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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

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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