Germany fines musical instrument sector for orchestrating prices

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A group of Yamaha Revstar Series electric guitars, including a RS502TFMX, RS702B, RS720BX and a RS820CR, taken on June 14, 2019. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
A group of Yamaha Revstar Series electric guitars, including a RS502TFMX, RS702B, RS720BX and a RS820CR, taken on June 14, 2019. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
  • Three makers of musical instruments and two dealers have been issued fines for price fixing. 
  • Germany's Federal Cartel Office said the groups systematically limited price competition. 
  • The leading instrument makers include Yamaha, Roland and Fender. 


Germany's competition watchdog said Thursday it has slapped three leading makers of musical instruments and two dealers with heavy fines for price-fixing.

The Federal Cartel Office said in a statement that it fined heavyweights Yamaha, Roland and Fender a total 21 million euros ($25 million) for acting in concert to "systematically" limit price competition.

Two dealers, Thomann and Music Store, were also fined.

According to the watchdog, the companies colluded in setting minimum prices for their goods.

When these were undercut, the instrument makers would contact the dealers and ask them to increase their prices.

Yamaha and Roland both used price-tracking software to monitor and ensure dealers stayed in tune with minimum prices, the cartel office said.

"For years, manufacturers and retailers of musical instruments have systematically endeavoured to restrict price competition for the end consumer," said cartel office chief, Andreas Mundt.

"With this fine, the Federal Cartel Office is sending a clear signal not just to the affected companies, but to the musical instrument sector as a whole that infringing the ban on price-fixing will not be tolerated."

The proceedings were initiated in April 2018 with a dawn raid following tip-offs from market participants, the cartel office said

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