Thanks to our affiliate partners at Thomann, we can bring you some exclusive insider industry infoIf you wondered what effect the COVID crisis has had on Live music gear sales, then make sure you read on. We can reveal the year’s most commercially successful products – with a couple of surprises in store.
The Changing Shape of “Live”
I’ve spoken before on these pages about how what we perceive as “Live” has changed dramatically in the post COVID world. 2021 is the year many of us got back out gigging for the first time; importantly though, does that mean we also started buying stage oriented live gear again?
Many of us switched from treading the stage boards, to streaming and content creation. Consequently, has that made an impact on the biggest selling live gear of 2021? By the same token, has it changed the kind of live gear we’ve bought this last year?
Time to delve into the spreadsheets and start crunching some numbers!
Undoubtedly, when it comes to large format, FOH desks digital desks now reign supreme in sales figures. The top five positions were all occupied by digital mixers and in particular by Behringer/Midas.
The top three positions were all occupied by variants of the ubiquitous Behringer X32, with the X32 rack holding the top spot. The fourth position belongs to the app-controlled X Air XR18 system with versions of the Midas M32 variant of the Behringer X32 coming in at number 5 and 17.
Behringer’s new Wing mixing desk has come into the sales figures at number six; this has been a slight surprise for me as I expected sales of this new platform to be slow thanks to COVID. Enthusiasm for the new platform is obvious, however, adding weight to my belief back in 2020 that you’ll soon be seeing the Behringer Wing everywhere.
Elsewhere, the Soundcraft Ui24R and PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB took places in the top 20; equally, hybrid desks such as the Tascam Model 12, Soundcraft Signature12 MTK and Zoom’s LiveTrak L-8 and L-20 made strong entries.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Behringer’s XENYX series of compact analogue mixers filled in all the remaining spots in the top 20 sales figures. There seems little doubt that these are now the default purchase for anyone after a basic, compact, analogue mixing desk.
Is the Analogue Desk Dead?
Two years ago, I asked the question, Is the Analogue Mixer Dead for Live Sound? Taking a look at this year’s figures we can come up with an interesting conclusion! It certainly seems that when it comes to medium to large format mixing desks, consumers are buying digital.
The only “pure” analogue desks posting significant sales figures are compact, “notebook” style mixers. Even then, many of these compact analogue mixers have inbuilt digital connectivity.
Column PA systems absolutely dominate the top sales positions in 2021s PA speaker sales. db Technologies ES602 is the biggest seller, with variants of “The OG” Bose L1 system scattered throughout the top ten with LD Systems’ Maui 28 G2 also making a strong appearance.
It’s perhaps not surprising that traditional, large box PA speakers barely make an appearance in the top sales figures. The overwhelming trend has been towards small, compact, portable systems geared towards small audiences. In other words, exactly what you’d expect given the restrictions on live gatherings these last two years!
Gauging the impact of podcasting and streaming on this year’s sales figures requires a little more interpretation. Obviously, some of the gear used for live streaming crosses over into the studio/recording domain. On the other hand, certain products clearly jump out as being a direct result of the boom in streaming and podcasting.
One of the big surprises, for me, has been in the microphone sales charts! Thomann’s all-time best seller is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Shure SM58. This year, however, that famous microphone slipped back to 5th position on the sales charts.
This year’s big sellers were (in order of sales) the Shure SM7b, the Rode Wireless Go II and the Rode NT1a. The Rode NT1a has broad recording appeal alongside podcast use; however, I think it’s clear that the sales success of the Shure SM7b and Rode Wireless GO II point clearly to the growth in the podcast and streaming market!
Rode continued to show string entries throughout the top sellers, with the Rode PodMic, NT-USB Mini and Lavalier GO all showing in the top 20 sales figures. Rode certainly seems to have captured the creative zeitgeist with sales figures to show.
Elsewhere strong showings from microphones such as the Sennheiser MKE 600, further reinforce that content creators are now a powerful market force.
If you were in any doubt that podcasting and streaming was big business, then just take a look at the sales figures for audio interfaces. Predictably, the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 holds the top spot and undoubtedly owes a huge chunk of sales to home recording as much as podcasting and streaming.
The third best selling interface of the year, however, is TC-Helicon’s GO XLR, an interface designed purely for podcasting and streaming. The Go-XLR Mini making an equally strong appearance at number ten. It’s more good news for Rode with their Rodecaster Pro flying in at the number 5 spot.
2021 – The Year of Content Creators?
I went into this years’ sales figures with an idea of how sales may have shifted, but even I wasn’t prepared for these results. I don’t think anyone could argue, from these figures, that content creation, streaming and podcasting is now a HUGE market sector.
Have things changed forever when it comes to how we view the definition of “Live”? These figures seem to suggest that, in terms of buying habits at least, yes they have!
I look forward to this time next year and seeing if the opening up of live events shifts the balance once again!