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.

 

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Art & Soul Exhibition at Mosesian Center for the Arts March 22 – May 18

Fretish is proud to be on the Host Committee for the exhibition “Art & Soul – Art inspired by music” at the Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts.  The opening reception is Friday, March 23, from 6p – 8p.  Come join us!

Opening Reception Details:

http://www.mosesianarts.org/events/art-and-soul-exhibition-opening-reception

Exhibition Page:

http://www.mosesianarts.org/exhibitions/art-and-soul

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Rewarded for Respect

Operating a two-sided marketplace, like Fretish, can be a complicated thing.  First you need to find a supply of cool musical instruments.  This can be a challenge.  Then, almost simultaneously, you need to notify the right set of musicians that there is cool gear to be played.  Also, not an easy task.  But, having built and operated digital brands over the past 20 years – including AOL Instant Messenger, Monster.com and CoachUp – you become adept at overcoming marketplace challenges.

What feels unique about this latest endeavor is how central the role of respect must play – on all sides of the marketplace.  A culture of respect is required to make Fretish successful and sustainable.  And this culture must be shared by all participants: the company, the supply side of the marketplace (instrument owners and guitar builders) and the demand side of the marketplace (the renters and buyers of equipment).

Why is respect so important?  Because it directly benefits you (the Fretish member), regardless of which side of the marketplace you reside.  If you are a guitar player and are respectful, then you’ll get to experience playing that really cool guitar.  And, you’ll receive a positive review which will make other owners interested in renting to you.  If you are an instrument owner and are respectful, then you’ll earn money from your collection.  And you too will receive positive reviews.  For the company, respect is central to the brand identity.  If musicians don’t feel – at a gut level – that Fretish is a company dedicated to respect, for people and musical instruments, then the foundation for a sustainable business does not exist.

Some examples of practicing respect:

Players (renters or buyers)

  • When making a rental request, suggest possible times and location for pick up (if location hasn’t been specified on the instrument details page).
  • Respond promptly to owner inquiries.
  • Provide complete answers.
  • Be on time for instrument pick up and drop off.
  • Take extremely good care of the instrument while it is in your possession.
  • Thank the owner for entrusting you with their instrument.
  • If you are seeking to negotiate a lower price on gear that is for sale, don’t engage in endless debate on “what the instrument is worth”.  Succinctly present an alternative offer.  If the owner says “no thanks”, then consider the negotiation concluded.  Don’t pester the instrument owner.
  • Make sure to leave a review of the transaction so that other Fretish users know if this was a good experience or not.

Owners

  • Make sure to complete the payment settings on your account when listing instruments.  Users cannot rent from you until you complete those steps – nor can you get paid.
  • Respond promptly to player inquiries.
  • If your instrument is unavailable for rent or sale, then either a) update the availability of the instrument on your availability calendar or b) de-list the instrument from the site.
  • Inspect the instrument before it is delivered for rent.  Are the electronics working as they should?  Are the strings (relatively) new?  Is the guitar in tune?  Has it been wiped off with a soft cloth?  Yes, to all of the above?  Great!
  • Be on time for instrument pick up an drop off.
  • Make sure to leave a review of the transaction so that other Fretish users know if this was a good experience or not.

If you ever encounter a disrespectful experience on Fretish, let us know here https://fretish.com/en/user_feedbacks/new so we can address the issue as soon as possible.

photo credit: BET