Kerrang gone kerrong

Wednesday 2nd May 2018

A week like no other for merger mania – not just the  £15bn tie-up between Sainsbury and Asda, and the much more massive US T-Mobile for Sprint – and then the $36bn deal between Marathon Petroleum and its rival refining group Andeavor.

This orgy of deal making is typical of a market at the head of its froth. Cheap money, high stock prices. Flimsy partnerships with hope over experience. When will we ever learn ? 

More broadly, what these big money marriages lead to is leviathan companies which begin to please shareholders with their cost cutting and the crushing of their smaller rivals as they hang their suppliers out to dry.

Which then leads to fewer jobs, and fewer entrepreneurs and disruptors willing  to take the risk, or being allowed to get near risk money. Too much power in too few hands.

But talking of power in hands,  let us shed a tear for a brilliant, life changing, dream making, cool as a Keith Richard’s riff product – the Gibson guitar.

The company’s annual revenue has gone from major to minor from the rise of streaming services and the popularity of music genres like hip hop and electronic dance music. 

You don’t even have to be a musician to understand how depressing that is.

If you grew up with even a marginal attachment to rock and roll, you earworms will be have a Gibson strand in there somewhere. The guitar’s  broad neck gives it an easier angle for the fingering – its tone stretch can mellow with the band or screech through when it’s asked to ‘speak’. Most of all, the Sunburst Les Paul’s 3D maplewood  reflections are a trip in themselves.

It was my brilliant guitar teacher, Trevor Lee, who told me about the Gibson story – he owns an ‘aged’ Gibson Les Paul ‘Burst – a replica which would not leave much change from £10k     the real ones , enriched by whatever musical history can be tagged to them, are into the miilions.

Trevor said, given the falloff in Gibson popularity, “What we need are some new guitar heroes”.

It’ll tough as rap overtakes rock and roll – me, I getting more lessons – you never know – brand ambassador for Gibson could be a worse career – oh how I wish.


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