How To Set Up A Musical Instrument Manufacturing Business In The UAE

May 31, 2024

A niche industry in the UAE, specialists who focus on the manufacturing of musical instruments are very likely ahead of the game. The UAE has a growing music scene that’s picking up pace each year, allowing small-scale manufacturers and workshops to establish their presence amidst the import market, dominated by big names such as Yamaha and Fender.

There is ample opportunity for instrument makers to establish themselves in the UAE, especially for niche or custom instruments. Good craftsmanship combined with an effective marketing strategy can place an instrument maker on the map. 

The process of musical instrument manufacturing can vary depending on the instrument itself, generally encompassing design, material selection, component building, assembly, finishing, and stringent quality control. Of course, each category of instruments is unique and produces sound differently, which means each requires reliable expertise. 

From percussion to string, wind, and electronic, the segments are vast, and an instrument manufacturer can choose whether or not to focus on one specialty or diversify. Depending on the instruments you wish to manufacture, there are a range of business licenses under the overarching group 3220 that we at SPC Free Zone recommend. 

The biggest advantage of selecting these is that SPC Free Zone provides each of these licenses instantly, along with a guaranteed banking account in three working days and unlimited visas for investors, partners, and employees. 

3220.01 – Manufacture of stringed instruments

String instruments are those played directly by a musician’s hands by plucking or bowing the strings. For example, guitars, violins, cellos, and harps – all incredibly popular instruments – are string instruments. Under this category are sub-categories as well, where instruments can be divided into plucked instruments or bowed instruments. 

Musicians who opt for string instruments prefer having more control over each individual string, and this is a skill that requires intense coordination and practice. Any instrument manufacturer should know that the guitar is perhaps the most popular string instrument in the world, followed by the violin. Smaller stringed instruments like the ukulele are gaining in popularity as well, so instrument manufacturers must keep up with the trends. 

  • Third-party Approval: No third-party approval is required for this business activity.
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 3220.01 is exempt from this requirement.
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 3220.01 is exempt from this requirement.

3220.02 – Manufacture of keyboard stringed instruments, including automatic pianos

This category is where pianos, harpsichords, harmoniums, accordions, and organs come into play. While these also fall under the category of stringed instruments, there is a mechanical layer that exists between the musician and the strings, activated by pressing keys on a keyboard. 

Pressing a key triggers a mechanism that strikes or plucks the string, creating a sound. This allows for the playing of multiple strings simultaneously and easier creation of chords. The piano is by far the most popular instrument under this category, and it can be found in a variety of settings including hotel lobbies, restaurants, and in stage musical performances, of course. 

Automatic pianos, also sometimes called player pianos or pianolas, are pianos that can play music by themselves. They have a built-in mechanism that operates the piano keys instead of needing a human pianist. For entrepreneurs beginning their foray into the manufacture of musical instruments, ones that are the highest in demand may be a good place to start. 

  • Third-party Approval: No third-party approval is required for this business activity..
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 3220.02 is exempt from this requirement.
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 3220.02 is exempt from this requirement.

3220.05 – Manufacture of wind instruments

The manufacture of wind instruments involves a fascinating interplay of tradition and technology. Wind instruments have been around for centuries, holding cultural significance in various traditions around the world. 

Musicians who play wind instruments are vital components of bands, orchestras, and wind ensembles. This is because of the wide tonal range and musical styles wind instruments can seamlessly create. For example, an oboe fits perfectly into orchestral music while a trumpet is an iconic sound in the world of jazz.

In terms of construction, there are two main groups: woodwinds and brasswinds. Woodwinds comprise popular instruments such as the flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, and bassoon. Meanwhile, brasswinds are trumpets, french horns, trombones, and tubas. 

Each of the above instruments has its own specific market, ranging from schools and universities to professional musicians, recreational players, and collectors. To break into the market, instrument makers must develop strong marketing strategies, targeting the right audiences and using tactics like artist endorsements, trials and rentals, and stellar customer service. 

  • Third-party Approval: No third-party approval is required for this business activity..
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 3220.05 is exempt from this requirement.
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 3220.05 is exempt from this requirement.

3220.06 – Manufacture of percussion musical instruments

Percussion instruments come in all shapes and sizes, and can be made from a variety of materials. Drums are perhaps the most well-known percussion instrument. Other instruments include cymbals, kettledrums, xylophones, tambourines, maracas, bongos, vibraphones, and more. 

While some of these may have a lower demand in the UAE market, in comparison to instruments like the drum, identifying the niche target market that needs high-quality percussion instruments can bring in a steady stream of customers. 

Percussion instruments are known for utilizing a wide variety of materials, including wood, metals, plastics, synthetic animal skins, and even recycled materials such as fiberglass. In some cultures, percussion instruments are made using traditional techniques and locally sourced materials. These instruments often hold significant cultural value. Any manufacturer would benefit from understanding the cultural significance behind certain instruments, reflecting this in the manufacturing process.

  • Third-party Approval: No third-party approval is required for this business activity..
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 3220.06 is exempt from this requirement.
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 3220.06 is exempt from this requirement.

3220.07 – Manufacture of musical instruments, the sound of which is produced electronically

An entrepreneur looking to manufacture musical instruments would be remiss to ignore electronic music instruments (EMIs) – a vast and ever-evolving category. Unlike traditional instruments that rely on physical vibrations to create sound, electronic music instruments use electronic circuits and digital manipulation to produce and alter sounds. 

Let’s explore what some of these instruments are.

Digital synthesizers: Commonly called synths, these can generate a wide range of sounds, from classic analog textures to complex digital waves. Synthesizers are capable of producing sounds far beyond the range of conventional musical instruments. They’re commonly used for the composition of electronic music and in live performances.

Samplers: These instruments capture and playback short recordings. Musicians manipulate these samples by triggering them with keys, pads, or sequencers, creating unique melodies and sounds. 

Drum machines: Specializing percussion sounds, of course, a drum machine allows a musician to build their own beat using samples or synthesized sounds.

DJ Equipment: Easily one of the most popular electronic instruments, this allows modern musicians to blend between tracks, apply effects, and create music that can shift with cultural trends.

Digital Audio Workstations: With this software, recording studios can allow musicians to record, edit, arrange, mix, and master their music. A top-notch recording studio is always in high demand.

There are several other electronic music instruments out there, such as MIDI controllers and electronic effects processors. Remember that catering to the modern musician will always give you an edge as a manufacturer. 

  • Third-party Approval: No third-party approval is required for this business activity..
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 3220.07 is exempt from this requirement.
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 3220.07 is exempt from this requirement.
Here’s an important note; under any of the above business activities (3220.01, 3220.02, 3220.05, 3220.06 3220.07), a manufacturer cannot produce or engage in: 
Reproductions of pre-recorded sound and video tapes and discsMicrophones, amplifiers, loudspeakers, headphonesRecord players and tape recordersToy musical instrumentsRestoration of organs and other historic musical instrumentsPublishing of pre-recorded sound and video tapes and discs Piano tuning

Did you find what you were looking for? Explore the other guides in our Activity Hub for exploring unique business ideas in Dubai and navigate the essentials of business setup with ease.

You can also calculate your business setup costs easily using our handy cost calculator and choose from our customized company setup packages to find your perfect fit.

Get your business license in the UAE today and explore a world of opportunities waiting for you.

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