How one entrepreneur turned a passion into a booming business

RAY DEMARINI is the founder, president, and CEO of DeMarini Sports, a softball bat manufacturer with $l0 million in sales last year, but don’t you dare call him “Sir.” While other CEOs power lunch in pinstripe suits, the T-shirted “King of Softball” spends four to six hours a day “product testing” at the park near his Hillsboro, Oregon, office. “They’re businessmen, I’m a ballplayer,” DeMarini says.

DeMarini, a former motocross racer and NFL trainer, was working as a data processing manager at Freightliner Corporation in Portland when he was recruited to the company softball team 10 years ago. DeMarini hit three home runs in his first game. Soon he was touring the nation with a professional team. At 5’6″ and 180 pounds, DeMarini was one of the smaller players in the league. He needed a better bat if he wanted to hit with the big boys.

DeMarini enlisted the help of Freightliner engineer Mike Eggiman. In a barn on Eggiman’s family farm, the two men designed the bat that soon would make millions: the DeMarini Ultimate Distance.

When the Ultimate Distance debuted in 1992 as the world’s most expensive bat at $300, its highest priced competitors sold for about $120. Other manufacturers quickly followed DeMarini’s pricing lead. “I tell them, ‘You oughta all thank me, because I made it so you can actually make some money in this business,”‘ he says.

However, until DeMarini began advertising on regional cable sports networks, beginning with the Southeast, he estimates that sales never broke $5,000 and production averaged only 40 handmade bats per week. DeMarini now turns out 650 bats per week, with projected 1998 sales of more than $15 million. The cable ads have been upgraded with slicker versions on ESPN and ABC, athlete endorsements, and print campaigns in softball magazines.

The fastpitch softball bats have become so sought after that DeMarini’s 20,000-squarefoot factory will be replaced this fall with a 50,000-square-foot facility. The company, which first began selling factory direct, recently brought distribution back in-house in hopes of streamlining the process.

DeMarini figures that even with these changes his plant will not be able to keep pace with demand, but he likes it that way. “Part of my marketing plan from the beginning was to never make enough [bats],” says DeMarini. “If people see them 2,000 miles away from home, they buy one because you just can’t find them anywhere. It’s been a good strategy from the start.”

One shoe, two people, three children, and a dog. Thus reads the inventory list with which Sam and Libby Edelman launched their company, Sam & Libby California, San Carlos, Calif., four years ago.

Today, one would be hard pressed to choose which element has gained the most fame: the couple’s handsome babyboomer faces (splashed across their much talked about advertisements) or their first success story: the ballet flat.

According to Libby Edelman, the shoe that not only launched a multi-million dollar company, but also gave new fashion life to the ballet slipper, almost didn’t happen. “To be honest, when we first started out stores were not enthusiastic about our ballet,” she says. “In the beginning we went to Europe to shop the trends and we saw everyone wearing ballet slippers – the pure ballet with a string bow and pancake bottom. We decided to Americanize it with a big bow.”

The bow was originally detachable with the idea of giving the customer two good shoes for plantar fasciitis in one, but the couple soon learned it was hard to keep the bows intact after shipping and displaying took their toll on the shoe. So the bow became a staple and eventually became the signature detail on the ballet. Store owners, however, said no one was buying ballet slippers.

Sam & Libby thought differently, believing that their target customer, thirty somethingettes like themselves, would remember the Capezios and Pappagallos of their past and yearn to have an all leather ballet flat for a mere $20. They were right, and their consequent success has set a more light-hearted design course for the casual footwear industry as a whole, including the category of “disposable footwear”.

The ballet comes in “at least 100 colors by now” in five styles, according to Libby Edelman.

After four years of being in business, the shoe that once accounted for almost 100 percent of their business will still take care of 20 to 25 percent of gross earnings for spring ’92. “We still get letters from people (up to 150 per week from customers complaining that they couldn’t find the maryjane when retailers stopped selling this particular style) from people asking for the ballet in brown or blue, etc.,” says Edelman, who humbly agrees that stories like these are undeniable indicators that the Sam & Libby ballet flat has joined the lofty leagues of Band Aids, Kleenex and the Gucci moc and Birkenstock as brand names that stand for a product.


While there are dozens of white champion oxfords on the market, there is only one pair that stands out as the original. The one with the blue label on the heel.

The Keds Champion Oxford was first introduced to American consumers 75 years ago and looks virtually the same today as it did back when it was first introduced.

While the shoe may cost a little more than it did in 1926, when it sold for a mere 85 cents, the vulcanized construction and the blue label still remain.

Today the shoe, which is produced by Keds Corp., Cambridge, Mass., is available in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes, in both canvas and truwash leather, and retails for about $26. “Keds were born because of the vulcanization process which gave the ability to attach rubber to canvas,” says Keds company spokesperson, David Furhman.

“Keds aren’t athletic. They’re not performance sneakers. With the shift going back to basics in the 1990s, the Champion Oxford has become increasingly more popular as a casual lifestyle choice,” Furhman says. “People are realizing that they don’t need big bulky footwear for everyday life. There is a place in this world for high performance footwear,” he notes, “but it belongs on the basketball courts and on the tennis courts, not for walks in the park or in shopping malls.”


What’s What Inc., Edison, N.J., a company that began as a division of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., New York, was bought out by Jules Schneider and several other investors in 1987. The company capitalized on then-current athletics, comfort and fashion trends by introducing the What’s What Aerosole, a break-through casual shoe designed to appeal to women’s evolving roles in society.

Made in Italy, the Aerosole, with its rubbery, flexible patented bottom, utilizes soft leathr and nubuck and includes styles like slipons, oxfords, slings and cork-like wedges. The company also offers pumps.

And with a current pairage of about 2.5 million Aerosoles a year, What’s What has created a very strong niche for its footwear in today’s comfort-fashion market.

“Women today have more options, they are continuing to grow in the work force,” says Jules Schneider, president and ceo. “The amount of time you can wear athletics to work is becoming narrower. As the number of women that are working grows, athletics are less acceptable in the office.”

However, Schneider gives a great deal of credit to the athletics industry for inspiring the What’s What Aerosole. “In footwear, (athletic companies) were looking for the next category and it kind of stimulated thought as to where the ’90s are going to be,” he says, adding, “We looked at where the active business was going and saw potential for growth.”

In 1991, What’s What also gravitated toward change and branched off in a new direction with the debut of a men’s Aerosole line. Schneider says the collection of casual and good shoes for bunions came about because he believed the men’s comfort fashion market has great potential and because retailers who were successful with the women’s line urged him to go into men’s footwear.

  1. H. BASS & CO.

The Bass Compass, although relatively new to the scene, didn’t take long to establish itself alongside other Bass notables such as the Weejun, Sunjun and classic buck.

The running shoes for high arches, which was the company’s most successful product introduction ever, sold its first million pairs faster than just about any other shoe in the Bass collection. It took less than a year to reach that milestone, according to the company.

While G.H. Bass, Falmouth, Maine, was recording record sales with the shoe, others were also honing in on the look that crosses a cvo and a leather casual.

“Everybody has reaped the benefits of that shoe,” says Mitchell Massey, vice president of marketing for Bass. Massey estimates the number of companies doing take-offs of the Compass at more than a dozen.

Bass does, however, continue to prosper off of the look. Massey says the company is still updating the shoe, which retails in the $40 to $50 range, with different fabrics, colors and patterns.

Bass designers claim that what makes the Compass stand apart from other cvo’s is its attention to details, such as the brass eyelets, the leather laces and the leather lining.

Massey says he believes the shoe has definitely lured sales away from the high-tech athletic market. “I can’t help but believe that the success in the casual area is coming from the athletics.”


It’s funny how simple things are sometimes. While executives and factory workers toiled around the clock to introduce the Easy Spirit March 1, the idea for the shoe sprang out of one person’s inability to find a walking shoe that suited her needs and fit her properly.

It all started out in the mid-1980s when Claire Brinker, a senior sales promotion manager for one of U.S. Shoe Corp.’s divisions, wanted to get into walking.

The problem was she couldn’t find a shoe that fit. Brinker then planned a marketing program around the development of a walking shoe and presented it to the company as a new area to get into. Sixteen months later, in September 1987, the first shipments of Easy Spirit March 1 walkers were hitting the stores. Part of the initial success of the shoe was its advertising program aimed at 12 markets through trade, television, newspaper, point of sale and direct mail.

Initially the company had planned a 150,000 pair launch, but by December of that year they had sold out just less than 400,000 and by the end of year more than one million pairs had been sold. Since then, the company has introduced a dress pump line which has blown onto the national scene with the now famous commercial featuring the “Looks like a pump, feels like a sneaker” basketball game.


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Every artist faces the day when his or her studio must become a showcase for a visiting client, dealer, or curator. It’s the moment when all the countless hours of work in solitude can at last be translated into attention and financial reward. But because it’s so important, the studio visit can also become a focus of more than a little anxiety. What’s the best way to present yourself and your enterprise to a prospective client? Clearly this is one of those potentially awkward occasions where socializing and business are combined. You want to make friends and interest the client in your work, but the subject of money is also bound to come up.

I asked four professional artists to share their expertise in handling these situations. Patricia Watwood, Gregory Mortenson, Marlene Wiedenbaum, and Marvin Mattelson are all successful representational painters. Mattleson is primarily a portrait painter and so regularly entertains potential clients. The other artists are represented by galleries but find that they must also invite clients to the studio as part of the sales process.

What’s your principal concern in preparing for a studio visit by a potential client?

Marvin Mattelson (MM): My intention when potential clients visit my studio is to have them become so excited at the prospect of my painting their portrait that they offer me the commission on the spot.

Gregory Mortenson (GM): Keeping the studio tidy and presentable. It’s always clean because I don’t want a dusty studio or dust in my paintings. The problem is that I tend to have multiple projects going at the same time; I might have a still life set up in the corner as well as several model stands in various places. Mine is a decent-size studio for New York City, but when I have all that going at the same time, it can feel small.

Patricia Watwood (PW): The first thing I do is to clean up the studio and make it look (mostly) orderly. I declutter the space by putting things away and then clean the floor and surfaces, making sure to leave some clean and open space for whatever belongings visitors may have in hand. I always leave some artwork, like sketches or drawings, around for them to see because I think one of the treats of visiting an artist’s studio is to see works-in-progress and learn about how the artist proceeds; however, I like to tuck away any work that’s still in “hot-mess” stages and only keepout the things that are finished or unfinished in a “lovely” way. Lastly, I’ll put out for viewing several finished works (that might be in a rack for safekeeping).

Marlene Wiedenbaum (MW): My main concern is that I know ahead of time what clients are looking for and that I’ve chosen works that appeal to them.

What kind of overall impression would you like to make on your visitor?

MM: I want my clients to feel they’re dealing with a highly creative and professional artist whose intention is to create a classical portrait that will exceed their expectations.

GM: I want the client to leave with a good sense of my painting process and the craft that goes into it. My studio walls are covered with drawings, preliminary paintings, and color studies, all of which go toward creating a final painting.

PW: First, I want the visitor to leave with the impression of professionalism and organization. The studio itself always tells a story about who the artist is. Mine is relatively “homey,” with tables and chairs for sitting and talking, and many objects that at one time or another have been used for still lifes or props. Photos and reproductions of artwork also tell about my interests and inspirations. I want visitors to feel comfortable, so I try to make sure there are chairs available and not too many fragile things they might accidently knock over.

Then, I want to have out whatever artwork or other materials the visitors are coming to see. I’ll also have a catalogue from a recent exhibition handy and promotional postcards to give them. I want them to leave feeling as though they’ve had a special experience–and to take an image of my artwork home.

MW: It’s important to me that a client knows that I’m a professional, that I respect myself and what I do. The relationship that develops needs to be one of mutual respect in order for it to work for both of us.

Is there anything you would try to conceal from a visitor?

MM: My studio is on the smallish end (12×20 feet), so I want to make sure that it’s neat, clean, and presentable because clutter and piles create a claustrophobic feeling. I also place on my easel a portrait that’s close to being finished (as opposed to a painting that’s at an awkward stage) because it’s difficult for most people to envision how an unfinished painting will ultimately look. I want my clients to harbor no doubts that I’m up to the task.

GM: Maybe I’d put out of sight some of the dorky audio books and podcasts I listen to as I work.

PW: I definitely hide any artwork that I don’t think is my best. Sometimes I have a new project underway that still feels too fresh and even vulnerable to be shared.

MW: Because my studio is attached to my house, I try to keep my office and living areas free of any personal items.

Do you feel it’s important not to show too many paintings to a potential client?

MM: Quality is more important than quantity, to me. I believe it’s a good idea to show paintings that are as similar as possible to what the client is interested in, particularly with regard to subject and size. On occasion for that very purpose, I’ve even borrowed a painting I’d previously sold.

GM: Most of the paintings that are in my studio are figure studies and process paintings that will help the client understand the amount of work that goes into a final painting.

PW: Looking at a large number of artworks can be overwhelming and even confusing. I’d say that three to eight of your very best paintings is about right–on the lower side if they’re large. Narrow the selection to focus on your strongest area and primary subject. One caveat: I recommend that you have one or two small paintings “just sitting around.” There can be a little magic involved in visitors noticing a painting they love, and you can often sell a small work through a client’s impulsiveness this way.

MW: It can be overwhelming if there’s too much to see at once. If collectors know what they’re looking for, a smaller, careful selection is helpful to me. However, I might put something into the selection that wasn’t requested, just to open a door that they may or may not walk through. For clients who just want to “see my work,” I select two or three examples of different series or subject matter with the offer that we can look further if they’re leaning in a particular direction.

If the subject of money comes up, how do you handle it?

MM: I’m very transparent with regard to my fees. My price list is posted both in my portfolio and on my website, so most of my clients are familiar with my pricing structure before we ever meet. I think it’s very important that, when we get around to discussing the commission, there are no big surprises.

GM: I just tell them exactly what the painting is worth. I don’t want to tiptoe around the matter in an apologetic way. I want the collector to know how much it’s worth and how much work goes into creating a work of art.

PW: Ahead of the visit, think about what you might sell something for. If you’re feeling nervous, I’d recommend you write it down so that in the moment you don’t suddenly say, “Oh, you can have it” or “It’s $40.” I know that sometimes when I’m in front of clients, I can suddenly feel the artwork has no value at all (just a little garden-variety artist neurosis)! You could even prepare a price list. The clients will feel more comfortable if you can give them the information directly. With a particular price stated, you might then open up some room to negotiate by saying, “I can offer some discount when I’m selling out of the studio.” But do not listen to that demon telling you your artwork isn’t valuable. Silence the demon and stand by your price.

MW: This is an uncomfortable area for me, so I try to be as prepared as possible. I might print a price list beforehand. If clients have seen a particular painting that’s currently at a gallery, I send them to the gallery. It might mean I’ve lost a sale because they wanted a bargain, but it’s better than possibly losing a gallery. If they saw my work on the Internet because they liked what they saw at a gallery, I honor whatever arrangement I have with that gallery for an outside sale. Commissions and direct client sales are sometimes discounted, bartered for, or handled on a payment schedule.

Studio Visit Checklist

  • Create a professional appearance by presenting a clean, neat, and welcoming space.
  • The presence of sketches and props can help create an interesting and unique environment, but don’t let things gettoo distracting.
  • Have catalogues, reviews, articles on your work, and printed announcements of exhibitions at hand.
  • Offer light refreshments as you would to any guest. Make sure there’s room for your visitors to move around and sit comfortably.
  • Don’t show too many artworks. Focus on the client’s interests if you know them.
  • Don’t leave works around that can confuse the client; paintings in difficult stages or completely different genres can distract.
  • Be clear and forthright about prices. Make sure you know what you’re going to ask ahead of time. A printed price list can be helpful.
  • If you have gallery representation, make sure that you’re clear about the agreed-upon financial arrangements when you sell out of the studio.

Despite the continued sharp decline in CD sales and doomsday predictions about the imminent end of physical retail, local record stores can still play a key role in establishing indie artists and music scenes.

It’s how many bands got their start: If someone at a local store likes a new album, they’ll recommend it to their customers. Even in this age of file-sharing and digital downloads, it’s the kind of endorsement that any act craves.

Mike Worthington knows the value of word-of-mouth promotion to underground music. The music industry veteran is head of sales, international and radio promotion for Tommy Boy Entertainment. He also manages artist-owned labels by veteran acts like Tesla and World Party. Worthington shares his thoughts on how emerging bands and labels can work with independent retailers to their mutual advantage.


The fact that you record and manufacture an album does not necessarily make it a good with market value that a retailer will make room for in his store. For a band starting out, I consider venue sales to be the equivalent of a traveling indie record store–if you can first get people at your show to buy your CD, then the next phase is getting people to buy your CD at a local indie retailer. You can easily load up the digital storefronts, while you build consumer demand in your local market through shows, venue sales and the word-of-mouth they generate.


Retailers that are highly engaged with their local music scenes, like Newbury Comics in New England, have had consignment programs with bands for years. This means you give the store a certain number of CDs and you get paid as they’re sold. Become friendly with your local store, find out who the buyer and marketing people are, work out a consignment deal and then work on building demand: You can get all of your family members to buy out a store’s stock, but you don’t want the next batch to sit on the shelves.


The best retailer-artist relationship is one in which each side has genuine enthusiasm for the other. For example, the Record Exchange in Boise, Idaho, reached out to us because they love our band Plushgun. So we totally followed up–sent them buttons for a gift with purchase, a signed poster for the store display. Now we’re planning the tour for July, and Boise is on the schedule, so we’ll consider bringing the band by the store, or we might offer a bunch of tickets to the show for the store to give away.

The next phase is that we’re looking to all the retailers like Record Exchange who have supported the band early, and we’re putting their logos and links on Plushgun’s MySpace page, which we expect to have a million hits per month by the end of the summer, doing a whole “Plushgun hearts indie retail” kind of thing. It’s just another way to drive home the concept of how important these stores and their communities are to the band’s success.


If your music is really special to you, then it’s up to you to make it really special to your potential fan base. So whether you’re a small band that will only release locally or a band with a larger base, consider making your local release (or core release) something deluxe and limited, available only through your local indie retailer. Interesting packaging that’s numbered for a limited run, unique local posters, rare tracks–some incentive so that anyone who takes the plunge feels like they’re a first adopter, part of the inside-the-rope team.


Just as you don’t want to invest in manufacturing far more albums than you can sell, you want to carefully weigh your optimal level of retail promotion. Are we meaningful enough to do an in-store appearance? Have we built enough of a relationship with this store to ask to do such-and-such with our upcoming album? Finally, determine if you’ve achieved a level of success at the indie retail level to reach out to a small, hip indie distributor like Junketboy, of which [indie rapper/comedian] MC Chris and I are big fans. Good luck!


Nagy, Evie

Waist training, also called tight lacing or corset training, is the process of slimming down the waist area over a period of few months through the use of an outfit known as corset. The practice had been quite prevalent in the Victorian era and it was always there, although not in the limelight too much. The recent obsession with a trim and toned figure has led many women to begin wearing corsets once again. Many female celebrities like Jessica Alba, Kyle Minogue, Blac Chyna, Salma Hayek and Katy Perry have proudly announced that they wear a corset for waist narrowing purposes. However, while they did it under proper guidance, you do not have the luxury. There are so many gym waist trainer reviews about 3 things you should remember while you are using a waist cincher.

Risk of various disorders

Wearing a tight fitting corset for a long time can slim down your waist and make your bust line and hips more prominent. You can get a curvy body shape in this way. Overuse or incorrect use of these dresses can lead to dehydration. You may also suffer a deformed condition of the lower ribs, known as Glenard’s disease. The disease can cause even organ failure in worst cases. You can also suffer from other severe conditions such as deformation of the stomach or the liver. With these dresses, you can get a voluptuous figure. However, you should keep in mind that these need to be used carefully as you may suffer from severe health issues otherwise.

Eat and Work Out Right

It is essential for you to remember that your body shape is often decided by genetics. If you are not genetically predisposed to an hourglass body shape, you will not be able to get this shape irrespective of how long you can wear the outfit. You should naturally eat and work out in the right way and wear waist cincher for a minimum of 4 hours per day, click here to find out more. Constant usage of this outfit, along with drinking of 2 – 3 liters of water each day, and avoiding sugar and junk foods and following a 5-day exercise regimen and a healthy meal plan will help you to narrow down your waist within a short time. It is also recommended that you get as much sleep as possible.

Take care while washing corsets

It is recommended that you do not wash or clean your corsets on a regular basis, unless you wear it every now and then. Even if you do wash, do not completely submerge it in water. The majority of corsets consist of metallic bones and these can suffer damage, loss of shape or rusting if machine-washed. It is better to get these dresses cleaned with the help of a dry cleaner that is experienced in tidying up such outfits. If you are doing this at home, use fabric-safe, rust removing liquids which can be bought from local medicine stores. It is important to exercise a lot of caution when you are tidying up such dresses.

One of a series of stripped-down Custom Shop San Dimas guitars built for online retailer The Music Zoo (, the SD-2H features a body made from old-growth recycled redwood–which must have spent time in the bottom of a river from the number of small worm holes in it–and a bolt-on neck of beautifully flamed maple. As with other models in the Carbonized Natural Series (which includes versions with recycled ash and pine bodies), the SD-2H‘s woods are subjected to a kiln drying process that uses heat and pressure to drive out excess moisture in order to make the woods lighter and more resonant, and also very resistant to changes in climate. The “cooking” process effectively ages the wood by removing the hemi-cellulose that gives woods their flexibility, and the end result is that the stiffness to weight ratio of the woods is increased by 15 to 25 percent (depending on the species), which enhances the tonal response and also makes the woods easier to cut and machine. The lightness of the SD-2H is instantly captivating, and since the only finish is a thin coating of gunstock oil on the body and neck, the surfaces have a very warm, natural feel. This no-frills guitar has a pair of uncovered Seymour Duncan humbuckers (SH-2N neck, Custom 5 bridge), which are screwed directly into the body. The Volume and Tone knobs, as well as the exterior parts of the 3-way selector, are all made from machined brass.

The workmanship on the SD-2H is stellar. The jumbo frets are crowned and polished to perfection, the neck fits super tightly in the body, and the intonation in all regions of the fretboard is very good. The action is extremely low, and the playing feel is light and quick. I dig the neck’s slim profile, and my only gripe is that the brown position dots on the fretboard can be difficult to see in dim light.

The machined brass NOS trem is an old-school affair that features adjustable saddles and an arm that has to be threaded in carefully to avoid cross threading. It’s not great for bending anyway, so I just left the arm off and enjoyed the solid, sustain enhancing contact with the bridge seated flush to the top with three springs in place. If you’re a serious trem user you’re probably going to want to put a Floyd on this guitar and keep the NOS unit around for a paperweight or something.

The SD-2H sounded great whether dialed for crisp clean tones, warm solo textures, or moderately overdriven sounds when played straight into either a Fender Deluxe Reverb or a Victoria Ivy League combo. When using best distortion pedals (including a Hermida Audio Nu-Valve and Fuzz Face), the SD-2H tended to get a bit wooly sounding when pushing high gain settings, but by slightly backing off the Volume control (or lowering the gain slightly) the clarity instantly returned and sustaining notes sounded stringy and well detailed.

Light, toneful, and fun to play, the SD-2H definitely brings a sly, “parts guitar” attitude to a price category where the norm is flame tops and fine gloss finishes. This guitar radiates coolness, though, and anyone looking for a different take on a twin-humbucker solidbody should give it shot.

Group buys 50% stake in agency in deal based on “mutual recognition”

The indie sector has increased its presence in the mobile music market following a significant deal between Wall Of Sound parent group Pias and Indie Mobile.

In the deal Pias has taken a 50% stake in the Bristol-based mobile marketing and digital distribution agency after making a “significant”, but undisclosed investment in Indie Mobile, which represents more than 400 indie labels. A senior Pias executive is likely to join the Indie Mobile board as a result of the deal.

Both Pias group director of digital and business development Adrian Pope and Indie Mobile managing director Seth Jackson promise the synergies between the two groups will deliver better services to their labels – and the independent sector – while significantly increasing the revenues they are currently earning from the market.

Pope says Pias, which also includes Vital: Pias Digital, Vital Distribution and Pias Recordings within its group, has been performing well in the mobile market, earning revenues of the order of “hundreds of thousands of pounds”. However, with the market for full-track downloads doubling each month and a bigger appetite for indie repertoire, Pope explains that the company had a choice – to either grow organically or link with a suitable partner. He believes Indie Mobile fits the bill because of its focus on indie repertoire.

Mobile is already a significant part of our business. The deal was born out of a mutual recognition that the synergies were such that in combination we can create the definitive, professional mobile solution for independent labels and artists. We could have grown organically and invested in new people or invested in a company which could give us synergies. Indie Mobile understands the indie spirit and gives us new routes to market,” he says.

Pope believes the deal with Indie Mobile will also provide a better range of services it can provide labels, such as digital marketing and SMS campaigns. He adds, “There are several key points from this. The deal brings together all the premium content we represent and Indie Mobile has great content as well. It genuinely means revenues will increase and there will be a better resource for a route to market. There is also the opportunity to swell the labels’ digital marketing offer.”

On his side Jackson, whose company represents more than 200 rightsholders and distributes their mobile content across 23 territories, says a “bunch of money helps everything“. “It gives us more commercial clout and makes it easier to do network deals or get better commercial terms,” he says.

In addition to the resources and roster Pias provides, the Indie Mobile managing director also believes that Pias will be able to provide better accounting and feedback to labels because of the music company’s expertise and experience in royalty accounting.

They (a music company) are always going to do that better than a mobile aggravator,” adds Jackson. “The deal will allow us to do what we already do, just better and on a larger scale. We have always believed that independent music has the potential to be a significant player in the mobile arena.

Jackson and Pope also stress the international nature of the deal as helping to grow the business. Jackson recognises that Pias’s network of international offices, especially throughout Europe, will give it an edge on competitors who are not able to call on people with local knowledge of France or Spain.

Indie Mobile

Represents in excess of 70,000 tracks from more than 400 leading independent labels

Supplies the mobile networks and also offers labels mobile marketing and retail initiatives to support their products and campaigns

Indie Mobile campaigns have won the BT Digital Music Award for Best Use of Mobile twice in the last three years

Pias Group

Has offices in the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain in addition to partners in every other European country and affiliates based in territories such as Australia

Parent of Vital Distribution, the UK’s largest independent sales and distribution company, representing more than 75 labels, including Beggars Group, XL Recordings, Big Brother, Warp and Defected

Owns Integral, the marketing arm for independent labels, and digital distribution business Vital:Pias Digital, which represents more than 100 labels.

Hits in the near future: sales of Klaxons’ debut album increased almost five-fold in the 24 hours after winning the Mercury award.

CMP Information Ltd.

By the time you read this, I may be dead.

Okay, not dead. But I might have had a crusty bread roll thrown at me in anger–or even a tumbler of Sambuca ‘accidentally’ spilled down my shirt.

This was mine and Intent Media‘s first ever Music Week Awards. Our aim was to make the event a bit less stuffy, a mite more funny and a whole bunch snappier.

But if we were hoping to please the whole room, to gift each and every wine-guzzling table with silverware and glee, an extraordinary year for the market was never going to let us.

I’ll admit it: the domination of 2012’s event by the independent sector has probably left a few major label bonces feeling extra sore today–and may even have inspired some rude words to be pinged towards my email inbox overnight. (If you didn’t gently deliver them to me at the after-party first. If so, morning!)

This was an awards ceremony that reflected Adele‘s magic like none other. PIAS, Purple PR and, obviously, XL and Jonathan Dickins were all befittingly saluted for their role in the industry story of the decade. Richard Russell deserved his Strat for a special recognition to the market regardless–but it’s no fluke Ms. Adkins was the first to congratulate him on screen.

Yet that wasn’t the end of the indie triumphs; PIAS, Proper, Bella Union, Kobalt, Sound It Out–the non-PLC prizes just kept on coming throughout the evening.

A freak landslide? Nah. The manifestation of a shifting, thrilling modern market in which anyone–large or small–can grab the ascendancy? You betcha.

These were, after all, winners that you, the trade, decided. We promised the hundreds of Music Week readers who voted that their ballot would remain secret, and that guarantee remains. But I can say that our indie victors received ticks in boxes from senior executives across major labels, heavyweight publishers, dominant media houses, live giants and many more besides.

It was heartening to observe, proving that behind the heat of competition; behind the jovial backbiting and the rabid sales envy, people in this business know a hard-fought success when they see one–and they know when it deserves to be recognised.

It wasn’t all indie mania, of course. It was hardly a miserable night for the publishing arms of EMI and Universal, while Warner Music picked up two prizes. And, for the record, there were very few landslides–notably, the Artist Marketing Campaign, Promotions Team, Catalogue Marketing Campaign, PR Campaign and Live Music Venue categories were very close-run contests.

By now, we’ve all heard the apocryphal tale of the major label boss who says he doesn’t mind the indies having Adele this year so long as the next market phenomenon is all his team’s doing.

Until 2013, then. It should be a cracker.

But before all that–does anyone know how to get a tricky Sambuca stain out?

Tim Ingham,

Although still known primarily for their amazing acoustic guitars, Collings is continuing to make a glorious noise in the electric market, and this beauty is sure to take that up a notch or two. Picking up where the venerable Les Paul Special left off, the 290 DC is, as the name intimates, a double-cutaway slab of gorgeous mahogany with a pair of P-90s. Collings gussies things up with the cool tortoiseshell pickguard and sexy ebony headstock veneer, and caps it all in a righteous high-gloss nitro finish.

Right out of the case (a sweet, deluxe Ameritage model), the 290 DC rang with a huge acoustic resonance. You really feel the sustain through the body and the substantial-but-comfy neck. The guitar ships with .011s but they feel like .010s–the mark of a supremely well-built guitar. The frets are perfectly level and beautifully rounded, and, although the bridge can’t be adjusted, it does have an intonation contour milled into the top bearing edge, and as a result it intonates like a dream.

We plugged the Collings into a variety of amps and the best delay pedal and it sounded awesome through each one. The Lollar pickups have great output, but it’s the detail that really knocks me out. They sound balanced and rich with a clanging bottom end and a silky, musical treble response. On a recording session, I ran both pickups with the bridge rolled back to 7 into a mildly dirty amp and the tone was big, open, and very dynamic. I was especially impressed with how responsive the 290 was to where I picked on the string. Even a difference of an inch or two toward or away from the bridge produced noticeable, useable changes in timbre. And on the subject of the Volume controls, these are some of the best voiced pots I’ve ever experienced, with every part of the taper bringing out great new colors.

I seriously can’t find a single fault with the 290 DC. It’s all too easy for guitarists to say, “If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I’d just buy a (fill in the blank).” Nope. Not anymore. This guitar is not cheap, but it is worth every penny. We’ve long been impressed with this company’s acoustic offerings, but I have no choice but to view Collings as a serious player in the electric game from this day forward. Reasonable people can disagree on things like scale length, body wood, electronics, etc., but for what it is, the 290 DC might just be the perfect guitar. Well done.