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60 seconds with Genelec regional business development manager Andy Bensley

Bensley talks his life in the pro audio industry and what inspired him to pursue a career in sound

Andy Bensley was appointed regional business development manager for Genelec in May 2019, after working as pro audio product specialist, then pro audio brand manager at Source Distribution across six years. Prior to that, Bensley was an FOH engineer as well as working in guitar sales.

What first sparked your interest in the industry?

Learning guitar in my early teens and seeing bands live. I was lucky to be the right age to start going to gigs around the mid ‘90s so I got to see Brit Pop first hand. Between reading NME, playing in bands and going to gigs, it was the best grounding to avoid getting a job in the real world.

What was your first job?

I worked in a local recording studio in the North East covering rehearsals and then eventually started assisting. My secondary school had an amazing music department and we got the opportunity to record and perform regularly. At 15, I saw that you didn’t have to be a monster musician to work in music; that there were other routes. My two years of sixth form were pretty much spent there, hence my A level results were a bit iffy. The studio had Genelecs in every room so I essentially learned how to record and mix on them. It’s funny how things turn out.

What is an average work day like for you?

I check my emails first thing and then it depends on whether it’s an office day or I’m out on the road. The best thing about the job is getting to work with customers face-to-face, either discussing new projects or seeing projects come to fruition. I’m fortunate that I still get to calibrate a lot of systems so I spend a lot of time on-site, which means I get to see how our products perform in the real world. That, in turn, means I can offer our customers a first-hand experience on how to best tackle their project.

What has been your favourite project?

I worked closely with Metropolis Studios when they changed their main monitors in Studio B to Genelec 1236s. Due to the history and the number of huge records that have come out of that room, we had to move things forward whilst ensuring we kept the vibe of the original Genelec 1035 system.

Being able to collaborate with the staff engineers and understand what their clients expected from that room was invaluable. It’s going from strength to strength and it’s a real buzz when top engineers and producers say they love the room and comment on the monitoring. To be a part of that is very cool.

What is the most ambitious project you’ve worked on?

We had the opportunity to build a listening room in Wells Street, Central London and the challenge was to create a space that was based in the real world. A lot of the rooms our customers build are constrained by neighbours, short-term leases and small budgets. We succeeded in creating a space that not only sounds fantastic but allows customers to experience everything from a small desktop setup to a 7.4.1 Dolby Atmos with seamless switching. We can play any content through a variety of systems all within a five-minute walk from Oxford Circus. We are currently going through our second set of upgrades to the Experience Centre and it continues to be a valuable resource for us and our customers.

How do you balance work and life?

I’m very fortunate to work from home when I’m not on the road. I like to be able to bookend the week so that Monday and Friday are admin days where I can set up calls with customers and make sure there are no surprises over the weekend. I usually take the middle of the week to see customers and travel. I have two young children so cutting down on the commute has been huge. To be there to help with the school run and be there for bedtimes more often means there is a good balance.

What’s the biggest challenge of the industry?

A big challenge for us is finding new ways for customers to experience our products. On the one hand, we have so many ways to reach our customers and tell our story, but getting our speakers in front
of people to listen to them is the aim of the game. YouTube is an amazing tool to distill ideas and get a message across but you will never be able to move someone emotionally with an online speaker demo. We have to constantly look at the way we present demos and find ways to wow people and leave them with audio memory that lasts.

What do you like most about the industry?

The best thing about the industry is the people. I have met so many dear friends through my job and the common thread is that they all got into it through their love of music. I don’t know many industries where after work you genuinely love to hang with your customers and colleagues.

Who/what is your inspiration?

There are some teachers and industry people to whom I owe a lot but I’d rather buy them a pint and tell them face to face. Otherwise, I’ll never hear the end of it if I say it here. The biggest inspiration is that I get to make a living and support my family through music. Be it on the technical or creative side, to be a small part of the process is a great feeling and I don’t take it for granted.