2017 Market Summary

2017 saw an uplift in the overall market with a 5% in value increase over 2016, while it dipped nearly 8% in unit volume. With the currency remaining in the mid-70’s range against the US dollar a continuing rise in value has been maintained. Import value of $288m outstripped 2016 which was the best year in terms of industry value since 2009.
The Keyboard Category posted a good result overall in 2017 and continued the upward trajectory it has been achieving over the last three or four years. A solid increase in value and units of around 5%, year on year. Over 105,000 units
We have adjusted the numbers in digitals and keyboards for the last three-year period. With digital technology getting cheaper, we have allowed for a lower average value of digitals and therefore the units of portables have decreased proportionately. Increases in units applied to both segments in 2017. Acoustics were up by a robust 17% in units and 15% in value. Correspondingly, there were fewer grands imported, but the segment posted a 5% increase in value, indicating bigger ticketed units.
Brass remained steady and major woodwind units dipped following their big jump in December 2016, which necessitated a re-balance. Orchestral strings recovered after a soft 2016 with a sharp increase in the value of instruments being imported.
Percussion did not perform well comparatively in 2017, scotching any perceived recovery noted last year. Overall, there was a drop of 25% in units with value battling to hold firm. Drum kits and Orchestral percussion showing the biggest drops.
The overall volume in the guitar segment fell 10% in 2016 and value was flat across the category.
Electric guitars held firm on the unit imports in 2017 but took a hit to value. After last year’s rise in average value, 2017 AUV dropped nearly 10% and so did the category value.
We cannot explain an exponential rise in guitar and bass amp figures this year, but it is on the right side of an error and does make up for a very low number of imports in 2016, and perhaps some coding leakage to the pro Audio category.
Acoustics are powering on with another record year of 166,000 units imported! However, value dropped by nearly 25% – which seems to indicate more entry level business in 2017. Accounting for the significant variant in the Amps segment, guitars could claim only a relatively tepid performance for the category as a whole.
The electric guitar market continues to be soft along with acoustic percussion, perhaps revealing a worrying trend in the product markets that have driven the industry for so long.
In Electronic Instruments we observe another increase in Synths in 2017, while the ‘Other’ segment thought to be driven by e-drums bounced back against the pattern of the previous two years, Turntables showed an increase in units in 2017 of 7.5% and Software posted a strong increase in value.
Audio numbers revealed less high value mixers were reported helping to push down value on average of 17%, with units imported increasing by only 6%. Speakers and power amps dropping off a little in units, and speakers value along with it.
Microphones, in terms of volume, dropped to 147,000 units imported representing a 5% drop in 2017.
Traditional products had a good year in terms of value with a 14% rise in 2017 year-on-year. Ukuleles are accounted for in this segment and there seems to be no stopping the popularity of this most accessible instrument, and perhaps people are buying more expensive ones.
General Accessories were up in value by 10% and by 37% above 2015. For the first time, imports totalled over $20million. Guitar strings levelled off in 2016 after a big dollar increase in 2015 and continued to hold their own.
The retail sales value of Print music was up in 2017. After several years of significant decline year-on-year, the last couple of years has seen perhaps a new normal established, with retail sales of $20m + being reported three years in a row. 2017 posted a reported increase of 17% in retail sales as reported by the nation’s publishers.
The Music Trades magazine reports that the retail value of the US market advanced over 4.1% in retail value in 2017 year on year. This matched the pre-financial crisis level of a decade ago, according to Music Trades. Most categories were on the positive side, some more than others, resulting from a stronger economy and rising prices. The parallels that are often seen in the US market are apparent once again in this year’s numbers.