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Leaning the right way

Italians survive the economic crisis and gain ground abroad, suggests Mike Clark.

Acknowledging Italians’ ability to make key contributions to top-grade productions from both a creative and a technical point of view, as demonstrated by the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies, PSNEurope investigates how Italy’s pro audio trade is faring at home and abroad. To do this, we sought an insight on just how important the market is (particularly export-wise) from a cross-section of manufacturers, distributors and end-users (rental firms and festival organisers), who give their views on the current situation in period that is anything but rosy for the country from an economic and political point of view.

Although loudspeaker manufacturers’ domestic sales account for just 5–10% of their turnover, the majority state that these have been hit by a series of negative circumstances: the building industry and property markets are in a sad state, so new installs are few and far between, local authorities’ budgets have been cut by the government’s adoption of the European Stability Pact, thus reducing spending on both installs and live events, and the already meagre monies allocated by the government‘s FUS (performing arts fund) have been reduced even further.

Speaker manufacturers Eighteen Sound and B&C Speakers supply components to Italian enclosure manufacturers, but as B&C’s MD Lorenzo Coppini explains, “Almost all of them export the majority of their output, so that area of the market has remained more or less steady.”

Amplifier manufacturer Powersoft’s pro-audio manager Luca Giorgi (pictured) has no doubts to the reasons for his company’s relationship with the Italian market: ”We have never been active on the domestic market for a number of reasons – we’re an engineering company and very proud of the technology we have, but at the outset found it difficult to promote these aspects on the Italian market, which was rather based on politics and commercial agreements and we were probably not prepared to have this kind of relationship with the market. We were talking about technical issues and [potential clients] were saying things like “Give us some amps free, we’ll test them for you and you’ll get some marketing benefits …”

Although big names can fill arenas with tickets at high prices, many others need to set their ticket prices lower to draw good crowds, which results in smaller budgets being available for producing the shows – and, therefore for rental companies – very important end user for the pro-audio industry.

Read the rest of the feature in April’s digital edition of PSNEurope.