Rue

Selling in a saturated market

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3 minutes ago, John_London said:

An undsiclosed kickback is wrong because a teacher, like a doctor or a priest or a lawyer or financial advisor is in a position of trust.

At least you didn't include elected officials.  Haven't read or seen any news in a while, have you?  Did anyone else get off the island alive?  :ph34r::lol:

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26 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

I've been reluctant to wade into this discussion from the selling side, because, despite certain romantic illusions (appearing, appropriately enough, during the Romantic period), while from the buyer's side, the violin market is an attractive (if somewhat murky) pool filled with interesting things, when entered from the producing seller's side, it's a quagmire.  This has always been true, unless one occupies a privileged position within it.  Those positions, IMHO, consist of the following cases:

  1.   Ownership of a large and productive facility/workshop with access to transportation;
  2.   Having sufficient skills, connections, inspiration, product quality, and exposure that the "posh" and celebrity trade discovers you;
  3.   Location in a cultural hub with unusually high demand;
  4. Any combination of 1-3; 

OR

       5.  Being shielded from competition by regulation, subsidization, or isolation (political or geographic).

Anyone living in developed English-speaking Western-style democracies as their politics is currently structured, can forget #5.  Our industry has zero strategic importance, little traditional cultural or patriotic resonance with most of the public (and actually a negative image in some demographics), generates few jobs, and can't mobilize the capital or popular support to lobby government into protecting us.   Our transportation and communications networks are too good for anyone to be economically shielded from the Internet, and none of our countries is at war (hot or cold) with any violin-producing states.

There's also other problems.  There isn't a single, continuous, violin market from cheapest to most expensive, but they are all "luxury" markets from bottom to top.  Except for the absolutely musically obsessed (who will probably purchase only from Case #2 shops anyway), violins are not a necessity. 

Any comments so far, before I slog on with this?

Well to me the thing that is "scary" and I mean SCARY is what I call "The Moore's law of everything"  Moore's law as it  pertains to computers now seems to have somehow infested itself into "everything" , but instead of it being the rate of computational power exponentially increasing, it is the "rate of speed  of which everything I knew and loved is changing or dying"  at the same rate's as Moore law. Because there are so many interconnections between everything ,things that one might think would not be affected  by "it all" are changing. In it all the music to me seems to be the most affected by these rapid changes and then how these changes interact with "culture" and the how "culture" and or society are changed by these changes in music.

In the entire history of humanity it is our generation, those that are alive now, there has never been a group of people so subject to rapid change brought on by technology. If you lived in the 1500's your life wouldn't be that different in 1750, but after the invention of the digital age, things change so quickly that change seems to have a hard time catching up with itself.

I feel the human trait of adaptability is being tested and our culture/society morphed by these "forces" of change. One of the good things about slow change is allows time to adapt, the rate of speed of change now is so quick that "adapting" seems to be more about not stopping long enough to adapt to anything, than for something to stay around long enough to adapt to.

 

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7 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

A fiddle fracker..............

No, that would be one of our more excitable members, stomping on "rubbish" before tossing it in the stove.

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11 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

A fiddle fracker giving a "kickback" to a violin teacher is just giving a nefarious name to a finders fee.

Yes. And if the finder's fee is undisclosed, and the teacher is in a position of trust, it is wrong. If the teacher is not in a position of trust it is not wrong. Neither is a financial advisor who recommends a product where he receives undisclosed commission is doing wrong if the person being advised is smart enough not to be relying on that advisor. For doctors and lawyers English law is unequivocal, and in various US jurisditions the law varies but on the whole has a similar effect. Arguably a teacher, provided they are not engaged as an agent to act on behalf of the student (where the law of agency kicks in), is not in a position of trust and is just an independent business person entitled to look out primarily for themselves.

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3 hours ago, Violadamore said:

I've been avoiding

It might be useful to remember that the work they were bred for consisted of being introduced into a badger's burrow, wriggling into it enthusiastically, sinking their fangs into whatever warm, furry object they find inside first, resolutely holding on to it while backing out of the burrow, maintaining that hold while a yelling, whooping, clot of hooligans in green felt beat the badger to death while pouring beer on each other, then accepting a treat as their wounds are stitched, and nothing more than that.  Their instincts and personalities are suited to being an elite "tunnel rat".  Such tactical rarities are often "organizationally challenged",  and ill-suited to boring regimentation. :)  [Mentally scratches the long departed "Rakete" behind the ears, relives some interesting memories, and gets appallingly misty.]

Gee, sounds a lot like *my* job...

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2 hours ago, Rue said:

...and no!  That's not us!  lol...

Good! That made me cringe. That hog could turn about and eat that dog it if wanted...  :o

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6 minutes ago, John_London said:

Yes. And if the finder's fee is undisclosed, and the teacher is in a position of trust, it is wrong.

It is not incumbent upon us to be our brother's keeper. 

P.S. a good frack shouldn't involve fire except maybe candles.

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9 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

It is not incumbent upon us to be our brother's keeper. 

 

No point in arguing about the ethics here--your mileage may vary! To my mind the legality is a grey area. This violin dealer says plainly that in their state (Colorado) undisclosed commissions paid to teachers are illegal: http://www.bernsteinviolins.com/teacher-kickbacks.html

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8 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

Well to me the thing that is "scary" and I mean SCARY is what I call "The Moore's law of everything"  Moore's law as it  pertains to computers now seems to have somehow infested itself into "everything" , but instead of it being the rate of computational power exponentially increasing, it is the "rate of speed  of which everything I knew and loved is changing or dying"  at the same rate's as Moore law. Because there are so many interconnections between everything ,things that one might think would not be affected  by "it all" are changing. In it all the music to me seems to be the most affected by these rapid changes and then how these changes interact with "culture" and the how "culture" and or society are changed by these changes in music.

In the entire history of humanity it is our generation, those that are alive now, there has never been a group of people so subject to rapid change brought on by technology. If you lived in the 1500's your life wouldn't be that different in 1750, but after the invention of the digital age, things change so quickly that change seems to have a hard time catching up with itself.

I feel the human trait of adaptability is being tested and our culture/society morphed by these "forces" of change. One of the good things about slow change is allows time to adapt, the rate of speed of change now is so quick that "adapting" seems to be more about not stopping long enough to adapt to anything, than for something to stay around long enough to adapt to.

 

We are currently in an uncomfortable period of transition, and no previous human social construct has ever been here before.  Until a handful of major breakthroughs occur to assure our species survival for an indefinite period, we are chained to the current change rate (and therefore to the asinine forces propelling it) because it is making our technology evolve continuously, and until we have the tools to build a mature interstellar culture, we do not dare slow down.  If you care to discuss this sort of thing, please PM me.

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41 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

In it all the music to me seems to be the most affected by these rapid changes and then how these changes interact with "culture" and the how "culture" and or society are changed by these changes in music.

Getting a bit off topic there! I accept the general point about change. I don't see it with music yet. There are some fine singers in the great opera houses.  Although violin playing is not what it was for someone who prefers the old styles and sounds, violin making is flourishing. Of course the first great violin mass produced from man-made materials will eventually sweep a lot of that away, and this discussion about a saturated market will look dated.

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

We are currently in an uncomfortable period of transition, and no previous human social construct has ever been here before.  Until a handful of major breakthroughs occur to assure our species survival for an indefinite period, we are chained to the current change rate (and therefore to the asinine forces propelling it) because it is making our technology evolve continuously, and until we have the tools to build a mature interstellar culture, we do not dare slow down.  If you care to discuss this sort of thing, please PM me.

I'd love to discuss this!  But we'd need to meet for coffee...too hard to do through emails...^_^

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If payments to teachers were really illegal, calling it immoral and bragging about not doing it would be kind of pointless.  The frackers I know can't pass up an opportunity to lie about how honest they are,relative to fellow fiddle frackers.

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6 hours ago, John_London said:

An undsiclosed kickback is wrong because a teacher, like a doctor or a priest or a lawyer or financial advisor is in a position of trust. Uninformed students and their parents often are vulnerable to making  a bad decision financially owing to their own lack of knowlege and have little choice but to rely on that person's absolute integrity and impartiality. If that teacher has a financial incentive to recommend a more expensive instrument over a cheaper one, or to recommend a particular vendor, it is not clear that they have the utter impariality required to make, as far as they are able, the recommendations which are in the best insterests of the student who has placed trust in them.

The legality of an undsiclosed kickback depends on whether the teacher is formally held by the law in the field of Equity to be in a position of trust comparable with that of a lawyer or a doctor, and the view of the courts will vary in different common law jurisdictions. The underlying ethics seem pretty clear to me. The conflict is even deeper if the teacher is charging the student for advice which purports to be independent, and owing to a dealer commision is not.

Well said although I would go even  further and suggest that even if the buyer knows of the arrangement it is still impossible for the teacher to be objective if they receive any payment from a seller. My own often voiced and so far always ignored opinion is that the paradigm needs to shift so that students/parents expect to pay a consulting fee to their teacher for helping them find a suitable instrument. In that case the teachers one and only responsibility would be to find the best instrument possible for the student. The student would pay just as much as they do now because the seller would not have to add the teachers commission to the price and the whole thing becomes completely above board. Furthermore teachers with a record of real expertise in helping students with these important decisions could negotiate a fee commensurate with their talents and the posers who are simply holding out their hand with no service provided would be pushed to the rear.

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41 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

If payments to teachers were really illegal, calling it immoral and bragging about not doing it would be kind of pointless.  The frackers I know can't pass up an opportunity to lie about how honest they are,relative to fellow fiddle frackers.

The legality is a somewhat interesting question, though I am not keen enough to settle it, to go back to my days of legal research and reach a well-sourced opinion. I know the sense of betrayal my parents would have entertained if it came out that one of my childhood violin teachers had taken a commission from the local music shop when with apparent selfless generosity the teacher had provided their (probably illusory) expertise. Parents who are more switched on to business are probably less naive.

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47 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

If payments to teachers were really illegal, calling it immoral and bragging about not doing it would be kind of pointless.  The frackers I know can't pass up an opportunity to lie about how honest they are,relative to fellow fiddle frackers.

Bill, The legality of these payments is different in different jurisdictions but the morality is not. I'm afraid I don't know what a fracker is but it sounds kind of derogatory and I sincerely hope you are not attacking my honesty.

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I've read most of this and I find the thread very interesting. I might have missed it if someone else has already mentioned it but here goes. For me personally I'm not in the making game to take trade-in instruments when I sell one of my own. I know that this impacts prospective buyers decisions on who they end up doing business with but for me at this time it's not about trading/reselling. 

I agree that side payments to teachers is just not good.

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13 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Isn't "obedient dachshund" an oxymoron? :lol:

Inspired by watching the wide variety of immaculately groomed dogs at Westminster...and to break up the boredom of endless indoor days ...this evening we continued to work on a trick I've been trying to teach her; 'shake a paw'.  This is a very clever dachshund...but somehow the concept of 'shake a paw' puzzled her.

Well!  Guess what?  Finally! SUCCESS!  Hahaha!  Oh yeah!  My dog will shake a paw!

Now if I could only get her to show that much focus when we're in class...(she's fine at home, she's not so happy in class...)...

 

So!  Not as exciting as discussing the ethics of kickbacks...but still! ^_^

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3 hours ago, Rue said:

Inspired by watching the wide variety of immaculately groomed dogs at Westminster...and to break up the boredom of endless indoor days ...this evening we continued to work on a trick I've been trying to teach her; 'shake a paw'.  This is a very clever dachshund...but somehow the concept of 'shake a paw' puzzled her.

Well!  Guess what?  Finally! SUCCESS!  Hahaha!  Oh yeah!  My dog will shake a paw!

Now if I could only get her to show that much focus when we're in class...(she's fine at home, she's not so happy in class...)...

 

So!  Not as exciting as discussing the ethics of kickbacks...but still! ^_^

Congratulations, that's truly fabulous.  My comment was aimed more at their notoriously obstinate nature once started on something, as well as their somewhat irritable temper, which can start them on things you wish it hadn't.  One of the neighbor kids, innocently petting one of her puppies, had to have our usually placid and friendly dachshund bitch pried off the seat of his pants once. :)

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7 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Congratulations, that's truly fabulous.  My comment was aimed more at their notoriously obstinate nature once started on something, as well as their somewhat irritable temper, which can start them on things you wish it hadn't.  One of the neighbor kids, innocently petting one of her puppies, had to have our usually placid and friendly dachshund bitch pried off the seat of his pants once. :)

Thank you! :)

And yes...we see that dachshund temperment in her much more than we ever saw/see it in our mini. <_<

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I was watching random background tv a while ago and some rich people mentioned a brand of leather handbag called Birkin (by Hermes).

Googled it - and found they hold/increase in value at auction.

The handbag market isn't exactly the same as the violin market - but still similar enough to be interesting.

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

I was watching random background tv a while ago and some rich people mentioned a brand of leather handbag called Birkin (by Hermes).

Googled it - and found they hold/increase in value at auction.

The handbag market isn't exactly the same as the violin market - but still similar enough to be interesting.

I met a fellow who refurbishes really really expensive leather handbags.  I visited his shop and saw racks of handbags from all over the world waiting for work to be done on them.

The fading of leather dyes was a common problem  and renewing them to their original colors looked like an interesting and challenging task and he certainly wasn't poor.

My guidance teacher in high school pointed me in the wrong direction.

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On 2/9/2018 at 5:17 AM, MANFIO said:

Wise words by David Burgess, as usual.

And...wise words by you also. You admirably found a niche and worked hard at proper marketing.
 I myself was on a good path but I stuttered after the explosion of cheaply made instruments that cost a fraction of what my materials cost me. I do enjoy watching my friends succeed in a difficult market. Hand made tools, antique & hand made furniture as well as antique clocks have all taken a big hit in the recent years. We need the next cycle of nostalgia and appreciation for artistry and excellent craftsmanship to swing back.

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Thanks Dean! Many years ago, my brother, who is a salesman, said me: "if you like to make instruments you have to sell them, otherwise you will stop making and; in order to sell, you have to work on sales, you have to spend a good part of your day selling".  

Well, I did that, even not having sales abilities, and it was quite an enrichment journey, because I started traveling and meeting so many fine players and makers, listening to their opinions,  that in five years my instruments were much better.

It was mentioned here sometime ago that the number of full time makers (no restoration, no sales of other's instruments, etc., just new making)  in the USA is below 20, and I think they are all over 40 years old.

The problem is that, in order to make good instruments, you have to make many of them every year to get experience, and it will take many years till you reach a good level. 

Bench made instruments by makers in the free world will become more and more expensive because the Chinese competition will reduce the number of makers, just the top makers will survive in such a competitive market. That happened already with tailors, watch repairers, etc.  Some decades ago we had many tailors and we could pay for a custom made suit that would last for many many years when made with those marvelous English fabrics. Today it will be hard to find a taylor, if you  find one he will be working exclusively for very rich clients and will ask a mint for a custom made suit. The same will happen with violin makers, I think.

Today, if you are a  "middle" maker, with no waiting list, it will be hard. And it is a sad thing because many of the makers we love today (Scarampella, Antoniazzi, Rocca) perhaps would not survive in our market today. The three makers I mentioned, by the way, were very poor, Rocca asked local authorities to be declared legally poor, Scarampella tried to trade violins for food, and re haired bows in front of concert rooms,  one of the Antoniazzis wrote to the Bisiachs asking for socks, because he was on jail and it was very cold.

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On 2/13/2018 at 1:40 PM, Bill Merkel said:

I wouldn't see anything wrong with giving a "kickback" to a teacher.  A real kickback is an enticement to make somebody do something illegal, like rigging a public contract.

Really? I see that a little differently.

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