But wait, there's more! Get your Fretish listing seen.
How To

Pro Tip: Get your Fretish listing seen

It never gets old.  I love receiving the notification that someone has registered with Fretish.  It feels equally good when someone requests to list their musical gear on the platform.  Being the world’s largest peer-to-peer music instrument sharing service means your gear will be seen by qualified musicians looking for short term rental (or outright purchase).

But, once you’ve joined and listed your instrument(s) on Fretish – which is completely free to do – are there any steps you can take to increase the visibility of your listing?  Absolutely!  Here are just a few of the recommended steps to take once your listing is live:

  • Tell your friends about your listing on Fretish, in person and via email.
  • Check sites like Craigslist to see if anyone is asking to borrow or purchase an instrument just like yours.  Reply to their ad letting them know you have just the thing and include a link to your Fretish listing.
  • Share your listing on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest.
  • Create a demo video of yourself playing the instrument and post it to YouTube with a link to the Fretish listing. Conversely, you can now embed that YouTube video into the description field of your Fretish listing so people can actually hear what it sounds like.  See this example.
  • Like and tweet other instruments on Fretish to grow visibility on social networks.

Have any other suggestions?  Send us a note to let us know.

The Verdict on Sharing Gear Through Fretish
Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

The case for respecting guitars

Image uploaded from iOS (9)
Joe Perry smashing a perfectly good instrument.

About a week ago, the following picture appeared on my Instagram feed.  It’s Joe Perry, of Aerosmith fame (and a guitarist that I long held in high regard), smashing his guitar at a recent performance.  You may also notice the following details:

  • This is Joe Perry’s official Instagram account
  • Joe appears to be in reasonably good physical shape
  • Supro amps power this rig
  • Johnny Depp is in the background
  • I have not liked this post

I admit that, in my youth, seeing Townshend or Cobain smash their instruments provided a surge of adrenaline – like a visceral thrill one gets when witnessing a stadium demolished in a controlled explosion.  No longer, though.  Now, watching people destroy their instruments intentionally, produces a sense of frustration and lost opportunity.

How did we get here?

Pete Townshend is generally credited with being the first guitarist to smash his guitar on stage in the early 1960s.  The crowd’s reaction so impressed Pete, that he decided to make this a somewhat regular gimmick of Who concerts.  Somewhat after the fact, Pete argued that his destruction of guitars was a legitimate artistic statement: the “auto-destruction” motif, inspired by Gustav Metzger.

Jimi Hendrix then took auto-destruction to a new level at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 – both lighting his Stratocaster on fire and then smashing it to bits.  No artistic rationale was provided.

Over the five decades since, guitarists of various fame and notoriety have mimicked their guitar heroes by laying waste to their gear.  But, with each successive “homage” to Townshend and Hendrix, the act of destroying guitars generates less publicity and dilutes any artistic integrity which may have actually existed in the first place.  Whatever the motivations are by these guitar-breakers, to the outside observer it’s seems like an act of desperation – someone trying to become or retain their relevancy.

The alternatives

Getting back to Joe Perry’s post.  I was heartened to see a fair of amount of commenters giving the picture a thumbs down or asking why he destroyed a perfectly good instrument.  Indeed, there were quite a few suggestions of what he could have done with the guitar instead of smashing it.  Here are a few of my own suggestions for any musician who considers destroying their instruments:

  • Don’t smash your gear.  Put it back in its case and continue to play it.
  • Donate your unwanted instrument.  There are tons of charities who accept instrument donations, including Girls Rock Campaign Boston.
  • Gift the guitar to one of the fans in the audience.  How much goodwill and positive word-of-mouth would come from that?  A ton.  You’d have a fan for life.
  • Sell your unwanted instrument.
  • List your instrument for rent on Fretish.  It’s free to join.  It’s free to list.  Your fans will get to play your gear, you’ll make money and you’ll deepen your relationship with your fan base.

Final thoughts

When George Harrison started to learn sitar from Ravi Shankar in the mid-60s, he committed himself fully to the endeavor, practicing for 3+ hours per day.  But, Ravi demanded more than time.  In one of his earliest lessons with Ravi, George recalled getting up to use the restroom.  He placed the sitar down and stepped directly over the instrument.  Ravi immediately reprimanded the young Beatle.  Respect the instrument George was told!  Respect your practice.  Respect the art.  Respect the instrument.  That lesson stuck with George for the rest of his life.  And I think it’s one we should all consider.

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How To

How To: Set a Rental Price for Your Guitar

A common question I get asked by instrument owners upon joining Fretish™ is, “what should I price my [guitar brand] [guitar model] at?”  Sure, there are some simple formulas one could apply:

Scenario 1 – My guitar is an unexceptional instrument.  It works properly, produces quality sound and has a standard finish.  But, there is nothing unique or special about it.  If this is the case, then consider a nightly price somewhere between 3% – 5% of the instrument’s retail value.  Example: $1,000 Retail Price for American Made Fender Stratocaster * .05 = $50/night

Scenario 2 – My guitar is an exceptional instrument.  Not only is my guitar rare, it is a beautiful sounding instrument.  A work of art with extensive purfling and magnificent detailing.  In this situation, one could charge potentially a third of the instrument’s retail value.  Example: $6,000 Retail Price for Gibson L-5 * .33 = $1,980/night

Scenario 3 – I, the instrument owner, am guitar legend Edward van Halen.  In this case, the formula is P=WTFYWTPI*  (* – Whatever The F**k You Want To Price It.)

But, for everyone else who is not a guitar legend, there are nuances to setting a rental price.  Consider the following when pricing your guitar(s):

  1. Determine your goals.  Are you a guitar builder trying to get your instruments into the hands of as many players as possible?  Consider pricing it on the lower end of the spectrum.  One guitar builder on Fretish, Peter Occhineri, takes a very aggressive approach to pricing his custom builds – listing several as low as $6/night. Or, are you interested in maximizing profit from your instrument collection?  Then price at the higher end of the market.
  2. Estimate demand for your listed instrument.  Do you live in a town where guitarists would appreciate a one-of-a-kind Rickenbacker?  You may have room to price the instrument relatively high.  Or, are you located in the heart of Nashville where Fender Telecasters practically line the streets?  Then, that tele you just listed may need to be priced more aggressively (i.e., lower).
  3. Consider the cost of renting out your instrument.  How much gas will you use to reach your pick up/drop off location?  How much profit do you want to make from renting out your instrument?  Make sure these considerations are factored into your price.
  4. Set a price.  Watch what happens.  Do you have tons of rental requests?  You probably have room to increase the rental price of your guitar.  Or, are you hearing crickets?  Consider lowering your nightly rate since you have priced yourself out of consideration by the market.
  5. Adjust your price as necessary.  The wonderful thing about being part of an online marketplace is that nothing is set in stone.  (Now, to be clear, once you have accepted a rental request at a certain price, you cannot ask for more money.  But, if you have no pending rental requests or orders to fulfill, then modify your instrument’s rental price as much and as often as you like.)

Have additional suggestions?  Let me know: https://fretish.com/user_feedbacks/new

How To

How To: Prepare Your Instrument for Rent

So, you’ve joined Fretish™.  Listed an instrument.  Someone made a rental request.  And you’ve accepted the request.  Congratulations!

Now what?

To ensure that the person renting your instrument is satisfied with the transaction and, as importantly, that you receive a positive review once the rental is complete, you should consider taking the following steps:

  • Clean the guitar.  Are there fingerprints on the finish?  Is there “gunk” between the bridge and the pickups?  Are the tuning machines looking a bit tarnished?  Now is the perfect time to use an air duster, an extra soft toothbrush and/or a soft cloth to gently remove any schmutz.
  • Change the strings.  Use your judgment on this.  If the strings were changed within the past three months and the instrument has only been played a few times, it may not be necessary to completely change the strings.  But, if you cannot recall the last time you changed the strings or there is obvious wear (signs of rust or sections where the nickle is worn down), just do the right thing – change all the strings.  Also, make sure that if you’ve listed a particular gauge string in your Fretish listing (i.e., .11 high E), that the replacement strings match what you have “advertised”.
  • Confirm that your pick ups and volume/tone knobs are in working order.  (Obviously, this only applies to electric guitars.)  Plug in your guitar to a functioning amplifier.  Run through all the settings on  your instrument – neck pick up, bridge pick up, any other pick ups and all the different configurations your instrument supports (neck and bridge pick ups simultaneously engaged, etc.).  Are the pick ups working?  Is the volume working?  Is the tone working?  If not, get thee to a guitar repair person – prior to the rental.
  • Tune the guitar.  Before meeting the renter at the pick up location, make sure the instrument is in tune.  It’s the little things that make a transaction go from good to great.
  • Document your good work with a short video or set of pictures.  Whether you choose to share all the steps you’ve taken prior to the rental with the person renting the guitar is up to you.  But, at a minimum, it’s a nice way to keep a record for yourself of the shape the instrument was in each and every time you rent out your gear.
How To

How To: Set Up a Really Good Listing

You’ve heard about Fretish.  You’ve visited the site.  You’ve joined (it is free).  And now you’ve decided to list one of your musical instruments (which is also free).  So far, so good.

But, how do you maximize the quality of your listing to get the most clicks on the Rent button?  Here are some tips:

  1. List one instrument per post.  Highlighting your entire collection, or even just two pieces of gear, in a single listing is a recipe for confusion and dissatisfaction.  It’s also true that consumer response drops dramatically when people are given a choice between multiple items to pick from versus a single item.
  2. Before photographing your instrument, clean it.  Does it have finger prints on the body?  Give it a quick wipe with a cloth.  Are there any broken strings?  Replace them with new strings.  If it looks like you take good care of your gear, then other people will feel compelled to take good care of it.
  3. Post multiple high quality pictures of the instrument being offered.  Show the front of the guitar, the back of the guitar, the body, the neck, the head stock.  A separate blog post will go into greater detail on what constitutes “high quality”, but here’s a quick rule of thumb: If a picture is blurry, dark or shot from 10+ feet from your instrument, then it’s not a high quality picture.  And, as a general rule, don’t use manufacturer or stock images of your instrument.
  4. Write a succinct, accurate title.  This will typically include the year the instrument was made, the brand, the model, the country of origination and any distinctive upgrades or accessories. For example: 2018 Fender American Professional Series Telecaster with Bigsby.  The finish of the instrument (blonde, sunburst, etc.) can, of course, be included.  But, if you have decent pictures, including the finish in the title may be redundant.
  5. Describe the guitar with facts and relevant anecdotes.  What type of wood is the body made from?  What type of wood is the neck?  The fretboard?  What type of pick ups does the instrument have?  How many settings on the pick up selector switch?  Are there any mechanical or aesthetic issues with the instrument?  Be honest.  Potential renters really need to know these things.  Then, there is information that isn’t critical to know, but may draw the reader in, such as: When did you buy the guitar?  Are you the original owner?  Do you take any special care when storing the instrument?
  6. Embed a YouTube video of you playing the instrument.
  7. Don’t be afraid to detail the conditions of who you will or will not rent to.  Don’t want your instrument to be played at a gig?  Say so.  Don’t want your instrument in the home of a smoker?  Say so.  Set clear guidelines of your expectations as an owner about how and where your instrument should be played.
  8. Set a price.  The price you set for your instrument will have an obvious impact on a person’s willingness to rent.  There are many ways to approach this, so let’s tackle this topic in greater detail in a future blog post.
  9. Provide a specific, accurate pick up/drop off location.  When renting out an instrument through Fretish, it is strongly encouraged to fulfill orders through in-person pick up and drop off only.  Shipping instruments for short term rent can be costly and have other unintended consequences.  The pick up/drop off location you choose is entirely up to you.  Most people select a safe, public venue (e.g., Public Library, Police Station, etc.) for their pick up/drop off location.  Sometimes exact locations are not provided as part of a listing.  This approach has downsides.  For example, when people conduct a search by city or town (and you haven’t provided an accurate or specific pick up location), your instrument may not appear in the search results.
  10. Share your fabulous new listing to your social media accounts.  Let your network know you have gear to rent.