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¨ FAQ's ¨ Frequently Asked Questions


What is is the largest online auction site bringing together buyers and sellers of musical instruments, audio equipment, memorabilia, recordings and collectible items from the music industry. Headquartered in Fort Dodge, Iowa, was formed by key management of Heartland Communications Group, Inc. to leverage the value for subscribers of Heartland's Musicians Hotline publication that has been bringing buyers and sellers of music equipment together since 1993. utilizes Heartland's extensive database, mailing lists, equipment inventory and dealer network. 

When and how did get its start?

The company was founded in April 1999, and the site was launched September 1, 1999. We founded because we saw a need on the Internet for a music equipment vertical site that was created by musicians for musicians. We based it on our sister company Heartland Communications Group, Inc.'s publication "Musicians Hotline," which specializes in bringing together buyers and sellers of music equipment and related supplies. 

Who are the key management team members?

The founders of and its management are the five principal owner/managers of the sister-company Heartland Communications Group, Inc. All five are actively involved in managing a company that for more than 30 years has been bringing buyers and sellers together via print publications. 

How does differentiate itself from its competitors?

None of our competitors that host auction web sites have a magazine that is recognized as an industry leader for buying and selling music equipment. It is that relationship that has spurred the growth of the site and is one of the main reasons for its tremendous growth. In addition, the site makes no bones about it - we are dedicated to the music industry. You won't find any dolls, coins or Pokemon cards on our site.

Describe's growth strategy.

It is our plan to continue to focus on building content listings via our auction, shopping cart and classified services within our site. We will also continue with very focused direct marketing via e-mail, direct mail and advertising to increase our number of registered bidders by utilizing a variety of music related venues and mailing lists.

How many customer accounts does have? has more than 14,000 registered bidders and close to 40,000 listings, growing both at approximately 30% a month.

What are's long-term objectives?

It is our long-term objective to be the "one stop vertical" on the web for music equipment and related supplies, whether within our auction, shopping cart or classified sections of our site.

What were your revenues last year and what are your projected revenues over the next several years?

As a private company, does not disclose its revenues or projected revenues. Let's just say we started with a bang and we're growing fast!

How many employees do you have? currently employs six people.

Where is the company incorporated?

The company is incorporated in the state of Delaware.

What kind of plans do you have to market/advertise/promote the site?

We are using direct mail and e-mail to people who subscribe to various music-related magazines and targeted web advertising on,,,, and We also use targeted print publication advertising in such magazines as Rolling Stone, Guitar World, Performing Musician, Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, Vintage Guitar, Guitar One and Musicians Hotline, billboards in California, music-related trade shows and telemarketing to music magazine subscribers to promote our site.

Do you have or do you plan to get a celebrity spokesperson for the company?

Yes we are in the preliminary stages of contracting with a celebrity musician to help promote our site, with an announcement expected in the near future.

Do you plan to go public soon?

As we build our web presence, we will be raising additional capital, with the option of an IPO in 2000, unless we are acquired first.

Who are your original investors? 

Our original investors are the five founders, plus several Silicon Valley angel investors with close ties to the high-tech and Internet commerce marketplace, including executives from Lycos, Lucent Technologies and Microsoft.

Can you provide monthly statistics on how your subscriber accounts have grown? 

Our subscriber accounts have been growing 30% per month.

What are your greatest challenges in the next 12 months? 

Our greatest challenge will be to increase our brand on the web while increasing registered bidders, listings and traffic to the site.

How many more employees do you plan on hiring and in what capacity? 

Depending on our growth and fundraising, we most likely will be hiring some very web-savvy marketing and business development staff in the near term. Otherwise, due to our unique relationship with our sister company, we will not have to hire any more support staff.

Why are you located in Iowa? 

Being located in Iowa gives a great competitive advantage. The Midwest is known for its solid work ethic and competitive pricing. In many cases, resources in Iowa can be far more cost competitive than in other areas of the country.
Also, being located in the Central Time zone is advantageous because it's easier to work with people in the Eastern Time and Pacific Time zones.

As the CEO, what excites you the most about this job?

I am very excited about being involved in the Internet sector because we truly are taking part in a monumental shift in how business is conducted worldwide. Having had experience in the publishing industry specializing in bringing buyers and sellers together, we can use those publications to build transaction-based web businesses while providing a service to our print customers.

Do you have any plans to open other facilities or expand your existing facilities? 

Depending upon our growth, we may open an office in the Silicon Valley so we can hire the best web development staff possible and have a presence in that area.

Has or Ebay approached you about buying

While we will not disclose names of possible suitors or investors, we have been approached by a number of well-know companies that recognize the growth potential of our niche. Our number one goal is to provide the music enthusiast the best possible commerce site on the web for buying and selling music equipment and related supplies via auctions, shopping carts and classifieds. Whether we do it with one of the bigger players in the auction or music vertical space, or with other key investors, we will accomplish this goal.

What's the story behind selecting the name 

Due to our close ties with our sister publishing company, Heartland Communications Group, Inc., and the fact that most of its publications have a "Hotline" name such as Musicians Hotline, we decided to keep the "hot" theme for our auction site, thus "" It's not rocket science or R and D, just common sense.

What is your acquisition strategy? is not actively pursuing acquisitions at this time. We are trying to build our site, listings and registered bidders and we believe that it's premature to attempt to acquire other companies at this time. However, in the future we will look for partners that will add value to our site. In other words, we would consider acquiring other e-commerce companies if they have a certain number of listings and users on their site that would be complementary to ours.

What are the monthly statistics on visitor traffic to your site? 

We have approximately 100,000 unique visitors per month, growing at a rate of 30% per month. This is after our site being live for only four months.

What are the monthly statistics on page views per month?

We have 1.5 million page views per month.

What are the monthly statistics on hits per month since inception?

Since inception in September 1999, we have had 5 million hits, with an average of 2.5 million hits per month. More importantly, we average 100,000 unique visitors per month and that number is growing by 30% per month, as mentioned above.

How have you been able to leverage your publishing arm to help

We have been working diligently with Musicians Hotline magazine to utilize their ties to the music equipment industry. This synergy is helping us educate the multitude of dealers about the benefit of using our site to tap into the huge Internet commerce sector. We are also able to use the publication to promote to the 27,000 music enthusiasts on the Musicians Hotline mailing list.

Will you drive the small, retail music equipment stores out of business? 

On the contrary, we will help retail outlets by providing them another way to reach the public. Perhaps the greatest benefit is the fact that we can offer them a variety of ways to reach the public: auctions, store front or classifieds ads at a comparatively low cost to going into e-commerce themselves.

Why would a young wannabe rock artist buy his/her guitar via your web site versus the local retail music store or through the classifieds in a trade publication? 

Buyers at the site will find gear that stores and musicians all over the world want to sell. This increases buyers' chances of finding what they want for the lowest possible price. Often these players are selling to generate quick cash, which means great deals for the buyer.

What is bought/sold the most through your site (amps, keyboards, guitars, etc.)? 

The most commonly sold items on our site are guitars, both acoustic and electric.

How much of your site is devoted to music memorabilia? 

About 10% of our site is devoted to music memorabilia.

What are some of the more notable memorabilia on your site?

We have various unique memorabilia such as autographs from Eddie Van Halen, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. 

Is most of the equipment sold/bought on your site new or used? 

Most of the equipment on our site is used.

Why don't you host your own site?'s strength lies in its relationships with its customers and industry marketing. We have invested our efforts in those areas and have found the best providers of specialized software to be able to help us carry this message in the fastest and most effective manner.

Who designed your site for you? 

We contracted with our sister publication's web division to handle the design and layout of the site.

Can I buy an old record player on your site? 

Yes, as well as records!

Auction Sites

Why did decide to auction items instead of retail new items?

There is tremendous growth potential in the used music equipment arena. It is estimated to be a $14 billion to $15 billion market, and as e-commerce becomes more and more popular, the number of buyers and sellers on the Web will increase. We are catching this trend on the upswing, and we see the potential for more individuals and established retailers to begin buying and selling their equipment through auction web sites. We do offer a storefront presence for retail stores who may not have items suitable for an auction setting, plus listings in our classified sections.

How does make money on auctioned items? is paid a commission on the items sold through the site. The commission breakdown follows: up to $500 is 5%, $501-$1,000 is 4%, and $1,001 and over is 3.5%.

Why have auction sites become so popular?

People like the chase and the hunt to find that special item at a price that is a steal.

Where does see e-commerce five years from now?

We see e-commerce becoming a multi-trillion dollar worldwide business.

What other auction sites compete with yours? 

Our main competitors are and, although their focus is more on a retail portal for dealers rather than an auction site for the individual consumer.

How will compete with large auction sites like Ebay?

Ebay is recognized as the largest auction site in the world for all types of goods. is dedicated to the music industry. That is our focus. By staying focused on the music niche, can provide a large volume, even beyond what Ebay can offer, yet make it easy to follow and bid on items for the user.

Are new items ever sold on your site? 

Yes, new items are often sold through professional retailers on our site.

Are there any items you do NOT allow to be sold on your site?

We screen out offensive and questionable material that may detract from the quality of the site. 

How do you prevent stolen items from being sold on your site? 

As with any auction site, to some degree you have to rely on the honesty of the users. That being said we make available our e-mail address at the bottom of every page for comments, and each seller can also have comments posted about them. We encourage bidders to notify us immediately if they are suspicious of any item or seller so that we can take immediate action.

Can someone under 18 years of age buy or sell equipment on your site? 

Yes, people of all ages are welcome to use our site. 

What are the advantages of buying or selling a musical instrument on your site?

If a seller lives in a small town where there are very few potential buyers of his or her equipment, using an auction site greatly increases the number of potential buyers. In other words, someone in Fort Dodge, Iowa can sell his amplifier to someone in Boone, North Carolina, where it may be difficult to buy such an item locally, or to someone in Los Angeles, where the item may be easy to find but cost much more money.

Where else can I go on the Internet to buy/sell music equipment? 

All of the major sites such as Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo! and AOL sell music equipment as well as other items, but again, these are not dedicated music equipment sites.

The Market

Why did you choose music equipment as your target market for an auction site?

We see it as a niche market with annual sales worldwide of at least $15 billion, of which on-line sales will grow exponentially during the next 3-5 years.

Who are you trying to target with your site?

We are targeting the professional and amateur music enthusiasts in the 25-45 year age group that number in the millions.

What are the demographics of people who come to your site (Age, sex, education, state, country, etc.) and do you see the demographics changing over the next year? Next three years? 

Currently, is not tracking demographics, but may begin doing so in the future.

What percentage of music equipment owners in the U.S. do you think know about 

We estimate we have reached approximately 3% to 5% of music equipment owners and buyers since going online in September through our advertising efforts in 1999.

How do you think that "mind share" of the market will change in the coming years?

We are targeting a 7% market share of online music sales over the next few years. We are also pushing for 75% name recognition, or "mind share," within the music industry over the next few years. We will accomplish this through continuous advertising on the Web and in print publications.

What are the top five states from which most of your visitors to your site come? 

The top five states from which we see most of our traffic are Virginia, Texas, California, Washington and Illinois.

What are the top five countries represented? 

The top five countries from which we see most of our traffic are the United States, Canada, England, Australia and Brazil.

Why would someone sell their trombone they used for high school band on your auction site versus running a classified ad in their local paper? 

They will have a much better chance of finding a buyer willing to pay the price they want, instead of depending on a local and low-demand market. 

What day of the week and time of day do the most buyers and sellers come to your site?

We see our site's traffic spike at 4:00 p.m. Central Time on Tuesdays. This is because many of our sellers time their item's auction for running from Monday through Tuesday of the following week. Buyers enter the site to bid on an item during the last few minutes of the auction, trying to ensure their success.

What is the lowest/highest price paid for something on your site?

The lowest price paid for items on our site is $5.00 for CD's, and the highest price paid was $10,000 for a Satriani Jungle Stratacaster.

What is the most unique item that has been sold on your site? 

The most unique item sold through our site was a Satriani Jungle Stratacaster guitar. It was one of only three ever made and it had a hand painted jungle scene with Joe Satriani's autograph.

What segment of the music industry uses your site (country, rock, rap, etc.)?

All types of musicians use our site. We currently do not track these demographics.

Why would someone in Chicago buy a harmonica or keyboard from someone in Hong Kong via your site? 

If it is the product they want for the price they want to pay, they will buy it from anywhere they can.

Do you keep an inventory of items bought and sold on your site?

Yes, we have an elaborate inventory system, and we keep track of all items sold through our site.

How big is the music equipment industry you are trying to tap into? 

The industry we are tapping into has $7 billion in annual U.S. sales, and $15 billion in worldwide sales.

Will you ever diversify into other areas? 

No, we will stay focused on the music industry.

Who is responsible for shipping an item bought on your site? The seller, or

Shipping is negotiated between the buyer and seller.

Who is responsible for an item being damaged or lost in transit to a buyer? only provides the forum for the transaction. Everything is negotiated between the buyers and sellers.




LOS ANGELES, CA – announced today from the International Association of Music Products (NAMM) trade show that Tom McKnight, former Hard Rock Cafe International Memorabilia Acquisitions Manager, has joined the team as Manager of Music Memorabilia Listing Development.

“We are very pleased that someone of McKnight’s calibre has joined  He brings a wealth of music memorabilia knowledge and dealer relationships that will allow us to quickly enhance our memorabilia content listings,” said Jim Kersten, President and Chief Executive Officer of

McKnight purchased all memorabilia used in Hard Rock Cafe International’s restaurants and venues. He researched, verified and maintained databases for each item, and developed and maintained relationships with music artists, vendors, private collectors and dealers worldwide.  McKnight will utilize his dealer relationships to grow the 8,400 dealer network.  The addition of McKnight will provide those seeking hard-to-find music memorabilia greater access to those items via the online auction, shopping cart, searchable database or classifieds.

“I’m excited to join such a dynamic and growing company as  My background with Hard Rock Cafe combined with’s business strategy on the web seemed like a natural fit and will enhance the company’s range of web offerings.  It is my goal to bring to at least 5,000 top quality memorabilia listings daily to the auction, classified and shopping cart sections of the website so that the customer has the widest, most comprehensive selection available anywhere on the Internet,” said McKnight.


FORT DODGE, IA - Heartland Communications Group, Inc.(HCG) has announced that their senior management team has created a new company for the purpose of maximizing HCG's database, mailing lists, equipment inventory and dealer network value in the multi-billion dollar new and used music equipment, parts and accessory industry.

The initial focus of will be an internet auction site for the 15 billion dollar music equipment industry that will offer on-line auctions. Heartland currently serves the music equipment industry via its Musicians Hotline magazine that brings together buyers and sellers of music equipment throughout North America.

The management team believes online auctions and electronic commerce has proven to be a profitable way to do business that allows regional businesses access to a worldwide audience of bidders while removing geographical boundaries. According to Forrester Research, Inc., sales from business to business online auctions generated $8.7 billion in 1998. Forrester predicts explosive growth within the next three years, estimating that sales will top $52 billion by 2002. plans to be a part of that explosive growth. has selected FairMarket AuctionPlace, a Woburn, Ma. based internet commerce company that offers hosting and support services for auctions that include fraud prevention, billing and collection, listing, category specification and customer service. Additionally FairMarket staff will provide marketing assistance and creative services that help to make online auction's successful. FairMarket provides the auction technology for more than 60 of the most successful sites on the Web, including the recently announced new auction and commerce site for LYCOS, the internet search engine with over 30 million users a month. Their customers are both large publicly traded companies, and private companies who are niche leaders, ranging from Internet firms, media companies and brick and mortar retailers. plans to launch its first on-line auction by September 1, 1999 located at is in negotiations with several public and private companies about expanding this business quickly during the next six to twelve months. will have its main office located initially in Fort Dodge, Iowa, with a branch office located in Los Altos Hills, California.


FORT DODGE, IA - A network of electronic commerce Internet Sites, including Microsoft Corporation, Lycos, and Fort Dodge, Iowa based have formed an online auction alternative to eBay, Inc., in order to offer consumers a broader choice. The announcement by FairMarket, the company that will host the network was made Friday Septber 17, 1999.

Scott Randall, chief executive of FairMarket Inc., the company that created the network, said "it will function like a virtual warehouse to which nearly 100 sites, including, will link their own auctions, in contrast to eBay's single marketplace".

Under the new plan, coordinated by FairMarket, items posted on one of the partners' auction sites will appear on the others. The aim is to make the auction offerings available to a far wider audience that is currently possible. The companies said their relationship creates a network that can reach more than 46 million unduplicated visitors, or 73.3 percent of all internet users.

"This is very exciting to us at and to our customers" said President and CEO Jim Kersten, "it will allow an offering posted on the auction site to be bid for by somebody through the Lycos or Excite auction pages, thus increasing exposure to all of our auction items and reach millions of people a day". This extra convenience for our customers gives them the best selection possible, with ease of use and a superior auction experience."


FORT DODGE, IA -, an e-commerce company that owns the Internet's largest music equipment/memorabilia auction site, has successfully completed a first round of financing through "angel" investors from Silicon Valley, Dallas and Boston, including executives from Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), Lycos (NASDAQ: LCOS) and A total of $1.0 million was raised. 

"The funding and partnerships we have established through our first round of financing will push closer toward its goal of cornering the $15 billion worldwide market of new and used music equipment, supplies and releated products," said Jim Kersten, chief executive officer of "We have quickly become the industry leader for our vertical market among Internet auction sites. Our strategy is to dominate this high-volume market by providing a 'one-stop-shop' for music enthusiasts on the Internet. We will also grow by acquiring other e-commerce companies targeting the music equipment and memorabilia market." 

The recent financing will be used to increase the company's inventory and visibility and to make acquisitions. "We plan a second and third round of financing at the $3 million to $10 million level in the next few months, with a possible IPO next year," Kersten added. 


FORT DODGE, IA -, an e-commerce company that owns the Internet's largest music equipment/memorabilia auction site, announced today that it has entered into an equipment listing contract with Manchester, New Hampshire-based Daddy's Junky Music Store (, a chain of stores specializing in high-quality new, used and vintage music equipment.

"Daddy's Junky Music Store will list 10,000 items daily from its inventory of used musical instruments and equipment, bringing's listings to 41,000," said Jim Kersten, president and chief executive officer of "This is a tremendous opportunity for both Daddy's and to increase visibility in the marketplace and generate greater revenues."

With 19 locations and an inventory of approximately 10,000 used guitars, amps, keyboards, drums, sound systems, recording gear and signal processing equipment, Daddy's Junky Music Store is the largest used equipment retailer in the world. Based on its 1998 sales, Daddy's was recently ranked #19 of the top 200 retail music stores in the country by industry publication, Music Trades. 

Fred Bramante, chief executive officer of Daddy's Junky Music Store, said, "We have been in business in the Northeast since 1972, and we are excited about this new avenue of retailing. We are impressed with and anticipate a profitable relationship. People who have shopped in our New England and New York stores will be joined by people around the world to access our huge inventory of products on the Internet through"