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Selling in a saturated market

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Is there also something wrong for giving a "kickback", finders fee, sales commission or what ever you call it to an orchestra member or soloist for finding you customers?

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32 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Is there also something wrong for giving a "kickback", finders fee, sales commission or what ever you call it to an orchestra member or soloist for finding you customers?

Absolutely not .There is no position of special trust between colleagues or casual acquaintances. It would also be OK for people in those kind of relationships to date each other but if a university teacher dates their students they will lose their job in a hurry. In the music world however I am aware of at least one situation where a conservatory professor who had the power to grade a student on how they sounded asked the student to buy an instrument from him because she "sounded better" with it

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Don pointed out the 600 lb gorilla in the room, but I'm more concerned about the elephant :) . Nobody has raised the point so far, so I guess I will; it's important to remember that if we want our work to be valued, it is in our interest to make sure that the work of others in our community is valued as well.

I probably won't get 100% agreement on this, but there is some evidence that wages vs the cost of living is a growing problem, affecting more people to a greater extent than in the past. As an example, in 2016 the federal reserve found that 46% of Americans don't have the money to cover a $400 emergency expense.  I'm bringing it up because this is the reality that my neighbors, and most of the people I interact with, are living in. Even cheaply made instruments are a luxury item for many out there, without the cost of music lessons on top. This saddens me, not because I want my neighbors to buy my instruments, but because part of why I love what I do so much is because I believe In music's ability to unite people across cultures, time, etc. We can mourn the death of classical music, or the appreciation of fine craftsmanship, but before we start nailing the coffin shut I think we should consider that maybe someone's income doesn't dictate whether they appreciate these things, just their ability to appreciate them. 

 After all, let's face it, who knows better than Maestronet that the presence of cheaply made imported instruments isn't a new thing? :). 

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One problem seems to be this:   People want to buy a great violin (one they like).   Then they want to use it for however long and finally sell it for a profit.   That is,  they think in terms of investment.   Best to be a dead maker in this case.

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21 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Is there also something wrong for giving a "kickback", finders fee, sales commission or what ever you call it to an orchestra member or soloist for finding you customers?

 

21 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Absolutely not .There is no position of special trust between colleagues or casual acquaintances.

I agree, there certainly nothing illegal in that. Neither is it unethical

If the seller or the person receiving commission lied and said there was no commission, that could be a problem, and if the contact said they were getting the colleague a special price when they knew that was not true, you are still potentially giving grounds for a claim. Collusion over writing certificates to pump up prices might be the grounds for a case, and was alleged in the Segelman Estate vs Biddulph case (settled before trial). Just keeping your mouth shut about a commission in that situation would be legal in any English-speaking system of law where there is no general duty to negotiate in good faith when making a contract. I think by most standards it is also ethical, although in such a small world it might be better for everyone to be upfront!

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On 08/02/2018 at 10:31 PM, David Burgess said:

Making violins, professionally, and as your only source of income, is a very hard row to hoe. I have never recommended it.

If one possesses what it takes to become a professional maker, there are probably much higher income opportunities available within that talent and diligence realm.

Change the word probably to certainly and I am in full agreement. I have been a 100% violin maker since 1987 and it was hugely rewarding, but not financially, at least for the first ten years. My wife bless her, always had a steady job and that kept me in boiled beef and carrots over this period. Being a full time maker ain't easy, but it's worth a try. And if you are making as an amateur don't expect too much. After all you are doing it for fun. I don't suppose you would not expect to earn money with another hobby. If you want to make money get a paper round. If you invest the same amount of time it takes to finish a fiddle you will earn much more, but it won't be as much fun. 

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On 2/14/2018 at 7:56 PM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Is there also something wrong for giving a "kickback", finders fee, sales commission or what ever you call it to an orchestra member or soloist for finding you customers?

I may be outvoted, but I think paying commissions IS unethical unless the purchaser is aware of it.  The commissionee has a vested interest in the purchase.  They're pushing an instrument in relation to which they will benefit.  If the buyer does not know this, the seller is supporting a deception.  My answer to this problem is to tell the student that the teacher or colleague will get paid a "finder's fee" that I have built into the instrument's price.  So the purchaser is paying the commission, not me.  The teacher or colleague also is made aware of what I am telling the buyer.  If that causes them not to recommend me, so be it.  But I choose not to be party to deceiving the student into believing they are getting a recommendation from a trusted source when that source is getting an under-the-table financial benefit from that recommendation.

Edited by Julian Cossmann Cooke

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On 2/14/2018 at 4:00 PM, Dean_Lapinel said:

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.

 

Dean, I frequent MN less frequently now, but was glad to be here to see you back.  You have been missed!

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1 hour ago, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

I may be outvoted, but I think paying commissions IS unethical unless the purchaser is aware of it.  The commissionee has a vested interest in the purchase.  They're pushing an instrument in relation to which they will benefit.  If the buyer does not know this, the seller is supporting a deception.  My answer to this problem is to tell the student that the teacher or colleague will get paid a "finder's fee" that I have built into the instrument's price.  So the purchaser is paying the commission, not me.  The teacher or colleague also is made aware of what I am telling the buyer.  If that causes them not to recommend me, so be it.  But I choose not to be party to deceiving the student into believing they are getting a recommendation from a trusted source when that source is getting an under-the-table financial benefit from that recommendation.

If you read my posts more carefully you will see that in the case of a teacher/student relationship I agree that a commission is unethical even if the purchaser does know about it because the teacher is still unable to fairly judge instruments when they receive a financial benefit from the student buying one as opposed to another and because the teacher is in a position of trust where the student must believe  that the teacher is doing their best to help the student. 

I understand your position that if some one is acting as a salesman without disclosing that to the potential buyer that is certainly a bit slimy but since there is no  coercion or compulsion to buy this is not really the same as when a teacher using their position of power or trust behaves in the same way.

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1 minute ago, nathan slobodkin said:

If you read my posts more carefully you will see that in the case of a teacher/student relationship I agree that a commission is unethical even if the purchaser does know about it because the teacher is still unable to fairly judge instruments when they receive a financial benefit from the student buying one as opposed to another and because the teacher is in a position of trust where the student must believe  that the teacher is doing their best to help the student. 

I understand your position that if some one is acting as a salesman without disclosing that to the potential buyer that is certainly a bit slimy but since there is no  coercion or compulsion to buy this is not really the same as when a teacher using their position of power or trust behaves in the same way.

I did get your distinction and respect your view without reservation. 

I think this is an issue of complicity on the part of the seller even in the absence of compulsion.  Whether the buyer wants to trust the teacher once the arrangement is disclosed is between the two of them and out of the hands -- or the ethical realm -- of the seller. 

This is one of the stickiest wickets in our trade, in my opinion, but I think the discussion is always healthy and am glad we have all managed to keep it from getting personal.

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