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2019 in review: November-December

Reflect on the biggest stories of November-December 2019 as we get ready to enter a new decade

It’s been a busy 12 months for the industry, with big-time acquisitions, company developments and venue installations in abundance, and of course, the inevitable weight of Brexit on many an audio professional’s shoulders. As we come to the end of another eventful year, reflect on the biggest stories of November and December 2019 here…

Capital Sound left South London

As of November 18, Capital Sound moved on from its South London headquarters, basing its operations at SSE Audio Group’s newly refurbished and expanded facility in north west London. The company will maintain its existing telephone number 020 8944 6777; the new postal address will be: Unit 3 Cumberland Avenue, Park Royal, London, NW10 7RX.

“Our location in South London has served us incredibly well over the past 14 years, but we have outgrown the facility on several fronts,” explained Paul Timmins, Capital Sound’s head of operations and sales.

“The new warehouse doubles our operational capacity in terms of storage and prep space, plus we will have significantly increased our shared resources in terms of tech and warehouse support, which I think will be of great benefit for our clients. Since joining SSE Audio Group in July 2018, our business has continued to grow. Our objective is to carry on working with our clients in the same way, with with the support of a wider network.”

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher steps down
Michael Dugher

As of December 2019, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher is stepping down after almost three years of leading the music industry trade body.

He is leaving to take up a new position as CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council.

Dugher joined UK Music in April 2017 after serving as Labour MP for Barnsley East for seven years. His roles at Westminster included Shadow Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

During his time at UK Music, Dugher spearheaded the campaign to change planning laws to protect music venues and also took on the government over the impact of soaring business rates. He set up regional Music Boards and helped win key votes on the EU Copyright Directive to deliver fair rewards for music creators and investors through the #LoveMusic campaign.

Dugher is set to leave at the end of January after which Tom Kiehl, currently deputy CEO, will take over as acting CEO during the process of recruiting a new chief executive.

Dugher commented: “It has been an immense privilege to serve as CEO at UK Music for nearly three years. We have achieved great things for an industry that makes a huge and positive contribution to our country. I have always believed in the power of music to transform lives and I am grateful for the opportunity UK Music’s members gave me back in 2017 to play a part in what is a wonderful organisation. I hope I have made a difference.”

Focusrite acquired Martin Audio

Announced on December 19, 2019, Focusrite plc has acquired Martin Audio and its associated companies, which comes shortly after Focusrite’s recent acquisition of loudspeaker manufacturer ADAM Audio.

Bringing Martin Audio under the Focusrite umbrella provides Focusrite with an opportunity to explore new territory as Tim Carroll, CEO of Focusrite, explained: “The acquisition of Martin Audio is a strong demonstration of our strategic aim to expand into new markets. Martin Audio is also an established brand with solid financials that instantly add value. More importantly, though, they’re culturally aligned with a clear part to play in our unfolding narrative.

“The Focusrite Group is, first and foremost, a professional music technology company, focused on enriching lives through music by removing barriers to creativity; from that first spark of musical inspiration, to delivering an emotionally charged performance on stage. Martin Audio completes that journey, uniting the audience by creating the ultimate live sound experience. The Martin Audio family share our hunger to innovate and our passion as music and sound enthusiasts. That we’re just a stone’s throw away will only further help unite us in achieving our common goal.”

Focusrite founder and chairman, Phil Dudderidge, commented, highlighting the long-term close relationship between the two companies: “I have known Martin Audio since its beginnings in Covent Garden in 1971. Founder Dave Martin and I became close friends in 1989 when I served as an advisor to him and non-executive chairman for a year or so as we prepared the company for sale to Tannoy Goodman International plc (TGI) in 1990.

“Martin Audio is a close neighbour to Focusrite Audio Engineering in High Wycombe and their current management recognised that Focusrite plc was the obvious trade candidate to acquire the business from its private equity and management ownership structure. My conviction as to the outstanding performance of the Martin MLA system was cemented at BST Hyde Park concertsin recent years, notably Tom Petty in 2017 and Eric Clapton in 2018.”

Martin Audio will continue to operate from its offices and factory in High Wycombe, UK under the leadership of managing director Dominic Harter. Harter added: “Martin Audio has been uniting audiences through great sound for almost five decades. Our continued success has been down to a clear, well-executed strategy with over sixty new products launched over the last four years and double-digit growth each year. In Focusrite we have an industry neighbour of the finest pedigree; a global leader in its own right. Their culture mirrors our own and, getting to know the team, I sense a strong similarity with the deep-rooted values of our own Martin Audio Family.

“Focusrite are the perfect partner to help Martin Audio continue the innovations that have driven its success. So it is with great pride and enthusiasm that we take this next step; a momentous occasion as the Martin Audio brand enters its 50th year. Working with Tim, Phil and the Focusrite team, I look forward to seeing all our staff and the wider family grow together, continuing to bring our unique optimised sonic experience to more and more audiences across the globe.”

Read our exclusive interview with Focusrite’s CEO and Martin Audio’s managing director here.

You can read the full 12-month review in the digital edition here (p48-51). To receive regular copies of the magazine in the new year, print and/or digital, you can subscribe here.