Experiential Retail and Learn to Play Day

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In store events and experiential retail are a great way to demonstrate the advantages of in-person shopping over online. These activities encourage people into your showroom, and can also help sow the seeds for the musicians and customers of the future. We spoke to two independent retailers about their views and experiences.

Presto Music – “We love the idea of opening up the range of instruments in the store to everyone. More often than not, the customer finishes a session with one instrument and gets chatting to a member of staff about something else, which in turn builds trust and hopefully evolves into a long term customer.”

We speak to Jonny Brading, Commercial Director of Presto Music, an independently owned music shop in Leamington Spa. 

Presto Music have held Learn to Play events for many years now. Why is Learn to Play Day a vital event in your music shops calendar?

We like to think of them as ‘Open days’ – a way of inviting people into a low pressure, friendly environment. This not only helps towards a community spirit but also boosts the ability to open the doors to numerous people that wouldn’t normally visit a music store. It’s also a great opportunity to raise our profile every year within the local area as a business that wants to give back.

How would you describe the atmosphere in store on Learn to Play Day weekend?

It brings a buzz to the store that can sometimes be lost in the ever changing world of retail. I’ve worked in the industry for 25 years and remember when working in a store over a weekend was relentless, with customer after customer… Our Learn to play days offer a glimpse of this again with a steady stream of people talking about their aspirations for playing an instrument. We’ve always viewed this as a simple opportunity to talk and hopefully impart some of our staff’s knowledge – The immediate sale is not necessarily the most important part of the day.

Why do you think your customers value events like Learn to Play Day?

The customers appear to value the opportunity to try without the pressure of actually saying “I know nothing about this instrument, but I like the way it looks or sounds”… We love the idea of opening up the range of instruments in the store to everyone. More often than not, the customer finishes a session with one instrument and gets chatting to a member of staff about something else, which in turn, builds trust and hopefully evolves into a long term customer.

Windology Music – “It is important now, more than ever, to harness the chance to interact with our customer base in person, in a striving effort to repair the damage of the last 18 months.”

We speak to Olivia Wild, Director of Windology Music, Woodwind & Brass Specialist in Much Wenlock.

Liv, you launched Windology Music in 2020, and this will be your first Learn to Play Event. Why is an event like Learn to Play vital in helping you to establish your business?

The ‘Learn To Play’ event is an opportunity to meet new people in the area, engage with them in a fun way, and for them to connect with us in a relaxed environment. It is important now, more than ever, to harness the chance to interact with our customer base in person, in a striving effort to repair the damage of the last 18 months.

The LTP success stories from previous years show us that if the day results in just one person taking up an instrument, then it has been worth it. For some people, approaching a new skill might be daunting, so the LTP event helps take the mystery out of it all.

Windology Music specialises in wind and brass instruments. What sort of health and safety protocols will you put in place to allow your customers the ability to test instruments in-store?

Safety is of course paramount, both for the customer and for us to be able to operate. We’ll have lots of ‘trial’ instruments quarantined ahead of the day, sufficient mouthpieces, reeds and washing facilities/sanitiser on hand. We are lucky to have both a well-ventilated shop floor, and outside space for participants to give an instrument a go.

The priority here is safety and for the customer to feel comfortable.

Do you have any special plans for your first ever Learn to Play event?

I think the public have really missed the sound of live music, whether they realise it or not, so the hope is to be able to perform some small ensemble music in the area, to attract the attention of passers-by. We are looking forward to a proactive day for the arts and industry.

Interested in hosting a Learn to Play ’21 event? 
There is still plenty of time to get involved! Register your venue via the link below and read more about how you can take part. The registration process will guide you through the Learn to Play venue experience and the support Music for All can provide. All venue details are held securely.
Click here to register

We will also be hosting a drop-in session next Friday, 27th August, where you can learn more about Learn to Play. Please contact Alice if you would like to come along.

www.musicforall.org.uk/learn-to-play