  So, a Martin OM-28v would cost nearly $55/night while a Yamaha acoustic would be $10/night.

Because you’re paying someone to play their instrument in a sharing context, then the law to “Acknowledge graciously” is somewhat moot.  Yes, by all means thank the instrument owner for letting you use their gear.  But, you won’t need to buy an extra pack of strings or buy someone cup cakes as a way of paying them back.  You’ve already paid them – with money (which has been done online by Fretish as the payment processor).

The last revision to the “7 Laws” blog post pertains to Rich’s final suggestion, in which he offers two options one could take if a borrower were to damage a musical instrument.  Option B, he says, is that they should flee the country.  NO.  There are not two options – whether you are borrowing or sharing!  There is only one option: You make the instrument owner completely whole.  Because payment information is captured up front from a renter on Fretish, the ability to make the instrument owner whole is fast.  Thankfully, since Fretish launched in 2017, all transactions on the platform have been positively rated and reviewed, with no instruments damaged, lost or stolen.

This court is adjourned.

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New Year, New Pilot with B&G Guitars

As 2019 begins, we’re excited to announce a new pilot. Fretish has partnered with B&G Guitars to share their hand-crafted electric guitars with musicians in key cities throughout the United States. If you’re a guitarist, then you’ve probably seen B&G Guitars demo’d on YouTube by Guitar, Guitarist and TonePedia. But, have you been fortunate enough to actually play one of these custom built masterpieces? Because B&Gs are not mass produced, you may be challenged to find one in stock at your local guitar shop. To fill the gaps, Fretish has leveraged its network of recording studios and individual collectors to make key models available.

We currently have four B&G models available for musicians to “try before you buy” in Austin, Boston and New York City.

  1. Austin – Little Sister Private Build in Tobacco Burst Finish
  2. Boston – Little Sister Crossroads with Cut Away
  3. Boston – Little Sister Private Build in Tobacco Burst Finish
  4. NYC – Little Sister Private Build in Lemon Burst Finish

Take these guitars home. Plug them into your own rig. Explore the different pickup and tone combinations. Avoid the audio pollution of a big box retailer. And, if you decide you want to make a custom order for yourself, head to B&G’s website to submit a request. Or, if the guitar you’re playing is the guitar of your dreams, let us know and we’ll sell it to you directly (less the cost of renting the guitar).

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Going to 2019 NAMM? Let’s connect!

Fretish will be at Winter NAMM this year from Thursday, January 24 through Saturday, January 26.  This will be our first time attending the trade show.  We will not have a booth.

However, we’d love to connect with you – especially if you are an:

  • Instrument manufacturer
  • Music retailer
  • Orchestral instrument rental company (strings, woodwinds, brass)
  • Music instructor
  • Instrument collector
  • Social media “influencer”
  • Journalist, blogger or well-connected person in the music space

Fretish has a lot planned for 2019 and we believe there are a variety of mutually beneficial ways we can work together.  So, leave a message below, send me a tweet or old fashioned email if you’d like to meet up.

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Visit the Fretish Booth at the 2018 Artisan Guitar Show April 13 – 15 in Harrisburg, PA

Fretish is proud to be a sponsor of the 2018 Artisan Guitar Show which is being held in Harrisburg, PA this Friday April 13 through Sunday April 15.  It’s a one-of-a-kind event featuring the finest handcrafted guitars ever produced, the visionary luthiers who created these instruments and musicians from all around the globe.  Come join us!

Details:

https://artisanguitarshow.com/

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New Rule: Fretish Listings Require an Image and Copy

Being the first music instrument sharing platform is a little like being part of the Apollo space program.  You are blazing new trails.  Using the best information and systems available in the 1960s, the Apollo astronauts achieved the incredible goal of landing on the moon.  But, they also had to learn on the fly and make rapid changes along the way.  When the Apollo 13 mission suffered a near catastrophic blowout, they had to come up with a completely new approach in order to return safely home to Earth.  And while, thankfully, Fretish hasn’t suffered a blowout, we do want to make continual improvements to the service so that guitar players and instrument owners have the best possible experience.  So, with this preamble to provide some context, today we are announcing new rules for posting instruments for rent or sale on the platform.

Starting on March 27, 2018, all new instruments listed on Fretish will be required to contain the following elements:

  • At least 1 quality photograph of the item which is being offered for rent or sale.
  • A minimum of 10 words to adequately describe the item being offered for rent or sale.
  • Completed set up of payment options – either through Stripe or PayPal – so that prospective renters can submit a rental request and you can get paid.

These are just the minimum requirements.  It is in an owner’s interest to provide robust descriptions of their instruments.  Multiple photographs are better than one.  A full set of specifications is preferable to ten words describing an item.  By following these best practices, you’ll get more:

  • People viewing your listing on the homepage or in search results
  • Clicks to view the instrument details page
  • Transaction requests and, thus, money paid to you

What happens to older listings which do not have all of the above requirements?

These owners will be individually contacted by Fretish and asked to update their listings.  Because these minimum requirements were not explicitly spelled out at the time of their instruments being posted, they will be allowed to keep their listings up.  However, to restate the obvious, with sub-optimal listings, they are unlikely to get:

  • Clicks to their instrument details page(s)
  • Rental requests
  • Paid

What happens to new listings (after March 27, 2018) which do not meet the minimum requirements?

These owners will be contacted letting them know updates are necessary and must be carried out within 24 – 48 hours.  If the required elements are not in place after being contacted, the listing will be “closed”.  The owner can go back and relist a “closed” post once the required elements are added.

Have further questions or want to inquire about something completely different?  Drop us a note here.