My Take on the Music Industry: Investments; Boredom Breeds Guitars

I’m not a musician. I’ve never been, and probably never will be. So I’m not an expert on the music industry.

I did briefly consider being a musician when I was young, so that’s some credit, and I’ve been an avid student of music all my life, although my attention to music depended heavily on my work.

If work was a real beeyatch then I had to focus more on work and I just listened to music, in other times, I was able to give it more attention.

If i was waiting in a bookstore today I’d first go through Architecture books, then golf, then music. So music is way up there on my radar.

I’m also a businessman in the construction industry. I’ve had my company for 23 years now, starting from scratch, and it hasn’t closed yet, so we can say that I haven’t been a failure with my company. That should give me a bit more credit in speaking about music as a business.

I just smile when I’m with guitar enthusiasts and they call their guitar investments.

Anything, be it a guitar or a car or a piece of land or a laptop, can only be called an investment if it can and will give more than its purchase value.

There are three things about an investment: potential, protection, and delivery of potential.

Potential is self explanatory. If I bought a sweet-looking Strat for 3,000 dollars, it had to return to me more than that amount while I still have it and while it’s still functional.

So it’s not an “investment” if I gigged it for only six months and had to resell it for 2,500 dollars right after because I needed cash. There is no potential for greater return.

Probably if I became a musician and made more than the purchase value of the Strat, then the Strat was a valid investment.

I never call my guitars investments. They’re my passion, my hobby, my idiocy, my financial black hole. But they’re not investments.

The other thing with investments is protection. An investment has to sustain its potential over a period of time.

My former boss bought this huge piece of land down south, that was around 20 years ago, right now the whole frickin thing is filled with squatters, or “informal settlers”, however you may wish to call it. That piece of land is no longer an investment, unless you can evict 400 families without cost or bloodshed. It used to be an investment, it no longer is, the owner failed to protect his investment.

If I’m a young, pregnant wife with another kid in preschool, and my rocker husband comes home with a 3,000 dollar Strat that’s worth six months of his salary, and he goes, “But honey, it’s an investment!”; the correct answer is: “Dear, it’s only an investment if you sell it tomorrow for 4,000 dollars.”

You can replace that Strat with a sports car, a fishing boat, a golf club, another camera lens, whatever.

I bought my laptop last year second-hand for 500 dollars. It’s cheaper than any of the laptops I bought my kids. I slapped on another 8 gig of RAM, and that thing has paid itself hundreds of times over the past year, and it’s still okay, so that means it’s an investment that still keeps on giving.

Now that’s an investment.

My guitars – even the nicest-looking, sweetest-sounding one isn’t an investment, it’s a hole in my pocket.

Which brings me to my next topic. I think I spend one-third of my waking hours waiting. Waiting for a flight, waiting for a ride, waiting for a meeting. Just standing or sitting and waiting for the next stage or level.

The other third I spend going somewhere and only the last third I’m actually doing something.

Anyway, it’s always a dangerous situation when I’m bored and waiting for six hours inside an airport with nothing to do.

When I was younger this was far more dangerous – I would get real drunk or find a pretty lady around me or on my phone and start things I really didn’t know how to finish, or worse: both activities at the same time.

So it’s a far less risky business to be going over guitar ads for the better part of six hours.

Most of this is genuine education – Vibramate adaptors for Bigsby vibratos, visiting the web sites of boutique pickups or custom guitars, listening to clips of various guitar mods or bands, and overall just surfing YouTube.

The scary part here is finding something I’m really interested in.

Like I’ve said before, I think I’m not a stupid buyer, so several factors have to come together for a sale to consummate.

Even if I am interested, several things have to be met before things heat up. The item has to be less or at least equal to its current prevailing price, and I don’t have that guitar yet or there is no risk of duplication tone-wise.

For me, for some reason whether valid or not, there has to be an enthusiastic seller. Some sellers behave like they’re not too happy with parting with the guitar or not too happy to talk to me.

I’m just as excitable as any other collector, my avatar is only fitting:

We guitar collectors are an enthusiastic bunch, just like grease monkeys swooning over turbochargers or motorcycles, or golf gearheads talking about shafts and lie angles.

So it’s a bit of a letdown when I seem to be more stoked at buying than the other guy is at selling.

And by now I can more or less guess the nature of the seller by the way they post the pictures for sale.

Some posts are quite professional, and you can tell they’re used to selling guitars.

Some are less so and do not provide any good pictures or information.

While you could say I’m an avid hobbyist, I’m really in no hurry to own any new guitar. So if the seller’s mind is too scrambled to focus on my simple requests like providing more pictures or information, I’m not keen on following up.

Anyway, all this waiting is giving me a lot of time to run after a new guitar. And with that six-hour wait that’s what actually happened.

I think the guitar I’m about to buy is a good buy with all the factors ticked off such as history, tone, and performance. There was supposed to be another guitar of a different brand and model, but since the seller did not revert, I didn’t follow up. The problem was I just had enough time to find another model I would be interested in even if I had let go of the former guitar.

It’s not like I am deliberately looking for a guitar, I just go from one site to another, some not even guitar-related and end up buying a guitar.

So later today I’m going to see two dudes, one for a set of pickups and for another guitar.

I’ve gotta tell you – boredom breeds guitars.