All Music Inc.
With an extensive collection of new, vintage, rare and pre-owned instruments to fit any budget, it is no wonder that All Music Inc. has become Long Island's premier music destination for professional musicians and people passionate about honing their craft.
Thanks to their knowledgeable and experienced staff, All Music Inc. takes a personalized approach to all of your music needs so that you get what you want at the best price.
We are now proud to announce that you may now shop our secure site 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week in the convenience of your own home from anywhere in the world. New additions are being added daily so check back often for amazing deals and special events. If there is an item not listed that you want, feel free to let us know and we will be happy to order it for you.
Since 1984, All Music has been the starting point for many beginning musicians, countless intermediate players and a home for professional musicians. With over 10,000 instruments in stock and over 1,000 guitars on display, All Music offers everyone the greatest “musical experience.” Our mission is to educate our customers and spend the necessary time to answer all of their questions, as well as build and cultivate a musical relationship that will last a lifetime.
After managing a large chain store for a number of years, veteran musician and businessman Irwin decided he wanted to create a place where a “commissioned sale” was not the ultimate goal. A place where customer relationships turn into long-term friendships and where he would be able to see 5-year-olds blossom into full-fledged musicians. Thus, All Music was created!
Irwin Natman's story is an inspiring testimonial to hard work and perseverance. “I didn't start out with 1,000 guitars on display,” says Natman. “I started out with ten.” With his shoe-string budget and small stock of student-level guitars, he targeted beginning players and established a lessons program that brought in a steady flow of income through the slow months. "If I'd tried to target everyone, it never would have worked," says Natman. "I was big on the teaching business because I felt that was a constant." He brought experienced musicians into the loop with a range of accessories, strings, and other small goods
that he imported from China. "We were bringing in guitar cables that cost us 60 cents that we were selling for $7.95," he recalls. "It was great." Meanwhile, he forged relationships with professionals through repair work, setups, and free advice. As his business grew and he started carrying higher-end product, those customers returned to buy.
Eventually All Music would stock a formidable inventory of high-end Gibsons and Fenders, along with Taylor, Martin, Ibanez, Gretsch, and more. "I think what makes us successful with those, even against the big stores, is our selection," says Natman. "You can go into a Guitar Center or Sam Ash that's four times the size of this store, and we still have a bigger selection of Gibson and Fender here." Natman also scoured the market for little-known and boutique brands and came up with gems like Spear Guitars, a highly regarded U.K. brand virtually unknown in the U.S. All Music went on to build rental programs with a number of area schools, including most of Long Island's elite private schools. "When you spend $20,000 to send your child to one of those schools, you expect a certain level of services to come with it," says Natman.
By 1992 he had added a second store. At one point All Music had three additional Long Island locations in Huntington, Mineola, and Port Jefferson. But Natman had trouble retaining management that reflected his vision for the store, and one by one he sold the secondary locations to focus on the single store in Plainview. Two years ago he added a partner in Guy Brogna. A former touring musician who approached Natman in search of a new career, Brogna spent six years working at All Music as an employee before moving up to partner. Now Brogna concentrates on day-to-day sales and customer service, while Natman handles the behind-the-scenes operations, the money management, and the big-ticket ordering. "We make a great team," says Natman. "Making Guy my partner was about the best thing I ever did."
Lessons from Sam Ash
"I had the small store experience and the big store experience," says Natman. "When I opened up my own store I brought stuff from both: I absolutely stole ideas. And then there were things that I said I would never do to my customers." His first rule was that he'd never have commissions in his store. Experience had shown him ugly scenes and employee rivalries over who was entitled to the commission on a sale--not to mention overzealous salespeople trying to force expensive items on customers who didn't need or want them. "In some cases we should be selling the product that we'll make less on because it's the right choice for this customer," said Natman. "In my store, a customer looking for a guitar pick is going to get the same time and attention as somebody who's about to spend $2,000 or $3,000."
His second rule was that repair work would be done onsite and within 24 hours whenever possible. "If a working musician who needs his instrument comes in with a relatively simple repair, you can't tell him it has to be sent out to a different location and it should be back within a week to ten days. He'll be looking at you like, 'What do you mean, a week to ten days?'"
At All Music, Natman established extensive repair facilities for instruments and gear of all types. With three guitar techs and four band and orchestra techs, the shop is staffed seven days a week. "We pride ourselves on how quickly we turn each job around," says Natman. "When working musicians bring their instruments here and we can guarantee they'll have them back the next day, that makes them feel comfortable. And when they tell their friends that, their friends start coming."
From his father, who sold shoelaces on New York's Lower East Side during the Great Depression, Natman learned that a struggling family will sacrifice almost anything before its children's education. In the present state of economic turmoil, he maintains that the question for retailers isn't if they will feel its effects, but how, and what they can do about it.
"It's a trickle-down situation that will affect everyone eventually," he says. "A professional musician will think twice about buying a new instrument if the bar or club he plays in isn't hiring him as much. But that guy might put a few dollars into his old instrument to fix or improve it, so let's capitalize on that. As far as lessons go--I think parents have to be in a really bad situation to sacrifice their child's music lesson. They know that artistic education rounds out a child and helps him or her develop as an individual."
With a roster of 32 teachers, all independent contractors, All Music offers lessons in everything from guitar to voice to band and orchestra to drums--although about half of its 500 students study guitar or bass. In 2009 Natman plans to gut his lesson area and rebuild it with three additional rooms and state-of-the-art sound systems in each studio. "It's important for us to invest in our teaching program," he says. "Retail is cyclical, but I've never seen a dip in the lessons side of my business."
Part of the Community
All Music sits on the edge of Plainview's major shopping center. Among its neighbors is a video store that sells Guitar Hero, the video game that many a music retailer wonders whether to embrace or regard as a competitor for the leisure dollar. Natman approached the owner of the video store and arranged to have him distribute a gift certificate for a free guitar lesson at All Music to every customer who bought a copy of Guitar hero. "Guitar Hero is lot of fun," says Natman. "And if excites a child's interest in playing a real instrument, that's terrific. But it's just a video game, and selling it is not our thing. So if you want to buy Guitar Hero, that's great, but here's a gift certificate so you can go down to All Music and really learn to play if you want."
All Music made its presence known around the shopping center again in September when it took over the parking lot for its first annual "Rock The Lot" party. Natman had carnival rides and games brought in for the day, along with free food and entertainment by seven bands. The event was such a smash that other stores in the shopping center have asked to get in on the action with booths of their own next year.
Among the day's performers were local up-and-coming bands that All Music has "endorsed" with special pricing on instruments and gear. "For a band to be endorsed by a major manufacturer, usually they already need to have a lot of credibility and be signed by a major record label," says Natman. "But when we meet a band with a pretty strong following in our area, we see that as an opportunity. These guys are thrilled to have us endorse them: They'll post signs at all their shows saying, 'Thank you, All Music,' and they'll talk us up to all their friends. That grass-roots level with the local bands is really where it's at for getting our name out there."
Competing with the big guys
MAP pricing, says Natman, has done much to level the playing field between All Music and any authorized competitor, be it a chain store or web retailer. "If they shop around, our customers are going to find that our price is in line with any big store," he says. "But they'll find that here they get the service and everything else that comes with it."
More difficult to counter is the impact of the unauthorized web retailer that doesn't abide by MAP pricing. "In those cases we have the ability to negotiate a little bit, but we try not to," says Natman. "We explain to the customer that they're about to purchase an instrument sight unseen. First of all, a musical instrument is a very personal thing. You've got to play it. You can walk into a store and play three of the same model and they'll all sound different.
"Secondly, we explain to the customer that this internet seller is trying to sell at a really cheap price and provide nothing more than that. You might save $50 with them, but the first time you need a repair, there goes your savings. Whereas if you buy it from us, you'll still get a really competitive price, but if you have a problem, we're there for you. When you explain it that way, most customers realize you're not trying to sell them a bill of goods: you're telling them the truth."
Now closing in on a quarter-century in business, at the end of a year when any retailer could be excused for seeing its sales drop off, All Music is marking its strongest year ever. As of the end of the third quarter of 2008, sales were up 25% over 2007
"The more people who know we're here, the better we do," says Natman. "All I can say is, don't let the competition scare you. If you've been doing the right thing and you have a customer base that's loyal to you, they'll continue to be loyal to you. If you've been doing the wrong thing and you've been alienating your customers and treating them like garbage because you're the only game in town--oh, you're going to lose them! There's no two ways about it."