Author Archives: Rob Walker

Vale Geoff Oakley


Geoff Oakley, passed away on Thursday, May 31, aged 87 after battling several health issues

A passionate music industry veteran, Geoff’s legacy in the musical products business spans two continents and some of the greatest brand names in music, including Steinway and Yamaha

His influence in the musical products industry was significant. To those who knew him well, he was a passionate music man, articulate, fair and a man with a great heart for people and the music business.

Geoff built a successful supermarket business in UK.  He moved his family to Australia in 1972. With Rose Music MD Peter Murphy, he was instrumental in establishing Yamaha Music in Australia. He lead the musical products division of Brashs and then headed up Steinway in UK…. and much more.

In his spare time Geoff built a (huge) boat in his back yard named Perfidia after the song and in honour of his wife Margaret. It took him four years to complete and it was a magnificent effort in craftsmanship.

As one long-time colleague said, “He loved people, backed those who shared his vision and had a “fire in the belly” for the music products industry. He was a terrific music man…(“he used to play in a band you know”) loved his craft and generously shared his gift”.

He was boss, mentor and friend to many in the music products industry, and we extend our condolences to Geoff’s family and friends.

RIP Geoffrey George Oakley

2017 Market Summary

2017 saw an uplift in the overall market with a 5% in value increase over 2016, while it dipped nearly 8% in unit volume. With the currency remaining in the mid-70’s range against the US dollar a continuing rise in value has been maintained. Import value of $288m outstripped 2016 which was the best year in terms of industry value since 2009.
The Keyboard Category posted a good result overall in 2017 and continued the upward trajectory it has been achieving over the last three or four years. A solid increase in value and units of around 5%, year on year. Over 105,000 units
We have adjusted the numbers in digitals and keyboards for the last three-year period. With digital technology getting cheaper, we have allowed for a lower average value of digitals and therefore the units of portables have decreased proportionately. Increases in units applied to both segments in 2017. Acoustics were up by a robust 17% in units and 15% in value. Correspondingly, there were fewer grands imported, but the segment posted a 5% increase in value, indicating bigger ticketed units.
Brass remained steady and major woodwind units dipped following their big jump in December 2016, which necessitated a re-balance. Orchestral strings recovered after a soft 2016 with a sharp increase in the value of instruments being imported.
Percussion did not perform well comparatively in 2017, scotching any perceived recovery noted last year. Overall, there was a drop of 25% in units with value battling to hold firm. Drum kits and Orchestral percussion showing the biggest drops.
The overall volume in the guitar segment fell 10% in 2016 and value was flat across the category.
Electric guitars held firm on the unit imports in 2017 but took a hit to value. After last year’s rise in average value, 2017 AUV dropped nearly 10% and so did the category value.
We cannot explain an exponential rise in guitar and bass amp figures this year, but it is on the right side of an error and does make up for a very low number of imports in 2016, and perhaps some coding leakage to the pro Audio category.
Acoustics are powering on with another record year of 166,000 units imported! However, value dropped by nearly 25% – which seems to indicate more entry level business in 2017. Accounting for the significant variant in the Amps segment, guitars could claim only a relatively tepid performance for the category as a whole.
The electric guitar market continues to be soft along with acoustic percussion, perhaps revealing a worrying trend in the product markets that have driven the industry for so long.
In Electronic Instruments we observe another increase in Synths in 2017, while the ‘Other’ segment thought to be driven by e-drums bounced back against the pattern of the previous two years, Turntables showed an increase in units in 2017 of 7.5% and Software posted a strong increase in value.
Audio numbers revealed less high value mixers were reported helping to push down value on average of 17%, with units imported increasing by only 6%. Speakers and power amps dropping off a little in units, and speakers value along with it.
Microphones, in terms of volume, dropped to 147,000 units imported representing a 5% drop in 2017.
Traditional products had a good year in terms of value with a 14% rise in 2017 year-on-year. Ukuleles are accounted for in this segment and there seems to be no stopping the popularity of this most accessible instrument, and perhaps people are buying more expensive ones.
General Accessories were up in value by 10% and by 37% above 2015. For the first time, imports totalled over $20million. Guitar strings levelled off in 2016 after a big dollar increase in 2015 and continued to hold their own.
The retail sales value of Print music was up in 2017. After several years of significant decline year-on-year, the last couple of years has seen perhaps a new normal established, with retail sales of $20m + being reported three years in a row. 2017 posted a reported increase of 17% in retail sales as reported by the nation’s publishers.
The Music Trades magazine reports that the retail value of the US market advanced over 4.1% in retail value in 2017 year on year. This matched the pre-financial crisis level of a decade ago, according to Music Trades. Most categories were on the positive side, some more than others, resulting from a stronger economy and rising prices. The parallels that are often seen in the US market are apparent once again in this year’s numbers.

AMEB Embarks on Centenary Celebrations and Joins in Make Music Day Initiatives!

The AMEB is celebrating 100 years in the service of music education in 2018. One of it’s big promotions is the Online Orchestra. Individuals, schools and community groups will record their part to Waltzing Matilda and each video will contribute towards a final video presentation of the work.

The final video performance will be released later in the year with a launch presentation on the big screen at Federation Square in Melbourne on Wednesday 12 September.

The AMEB is inviting retailers to be involved in enabling people to come in store and record their part of Waltzing Matilda. Full details and some great ideas to generate store traffic can be viewed by  viewing the AMA and AMEB – Retailers Online Orchestra Guide


Vale Sid West

Well known industry identity Sid West has passed away after a long illness on April 15, 2018. He was 71 years old. This is a sad loss to his family, friends and our industry.

Many will remember Sid, was a passionate guitar man, and who, from 1988 – 91 played an important sales role contributing to the growth of Maton Guitars. And Sid also worked on pick up development at Maton too. Prior to that Sid and his brother John distributed Takamine in Australia for many years.

The AMA extends its condolences to Sid’s family and friends.

Parliamentary Inquiry into the Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Trade

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (the committee) has initiated an inquiry whereby the committee will examine the legal and administrative arrangements for ensuring Australia’s compliance with its obligations, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to restrict the trade in elephants and rhinoceroses.

This would appear to include the sale of any item containing ivory, and although this would impact in only limited circumstances, it may well effect owners of heritage (and sometimes valuable) instruments. The AMA has contacted the Australian Piano Tuners & Technicians Association and some member retailers specialising in pianos. We have also consulted with the Australian Violin Makers Association regarding a submission.

Submissions to the inquiry will be received until June 7 and the terms of reference can be viewed here.

Included in the terms of reference are;

  1. the potential to strengthen existing legislation and administrative arrangements, including through agreements with the states and territories, to reduce the domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products;
  2. supporting efforts to close domestic markets for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products;

This could affect some in the musical instruments trade, in respect to heritage instruments particularly some of which are highly valued by musicians

The full terms of reference are as follows;

On 28 March 2018, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (the committee) initiated the following inquiry:

Pursuant to paragraph 7(1)(g) of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010, the committee will examine the legal and administrative arrangements for ensuring Australia’s compliance with its obligations, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to restrict the trade in elephants and rhinoceroses including:

  1. the incidence of importation to, and exportation from, Australia of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products;
  2. the adequacy of existing arrangements and resources for the screening of imports and exports for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products;
  3. the involvement of serious and organised crime groups, including international crime groups, in the importation, exportation and/or sale of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products in Australia;
  4. what arrangements exist with auction houses, electronic market places and other brokers to prevent illegally imported elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn being sold in Australia;
  5. the effectiveness of existing domestic legislation and compliance frameworks to restrict trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products, with particular regard to the role of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force;
  6. the effectiveness of current monitoring and regulation, including the extent and use of legally mandated provenance documentation attached to elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn;
  7. the authenticity of provenance documentation and the effectiveness of measures to detect forged or fraudulent documentation;
  8. the potential to strengthen existing legislation and administrative arrangements, including through agreements with the states and territories, to reduce the domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products;
  9. supporting efforts to close domestic markets for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn products;
  10. engagement by Australian law enforcement agencies with regional and international counterparts to address the illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn;
  11. the nature and effectiveness of measures, models and legislation adopted in other jurisdictions to address the trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn; and
  12. any other related matters.

The committee invites the Australian Music Association to provide a submission addressing the terms of reference by 7 June 2018.

Submissions should be lodged online at or via email to The submission must include the full name of the organisation or author and contact details, preferably in a separate covering letter. More information about making a submission can be found on the Parliament House website.

Make Music Day June 21 Get on Board

Members have been circulated with information and suggestions about how they can be involved in Make Music Day 2018. We are gathering participants and partners from around the country, and to date these include Music Australia, The Live Music Office, Create NSW, Brisbane City Marketing, Community Music Victoria, Australian National Choral Association, and these are being added to each week.

The AMA office has been calling AMA members to ensure they received our material and to seek the support of members who wish to promote participation or organise their own events.

Be a part of the inaugural Make Music Day Australia on June 21

Download the Make_Music_Day_June 21 Community Alert to send to your community groups and anyone that might be interested in participating.

To Register your event
For more information


Yamaha Announces Off to a Great Start Grant Applications

Yamaha Music Australia is looking to help Australia’s children start the new school year on a positive note with the launch of its second Great Start Grant – a nationwide initiative that will see one school awarded a $50,000 music grant, plus an exclusive performance from Dami Im, Australia’s X-Factor winner and most successful Eurovision entrant. For all the details and how schools can apply READ MORE

With the potential to help foster creativity and build social connections, Yamaha is searching for Australian schools in need of a helping hand to get their Music Performance Program off the ground. All they have to do is explain why they deserve it the most!

The $50,000 Great Start Grant includes:

  • $45,000 worth of Yamaha instruments — equivalent to 42 brand new Yamaha instruments/equipment
  • 1 day of training from Peter Wardrobe —Yamaha’s Education Specialist
  • A launch concert at the winning school from Dami Im
  • PLUS: Consolation prizes worth $2,000 in value shared between another two schools

Schools wishing to apply must complete the online application by March 16th. For full details please visit

Make Music Day 2018 Web and Social Media Sites Launched

In partnership with the NAMM Foundation, the AMA has been laying the foundation to launch Make Music Day in Australia on June 21, 2018. Much preparation work has been completed, including NAMM’s representative, Aaron Friedman coming to Australia to meet with the industry and many government and community music organisations.

The initial Make Music Australia website is now launched and seeks ideas from the community and businesses to create Make Music Day events. The Make Music Day toolkit is also available online and includes ideas and guidance on creating Make Music Day events.

Possibilities exist for both retail and wholesale members to be involved in Make Music Day and lead a charge to creating more active music makers. Make Music Australia will see Australians creating their own music performance events.

To celebrate Make Music Day 2018 the AMA will coordinate the development of a program of events, run the social media and help people and businesses get involved and then promote it.

Go to the new site and register your interest and we’ll get back to you.

Music Stores can check out the suggestions by downloading the Make Music Day Tool Kit or call the AMA Office and we’ll discuss how members can be involved.

More details can be had at the AMA’s Make Music Day Event Page

2018 Melbourne Guitar Show Prospectus Issued to Members

Members have received the new floorplan and proposal for the 2018 Melbourne Guitar Show, and initial bookings have been brisk. To get first option on their 2017 positions, members are encouraged to book now to ensure their location. Members returning or new to exhibiting at the show should contact Rob Walker to investigate stand options and availabilities.

Members should book before February 15 to ensure they get the space they need and can do so online HERE


The NAMM Show 2018

There seemed to be a positive buzz at NAMM Show 2018, reflected in a bigger show with more of the entertainment technology and support services incorporated into the musical instruments on display.

The new section of the trade show sees NAMM embracing the pro audio and technology market, as well as presenting education sessions sponsored by AES Lighting & Sound America/PLASA and ESTA

Increasingly a global gathering place for the entertainment business, NAMM has embraced the many elements that make up the live and recorded music industry, and it is now presenting it in one place. A strategic move which acknowledges the breadth of the music industry from the traditional musical instrument base to audio and lighting technology.

The expansion of the show into the new Anaheim Convention Centre North building saw increased pro audio and event technology participation contributing to a 9% overall growth of exhibitors at the show.

A whole new trade show floor design created product specific areas which appeared to be met with an enthusiastic response for ease in getting from location to location, and for the sound quality control, that was also better-balanced.

In welcoming the Australasian contingent to NAMM, at the now annual ANZAC Reception, President and CEO Joe Lamond referred to the NAMM Show as being a big family reunion and he made a point of thanking the hundreds of people from the antipodes who attend NAMM to conduct their business of bringing music to the world.

AMA president, Craig Johnston, in thanking Joe and NAMM for hosting the reception, acknowledged the strong partnership that existed between our associations and the NAMM Foundation.

New Roland MD Nick Middleton and Dynamic’s Greg McNamara

Yamaha’s Steve Vranch and Fender MD Mark Amory

Innovative Music’s Steve Lincoln Smith and Jarred Finnigan of Sound Centre WA

NAMM Deputy Chairman Chris Martin and Zenith’s Dave Bray

At NAMM 2018 Australians were honoured with Awards, as was previously reported.


Past President, Bernie Capicchiano was the recipient of the 2018 NAMM Oral History Award to acknowledge him being instrumental in the recording of over 50 Oral History interviews during 2017 charting the history of the Australian music products industry which marked the AMA’s 40th anniversary.

NAMM Historian, Dan Del Fiorentino, Bernie Capicchiano and NAMM CEO Joe Lamond

AMA CEO Rob Walker was presented with a NAMM Believe in Music Award in recognition of his industry service over a 30 year period

Graham Hoskins, Rob Walker and AMA president, Criag Johnston at the presentation


A moving tribute was held for industry people that had passed in 2017 including our own Steve Legg

Rob Walker and Craig Johnston attended the International Coalition meeting, a morning devoted to development of events like Make Music Day, to NAMM Counsel talking about CITES and Rosewood issues to Bob Taylor on conservation and sustainability.

Rob also represented the AMA at the Industry CITES Forum. You can see a summary of this meeting here.

Rob Walker also attended the NAMM Foundation Grantees Summit, an afternoon in session with other NAMM Foundation partners, discussing our collective missions and exchanging ideas about growing the music making community globally. Along with other members he attended the Chairman’s International Reception.

Our association owned and operated end-user media Australian Musician was there with all the latest member product news. Active and live on social media. Check out the NAMM coverage on Australian Musician online. A great job by editor, Greg Phillips.


Check out the NAMM post show wrap produced by NAMM.