By Frank Wells
Seattle, WA (March 8, 2007)--AMS Neve has tapped new professional audio distribution, sales and marketing firm, Audio Agent, for a comprehensive suite of services, including the exclusive distribution of AMS Neve products in North and South America.
AMS Neve managing director Mark Crabtree (left) and Audio Agent president Dave Christenson shake hands on a distribution deal for AMS Neve products in the Americas."In the case of AMS Neve," said Audio Agent president and founder, Dave Christenson, "we really started off as the console distributor for the U.S. and that quickly grew to incorporating the service organization and then the outboard gear became available so we have taken that on now as well. And now they're coming to us for PR and marketing services and web development services. So I think it's one of those things where you start working with a client, see what they need and that they see your capabilities and it just sort of grows organically."
Christenson said that, "You've simply got to tie sales and service together without a doubt. You've got to tie sales and marketing together," and he feels that AMS Neve is quickly seeing the advantages to having "everything under one roof." In addition to acquiring the U.S. service company that AMS Neve employed, Audio Agent has placed a "huge order" for AMS Neve outboard gear to build a stockpile for distribution.
In a corporate statement announcing the new relationship, AMS Neve Managing Director Mark Crabtree commented that Audio Agent is "offering a fresh approach to the market; one that has been custom tailored to AMS Neve's specific needs. With this collaboration, we'll be able to tie all American sales, service and marketing operations together more effectively than ever before. We consider this the ideal partnership."
A group of industry veterans from various disciplines have joined forces with the creation of Audio Agent. "Probably the easiest way to differentiate us is by the fact that we're so closely integrating sales and marketing," explained Audio Agent president and founder Christenson. "We have been looking at the whole market for a number of years now and it just seems to be getting more and more and more competitive...So, anything that we can do to create an edge for people, to create a differentiation for brands, we feel is going to benefit our clients quite a bit...We're offering three different types of services, all related.
We're doing product distribution, manufacturer representation and we have a full service marketing department." Christenson said that Audio Agent was developed to "offer comprehensive solutions or ala carte, because it was our feeling that everybody needs something slightly different. What we're trying to do is not just be an off the shelf sort of cookie cutter type service provider, we want to really customize the services that we're offering for each client." Additional clients currently include Symetrix (Latin American manufacturer's rep), Mackie (marketing) and Brainyard/Fender (marketing).
Erik Hanson, who will handle various advertising and marketing creative services at Audio Agent, said the company approaches each client individually, asking them, "How do we best serve you?" as opposed to offering standardized packages. One differentiation Hanson cites is that Audio Agent has personnel who "actually come from an advertising background," with full time web designers and art directors on staff. Hanson said "the bar was frankly pretty low," where traditional distribution companies have tried to provide creative services. He also points out that the staff all have audio backgrounds, "so by us having the talented creative folks in house and also just 'getting it,' we're able to deliver way better results and effectively way cheaper," as opposed to the common situation when outside agencies are employed who have no background in professional audio. With AMS Neve, Hanson said he's delighted with the "opportunity to rebuild a really great legendary brand."
Audio Agent personnel includes Christenson, who has held senior sales positions at LOUD Technologies/Mackie, SSL, Sony and Euphonix, will be lead for Audio Agent in international sales management; Hanson is a former creative director and marketing specialist for brands including Mackie, Ampeg, Alvarez and Roland; John Hart, the former president of AMS Neve Inc. (AMS Neve's former U.S. division) will handle direct-to-studio and professional sales; Justin Marx, former art director and web developer for LOUD Technologies, Guidance Solutions, and Barrington Communications will work with Hanson on integrated advertising and marketing; and Jeremy Stappard, a 14-year veteran of Sony Broadcast and former president of Cal AV Trading Company will handle retail outboard gear sales.
The Audio Agent team was assembled to provide a broad range of in-house services, with some tasks still outsourced as necessary. "We're adding resources with revenue basically," said Christenson, "We're just adding more people and more components as we need to." To facilitate the distribution of AMS Neve outboard gear, Audio Agent acquired Stappard's Cal AV. "Jeremy's actually going to maintain his current clients," said Christendon, "so that adds Blue Sky and Joe Meek and Malcolm Toft and Studio Projects to our portfolio as we'll be dealing with Latin America and the West Coast as reps for those particular brands."
The scenario of assembling a band is a natural analogy for Audio Agent's formation, said Christenson. "You want to get the strongest players you can, and we're basically going after the very best people we can find for each discipline...everybody is sort of focused on their particular discipline but we all come together on a daily basis to determine how we can leverage each aspect of what we do for all of the clients." Audio Agent is Seattle based, with offices and technical support staff in Los Angeles and New York.
By Frank Wells