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Steinway Spirio System Highlights Dealer Meeting

...a record number of dealers but was also the site for the roll-out of new models, marketing and finance initiatives, and a dramatic new concept piano. “From the new Spirio to their marketing and finance campaigns for drawing customers to our stores, Steinway is giving us the tools we need to really move our business forward,” stated Steve Bird, president, Steinway Piano Gallery – Austin. As Danny Saliba, president of Steinway Hall North Texas/Houston, added, “Spirio is simply remarkable. We’ve presold them just off photos on our website. Their player system is going to be a great product for our markets.”

In spite of challenging economic conditions around the world that did little to lift the market for pianos, Steinway & Sons reported to dealers at the meeting that top line sales for the company advanced 10% in 2014. From China to North America and even in troubled markets throughout Europe, Steinway posted gains in all geographic segments of its business. “I’m happy to report that 2014 was not just a strong year for Steinway but one that actually exceeded our expectations,” said Michael Sweeney, CEO, Steinway Musical Instruments.

“We’re fortunate to have an owner like Paulson & Co. who is allowing us to take the strong profits we’ve seen in the last two years and reinvest them back into the company at a record rate.” As a private company, Steinway & Sons no longer reports financial results. “Our investment will support the introduction of new products, upgrades to our factories, and the build-out of our new flagship store in Manhattan,” he added. Commenting on the new retail store that is slated to open at the end of 2015 or early 2016, he remarked, “This new space will be as much or more of a draw than the 57th Street building once was. From our first location on 14th Street to 57th Street to our new home on 43rd and Sixth, it has always been our goal to have Steinway Hall be the clubhouse for the music community.”

Steinway’s new Spirio player piano represents what could be described as the company’s most significant product introduction in nearly a century. “Our exclusive focus in the past has been selling our pianos to amateur and professional musicians,” continued Sweeney. “With Spirio, we’re now going after a much larger audience: those who enjoy listening to the Steinway sound but don’t actually play.” Steinway’s new Spirio is distinguished by several patented developments, including closed-loop proportional pedaling, immunity to varying line voltage, sophisticated thermal compensation, and proprietary high-resolution drive techniques. Technical jargon aside, the new digital player captures the most subtle musical nuances and has a music library that will be supported with recordings by 1,700 Steinway artists. Customers who buy the system get not only a Steinway piano, but free lifetime access to a growing catalog of performances that are being added to every week. To control the system, Steinway & Sons is providing a complimentary iPad that wirelessly connects with each Spirio. Unlike other systems that have visible hardware add-ons, Spirio simply has a power cord—everything else is built in at the start of the piano manufacturing process. The only visible difference between a regular Steinway and a Spirio is the cord and a special “Spirio” logo on the instrument.

Along with new models, Steinway & Sons is bringing to its dealers new tools and programs to help boost sales. The rental market once contributed a large portion of piano industry sales. For a variety of reasons, from costs to administrative logistics, the industry gradually backed away from this proven marketing strategy and, according to Ron Losby, president, Steinway & Sons, Americas, “has paid the price by missing out on a lot of business over the years.” Steinway now has a turnkey program for dealers with special flooring for rental fleets, coupled with a consumer rental program from Allegro Credit, that will handle all the paperwork and collections at no cost to the dealer. Allegro Credit also announced a special program that will allow Steinway dealers to offer 15-year term financing on premium piano purchases up to $100,000.

In addition, Steinway challenged traditional piano designs with the showing of a concept piano featuring a composite lid, recessed integrated music desk, a flowing design that eliminates many right angles, and a striking blue metallic finish. “Concepts are an annual tradition in the car industry,” said Todd Sanders, vice president of sales and marketing for Steinway. “They spark enthusiasm, dialog, and point to new opportunities. It’s a discipline we’ve now introduced at Steinway with our first concept piano.” Sanders, who headed up the design and construction team for the concept piano, indicated there are no plans to sell or introduce the new instrument to the Steinway line at this time. “It’s just a concept and shows that a 162-year-old company like Steinway & Sons is on the leading edge of design and innovation.”

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