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If you’re like many of the music store owners we speak with every day, you’re probably looking for ways to stay relevant — and become an integral part of your community and customers’ lives.

It may be easier than you think.

We’ve checked with the music store owners in our network to come up with this list of proven strategies to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing retail music scene.

1. Get to know what your customers want TODAY.

Have your sales stalled over the last few years?

It may be because what your customers wanted in the past isn’t what they want today.

Take time to really get to know your purchasers and the musicians in your community. Find out what they’re into now, favorite music types and bands, instruments, playing styles, and more. Ask them about what they need that your shop could provide. If you have customers who haven’t stopped by in a long time, find out why.

The people you reach out to will appreciate that you care enough about their interests and needs to ask about them. Plus, you’ll learn what to do to make your operation right for RIGHT NOW. Make sure you’re bold enough to accept and implement valuable suggestions so people see that you acted on their recommendations.

2. Transform your store into an experience.

It isn’t enough for your music store to just sell instruments and equipment. These days, it has to become an experience to get people to stop in and check out the goods.

Think about it:

  • Book stores host readings and house coffee shops to get readers in to check out books.
  • Gourmet shops offer cooking classes and share free samples to encourage customers to purchase their wares.
  • Jewelers have wedding events to attract brides and grooms to their stores so they try on — and buy — engagement rings.

So, what can you do to get a new crop of customers into your store?

  • Why not hold a trunk show of unique, antique, or high-tech instruments?
  • Perhaps you could host musical performances at your venue.
  • Maybe you could have group discussions with parents whose kids are interested in learning an instrument.

Your options are only limited by your imagination. Think about what people in your ideal customer base might be interested in and give it a try. It could keep you relevant with them. A small investment in an event could generate a lot of sales. Just make sure you promote it ahead of time using cost-effective means like signage, social media, and email.

3. Let musicians experience your products.

Most people won’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on.

How can you expect them to buy an instrument unless they know it fits?

Make it simple, easy, and comfortable for prospective customers to try out instruments, accessories, and the other things you sell. Making things accessible and taking a low-pressure approach to selling will get many more people into your store to try things out, providing additional opportunities to make sales.

4. Make doing business with you easy.

The pandemic changed how people shop. They got used to doing things THEIR way, whether in person, online, over the phone, through chat, or by text messages.

Are you still running a brick-and-mortar music shop with a bit of phone support?

You’re seriously limiting your relevance, much less your sales possibilities, if you don’t meet prospective customers where they’re at right now. Ask the people in your customer base how they prefer to work with you. You’ll likely need to increase your digital presence, make yourself readily available over the phone or through chat, and share more information via social media and other electronic means.

The easier you make it for customers to do business with you, the more business they’ll want to do with you.

If you don’t make it simple, they’ll turn to competitors who do.

5. Offer something “different.”

Do you specialize in a particular type of instrument?

Is there some way to use your expertise to make the instrument better, different, or unique? It could be as simple as offering it in new colors or blinged-out styles for musicians who want to stand out and get noticed.

Offering standout products will make you stand apart from the crowd and ensure your music business stays super relevant.

6. Offer customers more than just products.

Way too many musical instruments end up locked in a closet within a few months of purchase.

Why not use the music instrument sale as the first step in your relationship with customers? Step it up and offer lessons, as well. Your connection to the instrument and encouragement through the learning process could be what it takes to keep purchasers playing their instruments. You might even make more sales when it comes time to upgrade their instruments. Plus, you’ll earn revenue on those lessons — maybe more per hour than you do selling.

7. Offer repairs.

Do you have downtime in your store? Who doesn’t! Even the busiest music shop has some low-traffic hours.

Why not learn to repair musical instruments? It can be a great way to earn extra revenue instead of merely hanging out. Check out some repair class options that could be right for you.

Offering repairs could make you relevant to a whole new customer base.

8. Earn online ratings and reviews.

According to some studies, almost eight out of ten people check online ratings and reviews before purchasing. Even if yours is an in-person music operation, you must ask your best customers to provide you with five-star ratings and rave reviews. It’s the only way you will make it onto most people’s consideration list.

Taking these steps will help ensure your music store is relevant today and long into the future.