Wedding industry 2020: the beginning of the end?
That was the gist when Mike Fernino, owner of Music in Motion Entertainment in Seymour, Conn., who runs the “DJ Idea Sharing” Facebook group, recently posted an article from Fox 5 Atlanta – “U.S. Marriage Rates May Be Dipping.”
It caused quite a stir, as this topic usually does, because an estimated 60-percent of mobile gigs are weddings.
Is the wedding industry in peril? Are DJs’ jobs doomed? That was the conversation-starter.
Richard Bulles from Delmarva Music Radio in Baltimore doesn’t see much room for optimism. “The Golden Age to be a DJ is behind us,” he says. “Marriages are down like 30-percent or more compared to years ago and many more people are taking a piece of the pie today, with more options for music entertainment than ever – including DIY.”
Bulles cautions: “Just wait for the next recession to get under way. The event industry is going to see a big decline and DJs will be seriously affected by it. Could be worse than the last recession in 2007 to 2009. Let’s hope that does not start in 2020.”
Christopher (DJ iShine) Isiah at TEAMiSHINE DJs in Columbus, Ohio, disagrees with Bulles’ gloomy premise. “Industries always evolve, and those that are serious about their craft will find a way to adapt,” he says. “Events will always be thrown and, naturally, as humans, people like to socialize, too. What comes with socializing? Music. As long as DJs and business owners alike are willing to be open-minded and adjust to their current habitat when it comes to marketing and advertising, things will be alright. No need to pack it up – just adapt.”
Isiah says that he’d been mentored by DJs that have been full-time for 30 plus years. “They’ve obviously have been through recessions and industry changes,” he muses, “and they are still standing.”
Keith KoKoruz at the Keith Christopher Entertainment Group in Chicago says weddings are indeed on the decline. “Statistics show that we are at the lowest marriage rate in 100 years,” he said. “Millennials are coming out of college in huge debt and their view of marriage is different because so many of them come from parents of divorce. Organized religion is also dropping drastically – and marriage rates reflect that.”
“Statistics show that we are at the lowest marriage rate in 100 years.” — KC KoKoruz, Chicago
KoKoruz did agree with Isiah – there are a ton of other events available – but he also warned of a rush of bottom-feeders coming into the market (a sentiment that’s really as old as the hills). “If you speak with anyone at Pioneer, Denon, Numark or Roland about the number of controllers sold in 2019,” said KoKoruz, “you will also see how many DJs are constantly coming into the market.”
True, the number of available DJs in Bulles’ Baltimore market has increased. “Just in my local area, there are like 487 DJs listed on Thumbtack,” he said. “Gig Masters has over 150 in my service area. It is unlikely there are more than 150 wedding receptions in the area needing a DJ on a busy Saturday – especially with more of these couples opting for small destination weddings in the Caribbean or opting for a courthouse ceremony and dinner in a restaurant afterwards, and saving their money for a nice trip. Many couples do that now instead of having a classic ceremony and reception/celebration where they drop $20,000 or more.”
Casillas Joe from Los Angeles-based PDJI (Professional Disc Jockey Inc.) says the problem is lack of education, a deficit of professionalism in the industry. “Here’s the problem: Only 10-percent of the DJs attend DJ-related shows, seminars or any formal type of training or are part of any association,” he says. “The last Wedding Pro event I attended in Long Beach in 2019 had 3-percent DJs out of approximately 400 in attendance. It’s no wonder why we are not viewed as professionals in the event industry. There is more money in higher paying events – once you are perceived by your clients and other vendors as an expert.”
Joshua Volpe of Kalifornia Entertainment in Rochester, N.Y., says wedding bookings are way up for him. “I’m still booking two-plus years out with an insane schedule,” he says, “and still receiving 20 to 25 inquiries a week – which I pass off to four other guys in my area. My clients are, for the most part, Gen X and Millennials who are looking for an all-out, wild, fun party without all the old traditions and fluff that comes with weddings of the past. A ton of clients are doing themed events as well and specifically seek me out for those styles. All in all, no complaints or worries on my end as far as business goes.”
I’m still booking two-plus years out with an insane schedule. — Joshua Volpe, Rochester, NY
So, there – right?
For the record, according to Statista, the number of marriages that occurred in 2018 was 2.13 million. That’s indeed down from 2.44 million in 1990, but also up from 2013, when 2.08 million marriages occurred.
So, officially, maybe more gloom than doom. Let the chart below answer the question: