School Music Trends: George Quinlan (2015 NAMM Show)
During “Breakfast of Champions” at the 2015 NAMM Show, George Quinlan, president of Quinlan & Fabish, looked at a trend that’s been hot for about 60 years: the school music business. He spoke with NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond about the nuances of this segment.
“You can’t buy your way in,” Quinlan said of the school music business and serving music educators. “You can’t get there through intimidation or slick gimmicks. You really have to earn your way in, and it’s difficult. You have to be there. You have to be there when they need you.
“My dad always used to say, ‘If they sneeze, you have to have a handkerchief ready.’ You have to be there sometimes to just be a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes to offer some suggestions, maybe find a mentor — somebody in the area who can help them. You want to be there in the good times, too, at their festivals and concerts because it’s a two-way street.”
According to Quinlan, the school music business is also unique in that his company’s success is dependent on his customers' success. “What they do is probably more important to our success than what we do.”
Quinlan called his company’s multichannel retail strategy “clicks, mortar and motor.” “We have, on our website, anything that a parent would want to do in the store or over the phone.”
“We’ve differentiated ourselves, or we try. Because every product we sell is available from a lot of sources. So I think us, and other school music dealers—we try to add value to those products.”