Tomorrow Cremona Musica is hosting the presentation of Osservatorio 2018, the renewed and more complete version of the research that Dismamusica, since more than 30 years, is promoting in order to analyze the market of musical instruments and publications. To have some previews we talked with the president and founder of Dismamusica, Antonio Monzino. (presentation at 11,30, at Sala Bergonzi)
Mr. Monzino, first of all, what does Dismamusica do?
Dismamusica is an association founded in 1982 on the initiative of seven entrepreneurs, in competition with one another. They knew that it was important to join the forces to represent the sector. The first tasks we gave ourselves were: organizing a fair (as we did, until 2007), a model to be repeated, because it guarantees continuity and produce earnings for both the professional organizations and the Association, to be reinvested in the promotion of the market; collecting market data and promoting the music as a mean of development for the people in our society. It is also important to represent the field in the Institutions. Unfortunately, in our country the music has been interpreted as “musical education”, supporting the widely held perception, in Italy, that you can get a musical education if you want to. I think different: music should be part of everyone’s education! Recent scientific researches confirm what ancient Greek philosophers, including Plato, said: “The education of a good citizen should be based on gym and music, take care of the body and develop the mind”.
At Cremona Musica you are presenting your latest report on the market for musical instruments. How is it going?
The market grew slightly in 2017. In the last two years, we commissioned the research to the University Cattolica of Milan, in particular to the CERSI, because the prof. Antoldi, who lead the research, already made a great job with a similar report on lutherie. This year we also had an important support from the Chamber of Commerce of Cremona. The new research is also more complete, as we interviewed one hundred shop owners from all over the country, to refine the sell-out. I hope that the in depth-analysis on the sector will give useful information to the operators. These data are very important for an artisan field like this (I am using the word “artisan” in a positive meaning) that is facing a modernization process. The e-commerce changed the prices and the margins for the whole supply chain, so the sector is suffering, with the exception of those that are exporting, exploiting their know-how and the positive image of the made-in-Italy, as the excellent luthiers will demonstrate in these days at Cremona.
Which factors of initiatives can help the market?
For sure making the teaching of music compulsory for everyone. Every year there are 500.000 new students, if everyone studies music we would have an annual entry of new consumers, our market’s lifeblood. In fact, in the most mature markets, at an international level, school has always been the factor that makes the difference. So we are waiting for the implementation of a decree of 30 December, of the latest government, which provides for the compulsory teaching of arts in school for all, which obviously also affects the "Music". A strong association, able to "make a system", would mean being able to share and implement at the local level the good practices that some operators already practice. Think of a scenario with many classrooms of music, as it is for gyms! Furthermore, attention needs to be paid to the world of communication (press, radio, TV etc ...) where our sector, unfortunately, has a lack of visibility, even if it has a relatively modest economic size, if we learn to "make a system" and we become aware of being a significant component of the cultural industry of the country, you can get attention to the many issues that still are not listened. I think of the art professions that in Italy do not have a regulatory recognition, for Music Industry means everything that gravitates around the show and entertainment, that has powerful lobbies, it is almost never considered that the musical instrument is an indispensable component in the hands of musicians to produce a rich economy and a lot of employment. In recent years the so-called Bonus Stradivari was also tested: a subsidy to purchase instruments, for those enrolled in the courses of The Conservatory (in Austria for them are even free). A good initiative, but in fact has not enlarged the market. A bonus with a simple tax deduction (there are for trivial consumption) for the purchase of the first instrument and related method to learn music inside the school or deduct the cost for attendance to a course of music as it is for the gym, these would be even more useful. This is what we expect of institutions that are aware of the role of musical practice in its social function, an instrument of integration, prevention, and recovery of discomfort in our multicultural community.
Which challenges are the music shops facing?
As I said, the e-commerce is a new threat. There are more purchases from abroad. Just consider that the best seller of instruments in Italy is based in a village in Bayern. We need to understand what is working and what is not in the European Union, but companies should evolve too, guaranteeing more services for the customers, especially those who try an instrument for the first time need the assistance of an expert. The shops that will be able to satisfy the customers will probably grow more.
Have the market slices of various instruments or instrument families changed over the years?
The trend is quite stable, even if it partly depends on the kind of music that is produced in a certain period. We consider that classical music, or jazz, or the education sector use more or less the same instruments; clearly, when there was the explosion of rock there was a greater sale of instruments used for this genre. The new technologies expanded the offer also in our industry, with positive effects on the market. It is important to consider that, for music learning, the traditional instruments are more effective.
What role does Cremona Musica play in promoting the music market?
Cremona for its history is the traditional capital of world violin making and the event, has no equal in the world, as it takes to Cremona many operators and enthusiasts from all around the world every year. In recent years, besides the exhibition and the production presented in the boots, ever richer and wider, many events were organized, with prestigious artists, meetings and seminars that address issues of great interest for the sector. The foreign visitor remains fascinated by the beauty of the city as well as doing business in the pavilions. For the Italian operator that still does not know the reality of Cremona, a more structured collaboration with Dismamusica could allow working on projects to promote the market in a synergistic way and to develop activities at the national level, with mutual satisfaction. I hope that in the future it will be possible to create with the local institutions an "after salon" as in Milan for the furniture show, because the city offers places and suggestions that strike the visitors and transmit vibrations, like those of the strings of an instrument.