Thursday, November 6, 2008

Goodbye Digidesign?


The word on the street is that Digidesign is going to be folded into Avid over the next few quarters.  Protools or any of the Digi products won't go away, just the Digidesign name.

Why would Avid do this to the now iconic company?  Stock price, of course.  Avid's stock was in the dumper long before our current economic woes.  By folding Digi into Avid and cutting the labor costs by having just one R&D department, one sales department, one accounting department, etc., Avid immediately makes a positive, if short term impression on their bottom line.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Protools users though.  What will happen to service?  What will happen to product development?  Will new products be primarily focused towards video?  Will they forget about those of us making music?

I remember when Sony's 3348 digital tape machine absolutely ruled the studio world.  If you didn't have one of these $150k machines, your studio had no chance of servicing serious music clients.  Then it seemed like overnight they were gone - relegated to the scrap heap of unwanted gear too expensive for the dumpster, but no longer needed on a session. Actually it was a period of six months when the 3348 world faded into the new Protools world, but it seemed a lot quicker at the time.  

I always thought that this could happen to Protools - used everywhere until it was gone in a blink of an eye.  Although I don't this scenario happening soon as I see no viable alternative on the horizon, folding Digi into Avid just might be the crack in the door that lets a competitor or new technology through.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Words Of Wisdom

One of the smartest guys in the music business I know is Bob Ohlsson.

Bob was never an influential music executive for a big label.  In fact, he wasn't an executive at all. Bob was an engineer for Motown during their best, most productive years in Detroit and while he was there, he watched Berry Gordy build a world-class company and studied how the history of the entertainment business repeated itself.  From this came a worldly view of the business of music that always provides a "D'uh" moment whenever I read one of his posts. Bob sees the music biz (really the entire entertainment biz) on a global scale unlike anyone I've ever met.

Here's an excerpt from a recent post on the Mastering list regarding the state of live music that really hit home.

"The minute anybody has begun trying to treat entertainment as some kind of a generic commodity historically-speaking, they have always been headed for a financial train wreck.
Corporate investors really want to believe in movie mogul mythology because it appeals to their quest for power. The press loves to believe they know what people want and support the same myth endlessly as something to blame the failure of their pet projects on. Artists who fail to connect with a large enough audience to quit their day jobs also love to use "the evil industry" as their excuse. Obviously label execs love for people to believe they have great power and I think one of our biggest current problems are sorcerers apprentices at the labels who actually believe this pretention."
After some interesting private discussions at the recent AES show, I believe that we're going to see some of the great record makers of our time exit the business soon just for the reason that Bob outlined. For them, the record making process has become no fun and you have to have fun on some level to make great music.

It all comes back to a little saying that I have - "Art is something that you do for yourself; a craft is something you do for someone else."  The business of making music has turned far too much into a craft in recent years.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

AES Trends

While AES 2008 was essentially the same as all recent AES's in that the audio products shown were evolutionary rather than revolutionary, there was one trend that caught my eye.

Several companies were displaying dual capsule mics where each capsule had it's own output (multi-pattern mics use two diaphragms but mix the result into a single output).  This enables you to manually change the pattern either while recording or when you're mixing.

I don't know how practical dual out mics will actually be since we've been getting along just fine all these years without this ability, but it's nice that mic manufactures are thinking outside the box.

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