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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

6 Predictions For The Musical Instrument/Pro Audio Business For 2010

Here's the fun part of the year coming to a close, when we can do some crystal ball gazing, take a couple of seances, dream a couple of dreams and make some semi-educated guesses regarding the happenings of the coming year. Sprinkle in a little inside knowledge here and a rumor or two there and you have the 6 predictions for the MI/pro audio business for 2010.

1) Pro Tools goes native and abandons their processor cards. Let's face it, computers are getting faster every day and are already plenty fast enough to handle just about anything a DAW can throw at them, so why must a user pay big money to buy a processor card? Avid agrees as the Pro Tools hardware approaches it's natural end-of-life, but what will that mean for them over the long haul? Such a decision could open up a can of worms for Avid (Digidesign) though, as it also opens the door for the next new DAW kid on the block. Remember how the Sony 3348 was a must-have for every commercial studio and within 6 months was a boat anchor? Could happen here too, but not this year.

2) Two well-known manufacturers will be no more. It's been pretty amazing that there has been so few manufacturer fatalities during the last year considering the state of the economy. That won't continue however, as a number of very well-known companies currently stand on the brink and it won't take much to push them over. Look for at least two of them to be bought, merged or closed.

3) A well-known retailer will contract. The year was already savage, but the Holiday season was particularly unkind to a major retailer, who will be forced to drop any planned expansion and begin to close under-performing stores.

4) Retailers delete duplicate items. Show me just about any musical instrument or recording item out there and I'll show you at least a dozen manufacturers that make one. While excess choice was always a bit of a burden for a retailer, now it's a downright millstone around their cash register's neck. Look for retailers to cut back on the number of items they carry, and look for many boutique manufacturers to suffer and die as a result.

5) A new class of hardware will be introduced. Thinking outside the box is not a trait that the current MI/Pro Audio business possesses to any great degree, but one company has managed to plow some fertile ground with a new look to an old process. Look for it's debut in the new year.

6) The 5th Beatle gets a new job. This last point only indirectly affects the MI/Pro Audio business but it's worth pointing out. It used to be that the silent member of a band was their manager, producer or engineer, but the new 5th Beatle is their webmaster. With social media playing such a large roll in just about any size act's marketing and promotion, the person with the most online smarts might be even more important than a rhythm guitar player who doesn't sing (as long as he's not the songwriter). The new 5th Beatle is one less person around a band that would buy the gear that the industry sells (except for the computer and accessories, of course).

Can't wait until the end of next year to see how many of these came true, but I bet my batting average will be pretty good.

1 comment:

Daniel Keller said...

Hmmm...does the fact that none of this surprises me mean I've become a hopeless cynic? (I know, that happened years ago...)

The pieces for most of these events have already been moved into place (in fact, I'd argue that #2 will involve more than just two). But yes, we will continue to evolve into an even leaner, more streamlined industry, and that's not all bad. For those of us who can adapt, opportunities abound.


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