Music Products Industry Veteran Paul Damiano Advocates
Greater Support For Market Development, Music Education and Guitars In The
|In addition to his prolific
career with the KAMAN Corporation, Paul Damiano was one of the principal architects
of the game-changing merger between KAMAN and Fender that created KMC Music and
he is currently KMC's Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. In both
his professional and personal life, Paul has also been a tireless, dedicated
advocate for music education and market development; serving on the boards of
NAMM, GAMA, IAKEM and PMC as well as several other music industry associations.
Guitars In The Classroom had the opportunity to sit down with him for a quick
conversation at the KMC booth during the recent NAMM Show.
GITC: You and Kaman
have supported and participated in the music industry's expansion efforts on
many levels. Has the merger with Fender changed that commitment?
Damiano: Both KAMAN and Fender have always been aware of the
need for market development and very involved with industry efforts. We believe
that we have a social responsibility that extends beyond merely making and
selling musical instruments. Now that Fender and KAMAN are all one company,
we're even more united in that fundamental philosophy.
GITC: Has the
economic slowdown affected the market development movement?
Damiano: The need is the same if not greater now but,
unfortunately, with less fat in the economy, one company, no matter how big it
is, can't do as much of the heavy lifting. However, (Fender CEO) Bill Mendello
has given us specific guidance that even though times are tough we should
continue to support programs that are working. Certainly Guitars In The Classroom is one of the programs that is working and one that we continue to
GITC: What do you say
to encourage companies that haven't supported the industry's market
efforts to step up?
Damiano: Companies that, for whatever reasons, don't see the
benefits of market development efforts don't contribute to them. But these
efforts would be more effective if we could get more participation. The time
for standing on the sidelines is past. If we don't develop more players and
build our own industry, who will? No one's going to do it for us, but us. Those
of us in the music instrument industry who are waiting for the next Beatles to
happen are going to be awfully disappointed.
GITC: Young people
have never had as many distractions as they have today. How do we do we get
their attention and continue to increase the number of music makers?
Damiano: Today, there are so many things that divert young
people's attention from music. At the same time, today's kids are very much
part of what I call the Sesame St. generation; a generation that has come to
believe in music as a positive and fundamental part of everyday life. We may
not be able to see it now but I think 5 years from now we are going to look
back and say that music video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero were a major
factors in generating new players.
There are also gaps in music education that we need to
address. A lot of kids want to play guitar but it's not offered as part of
traditional music education programs. This is another reason why guitar
manufacturers need to support programs like GAMA and GITC. Where GAMA reaches
kids and music teachers through the band program, GITC reaches kids and general
GITC: What else can the
music products industry do to move things forward?
Damiano: NAMM and the industry have done a lot but NAMM is
limited by its charter and government regulations and has had to maintain an
arm's-length relationship with the alphabet soup of music associations. It's
important that we get more music retailers and music teachers involved, too. To
be successful, these types of projects require organization as well as grass
These things don't happen without the vision and hard work
of people like (GITC founder and Executive Director) Jessica Baron who are
passionate about the cause. I applaud Jessica and the work she and Guitars In The Classroom are doing to
create more musicians and improve their quality of life.
There's an ongoing discussion among music advocates about
the roles that recreation, retention and relevance play in our business and how
much we should support music education vs. music integration. But I've never
seen creating more music makers as being an either/or situation. There are many
opportunities for growth and we all need work together and support each other
so we don't miss any of them.
In The Classroom is a non-profit organization that provides innovative musical
training for classroom teachers so all students can experience the joy and
essential benefits of making music. Its programs deliver ongoing instruction,
access to instruments, and educational materials that weave music across the
academic curriculum in sustainable, grassroots programs, nationwide. For
further information or to get involved, please contact GITC at 858-755-2239 or
go online at www.guitarsintheclassoom.org.