K.P. Peters | May 2017
Reverb is the world’s most popular music gear website. It has been working since 2013 to enable millions of musicians to buy, sell, and learn about equipment. CEO David Kalt started it after getting back into the music industry with the Chicago Music Exchange. While running the Chicago Music Exchange, he found that buying equipment on eBay or Craigslist was a pain. Searching for “Fender” could get you a sick guitar or a car part. After dealing with this frustration, Kalt decided to put his tech and entrepreneurial skills to work by developing Reverb.com. Think of Reverb as a digital thrift store for music equipment. Since starting the company, Reverb has gone from three employees to over one hundred and thirty-five.
As a company, Reverb has made a trend of doubling its sales on an annual basis, and it is expected to reach $1 billion in sales by 2019. I asked Heather Farr, PR and Communications Manager of Reverb, what she thinks is the cause of this overwhelming success. She accredits the success to two things, first being the low fees. Listing something on Reverb is completely free, and once it sells, the company only takes 3.5% of the profit. This significantly low rate allows products to be priced fairly and makes it easy and affordable to shop on Reverb. The second trick to Reverb’s success is the need for it in the marketplace. All musicians are constantly on the prowl for that “perfect sound.” Reverb allows them to buy something, try it out, and sell it back. Farr joked, “I wish I could make money trying lipstick and selling it back.”
Farr also noted a lot of other things that make Reverb stand out from a typical retail supplier. For starters, all customer service representatives at Reverb are musicians. Moreover, being the center of the music product industry allows Reverb to carry more brands than other retailers. Because it is so easy to set up a shop on Reverb, they are able to sell classics like Fender alongside vintage brands and homemade pedals.
For anyone just browsing, Farr recommends checking out the hand-picked collection. Reverb has a team that goes through all the gear and decides how it should be categorized. “We have gear of Led Zeppelin, vintage turntables, and drums and percussion from around the world. Personally, gear of Jack White is my favorite.”
When I asked Farr if she had any advice for college musicians, she kept it simple: “Keep experimenting with things and consider buying used gear, especially if you are just trying things out. There is a lot of great used gear you can get for college kid pricing on Reverb, and it’s easy to sell it back.”