Tokyo — These are tough times for the music business. Outdoor concerts and music festivals are in hiatus, and prospects for a return to live entertainment venues and arena performances seem ever more remote. In Japan, nightclubs have become virtual no-go zones since a live performance house in Osaka became the center of a largeoutbreak.
Contemplating this bleak landscape, the 100-plus employees of the Pearl Musical Instrument Company could be forgiven for singing the blues. Like many other firms here, they were anxious to lend a helping hand in the fight against COVID-19. Some companies haveto manufacture masks, gowns and face shields. But for the 70-year-old global powerhouse of percussion instruments based outside Tokyo, nothing seemed quite in tune with their line of work.
The solution appeared out of the blue in May, via viral tweet. As hand sanitizer bottles become ubiquitous outside stores, offices and even homes, a whimsical snapshot began to circulate — someone had come up with the idea of rigging up a drum kit's hi-hat cymbal stand to dispense hand sanitizer, creating an eye-catching and usefully hands-free disinfection stand just outside their front door.
Twitter thought it was hilarious. Pearl found it brilliant.
Technicians got to work, removing the cymbals from a hi-hat stand and adding a small table for the cleanser bottle. Instead of cymbals smashing together, stomping on the pedal depresses the pump on a disinfectant bottle, delivering a dose of virus-killing liquid. As an integral part of drum sets, the pedals are built for rugged use, easy to set up and portable.
At 15,000 Yen (about $138), the "drum set disinfection stand" was priced below cost, and meant to be a one-off gesture.
"We planned a limited run," Pearl's planning manager, Masahiko Ohtomo, told CBS News. "But we ended up selling out in just two days." The hi-hat disinfection model, the company decided, would remain in the catalog. Ohtomo declined to provide sales figures.
Medical device companies offer hands-free dispensers, Ohtomo noted, but none, he avers, carry the panache of a hi-hat stand.
"Lots of people have never had the chance to play the drums," he said. "It wouldn't be cool if it wasn't a hi-hat stand."