In the December 2013 issue of Mobile Beat, we looked at the social and cultural trends that had an impact on the mobile entertainment business in 2014. Now let’s add technology and business trends to the mix and see how they may affect our industry in 2015 and beyond.
Are you tracking developments in DJ technology? How about the economy and financial world? Which market forces are drivers and which are constraints to your business growth? This article addresses these issues and recommends three action tips for success.
NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR MOBILE ENTERTAINERS
There are three environments where technology is changing how DJs and mobile entertainers work: 1) on stage, 2) in the studio, and 3) in the office. Here are key examples:
Sounds systems are becoming lighter and more powerful for the money. Remember those giant amps and speakers from the 20th century? They’ve been replaced by great-sounding and versatile powered speakers.
Reliable wireless transmission from your mixer or computer to the speakers means no wires to connect or trip over.
Your sound/lights/effects system is a “network” that can be controlled via apps on your smartphone or tablet.
Lighting controllers are being integrated into audio mixers for the corporate AV and church market.
LED lighting systems are more affordable and are being installed in clubs, churches, and corporate venues as well as being used portable lighting rigs.
Unified communication technologies, including Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), allow you to stay in touch with your team, office, and clients via voice, text, e-mail and social media—all from your phone, at affordable prices.
Trend to watch: Who will offer the first DJ controller that includes lighting and special effect control as well as video recording capability and live streaming?
BUSINESS ISSUES FOR MOBILE ENTERTAINERS
The enabling technology can either help or hurt the DJ business. Which way it goes depends on a combination of factors including your market focus, positioning vs. competitors, and stage of readiness. Here are examples of both drivers (growth factors) and constraints (risk factors).
DJ Market Drivers
Driven in part by electronic dance music (EDM), the DJ market is growing as a popular entertainment option and is becoming more legitimate in the eyes of the music industry, in addition to the public (of course we’ve always known that). Performing DJs continue to gain celebrity status and have become established marquee attractions at clubs, festivals, and special events.
Proliferation of digital media and digital gear over the past ten years has created new paradigms for acquiring, managing, manipulating, and performing the music. Remember when you had to cart around those crates of records and hope you could handle requests? Things have changed for the better.
With the global economy improving, the general public and corporate meeting planners alike have more discretionary cash for entertainment, both DJ and live acts.
DJ Market Constraints
Ease of use and accessibility of entry-level gear—including the use of mobile phones and tablets as quasi-controllers—creates increased participation in DJing. There are more bedroom and garage DJs trying to compete for gigs than ever before.
The market is very “fashion driven” and fickle. A particular style of music or event format can be wildly popular one month only to be eclipsed by a new or different type the next month. Unless you specialize in a specific age group or type of gig, it is increasingly difficult to stay edgy and current.
Despite the improving economy, clients and promoters often plead poverty and keep talent and production budgets low. Some of this is driven by the proliferation of new DJs, but competition also comes from caterers, videographers, or other event costs.
PAYING ATTENTION IS A COMPETITIVE NECESSITY!
It’s easy to get in a rut or be in denial about changes in technology or market conditions. The risks and threats of not paying attention include losing gigs, spending more than you need to on gear, and losing your edge in terms of buzz in the market. On the other hand, it’s not that hard to keep in touch with the trends. This enables you to make decisions that effectively drive your business and enhance your competitive position. Here are three suggestions for setting up an early warning system.
Action Tip 1: Identify the categories of market information that have the most impact (positive or negative) on your mobile entertainment business. We’ve highlighted technology and business here. Other critical areas include your local economy, music and entertainment news, financial and lending criteria, legal or regulatory issues that have an impact (such as FCC allocation of wireless spectrum).
Action Tip 2: Organize and set up a place to store market data in your office. I suggest that you allow for both digital files (e.g. a market intelligence folder on your hard drive) and analog or physical media (like magazines, books, catalogs, etc.). Really simple tip: Create three separate “folders” (digital and analog) for 1) gear and technology trends, 2) financial and economic trends, and 3) music and entertainment trends.
Action Tip 3: Involve your team. Ask your accountant to keep you posted on tax and interest rate changes. Develop a relationship with a DJ-specialty gear supplier that can provide current information on technology and product trends. Network with other mobile entertainers to help stay on top of the latest music and event programming trends. You get the idea.
HERE’S THE POINT…
The ability to track the trends is a competitive weapon. While the general media and trade publications cover much of what you need to know, you still need to pay attention and make decisions in a pro-active and systematic way. Some of your competitors may lag instead of lead, but you can’t assume that they are ignoring the changing dynamics of mobile entertainment.
Be sure to implement the Action Tips in sequence: 1) target the categories of trends to track, 2) organize you market database for easy access, and 3) make it a team effort.
Next issue we’ll forecast the changes in client buying criteria and show how that has an impact on your promotion as well as your playlists. In the meantime, best wishes for big success in 2015!
John Stiernberg is founder and principal consultant with Stiernberg Consulting (www.stiernberg.com). John has over 25 years experience in the music and entertainment technology field. He currently works with audio and music companies and others on strategic planning and market development. His book Succeeding In Music: Business Chops for Performers and Songwriters is published by Hal Leonard Books. Contact John via e-mail at email@example.com, or on LinkedIn and Facebook. Follow him at http://twitter.com/JohnStiernberg.
Filed Under: Business, Issue #161
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