Competition to sell muscial instruments to the masses has never been fiercer. Low prices are everywhere. So how can Guitar Center (the Wal-Mart of instruments) compete? By recognizing the competition faced by locally based musicians. Guitar Center has developed a sound understanding of musicians who want to establish a following and begun providing them all sorts of tools and programs like the one mentioned below.
WSJ.com: Gwendolyn Bounds' Enterprise Column (paid subscription required)
Guitar Center has developed a series of contests (think "American Idol" but with instruments) that start out with musicians competing in their hometown stores for the privilege of eventually performing nationally before a panel of well-known judges -- among them, Marilyn Manson's guitarist and the drummer from Red Hot Chili Peppers.