Shop Spotlight: Riffs & Licks Music in Brisbane, Australia

Centrally located just a stone’s throw from Fortitude Valley and right around the corner from The Triffid is Brisbane's Riffs & Licks Music, the newest music shop in the city.

Though Riffs & Licks Music is newly opened, the guys behind the store have all worked in the industry for many years and were motivated to open a music shop that catered, first and foremost, to the customer.

We had a chance to sit down with the guys behind Riffs & Licks to hear a little more about how they got started, what it is about the business that keeps them passionately engaged, and their current favorite pieces of gear in the shop.

Owner Ryan Kerr and Guitar Manager Matt Newton

What motivated you to open Ricks & Licks Music?

I started at Musician’s Pro Shop over 15 years ago and hired Matt 10 years ago. We both managed that store at different stages. Eric also started at that store over four years ago.

With the takeover of Allans Billy Hyde, we all worked there for a couple of years in roles such as buying, sales, and wholesale representative. Robbie had been working in drum stores for over 15 years and also joined us at Allans Billy Hyde for a couple of years. So we all have a wealth of experience working in music retail.

I decided that Brisbane deserved an independent store that really focussed on the customer, and with that, Riffs & Licks Music was born.

What are you guys hoping to achieve with the new business? Anything that excites you about coordinating your own independent shop?

We just want to look after the local music community with awesome brands, friendly advice, and great deals. After working for a large chain, you get to see the best and worst of what a music store should offer, and that has really shaped what we are doing here.

We are just musos—not big business—so there’s no ego, no politics or profiteering. Riffs & Licks is about providing a hangout for musos to come chat about and try out gear without any of the pressure.

What is it that keeps you passionate about music retail after so many years?

I think it’s knowing that we are helping people create music. In a world with so many negatives, playing music can affect such a positive change on people. Whether it’s a kid following his rock star dreams or an older retiree who wants to keep their mind active, our passion comes from seeing people enjoying the art of playing music.

The Drum Section at Riffs & Licks Music

What’s your favourite bit of gear in the shop right now?

There are quite a few cool toys, and we each have our favourites. Matt digs the Bias Head by Positive Grid for modelling and versatility. Eric is loving the Eastman archtop & hollowbody guitars. They’re not that well-known yet, but they make amazing instruments for the price.

Robbie can’t stop playing the Gretsch USA Broadkaster kit we have here. For me, I love the fact we have a second-hand dealers licence, so we have both consignment and trade-in items on the floor. Currently, I’m loving a used Taylor 326e Baritone acoustic guitar.

What role do you see Reverb playing in your business?

As a new business, Reverb will play a huge part in increasing our exposure to the wider market. In the future, we can see Reverb supplementing our store sales, especially for used and unique product where a wider reach is needed. It’s also a valuable resource to gauge the market for second-hand prices.

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