It ’ s Arriving When ???
And Going to Cost How Much ?!
How Supply Chain Issues & Inflation Are Hitting MI & Pro Audio
By Michael Raine
Baby formula , helium , sriracha hot sauce , coffee , diapers , cars , smart phones , etc ., etc ., etc . If you ’ ve paid attention to the news in recent months , the competing crises of inflation , product shortages , and supply chain issues have dominated the discussion and affected every product category . There is no single reason for it — it spans from factory fires in Japan to drought in Brazil to lockdowns in China and rising consumer demand in America . At this moment , when many expected high times as the pandemic receded into the background , the world ’ s economy has instead been consumed by a perfect storm of supply , logistical , and cost issues . No industry has been spared , and the issues are so all-pervasive , so it seemed about time that we ask around and find out what specifically is ailing the MI and pro audio products industries .
In so many recent conversations I ’ ve had with folks on the products side of the music and audio industries , huge wait times and rising costs for products have been regular topics . Even if that wasn ’ t what the conversation was initially about , it would come up . There ’ s just no avoiding the reality at the moment that products of all kinds are hard to get ( at least in any kind of timely manner ) and costing more .
“ There ’ s a lot of different areas we could focus on here ,” begins Jeff Carman when we meet over Zoom . As the senior vice president at Exertis JAM , Carman helps oversee an array Canadian pro audio and MI distribution companies in Erikson Audio , Erikson Music , Korg Canada , HPC , and B & J Music , as well as its pro AV division . “ One is , of course , labour ,” he continues . “ So , you have a lot of stuff that ’ s made in China , and they ’ ve certainly been hit by COVID . So , factories have shut down , people have been isolated . Just the manufacturing process itself has slowed down . Components , especially on the pro audio side , have been very , very affected . And there ’ s the chip shortage going back all the way to the time of the AKM fire [ in October 2020 ], which seems to have never quite recovered . So here we are , all this time into this whole disruption and in many ways , things are not getting better in terms of the chip shortage . I mean , I have some suppliers , I won ’ t tell you who they are , but I ’ ve tried to order stuff from them and now they ’ re saying , ‘ Yeah , you ’ ll have it sometime in 2023 .’ So , there seems to be no real catch up to the original starting line .”
Then , of course , there ’ s transportation of products , which has also been a well-documented disaster .
“ Stuff that we originally thought would be here three months ago is only now arriving ,” says Carman in early July . “ I think that ’ s gotten a little bit better but it still is a big , big problem . And along with that also comes higher costs , of course , not just for transportation , not just for computer chips , but all the other components that go into the manufacturing process , as well , from metal and so on . So , it ’ s like the perfect storm , if you will .”
The idea of a “ perfect storm ” of negative
factors is a reoccurring one in many these conversations . So , let ’ s take it one issue at a time to explain what ’ s going on .
As a manufacturer , distributor , and retailer in the pro audio and MI industries , Steve Long , the president and CEO of Yorkville Sound and Long & McQuade , has a well-rounded perspective on what ’ s going on . For him , there are three key issues , which are the unavailability of parts , the skyrocketing cost of freight , and increasing consumer demand .
“ Especially in China , COVID has been very intermittent over there . You know , a certain factory would close and then open again , and then another factory would close . But the problem is , for us who do manufacturing , you ’ ve got parts coming from a hundred different places to make something . So , you only have to miss one of those parts and you can ’ t make [ the product ]. So , we ’ ve spent an awful lot of time reengineering to work around various parts that were unavailable . So , that ’ s been a challenge ,” Long reveals . “ Where that passes on is , so now you ’ ve got people who
24 CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE