Backstage Music receives national honor

From left to right: Tony Foster, Allen McBroom and Jim Beaty, partners in Backstage Music. The store was honored as one of the top 100 in the world for 2017 by NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants). (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

After 39 years serving musicians in the Golden Triangle and beyond, Starkville's Backstage Music has been honored among NAMM's (National Association of Music Merchants) top 100 retailers.

The store was founded on May 3, 1978, and today is owned by three partners, Jim Beaty, one of the store’s founders, Allen McBroom and Tony Foster. Foster and McBroom both became partners in 1998. Backstage has seven employees, and five teachers also work out of the store’s studio space. McBroom serves as store manager, while Foster leads the repair shop and Beaty serves as head of the store’s audiovisual installation services.

McBroom and Beaty both said it was an honor to be listed with the other retailers, including Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville and the Chicago Music Exchange.

“It’s pretty rarified air where we are on that list,” McBroom said.

Beaty attributed the store’s survival as an independent music store to its agility.

“If you have any source of presence in commerce that’s not able to adapt and change as a business model, then you’re doomed,” Beaty said. “I don’t care if you’re General Motors or mom and pop lemonade.”

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Beaty said, the store had to adapt to new forms of competition, including online and big-box music retailers, which included increasing Backstage’s online presence, with almost as much of the store’s sales being online as in-store today.

McBroom said the store’s repair shop draws clients from as far away as Nashville.

“He’s (Foster) developed a reputation over decades of service as a very detail-oriented, focused repair guy,” McBroom said. “He treats everything like it belonged to him.”

Another area Backstage has branched out into is audiovisual systems installation, with the store being selected by Mississippi State University to upgrade the audio at Dudy Noble Field.
“I had a scout with the Yankees tell me it sounded better than most of the minor-league ballparks,” Beaty said.

Word of the NAMM award came exactly on the store's 39th anniversary.

McBroom said the top 100 stores are selected by people in the business world outside of the music industry to prevent bias.

“There are some Fortune 500 people involved in the selection process,” McBroom said.

Backstage and the rest of the top 100 dealers will be honored on July 14 at the summer NAMM show in Nashville.

“We drive each other to do better at whatever we do,” McBroom said. “These two guys, with their fast, deep history of business and customer service, keep me in line all the time. Now we’ve got a new benchmark, to try to maintain the top 100 rating."