An mp3 of the Interview is available lower in this text and via ITunes. Full text is below and selected portions are published in Mobile Beat Magazine – to subscribe go to https://members.mobilebeat.com.
Ryan Burger: This is Ryan Burger, the publisher of Mobile Beat magazine, and we’re here with the two representatives of Yamaha Corporation that touch the pro DJ and disc jockey pro audio division all the time, Wayne Hrabak and John Schauer. Introduce yourselves, if you could, please, and tell us what you do with Yamaha.
Wayne Hrabak: Hi, Ryan. This is Wayne Hrabak. I’m the live sound marketing manager here. And we are responsible, John and I, who’ll introduce himself in a second, for the marketing and the programs that are associated with live sound products at Yamaha through what we call the MI channel, which would be musical instrument retailers. There’s also a separate commercial audio division which caters to the non-MI channel and they also sell the products that we have, but they also go upmarket with a broad selection of step-up products for the concert and installation markets.
John, you want to introduce yourself?
John Schauer: Yeah. I’m John Schauer. I’m the product manager for the live sound products department here at Yamaha. And I take care of helping Japan develop products after we get input from the U.S. market, especially as it would go down the MI channel, or musical instrument channel.
Ryan Burger: Okay. Well, Yamaha makes a ton of different things. But when it comes down to it, when you’re out at one of these DJ conferences, the two of you are the guys that are demonstrating the products, talking to the DJs like what John mentioned, and getting ideas and feeding it back to the industry.
In addition to DJs, you guys are also touching into what other areas? What other shows do you go to in addition to NAMM and the Mobile Beat show, I guess?
Wayne Hrabak: Well, we attend some of the commercial-oriented shows as spectators, more or less, because the commercial audio group is there representing the product line. So we keep a pulse on what’s going on on the installation side of things. John participates — you might want to elaborate a little bit on this, John — with our band and orchestra division. We’ve made some major penetration into the marching band market in particular, if you want to comment on that, John.
John Schauer: There’s several activities that marching bands have gotten into in recent years. More and more electronics have gotten into marching bands, if you will. Some of the band obviously doesn’t march. It sits on the side of the field or is an indoor event; sometimes done during the winter time to keep the kids busy when they’re not out on the field. At any rate, those shows we attend.
We also do a great amount of work with worship people. We have several initiatives to grow that business also
Ryan Burger: Well, I’m familiar with your products. The first stuff I got when I was getting into Yamaha product was the PS system. You also have the power amplifier speakers. Tell us a little bit about the spread of product and where you see things going in the future.
Wayne Hrabak: Well, probably the biggest change in the market, both on the DJ side and on the MI retail side is the area of loudspeakers. And over the past five years or so there’s been tremendous growth in the powered speaker market. So whereas years ago it was always the passive speaker and a separate power amplifier, as time has rolled along there’s been a much larger acceptance and ease of transport and hookup by using powered speakers as opposed to passive and amplifiers separately. So that certainly has been one of the greater changes in the market as we see it.
John Schauer: Absolutely. I think we’ve seen the size of the cabinets have gotten smaller and lighter, and the output power has gotten higher and higher as we go. But self-powered stuff this year has taken over, absolutely.
Wayne Hrabak: And then also there’s been a transition from wooden boxes to plastic boxes, and that’s basically to answer the desire of many people, including lots of DJs we talked to, that are looking for smaller and lighter.
John Schauer: And much more powerful.
Wayne Hrabak: As they get older, they don’t want to be lugging around large, heavy gear. And I would say that all manufacturers catering to this market sort of have the same or similar goals in mind in terms of achieving their performance parameters as well as the physical characteristics of the products that we deliver.
Ryan Burger: Fantastic. Do you see a lot of the DJs getting into expanding their business, into doing pro sound kind of work in that they’re doing backing for bands and stuff like that? Or is it more the DJs are just staying in their niche, I guess?
Wayne Hrabak: Those that I’ve talked to, I think that they have seen more applications for different kinds of P.A. products. As you know, we penetrated what we call the portable P.A. system market within the past four years, which is a very small, compact, lightweight, complete system. And up until the time these kinds of products came on the scene, DJs really didn’t have something that they could use, like for ceremonies or for other kinds of applications that didn’t require a large system.
And I’d say that I’ve seen this trend toward having multiple systems of different sizes and characteristics to meet different requirements. Certainly some of them have also gotten into karaoke, in talking with many of them. They have the same kinds of needs in being able to easily carry product around and set it up and take it down quickly without breaking their backs doing it.
John, do you have any observations about that?
John Schauer: That’s absolutely right. I think that we’ve seen the DJs themselves branch off; at least the DJs that do wedding receptions and things like that, have seen a need to offer something more. And so they’ve come up with these smaller systems to use for the ceremony, that sort of thing; or the little town meeting or the small thing that they may be involved with where they only need speech support with a little bit of music behind it, that sort of thing; or some single person playing a piano in the background. That’s the sort of thing where this portable sound system has really run through, because they realize that for the cost of the system, a few rentals and they’ve paid for it.
Ryan Burger: You have a very well-established product line. There’s nothing revolutionary except for constant improvement of the products that are out there. Can you give us — is there anything in the pipeline that we should be looking for from Yamaha in the next six months to a year that you can tell at all about? Or you don’t want to let the cat out of the bag as to what revolutionary new stuff you’re doing, but just constant improvement? Is that what Yamaha’s been going after in the next couple years?
Wayne Hrabak: I would say so. I think that our goals are always to try to stay on the leading edge of what’s happening in each product group. And when a product gets old enough that it maybe isn’t as quite as leading edge as it once was, then it’s certainly time to replace it. And we also monitor what’s happening in the market with products that we don’t currently have an answer for, and determine if Yamaha Japan is interested and/or willing to venture into new areas and to expand our market.
But generally speaking I would say we have been extremely successful in the sound reinforcement/live area with what I would call high-value products. And that’s what we’ll basically continue doing, is introducing products of like kind to both replace the ones we have at some point, and as I said, expand into some areas that we’re not currently involved in.
Ryan Burger: Fantastic. Is there anything else from either one of you that you want people to know about Yamaha, yourselves, the whole connection before we wrap this up?
John Schauer: We work hard to try to come up with products that we know the market’s been asking for, and we try out best to come up with them at a price point where people can afford to use them, and that we’ll continue to work for them throughout a fairly long life as a rental product or as something that’s going out and being used every weekend. We get a lot of compliments on the quality and longevity of our product.
Ryan Burger: Fantastic. So once a Yamaha customer — keeps with the Yamaha product line because it’s something that’s going to last you a long time. It’s not something you have to replace every couple years like some of the other stuff that’s out there.
Fantastic. Wayne and John, thank you for joining me. Wayne and John from Yamaha — see them at the next Mobile Beat show or one of the other national disc jockey conventions. Thanks, guys.
Wayne Hrabak: Thank you very much.
John Schauer: Thank you.
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