Steinway’s Global Growth Strategy
...that we are here with our dealers, as the new Steinway Hall not only reveres our past, but is so reflective of our vision,” remarked Michael Sweeney, CEO. “This recital space where we meet today is the beating heart of Steinway Hall and the embodiment of Steinway & Sons’ commitment to celebrating arts and culture.”
Dealers gathered for presentations at the two-day meeting in Steinway Hall’s new 74-seat recital venue. The elegant space, designed by the internationally renowned Selldorf Architects, is outfitted with a state-of-the-art custom Steinway Lyngdorf sound system, live-streaming capabilities that allow musicians and audiences from around the world to connect to this cultural hub, rehearsal studios for artists and students, and a recording studio.
At the meeting, talk among dealers and Steinway management focused on Spirio, the company’s most significant product innovation in more than 70 years. For the last two years, Steinway’s engineering, manufacturing, and marketing teams have been focused on the launch of this new player piano system. The Spirio, whose player mechanisms stay discreetly hidden, is operated wirelessly via iPad. Spirio pianos have now been shipping to dealers since the beginning of the year and, according to early reports, sales results have been very positive.
“Our goal with Spirio was to tap into a new market: selling pianos to non-playing music enthusiasts,” Sweeney said. “Dealer results show that we are doing just that, with 75% of sales going to non-players who were not in the market for a piano.” From a dealer perspective, Danny Saliba, president, Steinway Hall Dallas/Houston/Ft. Worth, added, “For music enthusiasts, Spirio is the equivalent of turning your home into a concert hall. The music resolution compared to other units on the market is as distinct as the difference between regular and high-definition television. And the music library they are building is comprised of the finest pianists in the world. Put all this together and it is magic on our sales floor.”
To take full advantage of Spirio’s unique capabilities, Steinway & Sons has a dedicated Music Technology Group that is recording an entirely new catalog of music for the system. A main selling point for the instrument is the availability and continual refreshment of a vast catalog of Spirio recordings by Steinway artists (including Lang Lang and Ramsey Lewis). The library is now being expanded with videos, linking artists with their performances on the Spirio. “We’re committed to continuous innovation, and Spirio is just the start of ambitious products and programs that will be coming from our Music Technology Group,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney went on to give dealers an upbeat assessment of Steinway’s global position. U.S. and European sales remain strong, in large part driven by growing demand from colleges and universities. The company has also embarked on a new strategy in the U.S. to further expand its share of the institutional piano market by focusing on K-12 schools. In China, the world’s largest piano market, sales are impressive and still growing. “Sales of Steinway, Boston, and Essex pianos in China outpace every other market in the world,” said Sweeney. “With 35 million active piano students, it’s a market we will be able to count on for growth for years to come.” He also reported that factory investments continue at a brisk pace. Polyester capabilities have been vastly expanded at the New York plant, and millions have been invested in a new plate-making facility in Springfield, Ohio.
Steinway management has crafted a new mission statement to help its global network of stakeholders better focus on the company’s ultimate mission. It reads: “Steinway & Sons touches the human spirit through musical and artistic excellence. We do this by crafting the finest pianos possible, without compromise. We provide these instruments to the world’s finest artists and all those inspired by music and culture. Steinway & Sons will become known globally as the business world’s most influential ambassador for the musical arts.”
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