From an RPMDA Convention Newbie

By Dan Friberg Dan FribergGroth Music Co. / Eble Music Co. I have been working in the print department of Groth Music in Bloomington, MN, since 2002. I attended my first RPMDA convention this past April in Las Vegas, and I was thoroughly impressed! The atmosphere at the convention was constructive and friendly, and it would be hard to imagine a program more relevant to my day-to-day work. I left Las Vegas with new knowledge, new ideas, many new contacts, and with the convention having a direct, positive impact on our store’s bottom line. Actually, my first experience at a music trade show was the 2014 Winter NAMM Show. NAMM was valuable from the standpoint of understanding Groth’s business within the context of the music industry as a whole, and I was definitely inspired by what I saw and learned there. Still, there were few publishers represented, and I would have been truly overwhelmed by the show’s massive scale without the guidance of my veteran Groth colleagues. The RPMDA Convention, by contrast, proved to be intimate, targeted, and power-packed. From the opening cocktail party onward, I was both humbled by the high caliber of people I met and encouraged through discussing the print business with them. With retailers and publishers equally represented, the focus was on exchanging ideas, building on successes, solving problems, and planning for the future. Here are three highlights of my convention experience:

  1. The Sessions: From among the many excellent presentations, the most provocative for me were those by Reiff Lorenz (management and “The Lean Organization”), Richard Gore (finance and inventory control), and Randall Faber (education and the arts). These and others provided practical advice and food for thought. With the high concentration of owners, managers, entrepreneurs, and senior account representatives, the wealth of knowledge and experience among RPMDA members is fantastic. These are people who know what they’re taking about!
  2. The Contacts: Through meals, social outings, and the vendor exhibit hall, I met dozens of people for the first time, putting a lot of faces with names. Talking with our vendors over several days bore fruit. For example, I made contact with three new publishers, refined our new issue selections with two publishers, gained insight into a number of computer/data issues, solidified plans for a piano clinic at our store, saw and discussed many new publications, and had frequent opportunities to speak one-on-one with decision makers from publishers large and small. Notably, our store does more and more importing, and the convention provided a rare chance to meet publishers from abroad.
  3. The Winnings! On the last day of the convention there is a drawing for prizes from the vendors. Call it beginner’s luck, but I won two of the biggest: a round-trip flight from New York to Paris courtesy of Arpeges/International Music Diffusion, and the entire contents of the Alfred Music RPMDA booth! These prizes, along with having taken advantage of other exclusive RPMDA specials, offset the cost attending the convention many times over. A number of people asked me if I parlayed my luck with these drawings to the Las Vegas casinos. I did not. What’s the old Kenny Roger’s song? “Know when to walk away…”

These prizes, along with having taken advantage of other exclusive RPMDA specials, offset the cost attending the convention many times over!

Four months later, the convention continues to pay dividends for us at Groth Music. The Alfred merchandise won at the drawing made an immediate impact on our sales floor and gave us the opportunity to try new product lines at no risk. Simple upgrades to our version of Music-Search have been implemented to the benefit of our staff and customers. In May, we had an informative visit from Petra Woodfull-Harris of Barenreiter and were subsequently a featured dealer on their Facebook page. Then in August, we hosted a successful piano clinic by Helen Marlais from FJH, the planning of which was helped along by conversations at RPMDA. We have sold dozens of new SKUs from IMD, Editions Robert Martin, Ultimate Music Theory, and others that we wouldn’t have stocked were it not for RPMDA. Ideas from various sessions continue to percolate, and I have no doubt they will make an ongoing difference for our business. I haven’t yet booked my flight to Paris, but I look forward to my trip and to learning more about publishing and music retailing in France! Beyond all of that, it is gratifying to be involved with an organization working to further common goals, particularly in the area of music education. In summary, the 2015 RPMDA convention in Las Vegas was a professional high point for me personally, and a worthwhile investment for our store. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “From an RPMDA Convention Newbie”

  1. Dear Dan, it was a pleasure meeting you at the RPMDA Convention and also visiting Groth Music. I look forward to seeing you again at the next Convention and to continuing and expanding our collaboration. Best regards, Petra

  2. Dear Dan, it was a pleasure meeting you at the RPMDA Convention and also visiting Groth Music. I look forward to seeing you again at the next Convention and to continuing and expanding our collaboration. Best regards, Petra

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