Canadian Music Trade December / January 2023 | Page 25

window in Quebec . I think there ’ s more that ties us together than separates us , but there are definitely differences . Even in this country there ’ s regional differences , but I think Canada is different . A lot of things that work here will work there and I think a lot of the movement of music is very similar . There are probably some differences in the DJ market . I don ’ t know if the DJ culture is quite as strong in Canada as it is here [ in the U . S .], but it certainly is still a strong market for us at Pioneer DJ . When I was working at DigiTech , [ then a Harman brand ], it was very similar and what sold well in one place also sold well in the other .
CMT : How would you describe the current health of the DJ products market in North America ?
Powell : I ’ d say the market is still good . I can only speak for Pioneer DJ and I know our competitors make quality products and they have good sales as well . I think the market right now is very strong . It is shifting a bit . So , if you want , it might make more sense to go back to when the pandemic and lockdowns hit …
CMT : Yes , that was actually going to be my next question . During the pandemic , instruments like guitars and keyboards , as we all know , sold extremely well , while band instruments and live sound products were hit badly . I don ’ t know much about how DJ products weathered the pandemic ?
Powell : So , DJ equipment benefits from the fact that it ’ s extremely portable . I mean , mobile DJ is the biggest market in both of our countries as a subsector of the DJ market . So , that benefitted us .
When the pandemic started in March 2020 , there was a period where everything just stopped . For about two weeks , there were no orders , just nothing . And then , in early April 2020 , we just started seeing an explosion of online orders . It was like , “ What ’ s going on here ?” because our direct channel had never been big . It was mostly accessories or moms looking for something junior wanted and had no idea Long & McQuade or Guitar Center exists . Then , all of a sudden , we were getting a lot of orders . Now remember , Guitar Center and Sam Ash were shut down , Amazon was focused on toilet paper and cleansers and things like that . So , it was an explosion of orders and it was for everything , but especially a lot for the entry- and mid-level stuff . Entry level always does well , but mid-level kind of just plugs along . Typically , what happens is the pros will buy the high-level stuff and everyone new buys the entry-level , so the mid-level stuff just sits there . Suddenly , some of that stuff was getting cleaned out and that just continued , and then the stimulus money started rolling in .
So , I think this is where there was a big diversion between the U . S . and Canada . In Canada , the shutdown was a true shut down and online [ sales ], for our industry , was still not where it should have been — or at least it was not where it was here . Here in the U . S ., people were getting very comfortable buying online . I think in our industry , in Canada , that wasn ’ t so much the case . Obviously , there are people who were , but it wasn ’ t the level of sales that it was here . And so , that ’ s where we benefited but I know from SFM , our Canadian distributor , initially people scrambled to overcome that . They did , eventually , but they had to build an infrastructure very quickly .
So , we just saw an explosion of sales , stimulus money started rolling in , and we were just on cloud nine . Our problem just became how we could get product quickly . So , that continued for a while and then in 2021 , we started getting wind of shortages . At first , it was A-to-D converter chips , and then it was LCD screens , and then the semiconductor thing hit and we ’ re still dealing with that now .
So , over that period of time , we did
well . A lot of the club DJs who knew they ’ d be stuck at home for a while , they wanted to stay fresh , so they bought gear to use at home to keep their skills intact . That ’ s probably where a lot of mid-level stuff went . That ’ s the benefit of us building our products like an ecosystem , where there ’ s a lot of similarities and as you go up and up in price and quality , you get more functions , but the basic functionality is very similar throughout the product range .
So , then when things started opening up again , I guess in mid-2021 , we started going up because , in the meantime , we ’ d introduced things like the CDJ-3000 , so we then sold a lot of those to clubs , production companies , and rental companies that didn ’ t have them . That ’ s really when sales shifted . By then , a lot of the hobbyists had gotten what they wanted and they were moving on to other things . That ’ s continued now , but now we ’ re just struggling . For the volume of product we manufacture , we just can ’ t get enough semiconductors .
So , right now , to answer your question about the market , I ’ d say the demand is very strong for DJ products . There ’ s definitely been a drop off in the hobbyist stuff , we still do well at the entry level , but it ’ s kind of gone back to normal and that ’ s been the case for several months now . There are certain things , like studio monitors is a good one , where there ’ s a glut . Everyone who needed studio monitors for their home got them [ during the pandemic ] and they don ’ t break that fast . Everybody is facing the same thing and it ’ s just one of those things . Like USB