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Will Steinway go the way of EMI?

First they sacked the chief executive, with a $2.7 million payoff.

Then they got rid of the piano tuners.

Next, they put the building up for sale.

And now they’ve flogged the entire company to a firm of asset strippers.

What does the decline and sale of Steinway call to mind?

Those with long memories or a copy of one of my books will remember the decline and fall of EMI, a former cornerstone of the music industry. For twenty years, as the market demanded greater ‘shareholder value’, successive bosses tried to sell the label to Hollywood and, defeated, walked away with big payoffs. Eventually, EMI was sold at way above its value to a group of asset strippers which, while slashing costs and trying to sell buildings, were themselves forced to sell it again.



EMI was divvied up between two rivals and erased from history.

The next chapter in Steinway’s story….

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  1. PK Miller says:

    I certainly hope–and dare I say, PRAY NOT. The loss of EMI is devastating. The stuff in their vaults–along with RCA & even Deutsche Gramophone… NOTHING has the cachet of Steinway. To slightly paraphrase some American commercial from some time back, anything else is just a piano! Greed, glorious greed…. To hell with quality control, years of the finest craftsmanship imaginable, Show me the money….

    • Fazioli

    • Steve Negri says:

      EMI was easy to make disappear as most of EMI’s assets were “intellectual property”, not nearly as tangible as a Steinway grand piano, which can be found in abundance in places both public and private around the globe. Steinway is a like wine which mellows and becomes more valuable with time. Of course some Steinways, having been “rode hard and put up wet” are like any other piano that has been abused. I wish I had one, abused, new, or simply mellowed in my music room.

  2. I dunno. I’m glad they sold that white elephant building. It was just a cap-feather and in trying times, you can do without those. There will always be a market for Steinway pianos, and the company has become increasingly profitable in recent years and has seen sales gains. It is one of the most renowned luxury brands in the entire world, in addition to being key to so many music organizations/ensembles/artists.

    Sometimes companies get sold. Sometimes the buyers are investors and not kindly old men who love Schubert. I am crossing my fingers that this turns out to be good for the company; perhaps it will go public again eventually (not that that is the best outcome necessarily but at least there won’t be any more overblown fears of it being “stripped for profits.”)

  3. the_Albert says:

    Have their ever been blind comparative tests to determine whether Steinways are in fact “better” than other pianos, or do we simply rely on impression and reputation and expense?

    • Richard Werner says:

      There, Albert. Have THERE ever been blind comparative tests… I don’t know; how about 160 years as the piano with the reputation of being the best? Does that mean anything to you? How about an Artist Roster with 90+% of all the greatest pianists and composers of the last 125 years? Do you think this shit is just made up? What is wrong with you?

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      People who play the piano often for hours pretty much every day of their whole life, for a living, might know a little about which piano maker is best for their needs… you might want to respect that, would be a common sense idea.

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