Of WAF and Wimps



by Cookie Marenco

There has been a lot going on in the news the last few weeks …

  • Uprisings with slogans of “I Can’t Breathe”
  • Taylor Swift removes herself from Spotify
  • Grammy nominations
  • More beheading of journalists
  • Flooding in California

… and in our own business…

  • Artists on tour facing crisis
  • Artists in the studio facing crisis
  • Artist facing crisis about everything and suddenly…
  • A leaf blower interrupts a sensitive session…

And then came the WAF….

no-girls-allowed1In terms of priorities, the WAF factor wasn’t ranking high on my list of subjects to comment on, but with the urging of close male audiophile friends, I decided to respond.  Here are my observations.

Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenny and Jeff Dorgay have written excellent pieces on the WAF factor, so I won’t rewrite those views.  I suggest everyone read and form your own opinions.  Myself, I’ll just say that the WAF factor should be renamed the WIMP factor since (as Jeff points out), it’s a pretty good excuse to blame the significant other as to why not to purchase something.  It’s the flip side of sales #101 at Guitar Center, “let me ask the manager if he’ll accept the deal”.  “I’ve got to get approval from the ‘boss’.  Sorry bud”.

I am a woman. I’ve spent my life working with men. I love men. Sometimes, they make me laugh, many have made me cry. Some people THINK I’m a man, especially on the testosterone prone forums.  Interesting to note …  once someone points out that I’m a woman (usually not me because I enjoy pretending to be a man), I find that a “kinder, gentler” discussion starts to take place. Interesting.

Occasionally, I’ll lose my temper like the others on the forums and spew all kinds of crap that I normally reserve for private obnoxiousness with friends.  Then I’ll get an email from a more calm customer who reminds me that I shouldn’t lower myself to the level of some on the forums.

What’s a day in my life?  My days begin with two hours of reading and responding to articles and emails about the music industry, new technology, innovations in science, business trends and the plight of the creative content maker.  At night, I’ll read gardening, cooking, travel blogs while watching Anthony Bourdain or Charlie Rose or baseball.  During the day, I’ll check Facebook to see what all my audiophile friends are doing and reading (limited by running a business, managing the crew and producing music). Somewhere in there, I’m listening to music for a few hours and I want it to sound good.

Demographics play a key role in generating revenue.  Let’s face it … not all forums are 50/50 gender based.  Most industries are not 50/50 gender based.  Ad agencies have figured it out.  If you weren’t aware, there is a large discussion in the investment world as to why more women aren’t funded for startups.

The auto industry changed it’s advertising in the early 90’s and the result was that now the majority of women buy new cars. The NFL got rid of the cheerleaders in favor of cheesecake — hunky quarterbacks with tattoos willing to bare it all. Suddenly, there are a lot of women’s t-shirts for all sports teams.

Sounds Hot
Perhaps some mindless “direct marketing” might help?

It was the women who bought Taylor Swift albums that pushed Taylor to reach a million units in sales this year — the only artist to do so. I’m not a fan of her music, but she is one smart “cookie”.  If you study purchasing power in music and consumer electronics, you’ll see the top selling items are devoured by women.

The audiophile world is not about exposed cable and ugly speakers.  Both men and women care about music, quality, value, aesthetics and design.  It was my father who cared about my car being washed and looking good. Lord knows I could care less about exposed cable and giant speakers in my house. I’ve got 5 sets of speakers in one room and 4 other rooms with different speakers.  It’s the guys in my life that want the black leather couch.  I could care less.

When I was growing up, my father demonstrated his love of audio gear and enthusiasm for gadgets.  Dad bought me a Sears reel-to-reel when I was 10, followed by a Sony Sound on Sound 1/4″ tape machine when I graduated high school.  I’m sure he regretted those gifts when in 1986 I asked for a $10,000 loan to buy a Lexicon reverb unit.  He pointed out that I could have purchased 2 brand new Volkswagen cars with that money.  “But, DAD … it will make my recordings sound so much better!”

Most people aren’t like me — a little brash, self-confident and buttheaded.  I’m not afraid to ask a question or take a risk.  I’m also not afraid to listen and observe.

If I’m not asked by a sales person, “can I help you?” I will move on to someone who will help me. It’s pretty simple.  All you have to do is care and be willing to show enthusiasm.  It’s about talking to anyone who will listen whether family, friends, students, oldsters or strangers.

Those of you who think women and the youngsters don’t care about high-end audio need to think again.  We have had some incredibly talented young audiophiles come out of our intern program.  I am proud of them.

Come to think of it, listening and caring would probably solve 99% of the world’s problems.

Enjoy your music!

Cookie Marenco

Blue Coast Music