CMT : Do you see the retailers themselves having a significant part in turning young EDM fans into DJs or are they just the point of conversion where the sale is made ? mics , everyone has a couple of them now ! We ’ ve satisfied the demand , so you basically pulled forward demand for a year or two and brought it into a new condensed period of time . So , eventually these things will iron themselves out and the glut will diminish and we ’ ll get back to normal . But for DJ products , we ’ re still struggling with massive back orders .
It ’ s a nice short-term problem but we ’ re way beyond that . We do our best , but it ’ s just the sheer volume of chips we need and our industry is a tiny little flea on the back of the automotive and cell phone industries , so we don ’ t get a lot a lot of priority . So , we ’ re redesigning things as we can to use different DSPs that are available , but then those run out . We ’ re steadily getting better , it ’ s going to steadily improve , but I don ’ t see it being really better for probably another year . So , maybe 2024 or ’ 25 ? It ’ s really beyond our ability to guess .
Sorry , that was a very long answer [ laughs ].
CMT : But that ’ s helpful context . Back in late 2020 , I interviewed Gibson ’ s CEO , James Curleigh , about the booming guitar market and part of what we spoke about was if manufacturers ’ marketing efforts can boost an entire product category , as opposed to just a specific product or brand . Meaning , when we look at the popularity of guitars , DJ products , or any other MI category as a whole , is it largely at the whim of broader societal and pop culture trends that are beyond the influence of any companies ? After all , I ’ m sure DJ product sales have benefitted from the rise of EDM in the culture and phenomenon of DJs becoming true rock stars for the first time .
Powell : I think that ’ s definitely part of it . Right now , we ’ re going through a boom where for a lot of the younger generation who are going out to clubs and festivals and whatnot , electronic music is definitely the predominant [ genre ]. I ’ m much older , my generation was more into alternative rock or heavy metal , but it ’ s definitely evolved . Those markets still exist , but electronic music , which usually performed by DJs , has definitely grown . It ’ s now 100 % mainstream and you see DJs like Diplo or David Guetta are now certainly mainstream artists . So , that certainly benefits us quite a bit .
Also , I think a lot of venues where you go , where people go to be entertained in one form or another – could a lounge or club or festival or even an event at shopping centre – it ’ s easier and faster to hire a DJ than a band . It ’ s just one guy or girl bringing in their own stuff . A band is simply more people and gear . A DJ is easier to set up and you ’ re paying one person instead of a group . So , that is also helping a lot .
The pro DJs , I think that ’ s the core business for us . I mean , all the entry-level stuff is great , because the core challenge is how do we get more people to want to become DJs ? Guitar manufacturers are now in a position where everyone who thought about getting into guitar got one during the pandemic and how many more do they need ? But unlike band instruments and live sound products , we were lucky that we didn ’ t have that pause at the pro level and a big reason is the portability . It was easy for these guys or girls to buy a player and a mixer and have it at home and practice and keep fresh .
Powell : Absolutely , we definitely count on them . I mean , we ’ re just a small group here and we try to make the best products .
What I will say is with this company , the passion for the product is paramount . At Harman , too , and every company I ’ ve worked for , there ’ s a lot of passion for what they do . A lot of the people here at Pioneer DJ , they ’ re making the products they want . So , we ’ re constantly talking to artists and going , “ What do you need ? What can we do that you ’ re looking for ?” We ’ re looking at where they ’ re going . So , I think we must give them the tools to continue to be creative in the way they want to , within what we can do technologically . And actually , just the layout of a product is a big part of it . I think we ’ re still listening and if we ever stopped doing that , then everything will fall apart . So , I think that ’ s key .
You know , I ’ m not a guitar player , but there ’ s only so much you can do to guitars , but what ’ s great about DJ products is that as technology evolves , there ’ s more and more you can do . But you also don ’ t want to make it overly complicated , because that ’ s also a risk . Again , this is a preference for the DJ if they want to be watching the crowd or they want to look into a computer screen , or it ’ s a happy medium between the two . So , some of products we do are based on that question ; how do you like to perform ?
CMT : Recently , AlphaTheta purchased 25 % of DJ Monitor , which is a leader in electronic music usage reporting . Essentially , they make sure performing rights organizations , producers , and songwriters get their royalties based on accurate reporting on the use of their music in clubs . This isn ’ t a space that instrument manufacturers are usually interested or involved in . What was the reasoning behind that move from AlphaTheta ?
Powell : I think it ’ s about living what we say . We want to be a partner and we have the ability to do this . I mean , investing in DJ Monitor makes sense . They ’ re a for-profit company and what they ’ re doing is basically cleaning up and enriching the value of music by doing it right . We have KUVO but the way we were going about it wasn ’ t as effective .
26 CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE