Gear that allows musicians to take their music to broad audiences is fueling growth in the music products market. Sales of pro audio and recording gear, in particular microphones, plug-in software, loops, controllers and mixers, are hitting a high note. The growth in pro audio is being reflected in the product mix at Summer NAMM, where the number of pro audio exhibitors is up 27% over 2013. From July 17-19, 113 exhibiting companies including Earthworks, Digital Audio Labs, Slate Digital, Avid, BOSS, Samson Technologies, TC Electronic and other category leaders present audio and recording products at Summer NAMM.
Leading retailers credit the expanded interest in recording to innovation that has yielded higher quality, more affordable products. This new gear, paired with online sharing platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud, are inspiring musicians of every skill level to take recording into their own hands. According to Anthony Thompson, pro audio department manager at New York’s Alto Music, “Customers who have been buying guitars and amps from us for years are now coming over to my part of the store looking to record. Technology to make quality recordings is increasingly more affordable and easy to use. Musicians, even those that aren’t tech savvy, who couldn’t have recorded themselves five years ago are now venturing into the pro audio world.”
In the last five years, sales of pro audio equipment have increased by nearly 23 percent. Sales of plug-in software and loops, both elements of home recording setups, have increased by nearly 30 percent in the past year.
“Recording is way more plug-and-play and affordable than it's ever been,” said John Grabowski, senior director of merchandising at Sweetwater. “Whether they're recording on a home computer, laptop, iPad, or even a smartphone, it's just everywhere. The more they record, the more they want the gear that will help them make better recordings. Many of them set up home studios, but I also see plenty of portable recording setups – ‘backpack studios.’”
“Years ago, musicians trying to sound like Led Zeppelin would have a hard time getting that sound with the equipment available for home setups,” Full Compass Systems’ Kevin Peckham said. “But with plug-in software, the loops, the sound enhancers, you can now produce something that sounds pretty close to professionally recorded music.”
Home-recorded artists such as multi-instrumentalist Julia Nunes and pop duo Karmin became social-media viral sensations by sharing their music online.
Like other retailers in this market, Peckham sees the personal recording trend as yet another musical outlet for creative types. “People are energized or inspired to make music and now they want to move up the quality and what they can do with it,” he said. “It means a lot more people making music, and that's a good thing.”