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Saxophone Lessons Learned

The State of the Sax Address :: 2005

This has been a very interesting year for Saxophones with record numbers of new Manufacturers, Sax Products, new companies making Saxophone related products and there seems to have serious options available for each with expanded product lines.

One can now play saxes made out of everything, from Sterling Silver, Brass, Bronze, Brass/Copper(red brass), Nickel, German Nickel, Nickel Silver and Pink Gold with numerous blends and mixes of each. Plating includes Copper, Nickel, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Brass, thick, thin or flash plating, colored lacquers, gold lacquered, bare/no plate. Finishes can be polished, sand blasted, burnished, natural oxidation, distressed, painted with pictures or designs, extreme engraving, no engraving, old fashioned and more. I have never seen as many different and exotic Saxes as I did at the Conventions, IAJE 2005 and NAMM 2005.

Necks and Mouthpieces are made of different woods and metals/plating combinations with lots of new companies and new products here also. It seems like every little Music Company has entered the Sax Mouthpiece market. You can get Silver, Gold or even Platinum Plating on every sax part including Pad Resonators and Spray Plated Pads.

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A look at either of these Trade Shows with all the new, exotic and costly products; one would think that the business is great! Sax Players must be working more than ever and making some serious cash. Why else would there be so many expensive cool things to buy? Freaking about a $500.00 Dollar Mouthpiece? You can spend over a Grand on a Neck now and 10 Grand on a Factory sealed, production Tenor and the list price is pushing 20 Grand with tax. It only seems fair since a real Flute broke 10 Grand years ago and those cool wood head joints at the Pearl Booth cost as much as the Alto Flutes.

So, where is it all going?

Where is all the money coming from to buy all these amazing products? Who is buying these new products? These companies must have done some kind of marketing research before going Gold and Platinum.

It must be the session guys. Well, survey says that sessions are very off in LA. All the guys I have contacted with a 100 major film credits would say that they are all old credits and little is happening at this time.

Maybe it's the Club Gigs? Again; It is the Southern California area I really know. Clubs using live music are paying less for bands than they did 2 years ago and even less than they did 10 years ago. Many live groups are making very little or very small, and that's if they have a place to play at all. I have a steady duo weekly and a steady Sax Single weekly. Not much is being spent for live music in this town.

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Maybe it is all the CD Sales. We all have little recording studios and everyone seems to have CDs to sell on live shows now. A quick look at my CD Business and you would see a steady decline in sales over the last 10 years. In response, we are finding cheaper ways to create CD products, which seems to help until another years sales show less CDs sold for that following year.

Download sales are way up and maybe we are all making tons of cash for recording that we did not have to spend money to manufacture? This has been a growth area over the past 3 years, but how many downloads does it take to buy a hamburger? Some of these download services offer unlimited downloads for a low monthly subscription. That means some of these lame download services are paying .001 cents a download with royalties owed per tune going at 9 cents a song. I have no idea what to do with all the money I am loosing and all the accounting time required to figure out who gets which pennies.

Church seemed like a cool alternative until my paid services started going volunteer on me and now any schedule or budget is trashed. Smooth Jazz giant concerts are still paying guys what they did 10 years ago and the gigs are harder to get than ever.

Want to be a sideman with a Jazz group? I was a sideman with the number one Smooth Guitar guy and his schedule looks great until you pull out all the all-star gigs and featured artist gigs that don't include the band sidemen at all.

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I guess that leaves the one in a million star, leading those few bands that are actually selling some CDs, still and traveling and can book those all star gigs. Funny thing is that these guys have the money and many times can get products for nothing.

Publishing? These guys get checks in the mail for a song they wrote, and if it gets popular, it could buy a new sax. Possible, but still only one in a million and how many of those are Sax playing professionals?

There's always the fat symphony guys but how many symphonies in America have a Sax Section?

Teachers? Very under paid in classroom settings. Private teachers? I can see why you need a 10 thousand dollar sax to tell a 9 year-old that he missed the Bb.

So, where does that leave us? Who can afford these Saxes? Who are they making these new high priced Instruments for?

Don't take offense. If you have a great sax, congratulations!

But, too much of the time, it is rich kids, part time players with outside income and want-a-bee's that just got a real credit card for the first time.

15 Years ago, I asked a Flute manufacturer, "Who buys these 25 thousand dollar, solid Gold Flutes?" He said they end up as collectors pieces, sitting on the credenza of a Lawyer most the time. He also sold glass cases for display.

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State of the Sax Address - 2005

This is the year of the Amateur and greater lust for all. Back to the Italian site for pics of beautiful, precious babes in 4 primary sizes. No Wait… A double Soprano. A Gold plated Soprillo and a Tubax. When will it ever stop???

What a year…

Remember Mom and Dad, I am old, but you can still buy me stuff.

Everyone is someone's kid.

… Always shopping for richer parents,

by SAXBOY

Copyright (c)2005 SAXBOY


    Related Articles
  • Recording Industry for the Sax Artist :: The bad news. Posted 4.3.05
  • PAGE UPDATE :: JULY 30, 2005

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