An Ethical Question – Kickbacks

In the music industry, there are many practices that are considered normal that I personally do not agree with. Thankfully for me, since I work with my family, we can choose whether or not to follow the industry and stray for such practices. This is not always an easy thing to do.

Lately, one of the ones that is the most bothersome to me personally has been rearing its ugly head around our doors… the issue of the teacher kickback. This is where the teacher receives something from the music store in return for their student purchasing their instruments from that store. This compensation can come in many forms ranging from a free book, a free repair or even cold hard cash.

While this practice is actually normal, I can’t help but feel that it is flat-out wrong.

This issue came up for us most recently with a private flute teacher in our city who we have made and impression with regarding our Kessler Custom flutes. This teacher (as most will be) was very impressed with the performance and quality of the flute, especially at the price that we offer them at. This teacher highly recommended the to their students initially.

Then a little down the road, this teacher posed the following question to us: “What will you do for me if I send my students to you for their flutes? …. There are several other places that I can send my students for their needs.”

Again, judging this issue comes down to the person. The truth of the matter is this: the flute that this teacher liked is NOT available through other stores… it is our Kessler Custom flute… ONLY available through Kessler & Sons Music. But that wasn’t the point for them. They wanted us to give them a kickback for the referral.

My father and I discussed this briefly and we both came to the same conclusion like we always have on this issue… we will never give a kickback to a teacher. Never.

Our job in my opinion is to provide the best service, product & price to the consumer. If we give a kickback, then the consumer pays more. This position means that we will lose business and support from teachers that do not agree with our stance on this subject. Furthermore, my competition does offer kickbacks and that makes our job even harder. But in the end, right is right.

So you as the parent or player have to wonder next time you get a recommendation for only one product or one music store from your teacher… are they telling me to buy this or buy from them because they are getting something on the side?

If they are telling you to go to Kessler & Sons Music, you can rest assured that it is absolutely NOT because of a kickback or other form of personal compensation because we will never participate in that.