Bob Margouleff gave his Keynote Address to a packed house at AES.
by Clive Young.
by Clive Young. The AES Convention spans four days every year, but with the exhibit floor not opening until Friday for the San Francisco edition, Thursday provided time for thoughtful examination of the pro audio industry, individual efforts within in it and considerations of professional audio's future. All of this and more was easily found at this year's Opening Ceremonies.
The event kicked off with comments from AES executive director Roger Furness, quickly introducing AES president Diemer de Vries, who drew raucous cheers from the audience when he remarked that on Wednesday, San Francisco welcomed the Giants as the best in baseball, and was now welcoming AES as the best in audio.
Convention co-chair Jim McTigue stepped up to highlight the many chairpeople who developed and oversaw the various convention tracks, and then it was time for award presentations, which kicked off as John Vanderkooy, editor of the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, presented the Publication Awards to Stefan Feistel, Ambrose Thompson and Wolfgang Ahnert. Soon after, Robert Maher handed out the Student Publications Award to co-winners Tobias Ritter and Finn Agerkvist, and Tejaswi Nanjundaswamy.
Awards Committee Chair Bob Moses presented Board of Governors Awards to Eddy B. Brixen, Joel Vieira De Brito, Josh Reiss, Agnieszka Roginska, John Strawn, Alan Trevena and convention co-chair Valerie Tyler. Fellowship Awards were also given to Steven Green, who wasn't in attendance, and Francisco Miranda Kirchner. The final award of the day was the Distinguished Service Medal, recognizing years of significant service to the AES, which was given to Ron Streicher.
McTigue returned to the podium to introduce the highpoint of the Ceremonies for many: the Keynote speech by Grammy-winning engineer/producer and studio owner Bob Margouleff. The speech, subtly titled "What The Hell Happened?" began with Margouleff recounting his background, from getting established in the Greenwich Village scene of the 1960s, to filmmaking with members of Andy Warhol's Factory, to his historic work with Stevie Wonder.
However the focus quickly moved to the tumultuous changes that the music industry has faced in recent years as digital consumer technologies have progressed. Looking ahead, Margouleff predicted, "There will be a convergence of convenience and high resolution in the future, with more and more people able to access quality. The question becomes, 'How do we bring that great experience to the masses?' Certainly not by catering to the lowest end and outputting source materials that only live up to those low expectations. This is a top-down industry, not a bottom-up one; we must continue creating high-quality content offered through high-quality delivery formats before everyone loses. The convenience trend has the potential to promote a downward spiral if you let it--but we're not going to let it, are we?"
A whole industry now faces that challenge--and here at AES, there's an entire convention of innovation and invention at our fingertips that may well pave the way to a positive future for professional audio.