Guitar Manufacturers Accused of Price-Fixing
I just read a couple articles about some major guitar manufacturers accused of price-fixing across the country. Whether it is true or false, it's going to court, and we're gonna end up paying for it. Count on these lawsuits raising prices for guitars and gear.
Gibson, Fender and Yamaha are all co-defendants along with NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants
) and Guitar Center in the suit.
The lawsuits allege that NAMM had meetings with music retailers and manufacturers to try and get cooperation among them to artificially boost prices of gear. Apparently (and I'm no lawyer), this violates antitrust law, which clearly is a big no-no in business. If music companies decide to cooperate in their pricing strategies, there's no competition. So no 'best price' for my homies.
In other words, if everything costs the same at every store, and they raise the prices to force everyone to pay inflated price tags, competition goes out the door. We're all stuck with higher prices, regardless of differences in quality and service.
This is interesting to me, but not that surprising. Actually, it seems like the industry has been doing this for years. The only price differences between online stores seems to be whatever sale happens to be going on at
one store or another.
I mean, let's get real. Guitar Center, Musician's Friend and 123Music are all the same company. Zzounds and Same Day Music - yup, same company. Price check between them all, and you'll see everything is pretty much the same price across the board. Even on used gear.
OK, I don't necessarily have a problem with a company maximizing its opportunities. I've been in business, and it's tough enough to make a buck. But competition is necessary in a capitalist economy - it keeps business from taking advantage of the customer.
Bottom line, this lawsuit really isn't going to benefit us as musicians. Whatever these companies end up paying in legal costs is going to get rolled into the price tags of instruments and gear. It's going to make it harder on the small independent music stores, too. They have higher costs than the big-box and online stores.
Whether legitimate or bogus, the fact that these lawsuits exist is evidence that big music industry continues to march in step with the big record companies in their unbalanced view of music - it's not about the music or artist, it's all about the money.
It's not going to stop us musicians from pursuing our dreams - just makes it a little harder.