About Presto Music
Based in Royal Leamington Spa, UK, Presto Music is the UK’s leading ecommerce site for classical and jazz recordings (CDs, DVDs, high quality downloads and vinyl), printed music, music books and musical instruments. Founded in 1986 as a small high street shop, the Presto Music website was started in 2001 and has grown into one of the most significant online sites for music products in the world.
With over 160,000 classical recordings, over 70,000 jazz recordings, over 850,000 sheet music titles, more than 60,000 music books and over 40,000 musical instruments to browse and purchase online (of which tens of thousands are in stock and available for immediate dispatch), Presto offers an extensive catalogue to suit musicians and music-lovers, accepting payment in 15 different currencies and shipping to over 200 countries worldwide.
Alongside its wide-ranging catalogue, decades of experience, excellent customer service and staff with expert classical music knowledge, Presto prides itself on outstanding data and unique editorial content, ranging from reviews of new products to exclusive interviews with artists and composers, researched and written by the in-house editorial team.
Ken and Diana Ross, two well-known names on the Leamington music scene, open Presto Music in Portland Street: their son Tony works as the shop manager.
Initially the shop sells only sheet music, then quite soon after stringed and wind instruments, and a little later, in the basement, cassettes as well. CDs were the last addition.
During this period the CD part of the shop moves to separate premises a few doors up. The Instrument and Sheet Music part remains Presto Music and the CD section becomes Presto Classical.
Threatened with closure, local businessman and classical music lover Maurice Millward purchases Presto Classical, at that point just a CD shop in Portland Street, as the Sheet Music and Instrument sides of the business closed the previous year.
Immediately seeing the potential of the internet for future sales, Maurice recruits his friend, IT professional and clarinet player David Ferrer and his son Rob, a Computer Science student at the University of York, to build a website.
The website goes live in August 2001, featuring the 500 Rosette Winners in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs Yearbook.
4 August: First online order received from a gentleman living near Crewe: Weber Symphonies 1 & 2 on Naxos, and Suk String Quartets on CRD.
11 September: Maurice appoints a young Chris O'Reilly, a University of Birmingham music graduate, then working at Kensington Chimes, as the Manager of the business.
I thought he was too young, but he knew about music so I took him, Millward says.
The company receives a further 7 online orders between August and the end of 2001 - not an epic start!
The website begins allowing international orders, and received its first non-UK order from a lady in Los Angeles.
The shop moves to 11 Park Street, and begins selling sheet music, instruments and accessories, as well as offering hire and repair services.
Presto Music begins using 100% Green Energy.
Presto hires the first part-time despatcher, Jim Goodman, responsible for picking and packing the website orders.
Website turnover surpasses the turnover in the shop.
The shop moves from number 11 to number 7 Park Street, acquiring more space upstairs for web orders and more space downstairs to add digital pianos to the range of instruments.
This year Presto Music also launches a weekly newsletter, featuring a Recording of the Week/opinion-piece on the industry by Chris O'Reilly, the first one being on Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's first Debussy recording on Chandos.
Maurice turns the business into a limited company.
The website begins offering Sheet Music, now totalling over 800,000 titles - the first purchase was from a customer in Hong Kong ordering a selection of Lutosławski scores.
The area above the shop becomes too small to manage web orders, then averaging 4500 per week: the company takes on 10-18 Park Street for warehousing.
Presto Music joins Facebook: back then Facebook encouraged the use of the third person!
Launch of download offerings - the first customer was a gentleman in Florida who purchased a recording of Rostropovich playing the Dvořák Cello Concerto (a live recording from the Proms in 1968, made the same day that Soviet tanks rolled into Prague).
Presto Music joins Twitter.
Presto receives its 250,000th customer order.
Presto takes on a new IT office at 6 Park Street, to allow for the expansion of the IT team beyond David and Rob Ferrer to a team of 5, which allows for continuing improvement to the rapidly-growing website.
Presto wins Best Classical Music Instrument Shop at the Music Industries Association annual awards.
Hi-Resolution downloads made available, and the Manufacture on Demand service launches with the 50 CDs of the Penguin Rosette Collection.
Countertenor Iestyn Davies becomes Presto's first interviewee, discussing his new recording of Dowland lute songs on Hyperion with David Smith from the digital/editorial team.
The inaugural Presto Music Awards are announced in December, with winners including Martha Argerich & Daniel Barenboim, Benjamin Grosvenor, Franco Fagioli and Sir Colin Davis.
Graham Southern (formerly of EMI and Universal Music) joins Presto as Chief Operating Officer.
Maurice, now in his late eighties, exits the company to enjoy his retirement.
10 October: the redesigned website is launched. The new site uses more modern technologies which will enable growth and improved features such as a better listing of download availability, and will be more usable on tablet and mobile devices.
Presto receives its 1,000,000th customer order.
The warehouse moves to Trident Business Park in Warwick, and editorial and IT team relocate to 10-18 Park Street.
September: the books department launches, offering over 60,000 music related books. The first purchase is Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World.
Matt Groom (formerly of RSK) joins Presto shortly afterwards to head up jazz editorial. The Jazz department launches in December, now offering over 70,000 jazz recordings. The first purchase is two Erroll Garner recordings: The Complete Concert by the Sea, and Yesterdays.
October: Alex Preston folds his woodwind repairs business into Presto Music, which now also offers servicing for brass and strings.
October: the Instruments and Accessories department launches, totalling 40,000 items for the department and more than 1 million for Presto Music in total. The first order is for Rico Cork Grease.
October: Presto Music joins Instagram.
On the 35th anniversary of the company, and the 20th anniversary of the website, a new brand is launched, with a fresh logo and a renewed corporate identity.
A Presto app is also introduced to enable offline listening as well as new innovative features for the website including My Library.