The handpan business has become flooded with an array of characters with get rich quick schemes on their minds and dollar signs in their eyes.
A huge bane of my existence are the self-styled handpan "producers" who not only cannot tune the instruments they "produce", but also sell totally unrelated products i.e. Women's clothing as a main business.
A specific handpan "producer" comes to mind in fact, and if you have been on eBay following the handpan market regularly for any length of time, you will know which "producer" I am speaking of.
Let's be honest, would you trust a handpan "producer" who when you check out their eBay seller's page has 1 handpan for sale and 100 articles of women's clothing?
Would you think this is a genuine "producer" of handpans who is involved in the "production" of handpans, or a purveyor of women's clothing who is trying to test out the handpan market waters in order to see if a foothold in the market can be gained?
In my honest opinion, you either specialize in pan or you do not. You either live by the pan or you die by the pan, but there is NO in between as far as a Pan purists like myself are concerned. Especially if that in between is WOMEN'S CLOTHING!
In the Reggae music business, which is a business where the actual artists have historically been exploited by the record producers, producers who engage in the music business in such an exploitative, capitalist manner are legitimately referred to as "reducers". The name "reducer" is quite apt as these "producers" who engage in the business of exploitation often have their own financial bottom lines as a top priority, while completely lacking any genuine love for the Reggae music genre as a whole.
These reducers see Reggae music as a mere opportunity in which to exploit individuals (artists) for financial gain and often lack any artistic ability themselves. Many reducers wish that they themselves could be the artists in the spotlight, but seeing that many lack the actual artistic talent, it is no surprise they try to live vicariously through the artists whom they exploit through their role as a "producer" while simultaneously engaging in the business of exploitation.
In a similar manner, the handpan business on the whole consists of makers/tuners who are literally artists, who can become prey to unscrupulous reducers who wish to exploit them or the general handpan market.
As in the Reggae music business, these handpan reducers generally have no handpan making/tuning expertise and usually desire such artistic ability. In light of the fact that these handpan reducers cannot tune a Pan to save their own lives, they actively seek out pan makers/tuners whom they can literally use to farm out/outsource the production of their instruments while the reducer receives credit as a "producer".
It has been my experience that it is usually the case that artists generally have a lack of business acumen, which can result in them being taken advantage of by reducers either directly or indirectly. Pan makers/tuners are no exception as it is extremely rare that one is blessed with the ability to be competent in pan making/tuning AND sales/marketing. As is the case in music, where it is extremely rare to find an artist who is capable of both making quality music and competent self-promotion.
However, this is not to say that actual, genuine producers with a true love for the music do not exist, but they are a rare breed indeed.
Promoters who engage in the business of exploitation of artists and the industry are widely known as "demoters" in Reggae music circles. "Demoters" is another fitting name for the handpan reducers in question as they only wish to promote themselves on the backs of others and give themselves the air of being a pan maker/tuner to the general public when they are the furthest thing from it. As a result, the business on the whole is demoted as it becomes watered down/saturated with each new reducer/demoter who enters the market.
In fact, the women's clothing seller in question who has decided that the handpan market is ripe for exploitation went from pan tuner to pan tuner seeking a tuner which he could use to farm out/outsource his production. I personally know and have spoken to a few makers/tuners who were either approached by him or decided to tune instruments for him and from the sheer number of tuners who were approached by this reducer, it is obvious that this reducer combed through the EU Rolodex of pan makers/tuners and made numerous cold calls, desperately looking for someone whom he could employ to farm out his production and gain a foothold in the handpan market as a "producer".
Apparently, after a revolving door of tuners and company names, this reducer in question seems to be in a comfortable arrangement with a maker/tuner who just so happens to be notorious for co-opting/stealing the name of a Caribbean cultural institution and using that name to brand his instruments.
A match made in heaven (or hell) if you ask me!