Industry moves: Pioneer DJ in new hands?

Pioneer DJ sold Reuters

Late last night, my Facebook messenger pinged with a cryptic message about news agency Reuters. “Call yourself a news hound?” said my contact. Duly I popped off for a rummage and there it was  — it seems that the mighty Pioneer corporation is in the final throes of finding a new home for Pioneer DJ. And then the inbox gates opened… my timeline was suddenly awash with the same noise.

Here’s the news story in full:

(Reuters) – Japanese car electronics maker Pioneer Corp is in the final stage of selling its disc-jockey equipment business, which could fetch about 60 billion yen ($570 million), two people with knowledge of the transaction said.

Pioneer has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to handle the sale, said the sources, asking not to be named because the process has not been made public.

Global private equity firms are among the final bidders, they added.

Pioneer, which is selling off non-core assets to focus on the automotive electronics business, in June agreed to sell most of its loss-making audio-video operations to a consortium comprising Hong Kong-based Baring Private Equity Asia and audio equipment maker Onkyo Corp. That deal has yet to close.

The DJ equipment business, which makes speakers and mixing equipment, was profitable in the latest financial year to March, a source familiar with the matter said.

Pioneer and Bank of America Merrill Lynch declined to comment.

And that is all we have. And it has been confirmed at this end by sources close to the sale. I always wanted to use that line.

So who could it be?

Over half a billion dollars is a lot of anyone’s money, especially in the DJ industry. So while we could wildly speculate about competitors selling arms, legs, and kidneys of their staff to raise funds, it still wouldn’t be enough to make a dent in that kind of sale. My best guess — private equity companies looking to get into the music industry. So when the sale is announced, I suspect you’ll never have heard of the new owners.

But hey — for fun, let’s throw some wild ideas into the arena:

  • Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats has Tim Cook wanting to become a DJ, so he buys up Pioneer DJ with some loose change down the back of his office sofa.
  • inMusic snaps up Pioneer DJ to make a DJ industry largely owned by one unstoppable monopolistic mega corp… which is subsequently snapped up by Apple anyway. There’s always a bigger fish.
  • Native Instruments becomes the new owners. A quick redesign incorporating much sharper edges and more shiny fingerprint magnet surfaces sees a readymade line of Kontrol media players and mixers. And they repurpose the DDJs to be Traktor only, just to piss off Serato.
  • Serato steams into to buy the hardware business and become an Apple-like ecosystem with no partners, and build anti-Traktor chips into everything, including headphones and monitors.

Time will tell, and I’m sure this story will run for a while until the new owners are announced and everything returns to normal unchanged. Pioneer DJ will continue to pop out stellar gear, and own the clubs with their industry standard CDJs and DJMs. They’ll just be pushing forward with a new independent and possibly renamed focus unless they licence the name from the Pioneer corporation.