We spoke to David Claringbold, CMO at d&b audiotechnik, about his take on the projected $1bn growth in the loudspeaker market over the next four years.
The loudspeaker business has traditionally operated in isolation of broader technical trends. Sound has been an island of its own, slowly and surely adopting innovations once they have proved battle-ready. We are not exactly a fail-fast industry: much of what determines a brand’s relevance and integrity is determined by its ability to build product that is long lasting, sonically acceptable and commercially viable.
With the advent of sound processing and networking technologies, the sector is at a point where the demands of the customer for integrated solutions and single source supply chains will drive large-scale innovation and convergence. I believe that we are also at the forefront of an era where audio will take centre stage in the value proposition of artists, venues, and events in a way not previously imagined. This will require the industry to move beyond ‘big and loud’, into something far more sophisticated.
Increasingly, the success of a loudspeaker brand will not only be driven by its technology, but also by its focus on the customer experience and the brand’s commitment to invest in innovation. This will challenge every aspect of a loudspeaker company’s corporate culture, as we move from our traditional business models to far more software and integration-driven products and services that operate via our established sales frameworks and e-commerce platforms.
This large-scale change in our industry dynamic is set to be driven by a number of factors. Firstly, the business models that underpin our traditional customer base are changing rapidly. Customers are now looking for technology partners who not only understand their application but who also understand their business model and add value to it. The ability to work within noise emission regulations on an outdoor event and still deliver sonic punch to the audience is just one example of added value, as is the ability to service leading artist riders and the everyday demands of stadia installs.
Secondly, our customers are adopting a more refined awareness for high quality sound. They see sound as a part of the brand of an event or venue and they are sensitive to the audience’s increasingly sophisticated knowledge and understanding of audio. In short, sound will increasingly become a value driver as we move to a world where B2B and B2C disappear and companies adopt a more person-to-person relationship in their marketing and communications.
Thirdly, technological change will deliver content platforms that empower producers, artists and audiences to personalise the event experience. Products such as the d&b Soundscape will enable artists to create sound designs that are customised and digitally designed and mapped. The important word here is customer. We are moving ever closer to a world where our audience is at the centre of our sound experience thinking – not at the end. It’s a brave new world of opportunity. Those that embrace risk and put creativity at the core of their values will have their best foot forward in the growth of our industry.