While Greg Beebe may be best known as the director of professional audio at Sennheiser USA, there’s another major pro audio entity that he oversees: the Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance. PAMA is an industry trade group with a dozen pro audio manufacturer members and one partner trade organization, all of which share insights, benefit from direct lines of communication between member companies, and promote the value of audio to other industries and the world at large.
Currently in the middle of a two-year term as the elected chairman of the board of directors, Beebe has been part of PAMA’s steady growth in recent times—growth measured not merely in the number of members, but in the alliance’s influence and independence.
“PAMA has come a long way over the past several years,” Beebe concedes. “When I started with PAMA, it was managed by a large industry association, and meetings were tied to trade shows and an annual excursion. Challenges included finding time to be away from the booth to attend a lunch session, limited progress between physical meetings, and our financial viability. Five years ago, we became an independent association free to stand on our own and we established a stronger independent identity.”
Today, PAMA’s membership includes (in alphabetical order) Adamson Systems Engineering, Audio- Technica, Biamp, Blue Microphones, Bose, d&b audiotechnik, Harman, IEMITO (In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization), QSC, Renkus-Heinz, RF Venue, Sennheiser and Shure.
While it might be hard to picture some of these companies sitting around the same table—or in the same Zoom meeting under current circumstances—the open forum that PAMA provides is one of its most valuable benefits for members. “Outside of our meetings, PAMA members can be either fierce competitors, friends for decades, or something in between,” said Beebe. “Despite our various individual company strategies, our common purpose unites us to promote best practices and high-quality audio. I fit somewhere in between, having only been part of the group for one decade.”
PAMA was founded in 2003, with many of the current member companies involved since day one, though some company representatives have changed over the years. Beebe, a 28-year veteran of Sennheiser who started there as an application engineer and worked his way up the ladder, was asked to represent his company in PAMA 10 years ago. Having held 10 different positions across most of the company’s functions, he was well suited to represent Sennheiser and its interests at PAMA meetings, but it was still a heady experience. “I admit being highly intimidated by the incredible leaders who sat around the table that summer of 2010,” he recalls. That said, “Many remain members today and I thoroughly enjoy the group’s camaraderie.”
PAMA meets once a month virtually and, in non-pandemic times, meets in person twice a year at member companies’ offices, enticing members, presenters and guests alike with tours of the host company, while eliminating the costs of hotel meeting room rentals. In all, 11 companies’ representatives make up the board of directors, which has two elected positions of chairman and chair-elect, each serving two-year terms.
The time demands are minimal (“All members have full-time jobs, yet find a couple of hours a month to fulfill PAMA’s obligations,” Beebe noted), but the trade-off is that member companies gain uniquely beneficial insights. “One of the most tangible deliverables for PAMA members are our proprietary market share reports,” said Beebe, detailing how the group pools market share data concerning larger regions such as the United States, Central Europe and Southeast Asia, and growth markets like India, Russia and Latin America. “In an industry where obtaining accurate, real-world data has always been an issue, PAMA currently has a rather mature wired and wireless microphone study, an outline of a professional headphone/headset study and a soon-to-be-launched loudspeaker study.” Currently, the reports are available only to members, but more are planned as time goes on, as PAMA intends to expand into other product categories as needs and member companies align.
Member companies do align, even if they’re competitors in the marketplace. “We excel at knowing where the lines are,” said Beebe. “Having Jennifer [Shockley, an independent executive director who has been with PAMA for three years] as a third-party executive director helps keep us on-track. But the bottom line is we are all members because we believe and support PAMA’s mission to promote awareness and appreciation of high-quality professional audio through education, passion and common purpose. Additionally, we know one another well enough to raise the yellow card if necessary.”
Recent times have seen PAMA’s membership increase by 44 percent, even as the group achieved economic independence. All income comes from membership dues, and the group’s financial fortitude has benefited not only PAMA but the industry at large. “Stable finances and improved communications allowed us to swiftly vote on philanthropic activities to support our industry during COVID-19,” said Beebe. “We are super proud to add two new budget lines to the P&L for our next fiscal year: charitable contributions and marketing. We plan to build on what we did this year through The Roadie Clinic and Live Nation’s Crew Nation to help touring professionals who were forced to stay home during the pandemic. We recently retained Clyne Media to increase awareness of PAMA and of our contributions to our industry. Also, a few members will participate in the first PAMA panel for the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences. If this goes well, our plans are to repeat and expand that type of outreach to the next generation of audio professionals. Long term, we hope to add a scholarship program to help those interested in an audio education.”
Beebe acknowledged that his time spent working in so many positions across Sennheiser instilled a desire to nurture others so they can grow, to prepare the next generation of leaders and to diversify the industry—and that’s a view shared throughout the PAMA membership. “Our members are our greatest assets and resources for the industry at large; our culture and philosophy are progressive,” he said, adding, “Whether that’s market share data, charities or panel discussions at audio schools, we are all passionate about our industry. As more companies join PAMA, PAMA can do more for our industry.”
Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance • www.pamalliance.org