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January 2012  £4  €7 The business of professional audio EXCLUSIVE AES turns corner Financial filings suggest notes of optimism following society’s cost-cutting strategy Mel Lambert Following two years of lacklustre financial performance in a downturn economy, the Audio Engineering Society last year posted a small but significant surplus of income over expenses, a trend that is predicted to continue for several years. The news comes at the end of a turbulent 2011 for the AES, including calls for a fresh commercial strategy for the society’s operations. The decision was taken mid-year not to renew its contract with executive director (ED) Roger Furness, who left the post on 31 December after 17 years of service. “We need to adjust to reality and find another production model,” AES president Jan Abildgaard Pedersen acknowledges in an exclusive interview with PSNE. “We reduced the size of the London AES Conventions, knowing that the interest from exhibitors was down from previous years; we needed a different plan and to look at new business opportunities. The Budapest Convention in April will offer smaller and medium-sized companies the ability to show off current R&D programmes. And if the response [from exhibitors] is there we can always move into larger halls at the Budapest Congress & World Trade Center.” Recent US government filings (required for all non-profit corporations such as the AES) show that while income from member subscriptions, the journal, conferences and conventions dropped slightly in 2010 to $3.1 million (compared to $3.3 million in 2009), expenses were dramatically reduced to close to $3.1 million ($4.0 million in 2009) resulting in a modest $35,000 profit. In contrast, during 2008 and 2009 the society suffered losses of $506,000 and $655,000, respectively. Within Europe, the cost of regional conventions has fallen dramatically. The AES financial filing shows a cost of $1.14 million for 2008’s Amsterdam Convention, $787,000 for 2009’s Munich Convention and $167k for 2010’s London convention. “The RAI Center in Amsterdam was expensive,” Abildgaard Pedersen concedes. “For the London Conventions in 2010 and 2011 we opted for a smaller venue – Budapest follows that continuing trend.” “We looked at every aspect of the society’s operations,” Furness explains, “to determine how we could cut costs without it showing to the outside world. Jan Abildgaard Pedersen, AES president While that [strategy] included opting for a smaller venue for the London conventions – we went from a $30,000 loss for Munich in 2009, to a profit of around $30,000 for London in 2010 – we also looked at reducing costs for the US conventions. We also reduced the office costs in New York and Brussels by renegotiating the lease for the AES HQ in Manhattan, as well as other savings across the board. “And AES membership is at an all-time high; in 2010 we saw an increase of around 20%.” The society also saw a 10% increase in the sale of AES publications. As 2010’s non-profit filing illustrates, major expense reductions were made in Salaries, down to $873,000 for 2010 compared to $902k in 2009, plus Office ($208k from $234,000), Occupancy ($116,000 from $238,000), Conventions ($1.0 million from $1.6 million) and Others ($70,000 from $118,000). Additional savings were made in Information Technology, Travel and European Office expenses. “It’s a matter of trying to do good housekeeping,” the outgoing ED offers. “We looked for cost reduction wherever possible. It is too early to predict results for 2011, but we expect to at least break even; for 2012 I’m predicting that the society will make a profit larger than we saw for 2010.” “Our conventions are unique,” Abildgaard Pedersen concludes. “The AES is the only real society that focuses solely on audio technologies. We have received a lot of positive reactions to our plans for the Budapest Convention in April. It will be a flexible show, with space for small as well as larger companies that want to take demo rooms. We have gold in our hands; the opportunity is there to move forward with good results.” Speaking in mid-December, Abildgaard Pedersen said: “We expect to name a new executive director by the end of the year.” At press time, the status of Furness as executive director Emeritus had still to be decided. Q EXCLUSIVE UNITED KINGDOM Allen & Heath will launch a new digital desk at NAMM 2012. GLD is billed as a userfriendly, scalable and cost-effective (under £7,000 for a basic package) digital mixing system, borrowing elements from the successful iLive series. At the heart of the set-up, the GLD-80 mixer provides 48 input processing channels, eight stereo FX returns using iLive's FX emulations, 30 configurable buses, 20 mix processing channels, and enough DSP power for full processing “without compromise”. The clue is in the name: think GL console, (D)igital. “We really want to service the market which has been fabulous for us with the GL series for over 15 years – and is still going, in fact,” confirms sales and marketing manager Debbie Maxted. “Many of our GL customers, who are predominantly small rental companies, houses of worship and live venues, are considering going digital but haven’t been able to afford quality digital solutions till this. We’ve been able to port across lots of the iLive technology, like the FX, and the basics of how you mix on it, as this has been so successful at the higher end of the market.” Maxted revealed that around 5,000 iLive systems (modular and fixed format) have been sold worldwide since the 2007 launch. Q AED gets silly for Sennheiser International dry-hire company AED Rent has made a substantial investment in Sennheiser inear and wireless microphone systems, PSNE can reveal. The package includes 108 channels of 2000 series equipment for in-ear monitoring, and 120 channels of 3000 and 5000 series wireless microphones. The deal will allow AED Rent, which has subsidiaries in the Netherlands, UK, France and Germany, to offer the brand throughout Europe. + Marc Maes has the full story on p20 + Preview special, PSNE @ NAMM, starts on p23 MY8-LAKE LAKE® Processing for your Yamaha console The new MY8-LAKE card brings the power of LAKE speaker processing technology directly within your Yamaha digital console. • Linear-Phase Crossover • Mesa EQ • Ideal Graphic EQ • Over 1,000 loudspeaker presets Find out more at CONNECT WITH EXPERIENCE | YAMAHACOMMERCIALAUDIO.COM

Pro Sound News Europe January 2012 Digital Edition

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