Manufacturers - Ignore The Middle Ground At Your Peril

09-18-2013 04:24 AM

I’m just wrapping up a trip to Amsterdam and a visit to IBC, several halls filled with companies trying to get post and broadcast professionals to invest in new technologies.
Now anyone who has read much of my stuff will know I don’t have much patience for professionals who buy something for their business and 5-10 years later when a new product comes along suggest they wasted their money on the original version. Anyone running a business with a decent CAPEX model and an accountant with a rudimentary understanding of depreciation should see that item depreciate to zero in the accounts over several years. Anyway that aside my next point still stands.
Manufacturer need to be sensitive not only to the issues of faster workflows and more complex digital distribution networks, but also to the most important fact that in the last 5-10 years budgets for the production of music and post have fallen off a cliff, in many cases to one tenth of what they were. In some recent research we conducted with both post and music professionals they all said that budgets were the most critical factor when a client decided to place work with them, here’s a couple of quotes;
“They don’t care what gear you use to do the work, they just care that you can do it on time and on budget”
“Even the studios don’t work on the “impress the client with gear” model anymore - it’s about the lowest bottom line on the package deal - clients mostly take what they are given nowadays - it’s not about impressing them with gear anymore.
The transformation of the media distribution landscape, the advent of home studios and more price sensitive clients, who can check studio rates online, have all meant that the days of blowing millions, or even tens of thousands on facilities are gone for most mere mortals. As my Dad has always said “profit is what you don’t spend” and if we can give our clients the content they need without putting out as much in gear, then needs must.
Does this mean the end of facilities like large studios or post houses, does this mean no one is going to buy large format consoles or huge monitoring solutions? No, but anyone with even the slightest understanding, and may I say sensitivity to the economic challanges facing the studio world, will know that more studios have gone to the wall than remain, even icons like Abbey Road have been under threat. The amount of post houses in Soho that have gone is longer than a guest list at a party with a free bar.
Manufacturers should be concentrating on solutions that freelance music and post professionals are going to buy. Yes it would be nice to own a fully loaded facility in Hollywood or Soho, but if it’s a choice between that and staying afloat then any professional with a modicum of sense will cut their cloth accordingly. One is vanity, the other sanity.
If you want my prediction, as with modern politics, the manufacturers that concentrate on this growing middle ground are going to be the winners. There is an ever growing contingent of buyers that sit between the “bedroom boys” and the movie studios, manufacturers that ignore them at your peril. Discuss.