Academic Paper Sessions

Friday 10:15-11:15
Presentation of Academic Papers 1 (Terrace C)
Bruce Ronkin, Moderator

Rico Reeds: From the 4th Grade Band to the Concert Stage, The Rebranding of a Household Name in the Music Products Industry

Kim L. Wangler
Director of Music Industry Studies
Appalachian State University

David Via
Vice President, D’Addario & Company, Inc.


    Since 1928 Rico has been a well-known name to anyone who has started their career as a musician on clarinet or saxophone. The Rico brand has simply dominated the beginning students market. This niche has served the company well over the years. However, after being acquired by D’Addario in 2004 a grander vision was created for the company. Executives felt that Rico could be repositioned to serve a larger target population - specifically that of the more advanced, professional reed player.

    This case study will look at the marketing strategies employed by the company to overcome the strong stereotype of the brand name and to create a new positioning for newly developed professional quality reeds. While we will use Rico as an example, the discussion will be broadened to talk about how to create a brand, build awareness of that brand, and how to develop loyalty in new customers - something of interest to all musicians trying to build a career - or collegiate professors trying to recruit students.

    This presentation will be a collaborative endeavor between a music industry professional, David Via, Vice President - Sales & Marketing, D’Addario and Kim Wangler, Professor of Music Industry at Appalachian State University, both of whom hold Masters of Music and MBAs.

Kim L. Wangler, M.M, M.B.A joined the faculty of Appalachian State University in 2005 as the Director of the Music Industry Studies Program. Ms. Wangler teaches management, marketing, and music entrepreneurship. She has served in the industry as President of the Board of Directors for the Orchestra of Northern New York, House Manager for the Community Performance Series (serving audiences of over 1,000 people) and as CEO of Bel Canto Reeds – a successful on-line venture. Ms. Wangler currently serves as an independent consultant for entrepreneurial musicians and sits on the boards of Renaissance Singers in Charlotte, and the Harper School of the Performing Arts in Lenoir, NC. Ms. Wangler is published through Hal Leonard, Sage Publishing, and the MEIEA and NACWPI journals.

David Via has 25 years of experience in music instrument sales and marketing. He has worked for Yamaha Corporation of America, SABIAN Ltd, SKB Inc., and presently D’Addario & Company. A former adjunct professor of percussion and music business, David holds a Bachelor Degree in Music Business from Millikin University, a Master of Music in Percussion from Northwestern University, and an MBA Degree from Babson College. David has presented lectures at numerous universities, including University of New Brunswick, Canada; The University of Alabama; The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam; New York University; and the Manhattan School of Music.

Sex, Drugs, Rocks ’n Booze: Preparing Our Students for the “Dark Side” of the Music Business.

Tonya D. Butler
Associate Professor of Music Business
Middle Tennessee State University


    Every year during recruiting season, Music Business Program faculty members are bombarded with a litany of questions about programming, facilities, curriculum and other information regarding their school's capacity to provide students with a “well rounded” education in the Music Business. The one question that rarely goes unasked sounds a lot like the following:

o    “In an industry fraught with declining record sales and economic uncertainty, what is the likelihood of my Little Jane or Jimmy finding a job in the Music Business?”

    Little Jane or Jimmy’s employment prospects are most parents primary concern no matter what the degree program, but they are of particular dismay for parents who have students who want to be rock stars...and understandably so. When a parent asks a recruiter or faculty member about job opportunities, the "standard" answer for many of us is usually something along the lines of:

o    “In today’s economy not even an English major is guaranteed a job”; or
o    “There aren’t many jobs available for anyone these days regardless of their degree”.

    Employment opportunities for college graduates, particularly those seeking careers in Music, are a serious issue.  An informal survey of 10 sets of parents who have sons and/or daughters enrolled as students in Music Business programs, found that 10 out of 10 parents who were fully aware of the unfortunate death of Amy Winehouse from an alleged drug overdose, as well as Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter's recent one year prison stint for gun possession, were so concerned about whether or not their son or daughter would be able to land a well-paying gig upon graduation, never even thought about the increased exposure to drug use and gun violence their children might be exposed to as a result of working in the Music Business. Had they considered the other possible ramifications of their child’s career choice their Recruiting Day question might have sounded more like this:

o    “In an industry fraught with drug use, alcoholism, gun violence and sex, what is the likelihood of my Little Jane or Jimmy SURVIVING the destructive nature of the Music Business?”

And if there were such a question, what would be the answer?

o    “There is so much sex, drugs and alcohol in today’s Music Business that not even English majors are guaranteed to survive”. That’s comforting. How about:
o    “There are no more drugs, sex, guns or alcohol in the Music Business these days than there are in any other industry.” Yeah, Right!

And what about the litany of questions about programming and curriculum? Does your program offer a series of classes; a class; a seminar or even a panel discussion on the growing rates, case law and examples of Drug Use, Alcoholism, Gun Crimes, Sexual Abuse, Suicide, Mental Illness and other tragedies that exist in the war zone otherwise known as the Music Business?  Are we adequately arming our students for battle?  Should we?

Tonya Butler is an Associate Professor in the Recording Industry Department at MTSU and former Coordinator of the Music Business Program at the University of Memphis. She holds a Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law and a Master of Laws in Entertainment and Media from Southwestern University School of Law. As a former Entertainment Attorney and Record Label Executive Professor Butler’s credits include contracts for the films “Legally Blonde II”, “Barbershop” and “Die Another Day”; marketing for CeCe Winans, Kirk Whalum and Ray Charles; and representation of the Bar-kays, Justin Timberlake’s Free Sol and the Reverend Al Green. Professor Butler serves on the MEIEA Executive Board; is a voting member and Governor of the Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy; and is Chair Emeritus of the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission.


Bruce Ronkin is Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Professor of Music at Northeastern University. He directed Northeastern’s Music Industry program from 1991-2002 and was Chair of the Music Department from 1998-2002. He served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2002-2008, and as Interim Dean of the College from 2008-2010. He has been published in a variety of journals including the MEIEA Journal, the Saxophone Journal, and the Saxophone Symposium. He is the author of the forthcoming Londeix Guide to the Saxophone Repertoire and co-author of The Orchestral Saxophonist, a required text at universities and conservatories throughout the world. Dr. Ronkin is widely known as a pioneering specialist on the wind synthesizer, an electronic wind instrument, performing worldwide as a soloist and chamber musician. He earned his B.M. from the Eastman School of Music, his M.M. from Indiana University, and his D.M.A. from the University of Maryland. Ronkin is the editor of the MEIEA Journal and, until selling the company in 2008, he was President of Roncorp Publications, a leading publisher of music and texts for woodwind instruments.

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