Career Information: Wholesale




Working in Wholesale / Distribution

There is a wide range of wholesale music products businesses in Australia, ranging from Australian operations of global companies to (small, medium and large) Australian owned and managed distribution companies, including very small businesses with as few as one employee.

Given that 95% of Australia’s musical instruments and music technology are imported there is a large network of wholesalers and distributors getting the world’s major brands into music retail stores.

Many wholesalers deal exclusively with music products, some have other substantial parts to the business such as pro audio installation.

Music equipment product manager (wholesale)

A product manager working for a music equipment wholesale company is responsible for maximising the sales of a group of related products (such as woodwind and brass instruments). This principally involves ordering, forecasting requirements to meet sales targets, measuring market size, marketing and promoting the products that have been ordered or brought in (preparing advertising materials and organising promotional activities), and ensuring that the sales representatives and the retail outlets have the necessary skills and resources to maximise the products’ potential in the marketplace.

  • Skills
    • Marketing, knowledge of and empathy for the product
    • Good interpersonal communication skills are needed
    • Project management
    • Staff management
  • Prospects
    • To reach this level in music wholesale, three to five years’ experience in the industry is usual, starting from sales, internal sales or customer service.
    • Recruitment is by advertisement and interview.
    • It is possible to gain advancement to a higher level position from this position.
    • It may be possible to gain advancement by moving to a larger company within the same field
  • Training & Experience
    • A marketing qualification such as a business degree with a marketing major is required.
    • Some kind of experience in music is preferred.

Sales manager (wholesale)

An internal sales manager is based at the headquarters of the company, and is principally responsible for supporting retailers. The job involves taking orders for stock, providing promotional materials, and answering questions about products (relating to specifications, prices, availability, compatibility and the like). Inquiries that are highly technical will be referred to product specialists or technical staff. Internal sales personnel also help the travelling sales representatives of the company with orders and information. In addition, internal sales personnel take telephone inquiries from end users about products and retail locations.

  • Skills
    • Good interpersonal communication skills
    • Good product knowledge
    • Ability to keep up to date with all new products
    • Office skills
    • In some cases this role involves staff management/HR, marketing, and other business skills
  • Prospects
    • A person in this job would be expected to have some kind of background in sales and marketing and to have a thorough knowledge of the product range.
    • A background in music retail would be appropriate.
    • Recruitment is by advertisement and interview.
    • There are good opportunities for advancement in the sales area or other areas of the industry, especially marketing and administration. Employees who demonstrate a flair for the technical aspects of a product may be able to become product specialists.
  • Training & Experience
    • Training in music, music technology and marketing are useful.
    • On-the-job training is a feature of this particular occupation, as it is necessary to learn to use products as they appear on the market.

Excerpts (in italics) from ‘Australian Guide to Careers in Music’ by Michael Hannan (2003, UNSW Press, Out of print)