What’s The Season Mean For You?

The end-of-year holiday season is a mixed bag for audio professionals.
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Frank Wells
fwells@nbmedia.com
The end-of-year holiday season is a mixed bag for audio professionals. In the studio, it’s not uncommon to have seen holiday decorations as early as summer to set the mood for holiday music and video releases. Those lead times have shortened with efficiencies in production and a changing distribution model, but the pace is still certainly more relaxed than in other parts of our industry. The holidays typically represent a slowdown in music studio production activities, a time to regroup and address maintenance issues and facility upgrades (consultation with accountants often leading to purchases partly conceived for their tax benefit).

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This season is not only one of the busiest times of the year around your local mall, but for live sound professionals, it’s filled through New Year’s Eve with special events. Those range from national holiday-themed tours to regional and local one-offs to live, televised extravaganzas, the latter keeping broadcast production crews busy alongside of the SR pros serving live audiences. It’s as common for live production companies to speak about the impact of the holidays on their bottom line as it is for retailers to focus on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the weeks that follow as being critical to their annual revenue.

Pro audio manufacturers and gear retailers have jumped into a similar holiday mode as retailers, adopting three-day post-Thanksgiving specials as a part of their sales initiatives. As most pro-audio gear is sold through retail channels these days, that should perhaps come as no surprise, though it’s not just via retail outlets that special deals can be had; direct marketing for direct sale specials are a significant part of these strategies. The NewBay Media mail server starts fussing at me to reduce my mail account footprint when I approach the cap on my allotment of space. Typically, that happens about once a quarter, but as I received such a notice about a month since I last cleaned house, the volume has obviously increased, and I attribute a good deal of that ramp-up to holiday special offers, both in the form of targeting all gear owners and in press releases that manufacturers wish us to share with our readers to help spread the word.

There’s an accounting angle for retailers and manufacturers as well, as they look to reduce inventory to boost annual profit statements. Indeed, a former regional sales rep for one prominent pro-audio manufacturer told me that anything ordered in the last few months of a year was as likely as not to ship after year-end, based on an aggressive inventory reduction policy.

Manufacturers are also busy ramping up for the year to come. R&D departments are pushed to deliver new products ready to show at the Winter NAMM convention and, for products with a direct consumer crossover, even sooner at the early January CES trade fair. The industry media applies additional pressure to that process with requests for details on those new products for timely coverage around those events.

Whatever your individual role is in all the holiday hustle and bustle, here’s hoping that you find the time to commune with your pro-audio compatriots, to reach out to those who can use a good dose of holiday cheer, and to spend time with those near and dear to you. The Pro Sound News and NewBay Media family wishes each of you the happiest holiday season ever. And, as we move into 2015, we wish you good health, prosperity and music in the air (in superlative fidelity, of course).