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July 14, 2020

Episode #326 – Nielsen Mid-Year Music Report, Korg And Roland Get Fined, And Sweetwater’s Chuck Surack

Sweetwater founder Chuck Surack


  • Nielsen’s mid-year recorded music report has some interesting data points
  • Korg and Roland get big fines in the UK


  • Sweetwater Sound’s founder and CEO Chuck Surack

Chuck Surack supplemented his playing career as a sax and keyboard player with a makeshift recording studio in the back of a his Volkswagen bus. That mobile studio was the departure point for what was to become the largest online music retailer in the world – Sweetwater Sound. The company now ships over 3,300 guitars, 830 keyboards, 460 drum kits, and 5,300 microphones every week from its facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

As successful as Sweetwater is, what you probably don’t know is that Chuck also owns a dozen other business in the area, including a luxury car dealership SweetCars, private charter business companies Sweet Aviation and Sweet Helicopters, and optical retailer Longe Optical, in many cases rescuing the business from bankruptcy to save local jobs.

During the interview we talked about the surprising history of Sweetwater, the musical instrument business before and after the coronavirus, how the company finds high quality employees, the big difference between buying from Sweetwater or Amazon, and much more.

On the intro I’ll take the latest look at recorded music sales in Nielsen’s half-year report, and why both Korg and Roland got slapped with huge fines in the UK for their business practices.

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