Meeting Topic: The Changing Face of Pro Audio - The rise of "prosumers" and their home project studios.
Moderator Name: Eric Johnson
Speaker Name: Chris Tso, Guitar Center; Skipper Wise, Blue Microphones
Meeting Location: Sportsmen's Lodge Event Center, 12833 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604
On November 27th 2012, the AES-LA Section held our Monthly Meeting at the Sportsmen's Lodge. Attendees had the wonderful
opportunity to hear from Skipper Wise, co-founder of Blue Microphones, and Chris Tso from Guitar Center.
Tso has a deep history in the retail side of the audio and music business. As a musician who began his retail work life with Sam Ash,
Chris eventually ran merchandising for Musician's Friend and most recently is in a role managing promotions across all Guitar Center
brands and sales channels.
Skipper Wise (pictured left) is also a longtime musician and,
like Chris Tso (pictured right) has a deep background in all
things audio. In the past couple of decades he has been
known for innovating and reinvigorating the microphone business
with Blue Microphones.
"Change" as a theme was apropos for the meeting, as it continues
to be the only absolute constant. Thirty years ago professional
studio sales drove the industry whereas nowadays
the project studio is the norm and is also the area wherein
much of the growth and innovation occurs. Attendees were
able to hear these unique perspectives on how two prominent
companies have successfully straddled that line between
professional and consumer sides of audio gear sales.
It was especially interesting to learn about how both businesses
have grown into new markets during this time of
great transition — where they successfully maintained their
existing customers in the consumer focused market and are still continuing to serve professionals.
Innovation remains at its core. Blue, for example, is well known for bringing high-quality microphones into the consumer market
through retail channels such as the Apple Store and other non-traditional retailers with their lower cost products. Wise described how
success in those markets helped fuel much of the innovation of their high-end and much higher-cost professional studio products.
Chris Tso described the transition retail continues to make from brick-and-mortar sales to a largely online sales chain and described
many of the challenges he has witnessed during that process. They both had a great deal to share about the symbiotic relationship
between equipment companies and retailers, and how critical that relationship has been to their mutual success.
The AES-LA Executive Committee would like to thank Chris Tso and Skipper Wise for this interesting discussion and Jonathan
Novick for arranging and moderating the meeting.
Written By: Eric Johnson