dB Enterprises ’ Dave Lindberg
Metalworks ’ Gil Moore
Exertis JAM ’ s Jeff Carman
Solotech ’ s Mickey Curbishley
Long & McQuade & Yorkville Sound ’ s Steve Long
Vancouver or wherever else on the east coast of North America , there ’ s are boats just sitting there because the dock workers aren ’ t unloading . So , there ’ s a finite number of containers , and there ’ s nothing going back to China . So , it ’ s hard to pick up and keep the product moving .”
The result down the line is this has a major impact on production companies and anyone involved in time sensitive projects like concert tours .
“ Asset management is critical in a business like ours ,” notes Mickey Curbishley in an email to Canadian Music Trade . He ’ s the president of Solotech ’ s Live Productions Division in the U . S . and U . K ., who are responsible for some of music ’ s biggest worldwide tours , such as the current stadium tours by The Weeknd and Coldplay . “ We spend most of our day trying to work out how we can fill orders for global touring clients who are facing logistical challenges of their own . When we throw supply chain uncertainty into the mix , it gets even more complicated . The rising costs are one thing , but delivery times are what really kill you . Our clients expect us to deliver whatever the circumstance and that ’ s the hardest thing for the team right now . Nobody wants to let their clients down and , so far , we have managed to hold it together , but it ’ s been a rough ride with no clear end in sight .”
Now , as Long mentioned at the beginning , the third biggest contributing factor to rising costs and availability is simply soaring consumer demand .
“ Certain things where demand went very , very low for a couple years , like PA systems , well now all of a sudden that demand is going the other way . So , there ’ s more demand but the supply is kind of fixed to what it was . We can produce about the same amount as we did before but we ’ re having more demand ,” says Long . “ For the first time probably ever at the retail level , we ’ re telling people , ‘ We don ’ t have a sound system for you this weekend .’ I mean , we ’ re trying to piece together bits and pieces the best we can , but it ’ s a lot more difficult . Our model had always been almost
like you don ’ t need to reserve anything , just come in because we got lots of stuff , right ? But that ’ s not quite the same anymore , at least right now .”
At the retail level , Long says that from March to July 2022 , overall demand has gone up 60-70 %. “ Anytime the demand goes up that much , you ’ re going to run out of product ,” he adds .
This has been a bit of a double-edged sword for retailers , Long says , because on the one hand , sales are great , but then they ’ re also forced to be bearer of bad news for customers who have to wait months for an order , but the retailers are only passing on the timelines they ’ ve been given by their suppliers .
Explaining the position manufacturers find themselves in , Long explains : “ Think of a Strat , it ’ s pretty easy to make . You just take a chunk of wood , throw it in a router . But look at a Gretsch semi-solid body , it ’ s way more work . So , when you have enough staff to build both of those items , you say , ‘ We ’ ll build 100 of these and 20 of these ’ and everybody ’ s happy . But then the market says , ‘ Well , we want 200 of these and 40 of those .’ You go , ‘ Well , I could make 200 of these if I don ’ t make any of those , because it takes just as much time to make 20 [ of the semi-solid bodies ] as it does to make 100 Strats .’ So , what happens is the guy who placed the order for one of the 20 , the company said it would be shipping in August or whatever , and then they say , ‘ Actually , we ’ re going to ship it in January .’ So , of course , who gets to deliver the bad news ? The retailer . And the customer ’ s version is , ‘ You guys lied to me because you said you ’ d have it in August .’ You ’ re stuck going , ‘ Well , we didn ’ t actually lie , but we understand you ’ re mad .’ It ’ s hard conversation to have . So , I guess that ’ s where the challenge for retailers is , is to manage expectations as best you can .”
Eventually , but no one knows when , shortages and delays will lessen and so too should costs . But for the time being , current supply chain issues are having real impacts out in the field . “ If you have an opportunity for a big install right now , the first question is , ‘ Can we get the stuff ?’ Depending on what it is you need to get , if it ’ s pretty sophisticated gear , then chances are you ’ re not going to get it quickly . So , it ’ s completely disruptive to what we ’ re doing ,” says Gil Moore , founder of Metal Studios and Metalworks Production Group in Mississauga , ON . He even mentions a fourth headache affecting business right now , which is lack of labour . “ We ’ ve been walking away from a lot of opportunities . There is no really good workaround that I ’ m familiar with . As far as inventory is concerned , inventory at a high level . ‘ Hoarded ’ is the wrong word , but people in the space that have inventory are sort of holding on to their inventory , for obvious reasons . I mean , you ’ re seeing this right down with the live shows and the lack cross rentals . You can ’ t cross rent from many companies in the business right now because their inventory is over-spoken for . Or it ’ s other reasons , like they don ’ t have the labour to put orders out the door , which is another equally complex part of the puzzle . The lack of labour is an industry-wide issue and it ’ s very obvious to anybody in the business . And I think many of the people are not coming back , either ; they ’ ve moved on with their lives .”
Understandably , no one Canadian Music Trade spoke to wants to offer predictions on when these issues will subside . As Carman says , “ There ’ s too many factors that can go in too many different directions . There ’ s talk of recession and what ’ s that going to do ? Is that going to slow things down ? There ’ s talk of a twenty-seventh wave or whatever it ’ s going to be that shuts things down . So , sure , if things get shut down again , then demand goes down for certain things . If there ’ s a recession , that also changes things . So , I don ’ t think my guess would be any better than any other person ’ s who ’ s just rolling the dice and saying ‘ this is what we ’ re going to get .’”
All you can do is try to weather the storm , be proactive and flexible , and hope for
the best .
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade .
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